PARTY: Jo Boyd, Rob Hynes, Denis Hinds, Ashley Burke

Recent rain and mild weather over the weekend made for perfect conditions for a weekend of exploratory bushwalking.

Tayan Peak is a prominent basalt peak on a complex plateau region in the northern Blue Mountains. The plateau is surrounded by private property, so permission from the local landowners is needed to gain access. A contact from my old school had a link with one of the properties adjoining this area and through this contact I was able to gain permission from the farmer to access this area. This provided a great opportunity for some bushwalking in a new area that no one on the trip had previously visited.

Friday night was damp and drizzly as we rolled up at the Glen Davis camping area. But the following morning as we drove up through Glen Alice, bursts of sunlight found their way through the heavy clouds, promising that we were heading out in improving, not deteriorating weather.

After meeting the farmer and exchanging pleasantries we set off with overnight packs, heading up a ridge and into the bush, climbing steadily. The bush was crisp and alive after the recent rain, and the going was open and clear. We climbed into cool mist, the geology changed from sandstone to basalt, and after a steep climb through tall stands of eucalypts, we reached the summit of Tayan Peak. There was a brand spanking new logbook there, complete with solid steel tin and parker pen. Ours was only the third entry to go in the book and while we wrote, views of the surrounding rugged country were seen as the clouds began to lift.

We headed on in a different direction, following a broad ridge. As soon as the geology reverted back to sandstone, the scrub hit. We pushed through some scrub and found a prominent lookout for a pleasant lunch. Water was to be found in tiny rock pools around the lookout rock. The views to the north were spectacular.

There was more scrub after lunch, and the country was rugged and interesting, with cliffs that prevented us from climbing to the highest points of the ridge. Some careful sidling had to be done to keep on route. Our aim was to get to a point on the western edge of the plateau in time to camp, where we hoped we would find a spot with great sunset views.

Just when we thought the scrub might impede us from reaching our objective, it all of a sudden gave way to gentle open grassland with scattered ferns and trees. We had found a basalt neck! Instead of the expected scratchy scrub bash we crossed some dry open gullies and open country to reach the vicinity of a prominent sandstone feature called the Chimney Stack. We climbed to a knoll very close to this feature and here at last were the panoramic views we had come for. Way to the south we could see rugged features like Cottage Rock, Mt Canobla, Glen Trig and Pantoneys Crown. The spectacle of these features was augmented by the soft glows of evening light. Closer that these was the dissected ruggedness of the plateau that we were on, and the prominent spire of Tayan Peak itself. Closer still, right near us in fact, were small rock pools filled with recent rain that would provide enough water for an overnight camp. And there were small tent sites to be found among the trees. So this would be a perfect camp site.

By now the weather was completely clear and cool, the sun was going down, the wine came out, the camera clicked and then we settled in to a great evening around the camp fire.

Sunday was another perfect day and the first thing on the list was to bag the Chimney Stack. We sidled around to the base of this prominent peak and while Denis waited, Jo, Bean and I scrambled up through layers of rock until we were on the summit. There was a great lookout platform on the summit where we enjoyed incredible views. Then we worked our way down to Harris Gap, undertaking a short abseil which later was found to be unnecessary. We would have lunch in Harris Gap, but first a short side trip to try to get on top of some nearby cliffs was called for. We found a tricky pass, which involved a steep chimney move, a tunnel, then a crack which finally led out onto cliff tops. Here we enjoyed more incredible views of ragged cliffs stretching away to the south. We revelled in these views before returning to Harris Gap for lunch.

The afternoon was spent descending off the plateau and working our way back to the property where our car was waiting. We found a pleasant 4WD trail that skirted farms, keeping to the shaded sanctuary of open bushland. This was followed by a 3km road bash back to the car. We thanked the farmer for allowing us access and headed back to Capertee Pub where the trip was concluded over something cold and thirst quenching.

A fantastic weekend of exploration, all new dots, spectacular country which was new ground for all of us, great weather, great fun.

Ashley Burke