CARNE CREEK – 27 – 28 October 2018
Fire Trail #7 > Carne Creek > Miracle Slot > Fire Trail #5
Melinda is a “kindred spirit”, loves off track exploratory adventures, doesn’t care about getting wet, muddy or dirty and has a delightful sense of humour. Mel also assures me that she only leads walks that aren’t going to “kill her”. So, when she put a joint Sydney Bush Walkers/UBMBC walk on the calendar, with the added advantage of doing the Miracle Slot, I was “on it” like a fat kid on a Big Mac!
A cast of thousands (well 12 of us), met up at the Zig Zag Railway around 8.30am, left some cars there, then set off. Poor Helen had suspension problems with her car, so turned back after 10 minutes and we were down to 11 – a bigger group that I’m used to (perhaps Mel hasn’t got the bad reputation for scrub that I have). The car shuffle between FT#7 and FT#5 was very time consuming so we didn’t start walking until around 11am.
We followed the old fire trail for quite some time, very easy walking.
Eventually we were far enough along the ridge to get views of the Wolgan Valley.
The show of wildflowers was stunning (a type of Melaleuca here).
While everyone else was on the edge of the cliff taking in the views of the valley, Glen found a “seat” on top of a pagoda.
Stunning views along the ridge.
And very easy walking.
I love the way the sandstone and ironstone has been laid down, then the softer sandstone erodes and you’re left with these amazing ironstone sculptures.
We’re now in real pagoda country, and Mel needed to negotiate us through this maze of rock, you can barely see the other three walkers in the image, gives you perspective on the size of these rock formations.
Our goal for lunch, an “island” in the middle of the bush (well, looked that way to me – you know those islands around China and Vietnam), it just begged to be climbed (well, maybe another day – no time for that today).
We dropped a little in elevation and then stopped for lunch beside the island before our descent.
There were two possible ways down – one which looked dodgy and maybe needed a rope, and then another ramp with lots of lose rocks, we took that route.
Will negotiating down the ramp, it doesn’t look that bad but there was a serious drop to the left.
Followed by another ramp with more lose rock.
Followed by some serious down-hill, very slippery on the leaf litter and lose rocks everywhere, definitely required three points of contact to do the descent safely. At this point I was thinking that whilst the walk wouldn’t kill Melinda, one miss-step and it might kill me! I spent a lot of time on my butt sliding down.
This gives you an idea of how steep the slope was on the spur.
Down towards the bottom of the spur now, and a discussion on the best way forward, primarily avoiding the Emirates’ Resort property line – we didn’t want to be walking on their land. I was just glad to be down on relatively flat ground.
An aside here … I’d spent a weekend in the upper reaches of Carne Creek about six years ago, and it had scarred me for life (well, almost), the creek walking was extremely difficult, we were only travelling at less than a k per hour, and there were some “hairy drops” that we had to skirt around, so I was expecting the worst! Not to mention the fact that our campsite was less than average with no wood to burn and a thin sliver of sand to camp on. So, I wasn’t looking forward to 3k of creek scrub bashing.
Damon headed out in front to find the best way and it turned out that this creek walk was literally a walk in the park – easy-as.
The weather was stunning and by mid afternoon, it was quite hot. We stopped here for a short rest and to enjoy the park-like surroundings. Mind you, they’d had a bit of rain over the last month, hence the lush green grass, might not have looked so pretty 3 months ago. With such easy walking – I’m liking this trip more and more!
We came to a side creek and Damon crossed on a log, I didn’t like the look of the crap (lots of branches) at the end so headed upstream for a safer route for me where I wouldn’t run the risk of falling off the log.
Three of us went the upstream route (no scrub), the rest went Damon’s log walk way, very untidy at the end. We walked another 100m and then decided that we’d walked right past the 5-star campsite so headed back across the creek and set up camp.
How good is this, the lush grassy meadow that I’ve spent the last five years searching for! We were able to well and truly spread out – that’s how big it was – and only 20m from running water in the creek. Some of the guys went downstream to swim in a deep pool, the rest of us lazed around until happy hour.
A wombat walked up close to us, then realised that we weren’t other wildlife, so took off, first stopping at this convenient log and using the sharp end for a bit of back-scratching (they do love to scratch their backs).
