The Bloody Bunglebori

BUNGLEBORI CREEK – Waratah Ridge > Bunglebori & Return – 10 – 12 August 2018
For those bushwalking friends of mine who came up with a good excuse for NOT walking with me this weekend – consider yourselves having dodged a bullet!

Only John L’Estrange (81yrs old) bless his heart, was keen to come along with me for a bit of exploring.  We had intended walking for 2 days but extended it to 3 when it was just the two of us.

We started the adventure with a trip down Ethereal Canyon.  I’d been down this creek in 2016 and knew that it was a nice trip and John hadn’t been there before.  We got to the Waratah Ridge locked gate at around 10am, parked the car and then walked back up the fire-trail for 500m or so, and then took a left hand turn onto another fire-trail (not marked on the map).  Last time we accessed the creek about half way down it, this time I wanted to enter a bit further upstream.

We walked for about half a k and then pealed off to the right to access the creek.  There was a nice ramp down, as we walked downstream, I kept a look out for other access routes, but nothing but cliff-line (except for the way Jeff, Bailey, Denise and I went in back 2016.

Almost immediately we discovered water in the creek.  This was a big surprise, with the drought, I’d anticipated a really dry walk.

We came across a tree that had been logged, how they got the felled trees out is anyone’s guess, possibly if we explored further upstream we’d find an old logging track.


A massive pagoda between two small creeks.

Cliff-lines all around us, around about here is the route that we found to get down back in 2016.

This is just beneath the 2016 route down, there was a really big hole near where John is climbing down, you had to be super careful not to fall down it.

This was our lunch spot, a lovely big flat area against a cliff face, would make a nice campsite as it’s right beside the creek.  We joked about this being a campsite for when we were old and gray(er).

By now we’re getting into canyon-like formations, the creek, over years has undercut the cliff.  Shortly after this we had to climb up over a big rock-pile and find our way back down into the creek which proved to be more difficult than I remembered!

I had told John this was a “dry canyon”.  I think at this point he’s questioning my version of “dry”.  We had to walk through water up to our knees and couldn’t get to the small waterfall as it would have involved going through a pool with waist deep water!  Far more water than was there in 2016, mind you it was March 2016 and we probably wouldn’t have cared about the water.  On this occasion though it was freezing!

The creek is rather pretty further downstream.

By now we’re over getting wet feet, and the cold is getting to us!

The canyon formation, a very nice section.

More canyon formation, and very easy walking.

Another pretty part of the canyon.

It didn’t take us long to get to the end and then bash our way through nasty ferns, ribbon grass and scrub to get to the old logging trail which would take us to our proposed campsite.  This logging trail would also take us back to Waratah Ridge and the car on Sunday, it’s a route often used to get from the Bunglebori to Waratah Ridge.

John coming up the hill on the old logging track.

We passed this area and it looked like a possible campsite.  We went another 50m closer to the river and found the ground underfoot damp so we came back to this spot which was perfect.

Our campfire for the next two days, heaps of fire wood, a dead log for a back-rest or seat, just 75m from a water source (the Bunglebori) and very dry underfoot – what more could you ask for.

A little gardening and plenty of room for our tents, you could have fitted a couple more on this little area.

We discussed our plans for the next two days.  The original intention was the cross the Bunglebori, head up the other side, head along a ridge and then drop down into a creek to see if there was any canyon sections in that.  When getting water for the night, I looked at the other side and it looked like really hard work getting across and then up the ridge, so, we decided instead to take a look further downstream in the creek we had just been in, it seemed to pass between two cliff-lines and I figured there might be some canyon sections in there.  If we had time, we’d also look up another small creek.

Next morning we retraced our steps with “day packs” to get to our target creek.  We did some track maintenance removing fallen trees as we were sick of stepping over them.

The cliffs beside the creek – surely there’d be some canyon formation downstream with cliffs like this on either side.

Almost immediately we saw that this wasn’t going to be an easy day, lots of dead trees and ferns to make our way around, over and under.

And pools to negotiate, we managed to get past this one by dropping some logs into it to step on.

One of many logs that were too big to go over and we had to crawl under them.

We’d be on one side and then have to cross to another when the bank ran out, all the brown stuff in the water was where I’d cleared a route through tree ferns for us.

We got to a section which was relatively scrub-free, lots of waratah trees though, this will be beautiful in the spring.

It ended up being just easier to walk in the creek rather than through the ferns on the bank.

This was the closest we got to anything like a canyon!

And then we were stopped by another fallen tree, we managed to climb under this one!

More fallen trees, this one not that old, at least you could walk along the trunk for a way.

Eventually we arrived at the Bunglebori, around 11am, the 500m of creek that we’d gone down had taken about 2 1/2 hours, and really nothing to write home about, in fact the only thing we came away with was the resolution never to go back into that creek again.  Now I know why no-one ever takes the creek as a shortcut from the Bunglebori to the logging trail (if it was half-way easy, it would cut off 500m of walking upstream on the Bunglebori).

We decided that we had enough time to go down to the next side creek.  I had marked on my map “Mini Canyon”, I’m not sure who told me about it but it was worth checking out!

