|8-9 April 2006
|Mt Morgan, Mt Murray - a trip to the other side of the end of the world
|Maps: Rules Point 8626-4S 1:25000; Rendezvous Creek 8626-1S 1:25000
We parked the cars, geared up and set out by 10.30am, heading up and SE through unburnt vegetation, often finding footpads/brumby trails going in our direction. We passed across Spot Height 1434 and on to the edge of a pleasant frost hollow on Gurrangorambla Creek for a relaxed lunch hour at 12.30pm. The weather was excellent - cool and sometimes a light breeze with a perfect blue sky. From the creek flats views opened up to the hills we were seeking with Mt Morgan and Half Moon Peak appearing above the trees.
We headed a little S of E for another 1.5 km, then turned SE up the sharp rise to the well defined ridge leading to Mt Morgan. The climb of around 150m led us onto a beautiful ridge of Snow Gums and soft alpine grasses with an easy to follow footpad (see pic 1). A few remnant snow/ice pockets lay about. We stopped at 3.30pm at around 1780m, where a rock pile gave great views to the W to nearby Half Moon Peak and further out across the Currango Plain and S to Mt Morgan.
But my attention was drawn to the east - to see hills I had only ever previously seen from the other side. I did get a little excited! I could identify Mts Namadgi, Burbidge, Kelly, Scabby and Gudgenby. Absolutely fabulous! To the NE the granite crown cap of Coronet Peak was clearly identifiable, with Split Rock at Cotter Rocks further out.
We pressed on up the ridge and reached Mt Morgan at 4.30pm, the sunlight beginning to slant (see pic 3). Mt Morgan has a rocky granite top and provides views uninterrupted by trees. Again, I was drawn to the east to see even better views of the Bimberi Wilderness (see pic 2).
10 minutes in the biting wind was sufficient and we began to descend to the NE for 1.5km to a well defined camp site at the headwaters of the Goodradigbee River. We reached it at 5.15pm, quickly setting up tents and getting water before the evening light failed.
This was my first experience of camp fire camping in NSW - the way to go here with its large rock surrounded fire place with log furniture. Being a fuel stove only area walker, I was surprised when the fire flared and the billlies came out. 3 of us did use stoves and my gas rig made quick work of the usual tasty blend of TVP, Thai sweet chilli sauce, dehydrated peas and corn and 2 minute noodles. A little jellied fruit and coffee, followed by shared chocolate and port.
It was a beautiful night and warm enough in several layers and long-johns, as long as one kept rotating oneself in front of the fire. Bright moonlight a week before Easter and a cloudless sky showed a starry heaven. Orion was renamed the shopping trolley! To bed around 8pm, the wind keeping any frost away. A cool night, but my light 3 season bag managed.
Distance: 10.1km Climb: 650m.
Up at 7am for an 8.30am start. But back to bed for breakfast, as the gas stove is fine near the tent. Away by a little after the appointed time.
We continued NE across a frost hollow to the Lone Pine Trail. I'd forgotten to sleep with my camera, so yesterday's batteries would not fire and a set of ordinary strength single use fellows also didn't when freshly loaded. So I pulled the 3 from my headlight and pocket warmed another to get the snaps going. No chances with the GPS - a fresh set of 2600mAh rechargeables getting me home. The bush a little burnt and sad here. We walked SE for a few hundred metres until George knew we had passed the bridle trail he was looking for - impossible to recognise it with the scrubby regrowth and, perhaps, not as much use since the fires and his last visit to the area.
So we set off through the bush, first NE to around Spot Height 1565, then more to the N then NW as we contoured around towards the twin peaks of Mt Murray. We finally hit a footpad which took us to horse yards just inside the ACT. Their use was unclear - one way gate fittings lay on the ground.
A very well defined footpad left the area to the NE, across another frost hollow and towards the climb to Mt Murray E. Morning tea was enjoyed for 20 minutes at the root and rock window (see pic 4), then we pressed on up the ridge. Fabulous views opened up to the east, with the features I'd recognised even closer than yesterday from Mt Morgan - Mts Namadgi, Burbidge, Kelly, Scabby and Gudgenby. Excellent views behind us, too, from the SE to the SW. We could see much of yesterday afternoon's journey up the ridge to Mt Morgan and also much of this morning's track from the campsite to this point.
We arrived below Mt Murray E at 12 noon, dropped our packs and scrambled to the top of the granite cap for more utterly fabulous, uninterrupted views. Breathtaking, as before. In addition, views further into Namadgi National Park to the NE, with Mt McKeahnie and Dutchies Peak recognisable. Bimberi Peak lay to the N. Although a few metres lower than Mt Murray W, this peak certainly commands the better views (see pic 5)!
Back down, we enjoyed a lazy lunch out of the wind.
Away by 1.30pm, we followed a footpad/brumby trail to Mt Murray W, spending nearly 30 minutes here again taking in the view. The third highest hill in the ACT was conquered! The trig point on Bimberi Peak could just be seen and, again, the familiar territory of Split Rock, the Pond Creek cut and Coronet Peak.
A quick plunge down the N face brought us out on the Murray Gap Trail, just to the W of the Murrays Gap signage (and, for 2 of us, just to the W of the main party!). A pause, then away at 3pm along the Trail (also the Australian Alps Walking Track) to Dunns Flat, with excellent views up to Bimberi Peak and Mt Murray W. Across Dunns Flat Creek, down to the crossing of the Goodradigbee River and up to Oldfields Hut (see pic 6). A 10 minute break, then up the hill and down the dale, following the hard surfaced fire trail. At 5pm a left turn onto the Pocket Saddle Road and the final trudge back to the cars at 5.15pm.
Distance: 14.2km Climb: 450m.
A quick change (must improve my post walk etiquette by bringing a change of clothes, as well as footwear) and a long drive home. Excellent to see a herd of brumbies on the road just after setting out, excellent to miss the numerous roos and rabbits and the owl flying off from the middle of the road just as we rounded a corner. A stop for driver reviver and tucker in Cooma and home by 10pm.
Thanks to George C for the fabulous views (the scrub and fire trail plodding were worth it) and also to Barry K, Leanne A, Margaret C, Mary H, Meg McK, Ray F and Stephen for their excellent company.
Distance: 24.2km Climb: 1100m. Time: 2 days.
|1 Footpad on ridge to Mt Morgan
|2 View N to E to S from Mt Morgan
|3 Mt Morgan
|4 Root and rock window
|5 Coronet Peak from Mt Murray W
|6 Oldfields Hut