Early Winter Activities


Well, Winter has only just started in the Riverina district of New South Wales (Australia), and we have already had plenty of cold days. But over the last week, I have managed three very un-winter-like nature-based adventure activities – at least to my way of thinking.

Last Sabbath (11th June) I had a hankering for some walking. The sun was shining, and from inside the house it seemed like too good a day to waste it being inside. Outside it was still rather cold, but the sunny sky seemed to be promising a beautiful, albeit coolish, day. My darling wife must have sensed my hankering because she suggested we go for a walk in the Woomargama National Park (WNP), about 40 minutes drive away from where we live. The WNP is bisected by the Hume and Hovell Walking Track (H&HWT), a 400+ km walking track between Yass (NSW) and Albury on the Victorian border, and it was part of that walking track that we decided we would walk. So we packed a picnic lunch and drove towards the WNP. As we drove merrily along we noticed that the closer we got to the park, the more cloudy the sky got. And by the time we reached the Samuel Bollard Camping Ground on the H&HWT it was looking more than a tad threatening. But we started off on our hike anyway. The plan was to hike the part of the H&HWT between the Samuel Bollard Campground and Tunnel Road – not a long hike by any means, but as we had never walked in the WNP or the H&HWT it seemed like a good starter hike. We hiked a total of around 4km, and the photos below tell the visual story of our hike.

On the Sunday (12 June), it was an early start to be in Albury by 7:45am to meet up with the Albury Wodonga Pedal Power group (AWPP). The activity for that day was a group bike ride planned from Tumbarumba to Tintaldra then some lunch and on to Walwa – a distance of around 75km. About 13 riders were going, and 2 support vehicles to attend to any mechanical or other ‘breakdowns’ and to carry all our cycling kit except for water bottles. That was a good test of my new Jamis mountain bike that I purchased about a month ago and my general fitness. Both the mountain bike and I performed fairly well – the bike seemed really at home on the asphalt roads (I was admittedly a bit surprised at that), and my fitness level must have been ok too because I managed the climbs without any real need to stop and rest for any sigificant period of time (I was admittedly a bit surprised by that too) although the fact that I had two really long rests waiting for everyone else to catch up mght have had something to do with that. It was cool (well, it is winter), but the sun was shining with not a cloud in the sky as far as the eye could see, but I did spot some cloud clinging to the sides of some of the higher mountains as I pedalled along. Having ridden the road between Tumbarumba and Tintaldra a few times before I had a reasonable idea of what to expect although it’s always different on a bicycle as there is no motor to help get up the hills. I knew that from about 1/2 way along the ride I would have some more level riding and some downhill into Tooma. There was also the 270 degree vistas across to the Snowy Mountains, towards Tumbarumba, and towards the Murray River valley.

By the time I got to the Southern Cloud Lookout, I decided I had better wait for everyone to catch up. So while I waited (and waited) I stared in wonder at the view across to the Snowy Mountains with their snow capped peaks glistening in the sunlight. Eventually the rest of the group arrived at the lookout and it was decided, rather wisely, to have a late lunch (it was around 1:30pm by this stage) of all the munchies and teas and coffees that everyone had brought along. After some munchies and a chat, and deciding to terminate the ride at Tintaldra due to the time, we got back on our trusty steeds and either barrelled or sedately rode the brakes down the hill, or anywhere on the spectrum between those two extremes, all the way into Tooma. At Tooma there was a sign saying 18km to Tintaldra pointing along a steep dirt road, and one saying 20km via the asphalt and more level road – we took the 20km option. And within about an hour of that turnoff we had started arriving at Tintaldra – by this time it was about 3:30pm, and a bit too late to continue on to Walwa so we made the right decision to stop the ride at Tintaldra – a 55km ride in total.

