|12 July 2006
|Orroral Valley and The Ridge of Stone
|Maps: Rendezvous Creek 8626-1S 1:25000; Corin Dam 8626-1N 1:25000
Walking by 7.50am, with the fog clearing. The sun slanted across the Orroral Valley grasslands and, looking back, Orroral Tor caught the rays above the fog. Plenty of kangaroos bounding about and rabbits near the car park. I'd heard of this round being done in the other direction - either way is great, but today we could look up to The Ridge of Stone as we walked up the valley and see the features which we were to visit. We crossed the wooden bridge over James Creek and continued up the valley to the NE. An abortive attempt to cross the Orroral River through the swamp, so we continued up the valley to opposite the 2 boulders on the other side of the river. We crossed here (pic 1) (6.1km and 1hr 25mins to here).
We continued N for 450m to the edge of the trees and the beginning of the climb (6.6km and 1hr 30mins). A wild dog howled up on the ridge. A 10 minute break for a walker to finish his breakfast and for us to dress down for the climb. The fog was drifting up the valley behind us.
The obvious route was up to the NE, heading for the boulder feature marked on the map at the top of the ridge. Pretty easy travelling, apart from the up. The granite became more and more spectacular, fooling me into believing that a monster boulder was the boulder. Max knew better. More massive stones appeared and it was hard to believe that just one could be identified as the boulder. We finally found a climb up one (8.5km and 3hrs 5 mins) and enjoyed morning tea for 15 minutes. My gaze was drawn to Dutchies Peak, up from the other side of the valley.
Away along the ridge at 11.10am and after leaving the granite piles, the walking became very pleasant through open woodland, just over the back of the ridge and out of the breeze. At times we saw tape, but it was not necessary to follow any marked trail.
I had the ACT Granite book with me and had the time to identify the various climbing features. At 11.45am, Roman Walls came into view across a hundred metres to the SE. We turned more to the S and passed through SH1333. We reached to N top of Sentinel Rocks (10.9km and 4hr 30mins). I turned to the Sentinel Rocks plan in the book and, lo and behold, there was listed the 'Power Cat' climb, explaining the 'PC' painted on the granite and the climbing aids above. Last time we'd approached the area from the S and into the bottom of the orange streaked towers, so it was great to climb down and around from the N.
Next came the Trojan Wall (11.1km and 4hr 40mins). We popped from the sheltered side of the ridge over to the top of the rocks and peered down onto the Orroral River valley and over to Mt Orroral.
Heading SSE for a further 750m in 20 minutes, we followed the well-trodden track down into Opera House Cave, then up through the first crawl at the back. Here I turned around, screwed up my courage and scaled the rock face to the top (now doubt others find this easy, but I'm not partial to heights). Managed to get my camera out with one hand as I clung on with the other and snapped the view down to the valley and NW along the ridge top (pic 2). Getting back down was worse than going up! Then up through the second crawl, too cold to check out the view again, so we found a spot in the sun just off the track for lunch (11.9km and 5hr 5mins).
After a 25 minute lunch we followed the track to the collimation tower car park and went down the few metres to the top of Tower Rocks (12.6km and 5hr 45mins). Back to the track junction and SE to The Belfry. A spectacular granite rock (pic 3) (13.7km and 6hr 10mins). On to The Cloisters, the last of the identified features on The Ridge of Stone (13.9km and 6hr 15mins).
Nothing left but to head down the steep spur (Max usually avoids boring fire trails in favour of ankle-twisting bush), hit the fire trail (15.3km and 7hr 5mins) and follow it back to the car.
An excellent round exploring marvelous granite features with relatively easy walking.
Distance: 17.6km Climb: 500m. Time: 7.50am - 3.25pm (call it 7.5hrs) with 45 minutes of breaks.
|Click on a thumbnail below to see the full sized picture
|1 Orroral River
|2 Sentinel Rocks and The Trojan Wall from Legoland
|3 The Belfry