|17-19 Mar 2007
|Cave Creek Canyon and Dead Horse Gap
|Maps: ACT 1:100,000; Rules Point 8626-4S 1:25000; Peppercorn 8626-4N 1:25000; Rendezvous Creek 8626-1S 1:25000
This walk was organised and led by George C as a CBC walk:
(17-19 March: Cave Creek Canyon, Bimberi Peak L/R We drive in via Tantangara then walk from Gurrangarambla Creek to Blue Waterholes (visiting Pocket Hut en-route). From here we walk through the magnificent Cave Creek (limestone) Canyon to camp where it meets the Goodradigbee River. On day 2 we climb onto Rolling Ground Ridge and work our way up to camp at 1700m near Dead Horse Gap. On day 3 we cross Bimberi Gap and do the final ascent of Bimberi (1911m). From there it’s mainly downhill to Murrays Gap, Oldfields Hut and back to the cars. Map: ACT 1:100,000. Leader: George C. Transport: minimum $40. Limit of 8.).
6 of us drove in 2 vehicles via Cooma, Adaminaby and Pocket Saddle Road to the car park at the locked gate at Gurrangorambla Creek. 3 hours. But quite spectacular clouds and mist and a beautiful green Monaro after the recent rain.
Always lessons to be learned on a walk. Two for me were 'I will always follow the leader' and 'I will always follow the leader'!
We were away around 10.40am. A group of 10 horse riders came down the trail from the horse camp just as we got going. A magic blue sky day and 4 of us just couldn't help striding out ahead of our esteemed leader N along the road, past the Murray Gap Fire Trail turnoff and onto the Blue Waterholes Fire trail. New country for me from this point on. We inspected the Goodradigbee Aqueduct valve house and took off over the green and grassy plain ... past the turnoff to Pockets Hut which had been carefully explained to us by George. The track continued NW across Seventeen Flat and then N along the E edge of the Cooleman Plain. Eagles soared in the distance. By this stage we'd been walking for 2 hours and were beginning to suspect we'd gone a little further than the 4km required to the hut turnoff. I spied a derelict pile of posts and corrugated iron just off the track which, when a 1:25000 map arrived, turned out to be Spencers Hut. We'd covered 10km and well missed the opportunity to visit Pockets Hut.
Appropriately chastised, we continued the further 1.3km to the Blue Waterholes rest area, running into the horse riders again on the track. Arrived at 1.30pm. A lovely picnic table and benches ('This recycled plastic table setting is made from the equivalent of 3200 2L milk containers.') overlooking the swimming area. Perfect for lunch.
After lunch we headed down to the creek. Huge caves gaped on the hillside, reminiscent of the Phantom's skull cave. Some signage concerning the Clarke Gorge Walk, across a couple of side creeks on stepping stones, past some 'blue' pools, a glimpse of the horse riders resting down by the creek and we were into the canyon. A most amazing place (see pics 1 and 2). The footpad hugged the side of the creek as the cliffs towered above. Several crossings. We met 3 ladies who were waiting for their guys to appear from a hole in the rock face - traversing down a cave from up above. After 2.4km we reached a waterfall (see pic 3) around 3.20pm.
Leaving the creek, we climbed E, then NE down the nose of a spur to reach the confluence of Cave Creek and the Goodradigbee River at 4.30pm. An absolute gem of a camp site, with the water gurgling by on either side of the flat triangle. Majestic gums. Set up camp, a cuppa, a (legal in NSW) fire, tea and talk till around 8pm (for me).
A leisurely start saw us away by around 8.40am, across the Goodradigbee River and up through easy medium cover on the Rolling Grounds Ridge. We trended E then S then N as the ridge eased. Although checking map and compass, George would be one of the best navigators by the lie of the land that I've walked with. Can't wait for the reprint of his Finding Your Way in the Bush. Morning tea was taken at 11.15am as we joined the Leura Gap Fire Trail.
I'm into hut bagging at the moment, so was keen to visit the ruin of Leura Hut, marked on the map just around 500m from the saddle where George was planning to have lunch. So 5 of us set of to find said feature, again under instructions as to where the party was to regroup. Well, we reckon our excuse was that the fire trail had been rerouted, as we continued up and along for some distance, checked a GPS reading which was quite unexpected and found no feature. A little track running involved to effect a regroup - lesson learned! So with some time having been consumed, lunch was taken at 1pm on the fire trail around the place we'd expected to see the old track head off.
We continued up Rolling Grounds Ridge, skirting SH1549, sighting a mob of 10 brumbies with proud stallion herding from the rear (a little like George keeping an eye on his mutinous crew) in the little saddle to the E. Although most of the route had little view, around the 1650m contour at 2.30pm we could see W down to our route in (see pic 4) and, a little later, views across to the Bogong Peaks (see pic 5).
Finally to the top of the ridge and S and down to Dead Horse Gap. Again, a beautiful camp site (see pic 6). An abortive attempt to find water down the drainage line directly E from the Gap then, with George's knowledge, a sidle around to the SE to find a trickle in another creek which could be scooped up a half cup at a time. Another idyllic evening around the fire (including high quality, high hit chocolate shared - thanks Leanne). The fire was safe to leave around 9.30pm, by which time stars had briefly appeared then vanished and the area closed down in mist.
Quite a thunderstorm rolled over at day-break, leaving showers and rain for the rest of the day. No point in climbing to Bimberi Peak to see the cloud up there, so away just after 9am to exit. We trended generally S for around 1.6km from Dead Horse Gap to above Bimberi Gap. Although no distant views, an absolutely beautiful ridge top in the mist (see pic 7). Another mob of brumbies. (Must go back here, perhaps a ride in from Mt Ginini with Max).
The next leg was S down a spur, flattening as we reached the ford over Dunns Flat Creek on the Murray Gap Trail. Scrub was nice and open, so no problems (especially towards the rear of the party after all the water had been knocked off the bushes). Plenty of water in the creeks today.
A stroll to Oldfields Hut. The others were looking forward to a fire and a hot cup of soup, but I asked if I could go on to visit Pockets Hut. An excellent suggestion from John - leave my pack with the top pointing towards Pockets Hut down at the intersection of the Murray Gap Trail with Pocket Saddle Road and, if I was still hut visiting when the remainder of the party came by, they'd turn it so the top pointed to the Gurrangorambla Creek car park.
I wandered at a reasonable pace from Oldfields Hut to the track junction, dropped my pack and scooted up along the Leura Gap Fire Trail and across the creek to Pockets Hut (see pic 9). A lovely little hut (well, quite sizeable), beautifully restored. As George said, it would have been an excellent view from the verandah up to Bimberi Peak on Saturday. Back in the rain, regrouped and walked out.
Glad we had 6-cylinder, high clearance vehicles for the drive out - the dirt a little softer and the road washed a bit at a bushfire area. Replenished with monster hamburgers and chips at Cooma.
I dips me lid to George for taking us to an area I would not visit but for his effort, and for cheerfully putting up with a mutinous crew. Thanks so much - and to Jenny, John, Leanne and Ralph.
Distance: 41.7km Climb: 1050m. Time: 3 days.
|Click on a thumbnail below to see the full sized picture
|1 Clarke Gorge, Cave Creek Canyon
|2 Clarke Gorge, Cave Creek Canyon
|3 Waterfall, Cave Creek Canyon
|4 View W to Cooleman Plain and Cave Creek Canyon from lower Rolling Ground Ridge
|5 Seried ranges looking W from Rolling Ground Ridge
|6 Dead Horse Gap
|7 Misty Ridge above Bimberi Gap
|8 Oldfileds Hut
|9 Pockets Hut