After a bit of a rest, putting the bikes on the support vehicles for the trip back to Albury, drink and snacks at the pub (tetotaler’s lemonade, packet of chips and Mars bar for me), we all piled in the support vehicles and enjoyed a drive into the sunset…

Then on Monday (13th June) which was the Queens Birthday Holiday, with another uncharacteristically sunny Winter day, and a weather forecast which included a lot of rain later in the week, I decided it was just too good a day to waste it being inside. So this time I decided to ride towards Holbrook and see how I went – remembering that I did a 55km / 900+ total climbs ride the day before and I wasn’t really sure how I would go. I needn’t have worried about being able to make it to Holbrook. I made it there and back with energy to spare although my legs were starting to complain a little by the time I got back home.

I learnt something interesting on the two rides over the weekend. On both I took a mixture of trail mix (nuts, seeds, sultanas), cashews, and dates for some sustenance along the way. I also carried and drank plenty of water. It seems that the combination of those munchies (a nice mix of carbs, proteins and fats) and the amount of water helped keep my energy levels up considerably so I think I will make that munchie mix a standard for future longer distance rides. I also re-discovered the ‘after-ride-glow’ – a sense of persistent euphoria!

Sore muscles and other enjoyable things


Mount Lawson Valley View and Flaggy Creek Gorge Hike

Yesterday Bec and the girls were at an ‘Adventurers Day’ in one of the ‘nearby’ regional cities, and so Jesse and I took the opportunity to engage in some hiking in the ‘church with the big blue, white and grey roof’. Thats just a fancy way of saying that instead of being cooped up inside a church building made of bricks, wood and plaster we spent it outside in the great outdoors. The weather forecast said there was a ‘possibility of showers’, but that didn’t deter us.

Mount Lawson State Park is located in Victoria (Australia) about 60km east of Albury / Wodonga between the Murray Valley Highway and Murray River Road. The information brochure on the park said it is known for it’s steep slopes, cliffs and prominent rocky bluffs and is described as semi-remote. Seems to me thats a pretty reasonable description! We set out for The Kurrajongs, where the hike was to start and made final preparations to our day packs and set off. The Flaggy Creek Gorge walk is a rugged walk (again, thats what the brochure said, and it proved very true) with a number of climbs and descents. The end of the path is at the Flaggy Creek Gorge waterfalls, which is definitely worth the effort to hike in to see.

Flaggy Creek Gorge

Flaggy Creek Gorge

Flaggy Creek Gorge

Flaggy Creek Gorge

Flaggy Creek Gorge

Flaggy Creek Gorge

Flaggy Creek Gorge

Flaggy Creek Gorge

Flaggy Creek Gorge

Flaggy Creek Gorge

Flaggy Creek Gorge

Flaggy Creek Gorge

Flaggy Creek Gorge

Flaggy Creek Gorge

The scenery along the walk and at Flaggy Gorge reminded me somewhat of Missinghams Steps, a walk in the Illawarra region of New South Wales, except the cliff faces were not quite so sheer as what I remember seeing on the Missinghams Steps walk and other areas of the Illawarra. After the first ascent we reached Valley View. This provides views across the Murray River valley and looking north into what I would reckon is the Woomargama National Park.

View of the Murray Vallery from Valley View

View of the Murray Valley from Valley View

View of the Murray Vallery from Valley View

View of the Murray Valley from Valley View

Along the walk there were various interesting rock formations and I took some photos of some them.

Rock Formations

Rock Formations

Rock Formations

Rock Formations

Valley View Rock Formations

Valley View Rock Formations

After passing through Valley View we descended down onto a saddle and climbed again towards a location called The Oaks. This location didn’t seem to have any oaks at all. Maybe they got burnt out in a bush fire at some point. But we did hear a lot of Lyrebirds in this section of the walk. I hadn’t heard Lyrebirds for many years and it surprised me somewhat to hear them here. But the sheer number of different lyrebirds we heard in close proximity to each other was also something I don’t think I have experienced before. I remember hearing Lyrebird calls in Sherbrook Forest near my parents house when I was growing up. We would go for walks and we would hear lyrebirds and maybe even see one, but I don’t remember hearing a number of different birds in fairly close proximity to each other like in Mount Lawson State Park. We heard so many Lyrebirds that I concluded there must be a Lyrebird colony in this part of the park. But we didn’t see a single Lyrebird, only heard them. We saw a number of Wombat holes too. But no actual wombats except for a poor road-kill wombat on the main road that borders the park.