Happy hour … what do you do when the National Park has a total fire ban? Well, a few bits of wood, some red and yellow cellophane and a small LED lamp and voila! a half-way decent campfire (l-r Will, Tim, Srini, Luke, Andrew, and Sheila).
Next morning we set off upstream. Initially we were on the river flats, easy walking on what must have once been grazing lands.
Eventually though we headed up higher to avoid some scrub, still really easy walking though
Looking back at Jade and Damon – gives you an idea of how nice the terrain was here.
But then we got into some serious bracken fern, looked decidedly snaky to me so was happy when we were out of the bracken.
We had crossed another small side-creek (dry), encountered some more bracken and then a short climb .
And came to another grassy meadow, right by the creek. We decided that this one would be a good campsite for a trip in the future. Interestingly, Tim pointed out that many of the trees had been ring-barked (barbed wire tightened around a tree, and eventually the tree dies), so, note all the dead trees. Probably wouldn’t be a good place to camp during a windy weekend.
Looking down into the creek; downstream about 20m was a good waterhole for swimming. This photo gives you an idea of how much sand has eroded over the years and been deposited in the valley.
We’d seen a lot of kangaroos over the weekend but this mob was the most interesting … the one in the middle is a big male and he must have been annoyed with the other two that were just standing looking at us; there was a bit of a “dust-up” when he hit the one beside him around the ears to get him/her to move away from us.
The male taking off, you don’t often get a good action shot of a kangaroo on the hop.
They didn’t move far, maybe about 50m away, the one second from the left has a joey in her pouch, the big on the right is the male, keeping an eye on us.
Back on the track, traversing along high up to avoid the creek scrub
We then dropped down to the creek at some rapids, Will ready to lend a hand to Jade as Damon helps her cross over the slippery rocks.
Luke, Andrew, Tim and Srini negotiating their way across the rapids.
There was a decent climb up out of the creek on our way up to the cliff-line (see in the distance the cliff, well, we had to climb up that high on our side of the creek). Mel explained to us all what we’d be seeing on the way up.
A short while later we came to this sink hole, interestingly, there was a ring of saplings in the sink hole. If it was closer to water, this wouldn’t be a bad campsite, nice and flat.
Further up the hill we came to The Sphinx (a rock sitting out in the middle of no-where with a slot you could climb up for the view – Jade almost at the view point.
And more climbing, it was hot and I was getting very tired by now.
Mel at the first cliff face, there was another one above this.
I walked very quickly past this part, there didn’t seem to be much holding this huge slab of rock into place.
And finally we’re at the Miracle Slot. The first person who went down this (I think), said “it will be a miracle if it ‘goes'” – and surprisingly it did! Here’s Tim half-way up the slot
And Glen a little further up. It was actually quite dangerous with all the lose rocks, we had to be very careful and either go up one at a time, or a group of us very close together.
Once at the top, there was a small creek to negotiate and a cave to explore (see the nice window), the cave had two arches, looks like someone has camped in there. Mel with hands on hips – looks like she’s laying down the law!
From the cave, it was an easy walk up to the fire trail and then a few hundred metres back to the vehicles. At this point we split up, Damon drove those of us who had cars at the start of the walk back to the cars on FT#7 and the rest of the group headed back to the Zig Zag railway. It felt as though it took us an hour to get back to FT#7 and then another half hour – maybe more to get to the Zig Zag. Whilst we finished the walk at around 2pm, I don’t think we got back to Zig Zag until 4pm. Everyone agreed that this walk was a “one off” as the car shuffle was just too long.
Fire Trail #7 wasn’t that bad, no big holes, but Sunnyside Ridge Road had some major puddles in it (further eroded – after the last few weeks rain – by excessive use by the 4W-drivers. At this spot, Damon had to direct us around this log, as if you weren’t careful, you slid down into the puddle (very deep), or the big hole right in front of the car.
Back to the Zig Zag, we met up with some who had stayed behind to make sure we got out safely, then headed to Pie in the Sky for refreshments.
Thank you so much Melinda for putting the walk on the UBMBC calendar, it was a great trip with lots of highlights. I loved meeting the SBW members, great conversation around the campfire and lots of camaraderie. So, when are we going back (in cooler weather – lol)?