Participants: Jonno Downes
After a family picnic in Blackheath Park, I headed off down Megalong Valley Rd and was crossing the stile at the top of Carlons Creek track by 1:30pm. Coming up Blackhorse Ridge I passed 2 chaps with folding chairs strapped to their backpacks. I topped up with plenty of water at Mobbs Swamp, and clambered up the short cut to Warrigal gap, but overshoot it a bit so instead of taking the usual slot up on to the Mount Merrimerrigal, I had to improvise another scrambling route. Actually I got to do it twice – when I got to the top the first time, I managed to nudge my pack over the edge so back down and up I went. After traipsing through the scrubby tops to Dingo Gap I was amazed to find that someone had replaced Mount Dingo with a perfect replica of Mount Warrigal. Whoops! A quick check of the compass confirmed that somehow I had got myself turned around on the tops so back the other way I went. Between the navigational challenges, luggage retrieval, and gasbagging with a couple of K2Kers near Mobbs Swamp, I had well and truly blown my chance at a Splendour Rock sunset, but cheered myself up with a campfire and a steaming bag of rehydrated curry.
Dawn at Splendour Rock! Splendid indeed. Not so splendid was the slog down Yellow Pup. A second cup of coffee brewed with fresh water from Kanangra creek got me sufficiently cranked to start the ascent of Nurla Murella Ridge, which was steep, but not scrubby. When I reached the cliff line I followed it round to the south west, scrambled up onto the saddle between Mount Moorilla and Mount Morilla Maloo. I was getting hot and bothered, and all my water was all gone so I skipped Moorilla lookout in favour of heading on to Dex’s.
Even after a long cool drink at Dex’s, I as pretty much down with lugging my pack up hills so I pitched my tent in the choicest spot then carried just a few essentials for the short stint up to Cloudmaker, where I was just in time to act as official photographer for a party that had ascended from the Kowmung via Compagnoni Pass.
The late afternoon sun made the mountains look especially stunning, and I lingered as long as I felt prudent, before returning to my tent in the twilight. After rehydrating dinner, it was time to look at the maps and plan next steps. I had decided that ascending big ridges in afternoon sun was a mugs game, and so when I spotted a notation on Dunphy’s sketch map a notation “Norbert Carlon Memorial” at the junction of Whalania and Kanangra creeks, decided I should check it out.
I was packed and walking by 7am – having come in from the North, I had no problems finding the correct exit out of Dex’s and made good time over Mt Strongleg, where I followed the Western ridge right down into the Whalania creek junction, arriving at about 11. I found some lovely camping spots, but no plaque. Ah well, maybe next time. The walk down to Konangaroo was stunning, I spent a lot of it walking in the creek but eventually picked up a very fresh set of horse tracks. I got to the clearing at 1, and after short lunch it was time to head up the Cox’s towards Breakfast creek. Again, I soon realised I was following close behind at least one horse (maybe more) – I am not an expert in horse poo or hoof marks but they both seemed to me to be only a few hours old. It was very obvious where the horses had crossed over the river so I pretty much followed their lead. I was soggy and fairly tired when I arrived at Breakfast creek at 5:30, I couldn’t even be bother scrounging for firewood so used the gas cooker to heat my dinner before crawling into the sleeping bag for my last night.
A quick breakfast, then followed the steep but obvious track up up up Ironmonger Spur to the carpark. All done! Except for the writing of the trip report, and the planning for the next one….