Interesting tree near The Oaks

Interesting tree near The Oaks

Cute little fungii

Cute little fungii

On the walk in we experienced some discomfort in the feet and legs, but the walk back ‘matured’ the discomfort somewhat. Especially the last descent from Vally View to the carpark at The Kurrajongs. By the time we got back to the car my muscles so sore and I knew that if I got into the car without doing some form of stretching or cool-down I would suffer the consequences. Even though I did some cool down stretches my muscles were pretty sore by the time I got home and I hobbled around like an old man for most of the evening. It didn’t help that I had started to get blisters on my feet too. But in spite of the muscle stress, we really enjoyed the hike. There is always a sense of achievement when one finishes such a hike!

GPS data for the hike can be found here: http://www.strava.com/activities/156101073 .

Friends of High Country Rail Trail: ‘Jarvis Creek Jaunt’

Last Friday my wife told me about a bike ride around the Tallangatta area of Victoria (south west of Mt Lawson state park, and about 40km from Wodonga). The official information for the site said it suited Mountain Bikes or Sturdy Hybrids. Armed with that information I decided to do a test ride on Eliana’s mountain bike around Albury on Friday. This produced a decision to NOT take her mountain bike on the ride – it produced a lot of sore muscles, which contributed somewhat to the muscle soreness on the Mt Lawson hike. So I decided to risk taking my foldable bike with mountain bike rims and hope that it would handle the roads / tracks and terrain ok. I needn’t have worried – it handled the whole ride superbly – much better than the one riding it!

Leaving home at about 6:45am on Sunday and having some pretty thick fog to negotiate didn’t bode well but by the time I was east of Wodonga the fog was starting to lift. Along the way, at Edben, I saw this…

Fog over Lake Hume at Ebden

Fog over Lake Hume at Ebden

… and arrived in Tallangatta about 20 minutes later.

The ride is a 48km rail trail / road and mountain track ride. For the first part of the ride it was fairly easy being along the High Country Rail Trail, which follows the formation of the Wodonga – Cudgewa Railway. The rails have long since gone, but today a large portion of the railway formation has been converted to a Rail Trail. Then we headed across a very empty Lake Hume into Old Tallangatta and started to climb towards the highest point of the ride. Along Georges Creek Road was a steady climb with some undulations. And then we turned into Mitchells Track (I think that was it’s name). At this point it was getting foggy again, and the track was very damp but not too slippery. This climb was rather steep, and went for about 3km, with an average grade of 7%. That means there were some areas where it was steeper! An ascent of 7% for that length on a bike ride is something I have never experienced before – previously I would simply walk the bike up hills like that. Even still, I managed it ok today and would try it again, although not so soon after a hike that caused so much muscle soreness (ie, the Flaggy Gorge hike). Eventually we turned onto Plateau Rd, which as it’s name implies follows the plateau and soon we arrived at the designated place for some morning tea. Damper, muffins, tea and coffee were on offer. I decided on a choc-chip muffin and a piece of damper. Yummy! Damper is sort of a bit like scones, but is associated more with the Aussie bush and was or is cooked around a camp fire by swagmen, stockmen, drovers, campers and other travellers. After morning tea we continued on our way, for the most pleasant part of the ride – the downhill bits! Normally along this part of the ride we would have had some awesome views, but while on Plateau Rd the fog was mostly below us and so all we saw was the peaks of mountains poking through a sea of fog.

Fog below Plateau Road

Fog below Plateau Road

Eventually we turned onto Jarvis Creek Road, which marked the descent into Old Tallangatta. And coasted down the hill to where we would join the rail trail once again. Then it was back along the relatively gentle grades of the rail trail back into Tallangatta. The Friends of the High Country Rail Trail did a great job of organising the event, and providing morning tea, and provided check points along the way and an official rider at the back of the group to catch any who I guess couldn’t go any further. Some of the riders this year had done the ride in previous years, there were some like me who had never done the ride before, and there was even one rider who did the Jaunt as his first ride. After some lunch at Tallangatta I headed home and waddled inside, with sore muscles but that much sort after sense of achievement.

