Party: Jonno Downes, Chantal Bronkhorst, Mitchell Isaacs, Aaron Nolan
Leader: Jonno downes
The Wentworth Creek takes a very meandering route through rugged terrain down to meet the Grose river north of Faulconbridge. There are several ridges that run out from the towns on the plateau, with firetrails running at least part of the way along most of them. This area doesn’t seem to get visited much given how close to transport it is, I guess it falls between the cracks of being much harder walking than the byzantine network of old tourist tracks on the southern side of the highway, yet not as picturesque as say the Kowmung.
In any case, I have been keen to get out to Callendina Loop (where Dawes Creek joins Wentworth Creek) for a couple of years. This weekend a few things lined up and on Saturday afternoon a small group was gathered for our ‘exploratory off track’ adventure. We left one car at the end of Binnowee Drive in Lawson, then drove around to Grose Road in Faulconbridge where we started walking about 4PM. Following a firetrail down a spur saw us crossing Linden Creek at 714725,then up another steep spur to the firetrail junction at 698722. We actually missed this junction at first, because the northern arm has been left ungraded, and reverted to a single track. It was a little scrubby in parts, we followed it for an hour or so before a slight navigational error saw us head down the stubby spur at 715755 instead of the longer spur to the east. We made our way down through the broken cliff line without resorting to handlines, and hit Dawes Creek as the light started to fade. The banks of Dawes Creek were quite crowded with scrub, so for the most part we hopped across the massive boulders that lined the creek bed, eventually halting at a big pool 200m upstream of Wentworth Creek, just as it became too dark to see without torches.
In the morning, we broke camp at 7 and crossed over to the base of Callendina Loop. We went downstream for a while before ascending the scrubby eastern face and finding our way through the cliff line to the summit. At this point, phones were produced – Mitch wanted an updated weather report, I was scouting for the hidden ammo tin that had been taunting me for the last 2 years. Yes, a geocache. I found it in a rocky spot that gave us a great view to the north, down the gorge of Wentworth Creek. It would have been nice to sit and admire the view for a couple of hours, but time was getting on, we had a big climb out, and the Norwegian website Mitch dialled up had confirmed it was going to be a pretty hot day.
So back down to the creek we went, on the western side this time, then upstream to Lawson Point. Our original plan had been to continue on to grab water from Bundaroo Creek, but the pool at Lawson Point was too tempting. Time for a swim! We took our water from Woodford Creek instead, after deciding it was ‘probably’ alright – 2 days later there seems to be no ill effect. We could see a very faint footpad that seemed to link the base of Lawson Point and the northern arm of Dawes Ridge, so I was optimistic we would pick up a track on Lawson Ridge. But no! Not a skerrick. Just scrub scrub scrub, and the open rocky platforms that made for easier walking but also reflected the heat. Mitch forged us a path through a couple more clifflines, and we got some great views from the many thin rocky saddles. All in all though, a big hot steep grind. So we were all looking forward to reaching the lookout at 657745 where the topo showed the Lawson Ridge track starting.
We were running low on water, and the heat had taken a fair toll on us. Mitch and Chantal forged ahead while Aaron and I took a much longer break before heading down to the old firetrail. We were moving very slowly indeed, even as it cooled in the late afternoon, and were very pleased indeed to see M&C return with cold drinks and other delightful things to help us complete the journey.
A big grand trip indeed!