A STUNNING DAY ON SENTRY BOX MOUNTAIN

SENTRY BOX MOUNTAIN

28.9.16

Last Wednesday dawned a stunning mountain day: crystal-clear, cloudless sky and a slight nip in the air.  At last!   We have had such a long spell of awful weather and I didn’t want to have to lead another walk in bad weather.

Sentry Box lies on the A.C.T.’s western border with NSW. , in the south of the Territory. It has a long, curving summit ridge, with the highest point in the south and a very prominent rock, Sentry Box, right on the northern edge.  Sentry Box is at 1673m while the actual summit, over 1 km away along the ridge, is 1727m. My plan was to go to Sentry Box Rock from the Yaouk Road in NSW, have lunch there, then go south along the ridge to a saddle just beyond SH 1696 from where we would go down a long and steep west-facing gully , then head north-west to another , low, saddle to join our outward track.  7 of us met at the Kambah Village Shops, piled into 2 cars and took the long  (about 90km) and relatively slow  (1 hour 40 minutes) drive out there.

By the time we were ready to start walking it was 10.am.

In the photo below, our route crossed the grasslands and then followed the gully slanting up to the left to the saddle just out of sight on the left and then more or less following the ascending skyline ridge to the summit. From Sentry Box, we walked along the ridge, to the saddle just behind the prominent rocky knoll on the skyline,  from where we descended

 

1

Sentry Box Mountain Sentry Box Rock can be seen on the left of the summit ridge. The actual summit lies about ¾ km behind the rock outcrop on the right.

 

2

We climbed up from the first saddle to come out on the ridge midway between Sentry Box Rock and the first prominent granite slabs to its right. We descended from the saddle, down the gully, immediately to the right of the knoll (SH 1696) and granite slabs in the centre of the photo. The steepness of the gully is masked by the trees.

3

Looking across the paddocks to the ascent of the mountain

4

Passing the hut on the way in.

5

Crossing Bradleys Creek at the little bridge with the Scabby Range in the distance

6

The end of the grasslands

7

The Mini Minor deep in the bush

It is a little tricky getting into the right gully from the grasslands, so I was being very careful with my navigation. Once before I had made an error going up here which was not serious (the north west ridge of the gully) but I didn’t want to do that again and although I had been up here on several occasions in the past, the route is never quite the same and in any case, when I am following others in a party,  I don’t take too much notice of the detail of the route.  However, I am pleased to say that on this occasion I was very pleased with my navigation which was “spot on”.

I hate going through scrub unless I have to do so . Therefore, and  out of concern for my party, I always try to go around any thick scrub.   Whilst I still avoided obstacles and scrub as much as I could, the way up here is actually through fairly open forest.   Initially, it is cool moist forest; lovely tall eucalypts :  montane forest,  and our way went through a maze of lichen-encrusted granite boulders and outcrops.

We were ascending the true right bank of the creek and it was lovely to hear it burbling away in the background, accompanied by the other song of the high, moist gullies:  the calls of Lyrebirds.  We saw a number of their dancing mounds but didn’t spot any nests. Apart from the lichens there were many mosses and ferns to be seen as well as many flowers coming out, including wattles and grevillea.   Once we were above the source of the creek we were on a drier slope where the trees were very different and the scrub was often more prickly, such as the occasional bursaria or needle bush.

8

Not far to go now (or, famously, “only another 300 metres” !!) . Barrie checks his navigation and waits for the party to catch up and have a drink stop. It is hot and thirsty work, all this climbing upwards and over large rocks and fallen trees

Eventually we turned east and came out on a low saddle in sub-alpine country of Snow Grass and Snow Gums, only 200-300 m from Sentry Box Rock, From here, it was merely a question of following the crest of the ascending ridge through a maze of huge granite boulders and Snow Gums to the summit slabs with Sentry Box Rock only metres away.   I love these areas up high in the sub alpine country.  The Snow Gums and Snow Grass are so lovely and so different.  There is, too, a sense of mystery and ghostliness in amongst the grey-white trunks and the grey, moss-and-lichen-encrusted granite.  One feels in a different world,  A beautiful world, full of spirit and atmosphere,  far removed from man: a mountain world of unpredictability, aloofness, isolation and remoteness.  It belongs to itself and we are interlopers.

It was wonderful to break out of the trees onto the slabs of the summit ridge and hear the excited exclamations of my friends on seeing the incredible views. Wonderful, because that is the very reason I brought them up here.   I wanted them to enjoy what I have seen and felt and to be delighted by the incredible 360* views.   It was not for myself, but for them, for them to find joy in all that this fragile earth of ours has hidden away yet gives joy to those who seek.  That gives me happiness.