GPS data for the ride can be found here: http://www.strava.com/activities/156511052 .

 

 

Upper Murray Mini-Holiday


Over the weekend just gone, we went on a mini family holiday to the Upper Murray region of New South Wales and Victoria. The plan was that I would leave early on my bicycle and try to ride as far as possible and then Rebecca and the kids leave about 4 hours later and ‘catch up’.

Friday 3rd January – Cycling to Talmalmo and beyond, Khancoban, Mt Mittamatite
The day started beautifully – fairly flat roads, light winds, cloud cover, and the occcasional few drops of rain. A great day for a bike ride. I left home at about 6:45, and started the trek eastward. I was hoping to make it all the way to Jingellic, a distance of 96km (about 60 miles) from where we live. The ride through to Woomargama was uneventful with only one real hill, and not too hot or cold. As I watched the miles go by I tried to pace myself and not push myself too hard. I knew what was coming – the ascent through the Woomargama National Park. I knew the Woomargama National Park section of the ride would require as much energy as I had, maybe even more. Woomargama is 310 metres above sea level, and the summit of the ride in the national park was at 650 metres – a not insignificant difference. The business end of the ascent varied in grade from 1% to 10%, and really was a lot harder than what I thought it would be. It seemed that just when I thought the summit was in sight that there was another hill to climb. By about 1/2 way up the main ascent I decided it would be best to walk the bike to the summit as my legs just didn’t want to push hard enough to peddle the bike even in the lowest gear selections.

Eventually I made it to the highest point on the ride, and had a well deserved rest. At this point in the ride the Hume and Hovell Walking Track crosses the road (Tunnel Road). We have walked on some bits of the Hume and Hovell Track before, and so I was interested to see the track crossing where I was riding. In future we are planning to do some walking along that track, but that was far from my mind as I let my body, arms and legs rest for a while.

Then it was back on the bike. As far as the eye could see was down hill – Yay!! But after about 10 minutes of riding I came across another significant hill which I had to ascend. Nooooooo!! I thought all the hills were behind me. That’s the last time I rely on a summary of a road’s gradients when choosing where to ride. Well, I had to get up the hill, so get up it I did, and eventually I arrived at the end of the road, and turned left into River Road towards Jingellic. By this point my energy was pretty much spent, and it was still about 30km to Jingellic. One thing quickly became apparent when riding along River Road – one does not notice hills so much when driving in a car compared with when one rides a bicycle. As I had very little energy, every hill presented a very real challenge. Eventually I made it to Talmalmo, and after a short rest I plodded on. Eventually I got to a hill that just shouted to me to quit, and so I obeyed the hill and quited, parking the bike under the shade of a very big gum tree. After a very long rest, and after hearing that Rebecca and the kids had left home 30 minutes late I decided to I would try to ride on further, so I rode over the hill that shouted quit, and in the next valley, Rebecca and the kids arrived and picked me up.

From there we all went to Jingellic and had some lunch. Then we drove on to the Clearwater Caravan Park in Tintaldra, where we were going to be staying for the weekend. We decided beforehand to opt for a canvas cabin, which is basically a big canvas ‘tent’, with power and real beds. Some of the comforts of home, at a very reasonable price. We headed for Khancoban, where the plan was to have tea. So we arrived, found an electric barbeque (‘barby’ for short), put the ‘snaggs’ (sausages – real and vegetarian) on it, and lots of onions, and had a hearty ‘hotdog with onions’ tea. We then went for a drive across the Khancoban Pondage wall, and noticed some interesting appendages at the spill way. I am not sure what they are for, maybe they are something to help migrating fish get further up- or down-stream from the dam wall? I have seen similar things before. Then again they might be for an entirely different purpose.

Canvas Cabin

Canvas Cabin, Clearwater Caravan Park, Tintaldra, Victoria.

