ETTREMA – 19 – 22 April 2019
The Legendary Louise has extensively explored two creek systems in the Ettrema area, which she’s named, the Lost Pools and New Moon. When she mentioned the walk to me, I thought it was an “In Your Dreams M” trip – 4 – 5 hours (that I’d already done twice and was almost scarred for life) – and that’s only the beginning! But with the passage of time, and a revised route in, I figured I’d give it a go – and doing the walk with Louise was an added incentive – I’d pretty much go anywhere with her!
So, now you’re probably thinking, where does the Flour and Milk come in? Louise (Lou) has a friend Michalee (Mik), and they went on a road trip over Christmas and posted Instagram shots. In the write up in the first photo of them at a roadside picnic table with their breakfast spread out before them, I read the blurb and instead of reading Lou and Mik my brain saw “Flour and Milk” (am I getting old or what?). I spent ages looking at the photo of their breakfast spread looking for the flour and milk and wondering if flour and milk would always appear in subsequent photos. When I realised my stupidity, I commented on the post (making fun of my mistake) and from then on the Instagram posts were @theAdventuresofFlourandMilk and #togetherwemakepancakes. Michalee (and her partner Ramon) was joining Louise (and me, Heather R, Anna O-B, Steve R, Murray N and Emma P) on this walk – so it had to be an Adventure with Flour & Milk.
The Team (l-r) The Legendary Louise, Emma & Murray (who walked in on Saturday), me, Steve, Anna, Heather, Mik and Ramon (taken on Monday morning). (Photo: Louise)
The start of the walk was not remarkable, some of us had done it before, and it’s really just a route to get us to where we have to scrub bash. Our first night’s destination was a well-known creek with a camp cave.
We stopped for morning tea, and it was obvious why Mik’s pack weighed in at 18k+ she carried in a full loaf of Sour Dough bread! And I’m sure she had loads of nice things to go on it, like butter! (Mik by the way wore bunny ears for the whole of the walk in honour of Easter, Lou wore Koala ears – the closest thing she had to bunny ears!)
Lou leading the way, we’re off track now on our way to our first location, a camp cave on a well known creek, I’d been to it a couple of times before, but the only time Lou had been there was when it was in flood so she wanted to check it out under normal conditions. We were on a nice rock shelf for a while.
But that soon ended and it was into the normal Ettrema scrub. Not many photos taken because it was so thick. We spent about 2 hours scrub bashing I think, and finally we decided to follow Lou’s intuition rather than some notes we had from someone else. Once we decided on that course of action, the scrub wasn’t so bad.
Finally we popped out onto our creek, the water was very, very low this time, didn’t look like they’d had rain in quite a while. We all took time out in the shade to recover from our bush bashing.
Photo from a distance, I love the slabby-ness of this creek.
And then the slabs give way to cascades and waterfalls that you have to skirt around.
Ramon helping Mik down one of the down-climbs, if you landed badly you’d do yourself serious damage.
And finally we were at our night’s campsite. We elected not to camp in the camp cave, as the water was so low, we could spread out on the rock slabs, Anna and I shared her tent for this walk, and that’s Steve’s tent in the distance.
We had a good campfire – the bush bashing had been pretty rough so we were all tired after the walk in. Dinner was over quickly and we settled back to wine (and rum for some), and Ramon roasted marshmellows. I was quite envious of Lou’s fried saussages!
Next morning we were able to enjoy the views, Heather sitting above the waterfall, the camp cave is down below her and to the right under the overhang.
The waterfall (what there is of it), you can camp underneath this but it’s pretty damp.
Louise had studied the map & Google Earth, and after retracing our steps back up the creek, she took us out a different way, much, much better, mostly on what she calls “highways”, not much scrub and big rock shelves, with occasional scrub to get through, there was only one 500m section which was scrub but it wasn’t all that bad.
