Party: Me [Chris Berwick], Vannessa, Stacey, Sabs & Albert
– Day 1 – Bullfrog Ck to Ettrema gorge After a car shuffle we began our walk heading for a side creek that would take us down into Bullfrog creek. Just as we’d started to descend in the side creek Joe had a fall and was injured. First aid was provided and after some deliberation Joe decided not to press on. So after just 15 minutes we were already down one person. Luckily this wasn’t a sign of things to come! I walked Joe back to his car and bid a very sad farewell while everybody else continued.
I caught up with the group in Bullfrog creek where the going wasn’t that easy. It was a little scrubby and a few steep sections required some down climbs. Eventually we made it the 1.5kms to the junction with Ettrema gorge and stopped for lunch. Luckily the creek was running here & the weather was great too.
After lunch we continued along Ettrema Creek for a few kilometres. The gorge was very pretty and the walking was dominated by endless rock hopping. We arrived to a gorgeous pool and couldn’t resist a swim in the heat of the day, so without any delay we were all splashing around in the water. There was also a log suspended above the pool which provided a great diving platform. And a few tadpoles decided to use our still legs to rest on, which surprised some of us as they made contact with our skin.
After our swim we leisurely continued walking in this rocky gorge, looking for a camp spot as we went. We were surrounded by rocks of all different sizes but not any softer dirt or sand. We eventually found a spot where the pebbles were just small enough that we could lay our thermarests on them for a comfortable sleep. We got a fire going and enjoyed a beautiful evening as the half-moon rose above the gorge. We all slept under the stars in this ideal setting.
– Day 2 – Ettrema Creek Awaking to another clear day we got the fire going again for breakfast, before packing up and heading down the gorge towards Sentry Box Canyon. At the start of the canyon it was either a swim or scramble on the side-wall to continue through, the girls all swam while Albert and I scrambled around. Continuing down the pretty canyon we couldn’t resist another swim in another crystal clear emerald pool. So in we went for another relaxing swim in the warming sunshine.
We then pressed on through the end of the canyon, passing some more pretty pools before we reached the junction with Myall Creek. The gorge opened out here as the water disappeared under the creek bed. We stopped for lunch at a small pool where an eel seemed to be trapped as a result of the drought.
Just as we left after lunch a cooler change blew in as dark clouds appeared above. The gorge closed in a little, as some pretty greenery emerged alongside the river. We passed by a few more gorgeous pools then reached the junction with Jones creek. Another party had beaten us to the usual camp spot here, and we considered a jaunt up Jones creek, but decided instead to go on and find an early camp.
Another couple of kilometres had us arriving to a bend on the river where there was soft sand for a bed, and a beautiful pool for a dip. The rain held out as most of us had a swim, and we settled in for the night at our great camp spot. The wine came out, as did gourmet food, and we chatted around the fire until almost midnight.
– Day 3 – Ettrema Creek to Transportation Spur We slept in a little the next morning, but again got the fire going for a warming breakfast. Stacey had been swimming at almost every opportunity, and took one last dip before we started out for the day.
We plodded on for the last couple of kilometres along the gorge, noticing a couple of red-belly black snakes chasing skinks at an almost dry river pool. We must have seen hundreds of skinks as they were everywhere along the riverside.
We reached our exit ridge, and made certain of this by checking downstream a little. We’d already filled our water bottles, so up we headed up this initially steep but otherwise pleasant ridge. We stopped for lunch in the shade just below Pardon Point which provides a passage through the cliffline. We admired the gorge from the top and took a few photos, before continuing along the tops through the bush. The going was generally OK as we tried to avoid the burnt scrub, and there were a number of open sections which made to going easier. We then reached the road emerging from the scrub and walked to our nearby cars.
We were hoping to grab some burgers from the nearby small town of Nerriga, but unfortunately the burger shop was shut. Se we drove on instead to Mittagong to enjoy some great Italian food and a few drinks together. I also had to change a car tyre at Mittagong as we noticed that metal was starting to show.
It was a great trip in a spectacular gorge, in great company.