Khancoban pondage spillway

Khancoban pondage spillway

Khancoban pondage wall

Khancoban pondage wall

After tea we got back in the car and started to drive back towards Tintaldra. On the way wew saw a sign to Mt Mittamatite with the words “lookout, picnic area” on it. As we like to look out from a lookout we turned onto the road (called Range Road). For some distance it goes through farmland with cattel grates and gates. We ran over a snake, and eventually got past the farmland and into the forested section of the drive. Again the temperature dropped dramatically. We arrived at the lookout, called Emberys Lookout, which had great views over Corryong and the valley it is in and over to the Australian Alps.

Mt Mittamatite Park: Corryong from Emberys Lookout

Mt Mittamatite Park: Corryong from Emberys Lookout

Mt Mittamatite Park: view from Emberys Lookout

Mt Mittamatite Park: view from Emberys Lookout

Mt Mittamatite Park: view from Emberys Lookout

Mt Mittamatite Park: view from Emberys Lookout

Mt Mittamatite Park: view from Emberys Lookout

Mt Mittamatite Park: view from Emberys Lookout

From there, we headed back to the Caravan Park.

Tintaldra is quite small – about 10 houses, a pub, a general store, a public hall, and the caravan park. And as the main road between Walwa and Corryong by-passes it, the township was very serene and quiet most of the time we were there. The Murray River runs close by, and is the state border between New Wouth Wales and Victoria. The current bridge that goes across the river is a newer bridge built in the late 1950s. Previously to that there was a redgum bridge across the river, with a steel pillar mid stream, the remains of which can still be seen today. The area was settled in the mid 1830s. Originally, Tintaldra was the place of business for locals from Walwa to Corryong. it had small town status, a river crossing, Post Office, Police Station and Customs House, and was on the main route for pioneer settlers travelling from north to south.

Tintaldra pub

Tintaldra pub

Old Bridge Pier in Murray River

Old Bridge Pier in Murray River

Tintaldra main street

Tintaldra main street

Clearwater Caravan Park

Clearwater Caravan Park

The General Store is classified on the Historic Buildings Record and has had some changes in 1919, when it became a freehold building. The store was built in 1860s/70s and was made of river redgums, red stringybark for slabs, and wooden shingles. It was also the Post Office with two weekly deliveries from Melbourne by horseback – the longest horseback delivery in Victoria. The store originally belonged to Tintaldra Station, with produce in the store being transported by bullock wagon from Wodonga or Gundagai, taking three weeks!

Tintaldra General Store

Tintaldra General Store

Sabbath 4th January – Shelley, Corryong, Tintaldra
The plan today was to do some sight-seeing today, which is a very touristy thing to do, but then we were being tourists for a few days so that’s OK. To start the day we drove towards Jingellic and stopped at Clarks Lagoon for a look-see. Zoe took a number of good photos of birds, and we relaxed by the river for a while. Then we travelled up to Shelley, via the Shelley-Jingellic Road. The drive to Shelley was interesting, going through farm land, pine plantations, and native forests. Like other forests there was a noticable difference between the temperature in the forest to that outside the forest – the forest was noticably cooler even at lower altitudes. Shelley is on a mountain range high above the Murray River valley. Once upon a time there was a railway that operated from Wodonga to Cudgewa, and Shelley had a railway station. But today the railway line is closed. The defining feature of Shelley today is now the plantations, and a good lookout where the alpine areas to the east can be seen. By the time we got to Shelley it was about 11am, and so we decided we would go to Corryong and have some lunch there.

By the time we were approaching Corryong, the kids were complaining of being hungry. It is somewhat of a mystery why as they had a late breakfast! But kids will be kids. On the subject of kids, while having our lunch at Corryong there was much screaming, wailing and gnashing of teeth. Not from our kids (thankfully), but from some little kid with obviously good lungs that was not getting his own way. The poor mother sat next to ‘the screaming one’ trying to calm him down and comfort him for quite some time. Eventually peace returned to the normally quiet town of Corryong once ‘the screamer’ ceased his screaming.

