Needle in a haystack

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March 20th 2010
Published: April 1st 2010
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Needle in a haystackNeedle in a haystackNeedle in a haystack

A big reward offered but a huge search to undertake
Day 329 - Orange

During our time in the Cradle Mountain national park in Tasmania, two separate people recommended the Kanangra-Boyd national park here in New South Wales as an excellent days adventure walking. Today we’re going to check it out for ourselves and with the alarm set for 6am we’re making sure we allow the maximum amount of time possible to ensure success! We joked that any additional sleep could be caught up on the hour and three quarter journey getting there but out of respect for Tony we all just about managed to stay away while he was at the wheel of the cruiser.

The final 27kms of the trip are via gravel road. There’s a smart looking national park campground here too and the road is in excellent condition, even good enough to take our caravan along it we reckon!

We’re not the only ones making an early start of it; three chaps heading off for some canyoning fun were getting themselves ready in the car park when we arrived. They stopped at the lookout to admire the view before going on towards Kalang Falls where they’ll start their adventure. We’d all spotted a helicopter hovering above a section of the park, we didn’t like to say it but it was probable somebody was in trouble and a rescue was underway. We didn’t see it land however and then it seemed to circle over the area so maybe it was just a practise session.

With maps in hand, we took off towards Cottage Rock via the Plateau Walk. Jane has done a very thorough job with printing the track notes to help us head in the right direction as we’re not expecting our walk to be sign posted at all.

Walking along the plateau gives us the chance to spot the cascading Kanangra Falls on the opposite side of the valley and Thurat Spires. Out of the seven different falls we can see five from our vantage point, no amount of visual searching can uncover the others so we continue with our walk.

It’s at this point we take our first educated guess of the day. With no signs to tell us we’re definitely heading in the right direction we all have a look at the notes and agree to take what looks to be the likely track. I seem to have a bit of verbal diarrhoea today and am conscious that I’m yapping on like a demented dog at times but can’t seem to stop myself. We walk through the bushes thick with seed pods and past the banksia trees until we find a spot for ‘morning tea’ at the side of the track. It wasn’t a long break in proceedings and we’re soon back on our feet, track notes in hand all the while trying to fit the notes to our surroundings. ‘Continue along the eroded track which drops into a saddle and then climbs to Murrarang Top’ said the track notes and we think we did just that but then we came to a fork in the track. Do we carry straight on or turn right? The track notes say to keep left at the fork and we notice a stick leant against a bush which neatly marks our spot when we come to return.

All things considered we continued straight on, presuming that we’re taking the left fork and then we drop down through a break in the cliff line. In fairness the next bit looked harder than it was but Darryl & Tony went down first checking things out and trying to establish whether or not a track existed in any direction. Our choices were to go down a steep hill to the left or continue round to our right. If we were where we thought we were then the track notes said ‘Continue along to shortly reach the Coal Seam Cave’. We continued round to our right as there was no distinguishable track to our left. Our decision eventually brought us to a gap in the trees and a view across to a ledge and a rocky outcrop in the distance. Was it Cottage Rock? We had no idea and continued up the track expecting things to become a bit more obvious ‘just around the corner’. Instead what we found was the stick leaning against the bush on the original track, we’d come full circle!

The conversations and theories flew thick and fast, none of us were sure where we’d gone wrong and how to put it right. We might be on the right track but not walked far enough, we might have missed a turn somewhere, we might be on a completely different track having not walked along the plateau far enough in the first place. It was anyone’s guess and with no signage it was a complete mystery! There was one thing we did know though, we were now heading back in the direction of the plateau and the pace was being picked up.

We made it back to the plateau in double quick time and came across a group of rather serious looking hikers who we felt sure would be able to tell us where we were! With speed and precision one chap turned our map around and pointed us immediately in the direction of Cottage Rock, straight back down the track where we’d just returned from! So credit where credit’s due, as a group we had successfully navigated ourselves in the right direction and we weren’t lost at all and perhaps we did get to Cottage Rock (although we doubt it)! We mused over why there’s no signage for the walk and how much easier it would be if there was even the slightest hint walkers were heading in the right direction or had even reach their destination. No matter, it’s a challenge left for another time.

While I chatted to one half of the hikers with Darryl, Jane & Tony continued conversations with the other half! Ironically one of the lads in Jane & Tony’s ‘group’ was the son of Tony’s former heart specialist! Isn’t it funny how people just randomly bump into one another! In ‘our group’ there was no such familiarity but we did get to talk to the husband of the lady rescued this morning via the helicopter we’d seen on our way into the park. The lady had fallen on her ankle yesterday afternoon and became unable to walk so the group sheltered in a cave overnight hoping it would free up by morning. Sadly it didn’t so the rescue team were ‘called out’. That involved the chap clambering up to the rock above them and setting off a personal locator beacon to emit a signal which is in turn picked up by the rescue team.

There’s no communication between the two groups at all and because the area is notorious for canyoning the helicopter pilot had to do a sweep of the area before settling on the location of the signal. It took about an hour for the rescue team to arrive and they brought two paramedics unaware of the severity of the situation they were being winched in to. Thankfully the lady was now on her way to hospital and the rest of the group were returning to their starting point and getting picked up later on in the day. At least it wasn’t anything too serious but it just goes to show how well prepared you have to be when walking in areas such as this, especially if you’re on an overnight walk like they were.

There wasn’t much shade on top of the ridge but the group had pointed us in the direction of a ledge with a view where we could eat our lunch. We found it eventually but it took a bit of a battle with short, stout rigid bushes to get to it! So we at least ate lunch with a view and although it wasn’t the view we’d had planned none of us much cared, it was just nice to look out at something.

Finding our way back to the original path across the plateau was a hoot! The boys pointed their sticks in various directions of possible paths but one of them led us crawling into a dead end. Reverse, reverse! Poor Tony was the only one captured on camera but the same fate bestowed us all.

When we did finally make it back out to the track the lure of the Kalang Waterfalls were too strong for us to ignore them. It was the perfect swimming hole, if only we’d thought to bring a towel down with us - drat! Four hundred and something steps took us back to the start, don’t you just love steps. We often think of the people given the task of installing them in the first place, what a job that must be. We puffed and panted back at the top lookout and then headed for the car park and ‘home’.

Tony & Darryl shared the drive back to Orange. It had been a long day so it was nice that they did it between them. Safely back at the Barwick’s we treated ourselves to a lovely mixture of leftovers from previous nights dinner and then listened to my Dad singing via CD. We’d made a compilation for Tony but it’s been worn out by lots of use! We set about putting that right and then head off for a good nights sleep.
Kanangra Falls Kanangra Falls Kanangra Falls

... how many can you spot?!

Dar and Sar

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1st April 2010

I really enjoyed your Australia post. It reminded me of my there. My blog is looking for travel photos. If you have the time, check us out a Continued fun on your travels, Heather

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