NAMADGI NATIONAL PARK
Recently, 6 of us set off in 2 cars for Corin Dam on the Cotter River, in the shadow of the Brindabella Range which runs along the Australian Capital Territory’s western boundary with NSW. It was a beautiful morning and as we wound our way up into the hills, through Smokers Gap and down to Corin Dam, we had to be extremely careful of kangaroos and wallabies. They are unpredictable and often switch direction and suddenly dive across the road. In the shadows beside roads they are often hard to see. Apart from the sadness of striking one, they often do a great deal of damage to cars when they are hit.
Our Leader had recently done a recce but otherwise the walk was really exploratory.
We parked the cars at the trackhead, the notorious Stockyard Spur Track. After sitting in a car for about ¾ hour one gets out and immediately commences the very steep track which rises a bit more than 600 metres in a little over 2 km. I have already posted an article on Stockyard Spur, so won’t go into any details now. Most of us hate the many steps which the national park people have built into the old track. They make uphill work much harder and they hammer the knees when coming down.
A little over 2 km from the start the Stockyard Spur track levels out a bit and at this point a helicopter landing pad has been cleared. This spot is where, traditionally, we have morning tea and catch up. I am obviously ageing! The last time I came up here I did it without any pauses and was certainly in the vanguard of the group. This day, however, I paused several times and was a few minutes behind the others. However, when I arrived at the heli pad Philip asked where Jan was. She had dropped behind to set her GPS right at the beginning and none of us had noticed. As she is one of the fittest and fastest walkers in the club, we all assumed she was ahead. However, it wasn’t long before she came into view. Very kindly she excused all my pauses to catch my breath by saying that she thought I was stopping to keep her in sight.
After morning tea and the usual chat, we left the track and headed down through the forest and light scrub on a bearing of about 317° m to a low saddle. From here, we went down, more or less north-east, following the course of the side creek on our right. Here we were on steep ground and in thick scrub, with plenty of fallen trees and boulders to negotiate. When the side creek was nearing its confluence with Stockyard Creek we started to contour around the hill, until we hit Stockyard Creek.
Stockyard Creek was flowing well but between close and steep valley sides. Slowly we worked our way upstream. Occasionally there were small areas of flatish ground, mostly densely covered in knee-deep ferns or bracken, dead branches, boulders and holes. Most of the time, though, we were confined to the creek bed. Imagine a descending mountain stream flowing over cataracts and over and between large, jumbled boulders. It was hard work , pulling ourselves up large boulders or dead trees. We had to be very careful as most of the boulders and logs were quite slippery. Slowly we snaked our way up the creek, often choosing our own routes, sometimes using steeply-sloping, slippery logs as bridges (ladders?).
Eventually, we reached the falls coming down the cliffs and hemmed in by the cliffs of a narrow gorge. We had reached our objective.
After spending a little while looking and photographing, we made our way up the cliffs on the true right bank, and then on up to the summit of the hill flanking the saddle we had made for on the way down. Here we enjoyed a well-earned lunch after a wonderfully exploratory walk. I have to say that by the time I reached the waterfall I was quite tired, but a good break for lunch and some food and tea soon fixed that.
After lunch it was a simple, if steep, walk back up to the Track and the helipad, before the long descent back to the cars.