After lunch we got back in the car and drove up to the lookout above the town of Corryong. After having a look around we then started to drive back to Tintaldra. I decided that I had too much energy to sit and do nothing or sleep all afternoon so I decided to go for a bit of a walk around Tintaldra. On the walk I took a number of photos of the Tintaldra town and surrounds.

Tintaldra: Murray River

Tintaldra: Murray River

Tintaldra flowers

Tintaldra flowers

Tintaldra flowers

Tintaldra flowers

Tintaldra flowers

Tintaldra flowers

Tintaldra flowers

Tintaldra flowers

Tintaldra avenue of trees

Tintaldra avenue of trees

Burrowa - Pine Mountain National Park, from Tintaldra

Burrowa – Pine Mountain National Park

Farmland, near Tintaldra

Farmland

Sunday 5th January – A round-about ride and Kosciuszko National Park
While Rebecca and the kids continued their blissful slumber I energetically got out of bed, and got my bike ready. The plan was to ride from Tintaldra to Cudgewa to Colac Colac to Corryong then towards Towong by a very circuituous route. The plan was that Rebecca and the kids would meet me somewhere between Corryong and Towong, and then we would continue on to the Kosciuszko National Park and Thredbo.

I started my bike ride at 6:05am. It was rather cool, and required 3 layers of clothing on my chest to keep the cold out, but by the time I got to Cudgewa the sun was shining on me so I shed 2 of the layers. The sun had actually risen between when I left Tintaldra and arrived at Cudgewa, but there was a big mountain range between me and the sun until I arrived at Cudgewa. From Cudgewa I ventured onto Cudgewa Back Road which was a fairly well made stone road with some not to high hills. Then it was onto the Murray Valley Highway for a short distance then onto the Colac Colac – Corryong Trail, a well made multi-purpose off-road trail. This was great to ride on, and before I knew it, I was in Corryong. The scenery on this bike ride was great, with good views of the ranges above the valley in all directions. Through Corryong I travelled towards Towong, then Rebecca and the kids met me in the car, so the bike was attached to the car and we headed over the Towong Gap, through Khancoban (again) and into the Kosciuszko National Park.

Rebecca and I had been through the Kosciuszko National Park before, but as we were on a bit of a timetable that time we didn’t have time to stop and enjoy the scenery. the kids had never been into the national park, so it was effectively the first time we had all been into the national park. Our first stop was to have a look down into the valley at the Murray 1 Power Station. This is a hydro-powered power station, and was constructed between 1962 and 1967. It is the second largest power station in the Snowy Mountains Scheme and has 10 95MW turbine generators which can each generate enough electricity to power 95000 houses at any time.

Murray 1 Hydro Power Station

Murray 1 Hydro Power Station

Our next stop was Olsons Lookout, deep within the national park, with some stunning views up to the Western Fall of the Main Range. Mt Kosciuszko couldn’t be seen from here as it was behind one of the mountains seen from the view. In 2003 this area of the park experienced a relatively mild fire. Strong winds and high temepratures pushed the fire across the valley where it accelerated up the steep slopes. Much of the vegetation was severely burnt and spot fires ignited 10-15km away. Fire burning through alpine ash forests is more likely to ignite spot fires as Alpine Ash trees produce large quantities of loose bark which can be carried a long by the convective heat of fire and wind.

Kosciuszko Nat Park: Olsons Lookout

Kosciuszko Nat Park: Olsons Lookout. Western Fall of Main Range

Kosciuszko Nat Park: Olsons Lookout

Kosciuszko Nat Park: Olsons Lookout. Western Fall of Main Range

Kosciuszko Nat Park: Olsons Lookout

Kosciuszko Nat Park: Olsons Lookout. Western Fall of Main Range

Kosciuszko Nat Park: Olsons Lookout

Kosciuszko Nat Park: Olsons Lookout. Western Fall of Main Range

From Olsons Lookout we continued towards Thredbo, and after some quite steep sections of road we arrived at Dead Horse Gap. An obliging camping couple took a family photo of us here. From here the views in each direction towards Thredbo and Tom Groggin are spectacular, and it seems that this is probably the highest point on road between Khancoban and Thredbo. Unfortunately my camera’s batteries went flat at this point and so I couldn’t get any photos of the views!