We’re now heading downstream in the Bunglebori and for the 200m that we had to negotiate to get to our side creek, the going was pretty easy.

Before long we were at the side creek and walking up it, no photos of this section because frankly it was totally uninteresting.  The scrub was pretty bad by the side of the creek and so we climbed a little where it wasn’t so scrubby.  I have no idea why I’ve written “Mini Canyon” on my map with an arrow to this creek as there was nothing!  We went all the way to the top, found nothing and turned around again.

The best thing I can say is that it is a good route out of the Bunglebori and would take you to a nice ridge and then all the way to the top of the logging trail that we’d be walking out on the next day, effectively cutting off a kilometre of walking upstream on the ‘Bori.

We had lunch in a nice sunny spot and then headed back down to the ‘Bori.  The first 200m was great, we retraced our steps to the creek we’d come down earlier and then continued on for another 750m heading for our campsite.  This 750m proved to be horrendous, if we weren’t climbing over and under logs, we were bashing through tree ferns, or negotiating our way around big pools of water.  I’d walked along this section of creek two years ago and don’t remember it being as bad as it was, although speaking with Jeff yesterday, he said that he remembered it as being horrible and “never to be repeated”.

Half the time we were on our hands and knees crawling through tree ferns, often because there were fallen trees above us. I look like I’m smiling here, but we were well and truly over it.

There was a faint foot-pad that we could follow made by a group that must have been along this stretch of creek a few months ago (trodden ferns) which was good as it allowed us to at least walk a track that others had negotiated (no need for route finding).

The piece de resistance was right at the end, a big pool with sheer cliffs on both sides, I sure don’t remember doing this part at all.  I had to climb over the tree ferns that were on the side of the cliff, hoping that they wouldn’t break off and send me into the deep pool of freezing water, then I had to hope that once I was over that John would make it too.

Both of us were relieved to eventually get to our exit point.  That 750m of creek had taken us 2 1/2 hours, and we’ve both made the resolution that we’ll never, ever return to this section of the Bunglebori again!

We arrived back at camp by 3pm and set about making cups of tea and getting warm after the many water crossings that we’d made.  We both hit the sack around 6.30pm and must have been tired as both of us slept until 7am next morning!

It had showered a few times over night and as the weather forecast predicted, the temperature had dropped, so we broke camp and were on the track by 8am.  The walk out (apart from a few places where I lost the track and had to crawl through yet more ferns), was pretty easy, we arrived back at the car by 10am, and that was taking half an hour to have breakfast in the sun.

On the walk out I couldn’t resist this shot, the wattle was in bloom all over the place, stunning display.

So, how was the weekend you ask …

  1. Ethereal canyon was as pretty as I remembered and I found a couple of good camp site spots if you wanted a bludge weekend.
  2. That extension of “Ethereal Creek” was a waste of time – but I never have to go back there again and I’m no longer curious.
  3. We did find a nice campsite at the end of the logging trail, only 2 hours to get there and lots of pagodas around to explore if you wanted something to do (another bludge weekend).
  4. I’m never going back to walk up/down that section of the Bunglebori and more importantly there are absolutely no camp sites in that section of the creek.  But at least if someone talks me into going over to the Western Arthurs again (you have to use the Bunglebori to get there), we found an easier way in/out … but realistically probably never going to the Western Arthurs again anyway.

For much of the trip I had in the back of my mind the headlines if something had gone wrong “two old people winched out of the Bunglebori, what were they thinking to go there in the first place?

As John kept saying it was truly “an adventure with Marilyn”, but he survived!  Thank you so much for coming with me John.




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12 Responses to The Bloody Bunglebori

  1. David says:

    Wow! You just keep going at it don’t you Marilyn. Great report, great spirit!
    Glad you’ve survived another epic!

    • marilyn says:

      Well, at least you’re no longer calling me crazy! Have to admit though, getting a bit nervous about the type of trips I’m suggesting!

  2. Trish says:

    i didn’t see the proposed trip until too late (ie I didn’t think to look) and was kicking myself all weekend that I’d missed it. Maybe the gods were on my (forgetful) side after all! Great report!

    • marilyn says:

      Thanks Trish, you did dodge a bullet there! Yes, you have to look at the calendar these days, both the one on the blog and the stupid one on BWOC site (too slow!).

  3. Doug says:

    I think you’ve convinced me I hav few regrets my bushwalking days are over a;though any walk is a good one.

  4. Roy Cotton says:

    Another good walk and excellent report. Maybe bridge is looking better.

    • marilyn says:

      Thanks Roy, Bridge is looking good but am better to spend the time doing this until I can’t do it any more (lol)

  5. Lindsay says:

    Now I know why travelling by train is so much easier than walking – but not quite as adventurous ; or as interesting!
    Well done John (+M)

    • marilyn says:

      Yes, well done John! yes, it’s all about the journey and more fun if it’s an adventure. Will have to get you on one of my trips one day Lindsay!

  6. Jenny Hughes says:

    You two are amazing! What a trip! Glad you both made it back safe!

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