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Published: April 15th 2010
On the ladder climb
Pigeon House Mountain
Day 335 - Depot Beach
Having already done the big walk in Murramarang National Park, we had to cast our walking boats further afield in order to get some exercise. Pigeon House Mountain isn’t a terribly huge challenge, but it sounded like fun and walks that are fun are right up our street!
There are a few kilometres of gravel track to traverse once we come off the highway just short of Ulladulla. It’s amazing what an hour long, very dusty road does to the mind when you’re heading into the wilderness! It started to send us a bit stir crazy as the vibrations from the corrugations rattled both of our brains.
When we get to the car park we find it totally empty which is great news as it means there’s unlikely to be any other walkers ahead of us so the wildlife should be nice and relaxed (read ‘unsuspecting’!). The walk starts as it means to go on, with a steep climb! It’s a very peaceful hike through the woods and we catch the odd glimpse of our destination. Picture a classic cone-shaped volcano with a big blob of exposed stone at the top and you’ve
got yourself Pigeon House Mountain. It was named by Captain James Cook during his voyage of discovery where he “…saw a remarkable peaked hill which resembles a square dovehouse with a dome on top and for that reason I named it Pigeon House - Lieutenant James Cook, HMS Endeavor, April 21, 1770.
Given that the aborigines had occupied this land for 60’000 years it came as no surprise to learn there was an original name for the mountain, “Didhol” or “Dithol” but the translation is far less elaborate than Cooks, the name means Woman’s Breast!
I remember when I read the brief track notes they mentioned to get into a rhythm with your walking because after the first steep section it slackens off a bit then you hit another climb followed by a series of ladders. It also said that Wattles, Banksias and Epacrids dominated the surrounding vegetation. We know what Banksias look like and could probably pick out a Wattle or two but Epacrids, ok you’ve lost us now!
The ladder section was a hoot. Neither of us counted the number of steps or the number of ladders but there’s a lot and it puts a smile
on our face when we finally step off the last one. Who cares that the view is slightly masked by mist, it’s still beautiful and totally worth the effort to rise a mere 720 metres above sea level.
We’re on our own for just enough time to do the mandatory self timer photograph and then we’re joined by a group of chaps who reach the trig point roaring with joy. It certainly wasn’t a dull five minutes that we spent together up there, the jokes came thick and fast. One of the lads introduced himself as the girl of the group and that he’d cried half way up and had to be carried, then he went on to tell us how trying to hitchhike around the M25 was like a game of monopoly when he’d get picked up by the police for being on the motorway and taken back to the start! The group are on an overnight hike to The Castle, another 3 or so hours further north but they’re fully pumped and raring to go so suspect they’ll make sure work of it and laugh themselves silly along the way.
We leave them to it and
start making our way back down the ladder system. It’s certainly easier going down than it was going up and we’re pretty chuffed to be back on flat ground when we reach the bottom. We felt we’d earned some refreshment so headed out to the Mountain House Tearooms but they’re closed and up for sale. A cool $959’000 will get you this business that comes with a separate residential dwelling offering terrific panoramic views in 58 leafy acres. Well, if we win Tatts Lotto then we’ll consider this additional purchase aswell as getting the tyres on the car done and the caravan serviced!
Our taste for adventure hasn’t quite left us though and we decide to take a gravel track through the forest to Shallow Crossing. What an epic this turned out to be and a dusty epic at that! It was fun though and we found some funny stuff along the way like the ‘Iron Bark’ tree which literally had an iron fixed to it and then there was another tree with ‘Spring Water’ which had a spring and a hose pipe fixed to it! There were also lots of crosses on trees as we drove through and
a sign for a nudist camp! It was a funny old drive!
Despite feeling lost every now and then we kept on the Clyde Road (the right track!) until reaching the Mogood Lookout. It’s a lookout where you have to work a bit for the view, it’s a steep drive to the top (!) but then it’s a case of clambering up on the half a tree trunk to make the most of things! From here we found our way down to Shallow Crossing which, as luck would have it was very shallow and easily crossed! Little did we know that some of the best fishing spots in all of New South Wales are right here - it was our best chance of finally catching something big enough to eat and we didn’t even now!
Despite that little trek taking us longer than we’d expected we still had a lot of the day left so thought we’d check out Pretty Beach for the second time on this trip. We’d come through Shallow Crossing and then dropped down via The Sheep Track, which is a bit rough but fun, onto The Old Highway to be deposited right across the
road from the turning for Pretty Beach. Perfect!
Ahhh, Pretty Beach. It’s not changed, it’s still beautiful and despite the weather not being the warmest day ever we decide to brave the water and get the snorkels out. What a laugh that was, we were dunked over and over again by the waves! The rock pools are just ‘goldfish bowls’ but prettier, they’re ace to look into. There’s something about this beach, it’s relaxed, it’s serene and it’s rarely busy. People, do yourselves a favour and spend time at Pretty Beach when you come anywhere near Batemans Bay. It’s sure to be a highlight.
We headed back over to the caravan at Depot Beach for the last part of the afternoon and evening. Darryl tried his hand at fishing while I went for a walk along the beach in search of sea urchins. Neither of us had any luck!
And so our time here had come to an end. In the morning we’ll be packing up and getting back on the road, we’ll find out where to when we get there!
Dar and Sar
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