At Dead Horse Gap

At Dead Horse Gap

Dead Horse Gap crosses the Great Dividing Range at 1580 metres and is the watershed between the Thredbo Snowy System and the Murray River. Apparently brumbies (Australian name for wild horses) sometimes became trapped in this area during unexpected snowfalls and died, hence the name. From there we did a quick driving tour of Thredbo, and then decided to drive on to Jindabyne and have lunch there. At Jindabyne there is a monument to Sir Paul Edmond Strzelecki, the Polish explorer of Australia. He was born in Poland in 1797 and arrive in Australia in 1839. From then until 1843 he explored and surveyed vast amounts of New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. While in the Snowy Mountains region, he discovered Australia’s highest mountain and named it Mt Kosciuszko after a Polish leader and patriot. He was a renouned explorer and scientist and made a great contribution to the knowledge and development of Australia. There is a mountain range called the Strzelecki Ranges in south eastern Victoria, which is named after him – he led an expedition through it in the 1840s. There is also a locality, and a few other natural features dotted around the country that bear his name. From Jindabyne, we travelled back the same way and arrived at Tintaldra in time for a dinner of Noodle Omelets.

The next day, after a long sleep and a late breakfast for all, we headed home refreshed but still looking forward to sleeping in our own beds.

Here are some links to GPS maps of the rides I did over the weekend:

 

A Sabbath of surprises


For Sabbath this week we decided that rather than go to church we would spend it exploring around the upper Murray region in New South Wales. The part of the upper Murray region which we chose to explore is about 100kms drive from where we live, and there were a few places we saw on the map that we thought would be worth a look.

So we left the flatlands where we live and headed east. Around where we live is a Canola growing area, and at this time of year the Canola is a brilliant yellow and stretches in all directions.

The first place we explored was the Woomargama National Park. A large park, with signs that say 4WD access, dry weather roads. Hmmm. I should have taken notice of that. We tried to find the North Lookout, but ended up turning back after getting about 10.5 kms from the bitumen. We estimated that it was around 12kms to the lookout. But we did find a place that had some great views. So we got out of the car and had a look around and could see over in the distance a chain of mountains and I reckon one of them might have been ‘The Rock’ – which was beleived to be an important Aboriginal site. So we headed back to the Bitumen and towards Jingellic. Where the dirt meets the bitumen we took another look at the map of the area at a picnic shelter, and we noticed a nest in the process of being built. And this bird was the builder.

I don’t know what sort of bird it is, but we watched it dart back and forth with things in it’s beak for a while, then continued on our way towards Jingellic. Between the Woomargama NP and Jingellic there is a place called Abrahams Bosom according to the maps we looked at. We are aware of another location in the same state with the same name – near Nowra about 2 hours drive south of Sydney. That Abrahams Bosom was easy to find, but the one we looked for today wasn’t as we arive at Jingellic without even a signpost or anything to indicate it. Oh well. There was a innovative water tank stand on the same stretch of road where the farmer had used an old gum tree trunk.

We had lunch at Jingellic, and then headed further east. And we came across this interesting rock formation.

Quite a few kms further on we found the Southern Cloud Memorial. It is a memorial to one of Australia’s earliest air disasters, and is perched on a high hill over looking the mountains where the aeroplane disappeared in the early 1930s. The country it crashed in is so inaccessible and remote that the wreckage wasn’t found until the late 1950s. It was a bit poignant looking out at such beautiful mountains and standing in a place marking a disaster in the same mountains which happened nearly a century ago. One of the snowy mountains on the right hand side of the photo below is Mt Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest mountain at 2,228 metres above sea level. It may not seem very high by most other continents standards, but Australia is the flatest continent on the earth!

But the highlight of the day was the Paddy River Falls. We stopped at the car park and opened the doors to get out of the car and we could hear a loud roar – obviously the water falls, but we have never heard a waterfall roar like that! Here are a few photos of parts of the waterfall…

And just to top it all off, God’s promise that there would never again be a flood over the whole earth.