And this is where I seriously fell down on the job. I had given Murray and Emma a GR where they were supposed to meet us, but didn’t write it down as a reminder, nor did I take in my own map, not even sure why I didn’t. I had my GPS, but that wasn’t much help, so, when we got to where I “thought” we were to meet Emma and Murray, they weren’t there. We waited a while, and had some lunch, the meet-up time was 12, but by 1.30pm, we decided that they weren’t coming, so we headed off. Fortunately we were on a bit of a track and at 2pm, we turned a corner and there they were, right where they were supposed to be, huge relief for me (and huge embarassment!).
So, now the crew’s together and we’re heading to the Lost Pools, nice rock slab to start.
But this didn’t last long and we’re into the scrub. Whilst Louise has been into Lost Pools about 10 times, and sussed out all sorts of routes, this time we were walking down into the creek and hopefully following it downstream. We got into the creek and it was less than average, and then …
Dada! it was like a runway, Louise doing her Hugh Jackman impersonation (out of the Greatest Showman), but she did qualify this by saying don’t get too excited.
Ramon on our highway!
And then it got scrubby, after an hour or so we took time out for a rest, Heather and I brought our fans along to cool down (and they were needed, it was a hot weekend).
The creek slabs came and went, scrubby and then easy.
Eventually we got to “known country” and it was time to look around for a campsite. Lou and Mik went up one side of the creek, Murray the other. It took a while but eventually Murray came back with the news that there was a great campsite up ahead, so we headed up to where he was.
And it was speccy, Murray and Emma’s spot on the cliff-top at the end of the Lost Pools Creek
A cave with a window, near Lou’s campsite which was scarily close to the edge.
The view from Steve’s campsite.
Lou’s campsite next morning, having breakfast on the balcony!
Before we headed out for our day’s adventure (we would stay 2 nights at the Lost Pools campsite), we dropped down into the Lost Pools Creek to pick up water. See that ledge in the middle distance, that’s where Anna wanted to set up our tent, way, way too exposed for me!
Steve in the creek where we picked up water, further upstream (and you can walk about 10m upstream and only get your thighs wet), there is a waterfall and a very, very deep pool. You can’t go upstream from there, the way is blocked by 2 or 3m climbs.
The small climb that we had to negotiate to get down to the water.
Looking through Heather’s legs out into the valley and the last pool that you could conceivably get to before the water cascades over a very big drop.
After collecting water for that night (and enough for the first part of the day), we headed back to the pass that we’d used to climb out of the Lost Pools creek the previous night, then found a route that Lou had used in the past up to the other side. The goal for the day was to go over to New Moon Creek. Louise had done a little exploring in New Moon, but not as much as Lost Pools, so it would be good to seriously poke around.
On the other side of Lost Pools Creek, they’re closer to the edge than I wanted to be!
We walked along to the end of the cliff-line, and could see our tents, Louise’s on the left and Murray’s on the right, all the other tents were further back from the edge (lol). The views on the way to New Moon were amazing, everywhere you looked you saw something different and the depth of the valley we were walking along (that Lost Pools flows in to), was incredible, I certainly wouldn’t want to try to walk up from the valley floor to above the cliff-line.
Eventually we made our way away from the valley cliff-line and headed over to the headwaters of New Moon. Incredibly, the scrub wasn’t too bad, so it was an easy walk.
New Moon is not as long as Lost Pools, and the catchment is quite small. So, the cliff-lines either side were smaller, but still, it was difficult finding a way down. We had to do a lot of rock hopping, up and down small drops. Murray headed upstream, the rest of us saw a potential ramp down into the creek so headed over there.
We found a likely looking ramp and someone went down to check it out, you could slide down a rift where Emma is and crawl under the big rock.
Or trust your shoes and go down Ramon’s way. At the bottom, the creek was dry in the main part, but filled with Coachwood trees, totally different to Lost Pools.
Going downstream, we came to a drop that needed to be abseiled and we didn’t have our gear with us. Murray (who by now had joined us), took a good look down to see if it could be down climbed, and whether or not you could get back up again. It was definitely a no-go but Murray said he thought we could go up the pass he’d just used and there was another ramp that would get us down below the abseil drop.
