COLO WILDERNESS – Drip Rock Fire Trail – 13 December 2020
When you drive to a gated fire trail, that you know from past experience is locked, but rumour has it that it’s open, and you find that yes, it’s indeed open, you know that the universe is with you. And you’ve just been saved from walking a 22k round trip.
Mind you, after doing an 11 hour day previously neither Anna nor I were going to even consider walking the 22k if the gate was locked.
So the back story – back in January 2016, when walking out of the Colo River in untracked territory up to Drip Rock Fire Trail, about 1k from where we joined the fire trail, we came upon a track that had been cut and went all the way to the fire trail. It looked as though chain saws had been used and there were heaps of tags all over the place. At the time, Trish N and I debated whether or not we should go back for a day walk to see if we could find what the “track” went to. So, it was added to my Wish List. I had fantasized that it led to some Aboriginal art … either some Aboriginals, or some scholars had been given the key to the locked gate and had forged a good route over to something of significance. I’ve been thinking about this for the past four years.
So, with a day free in the Colo area, I’d convinced Anna that it was a good idea to go check it out, particularly as she’d heard that the locked gate was open. So, off we went in her 4WD vehicle.
The fire trail is in excellent condition, I suspect it’s been graded after the 2019/20 bush fires which ravaged the area. It’s mostly flat and easy driving, there were only two sections that caused me any anxiety (so I closed my eyes), and we only had to move 2 small fallen trees off the road.
Discovery #1: Drip Rock fire trail on the 3rd edition map actually continues for another 500m, going in a north westerly direction. (If I’d taken out the compass and checked the GPS I would have realised that we were not in the right location to start our search).
Discovery #2: At the true end of Drip Rock fire trail (and not realising we were in the wrong place), we found a “track” so we followed this but it then became obvious that it was an old overgrown, degraded fire trail. Interestingly, once I took out the map & compass, this “track” is a sure-fire route to Clew’s Cave , possibly longer, but easier than the route we took to exit in January 2016.
Discovery #3: My navigation sucks at the moment, will have to go out and brush up on my skills – just too complacent, quote from Anna “I thought you were a good navigator now I’m not sure”! She also now knows that I get my left and right mixed up.
So, back into the car and we back-tracked 500m, checked the GPS and the compass and the map, and decided we were in the right place and headed off into the bush. Too much to expect that the chain-sawn track with tapes would still be there, but we did find a faint track.
Discovery #4: We were able to follow a faint footpad which at times became well defined, and we followed it all the way to high point 456, at which point we discovered that there was no nice rock slab with aboriginal art on it, the track just continued along steadily dropping.
We’d had enough by this time and headed back to the car. So I have some new theories …
- The faint footpad probably leads to two Passes, either 29 or 29(a) and then an easy walk down to the Colo River (would actually be a nice walk), albeit about 13 – 15k one way.
- The chain sawed track was created by emergency services, possibly to rescue an injured bushwalker – there’s no other reason why there would be a 1m wide track out there in the wilderness.
So, another trip crossed off the Wish List, how good is that! and thank you Anna for driving me all over hell and back and for your good company.