ETTREMA – EASTER 2013
The Jumps > Bullfrog Pass > Ettrema Creek > Jones Creek > Ettrema Creek > Myall Creek > Quiera Clearing
Whilst we’ve walked in this area as a Club for many years, most of these trips were pre 2008 and only a few who were on the trip were familiar with the area, so Bullfrog and Myall Creeks were a first for most of us.
This was a trip that Jeff had long wanted to do and Jo H, Peter C, Theo N, Jason C, Courtney R, Marion D, Shane H and I joined him. It was Courtney and Jason’s first overnight walk with us, so was a bit of a trial by fire.
During Friday evening, everyone arrived at the designated campsite, some later than others because they went via Nowra (note to self, don’t go via Nowra on a long weekend). The campsite at Quiera Clearing is a nice grassy field amongst the trees with lots of fallen wood for a campfire, but make sure you don’t camp on the private property.
DAY 1: We left two vehicles at Quiera Clearing and then drove to The Jumps. We headed straight into the creek, walking downstream on a vague footpad. There were a few climb downs and we had to negotiate around a waterfall with the aid of some tube tape but other than that, the route was pretty straight forward. We stopped for lunch at the junction.
There were a couple of compulsory swims in Sentry Box canyon, and a couple of climb downs that needed to be negotiated.
Travelling downstream we came to a big rock slab which we easily traversed and just around the corner, we came to the campsite nestled in a stand of lovely Small Leaved Myrtle trees. There was a party of SBW members (including Dolphin and Melinda) behind us and we shared the campsite with them that night, after that we didn’t see them again.
This campsite has a couple of lovely pools to swim in, but everyone knows about it so you’d be hard pressed to have it to yourself if you wanted a wilderness experience.
DAY 2: The day was spent rock-hopping downstream in Ettrema with a few compulsory swims in beautiful crystal clear pools. We were on the lookout for an exit point called Boomerang Pass but must have walked right by it. Also wanted to check out the campsite at Myall Creek (for future reference) and found that it has been washed away over the years and not as large as it once was.
We arrived at Jones creek mid-afternoon and discovered another group of 9 were at the campsite. What’s going on with Ettrema, you used to go to it and you were the only ones in the creek, didn’t see another soul, and here we’d come across 2 groups in the space of 24 hours! The Jones Creek campsite isn’t big enough to accommodate two groups, so, we headed back upstream a little ways and with a little gardening and clearing of flood debris we had plenty of space for our group and a new campfire area, which was actually much nicer than the usual one at the junction of Jones Creek.
DAY 3: Jo, Jason & Courtney had a lay day, swimming, playing cards, collecting firewood and keeping the fire going. The rest of the party went up Jones Creek.
With some nice long slabs of rock to break up the monotony of the rock hopping, we passed many crystal clear pools but as the day was overcast they weren’t that inviting. I’ve swum in them before on a hot day and it’s magic but it was a bit cool on this day and I couldn’t get up the energy!
We eventually came to where we knew the mine should be and with a bit of scouting around found the old gold mine and saw the remains of the tools that were left behind, plus a cute little micro bat hanging off the ceiling.
Although some of us had been up Jones Creek before, we had always turned around at the mine, so, given that we had plenty of time, we continued upstream to find the second mine (a big pit in the ground) and check out the 40m waterfall. At this point we were feeling pretty strong and so decided to do an exploratory walk up beside the waterfall and across the plateau/ridge and down a spur to the campsite.
This involved a bit of a scramble up on the left hand side of the waterfall, quite a bit of route finding was involved, and then scouting around to make sure we didn’t go too far up the spur but were able to cross over the creek to the right hand side where the ridge was that we wanted to be on and a spur which led directly to our camp. Despite a little scrub the route was fairly straight forward and easy going so long as we kept on our proposed bearings. Towards the end the ridge became a knife-edge spur and some serious route finding was necessary.
We dropped down right at our camp fire just on dusk, great timing, good navigation and route finding Jeff and Shane! Those of us who like the odd exploratory adventure commented that it was the best part of the trip!
DAY 4: An early start at 7.30 am saw us heading upstream to Myall Creek. Whilst I really enjoyed yesterday’s Jones Creek exploratory, going up Myall Creek was fabulous. There are numerous challenges along the way, small waterfalls and cascades to go around up or over, some quite exposed. We had lunch in the creek and then continued on our way, eventually exiting at a side creek and then Jeff took a bearing across the plateau to Quiera Clearing leading us unerringly to the vehicles, arriving there at approx 3.30pm. We cleaned up and then headed off to Nerriga Pub for a beer.
I’ve always loved Ettrema and will probably go back again, but will definitely not go on a long weekend, there are too many people who have discovered it now, it used to be that you had to know how to navigate to get around, but these days with a GPS or even a Smart Phone, you don’t need much skill! I think next time I go, it will be to find Boomerang Pass.