We named this “Skinny Steve Slot”, well, it had a lot of other names too, some of them quite raunchy. We named it after Steve as I thought he’d have the most trouble getting up, but he actually nailed it, must be that upper body strength.
Now, you’re wondering “what’s the big deal”, well, Mik’s making it look really easy, but she’s young, fit and a rock-climber! You first had to get to a 1.5m climb to a chock-stone where Mik’s standing), with no foot holds or hand holds, shimmy up this and stand on the chock-stone, then it was a BIG step over and up to that stone you can see. Even with the tape that we put down (for me), I couldn’t make the step from the chock stone to the rock, too high and too far. So, I reversed back out and Murray found some loose rocks which he dropped into the crevasse between the chock-stone and the rock. Fortunately the rocks held and I was able to step from the chock-stone to an intermediate rock and then the big rock! Whew, thought I’d never get up!
Ramon waiting his turn to go up, you first had to squeeze past a coachwood tree just to get to the first climb up.
Emma and Heather waiting for their turn, at this part of the slot it was actually quite wide, you didn’t have to walk sideways!
Heather and Louise high fiving it after Heather got up.
Emma making it look easy, didn’t even use the tape!
And then there was another climb! Just as hard, but the tape helped.
The last climb. We had to haul the packs up separately, for the first and second climbs, you can see from the smiles on everyones face that they were having fun (photo: Heather).
I might look like I’m smiling and having fun here, but am pretty sure a few swear words were spoken trying to get up that last climb! Emma might have given me a push too (lol). (Photo Heather – rare nice photo of me Heather, sort of wish I’d worn eye make-up!)
Emma on the last climb making it look far too easy!
Skinny Steve Slot was the absolute highlight of the day, we all worked together to get everyone up, and it definitely made up for the scrub that we’d encountered earlier in the weekend!
After the slot, we had a late lunch and then contemplated our next move. There was a “bit of a ramp” beside our lunch spot, so we decided to check that out.
Anna in the ramp, compared to Skinny Steve Slot, it was piece of cake.
The canyon/creek at the bottom of the pass, so different from Lost Pools.
Murray walked upstream to the bottom of the drop that he’d previously looked down, was definitely an abseil, and this is definitely a canyon!
We walked further downstream and discovered a cave that you could climb up into, there wasn’t any flat floor but the cave went up about 30m.
A better shot of the cave, very impressive, I tried going up into it but it was very steep (photo: Louise).
The creek opened out further downstream and we came across this enormous tree, just begged to be walked across.
Heather had explored down this far but was stopped by the small drop, so we set up the tape and everyone (except me) went down to look around some more.
They didn’t get too far, and good thing I stayed on top, they found a small Tiger Snake that everyone wanted to photograph. This was our 2nd snake, Emma and Heather found a Broad Headed Snake hatchling (highly venomous) just before they went up to Skinny Steve Slot.
The snake, ID’d by Murray (photo Louise).
On our way out and Murray did a rendition of Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing, complete with lyrics!
Exiting New Moon Creek up Heather’s Pass.
A bit of a scramble at the top.
Resting at the top of Heather’s Pass (good find Heather!).
Once up the top, Louise made a bee-line back to Lost Pools. Heather, Emma and Murray decided on a new route down into Lost Pools creek, possibly “abseiling” on my tube tape, the rest of us retraced our steps back to camp. The explorers did have 3 drops that they had to use the tape on, the last one took them into the big pool where we’d collected our drinking water that morning, they got back way before us and we could hear them shrieking as they dropped into the freezing water of the pool.
Louise had spent 2 hours on Sunday night looking over the Google Earth maps and thought she had a new route to get back to our track. Sure enough, she led us unerringly along rock slabs with small sections of scrub to push through and 45 minutes later, we were back in known country.
Morning tea in the shade and then a forced march slog to the cars.
What a great four days, weather was perfect and we got to go to such a special place with Louise, and I finally got to meet Mik. Thank you so much Louise for taking us to this magic place!
Banner: Heather at the camp cave waterfall Thumbnail: Me hiding behind the fan Heather gave me which came in really handy.
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