Gazing out over the vastness and the tangled blue mountains and valleys  one is conscious of vastness, distance, infinity, eternity – a land of great age, in shades of blue, dappled by slow-moving darker blue cloud shadows.

Before we had lunch at Sentry Box Rock (which we reached at 12.40 pm) we spent a little while examining the weird and crazy shapes of the boulders scattered over the slabs, letting our imaginations run riot.

One of our number then led off to the lunch spot, and as someone else has observed, she sometimes needs to be constrained. Now,  that past remark was in the context of holding her pace back to something reasonable,  but I see that she has been badly trained and needs constraining in other ways.   When she sees scrub, she doesn’t go around it, but plunges right through it!   We were to learn more about this later.

The temperature at nearby Mt Ginini had been forecast for a max. of 9* c. but I think it was colder. A front was pushing through and although the day remained fine, the temperature had dropped and a cutting breeze had got up.

The views, as I have said, were fantastic. To the north west , the Scabby Range, to the north, solitary and proud, Mount Gudgenby,   on the eastern skyline the Tinderry Range behind Michelago, to the south the summit ridge of Sentry  Box Mountain, while to the south west was Yaouk Peak and behind it the Snowy Mountains, snow-covered Jagungal and the Main Range.  Wild, remote, rugged wilderness.

9

We break out of the trees, and there is Sentry Box Rock

10

11

12

Far off Mt Jagungal

13

Mt Gudgenby (right of centre)

14

Lunch time at Sentry Box Rock

15

Same again, this time with me in it!

16

From the lunch spot, looking south . the saddle we are aiming for is in the centre on the skyline. I skirted around to the left of the high point to its right, SH 1696. There were patches of scrub, but I managed to avoid most of it. The summit is on the skyline, extreme left.

17

Nearing SH 1696

18

Looking Back . An ACT Border Marker, with Sentry Box Rock in the background. We must have walked past this and not seen it! These stones merely mark the line of the border and hide the actual survey marker which is usually driven into the rock or ground.

 

 

Keeping more to the east of the ridge crest, and then skirting around sh1696 we were in typical heath country and many of the heaths were coming into flower.
Whilst I wanted to keep clear of the tangle of scrub and boulders on the side of SH 1696, I didn’t want to drop lower than the saddle, as well as finding the easiest passage through this heathy scrub and trees.   We seem to have achieved all this and suddenly were on the saddle, fairly level and broad , where we were back to Snow Grass, Snow Gums and even a Grevillea in flower.

19

Grevillea sp.

We now descended the steep, loose and rocky west-facing gully. I have been down here in the past and it has always been damp, with wet bark on the ground, wet grass, and many many wet ferns, all  making the descent even more tricky.  On this trip, despite all the rain we have been getting, the gully was very dry, the grass and ferns barely noticeable.  Even so, great care has to be taken coming down here.  The gully seems to go on forever!   I kept over to the true right side as much as I could .   Eventually, the gully we were following turned into a stream, with a second one coming in from the left.  By now I was working my way over to close with the ridge on the right, and not long after that, the ridge started to ease back, and a bit below the junction of the 2 streams, we climbed out of the gully, onto the ridge, descended a little more , angling to the right.  We were now entering lovely tall forest which was pretty open.  I now took a bearing for our last saddle and off we went, moving north west, and downwards, but more or less following the contours.

20

The slope has eased off and we are now in beautiful open forest.

From the saddle we headed off, cutting across a gently sloping ridge, and seeing a wombat on the way.

Talking of those who need constraining, TL ,  noticing the lateness of the hour and that it was only 1.5 km in a straight line to the cars, suggested that we should just go straight there.  I said “OK, off you go”  little dreaming of the consequences.  TL led us straight off into some of the thickest tea tree scrub I have ever encountered.  Luckily for her, the party took it in their stride and complimented her on giving us a much needed zestful finish to the day.

We arrived back at the cars at 4.40 pm.

In the late afternoon light it was a lovely drive home but the drivers had to be extremely vigilant for right back to Fitzes Hill there were countless kangaroos and wallabies alongside the road, grazing, and jumping, unpredictably,  across the road in front of the cars.

Thank you Terrylea R, Liz F, Judy G, Judy K, Dave K and Barry K for making it such a great day.

By the way, this was one of the usual clubs’ Wednesday walks, this time under the auspices of the NPA of the ACT

21

 

 

 

Advertisements

One thought on “A STUNNING DAY ON SENTRY BOX MOUNTAIN

  1. That sounded like a fun walk and the views looked awesome. I drive back from the snowys once at 6pm and was driving about 20km per hour due to all the Roos bouncing around. Not my favourite driving experience!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s