Howes Valley Creek – Macdonald River – Yengo National Park. Oct 22 – 24, 2007.

Keywords: Flies, quicksand and dingos

While everyone’s rushing to work on a busy Monday morning, four lucky people (James Bucknell, Sarah Hicks, Aaron Nguyen and myself) were setting off for a relaxing time in the bush. We drove up Putty Road and arrived at Howes Valley at around 12:30pm, so we decided to have lunch first. As soon as we stepped out of the car, we were welcomed by hundreds of flies (especially after Sarah and I opened our tins of tuna). I haven’t seen so many flies for a while.

We walked south along Howes Valley Creek, which I have done years ago but did not find Macdonald River. The creek itself is not particularly spectacular; it looks the same throughout the entire walk. But the occasional falls into the quicksand had made the walk quite interesting. Sarah won by having the most and deepest (over the knee) quicksand encounters.

We were also very impressed with the abundance of wildlife in the area, especially the variety of birds. We saw quite a few lyre birds and black cockatoos. And we bumped into a cute turtle resting in a stream of water. There are also numerous interesting footprints on the soft sand, such as those from kangaroos, lizards and those we initially thought were dogs.

So after about 4 hours of walking, we began to feel frustrated because we still haven’t reached Macdonald River. We checked the map a number of times trying to figure out our location on the creek but just couldn’t tell. The creek seemed to keep going on and on. And because of the failure of my previous attempt, I started to doubt if we were actually walking on the right creek. We pressed on until around 5:40pm when a big patch of dry sand was found, and decided that’s our campsite for the next two nights. My concern at that point was water – there’s hardly any running on the creek, not even a small stream. So I ran about a km further down the creek in search for fresh water, but found nothing. When I came back to the campsite, James already dug a hole on the ground and there’s water in it! That was our water source for the next two days and thanks to James’ water filter. Nice dinners and lots of chit-chat (sadly, no alcohol) were had around a campfire for the night.

The next morning, we were woken up by the clattering of birds. While having breakfast, we were stunned by the howling sound of dingos, as heard for the first time on this walk. Despite the plan to take it easy on the second day, we were very determined to find Macdonald River and continued walking downstream of the creek (and following the dingo footprints). After about 30 min, we finally came to the junction. We walked south along the river for a little while, and decided we had enough of the river walk. For a bit of adventure, we climbed up one side to a higher point to have a different view of the river and the area. The rest of the day was very very bludgy. Pre-lunch naps, book reading and more naps (with the company of hundreds of flies). James went for a bit of animal hunting and saw a dingo eating a smelly dead animal just 200m away from our camp. And hearing dingos howling every now and then (plus the old convict stories told by James) during the night is kind of scary.

After two very hot days at the creek, we had a nice cool last day walking back to the car. And this time, Sarah, Aaron and myself got to see the dingos; there were 3 of them running away from the creek and left behind a smelly headless kangaroo skeleton. Back at the car, we were given a farewell by a whole bunch of cows, lots of cows (or maybe they were just waiting for us to open the farm gate).

Thanks Sarah, James and Aaron for coming to the walk.

Photos will come later.