Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Dubbo Gully & Ten Mile Hollow Circuit - Dharug National Park

Dubbo Gully & Ten Mile Hollow Circuit

Dharug National Park

Central Coast NSW

Thank you to the Wild Walks team.

Sunday, 25th January.

"Just a thought"

When Shell makes this statement any plans for the near future are about to be overturned.

Of these things I was certain. We would be hiking that day and sleeping in the tent that evening.

I had my concerns.

While the forecast was for fine weather the temperature was set to hit the mid to high thirties.

And we had just left the gym after a heavy leg session.

Shell went on to describe an interesting circuit on the Central Coast. A lazy 26km over two days.

She went on to explain the trip would include Clares Bridge and detailed its history.

I was intrigued.

"Print me the details when we get home and I will have a look" I suggested.

"Oh. I already printed them last night"

Just a thought?

We set out later that afternoon intending to miss the hottest part of the day.

Heading south on the M1 from Newcastle we take the Peats Ridge exit.

Continuing for about 8km taking the Wisemans Ferry exit. 

At the Upper Mangrove shops we turnned right onto Waratah Road and finally left onto Dubbo Gully Road.

We left the car just a few hundred meters down the road before it comes to a locked gate and the trail head.

Cheeky at the trail head.

A week since we were last on foot both of us were excited to be back on the trail despite the heat.

The trail is a maintenance road and winds down from the locked gate and eventually arrives at an old wooden bridge that crosses Mangrove Creek.

A steep pretty incline on your left with an occasional overhang. The land drops away to your right.

It was nice to be back in familiar bush after our trip away. Semi tropical flora.

The prettiest of the overhangs on the way to the bridge.

After the bridge the trail levels out.

Most of the time I enjoy hiking to get away from civilisation. The hectic pace of working in a city. The claustrophobia of neighbours in suburbia.

The exception is the occasional trace of human inhabitance on a trail like this.

A row of citrus trees had appeared on the right of the trail. Lemons, limes and oranges. I wondered about who planted them and why that might have deserted such a pretty spot.

Mangrove Creek running clear next to the area. It seemed a place one would not wish to leave.

We ate some not ripe lemons from the trees. Sour and refreshing on a hot day.

Mangrove Creek.

It is an easy walk and we chat about unimportant topics until we arrive at an old cemetery.

I love these places, but not nearly as much as Shell.

We take the time to read each headstone and wonder at what happened to the people buried here. Those that died young and those that lived to old age.

People from another era who were once part of the now extinct Upper Mangrove community.

Apparently there are remains an old church nearby which was destroyed in the 2002 bushfires. After a quick scout I could find no trace of St Thomas.

We continue our hike. There is much discussion on the graves and those buried there.

We pass Donnys Track, which will be our exit point tomorrow.

The Mangrove Creek forms swamps in places and we pass one to our left. The air is dense and humid in these areas. I became drenched in sweat. I looked over at Shell. She seemed effected not at all by the heat and humidity.

The conversation had turned to Fairview Homestead. The deserted house not far ahead.

The trail, now Ten Mile Creek Road, veers to the left after the swamp. A locked gate heading straight is the driveway leading up to the house.

As we walk up the steep hill Shell comments that it would be a difficult task getting the bins in and out. I laugh, and shake my head. I love the way she thinks.

"Fairview is a property with a homestead, built in 1922 by Alfred Andrews. The homestead and adjoining slab hut are now fenced. The homestead was once a popular rest area for people travelling the North Road, via the Simpson Track. The home was privately owned until 1973 when Gosford City Council acquired the land to protect the catchment area. The home was rented until 2002, when the tenants moved due to the threat of bushfires. The building is now in poor condition." - Wild Walks website.

We somehow found ourselves on the wrong side of the fence.

There is a push for restoration of this old house. I prefer its dilapidated condition. A shame it cannot be opened to the public to visit, whether it be for safety reasons or fear of vandalism.

It was fascinating to explore.

No sooner had we started back on the trail when we startled our first snake off the trail. With the weather so hot the black snake moved lightning fast into the nearby scrub at out approach.

I explained to Shell that the combination of hot weather, creeks and swamps there would be plenty of snakes around.

She seemed unimpressed by the comment and it did little to return colour to her face.

She marched forward, taking point regardless of the new information.

With the creek by our left side we continued along the valley floor. The landscape quite tropical.

A long row of poplars are another indication of a previous community.

Along the poplars we encounter our second black snake. Shell presses on. Determined. 

Poplars line the trail.

This odd fungi stood all alone in a small clearing.

Jumping the occasional creek we came to the clearing and the intersection of Simpsons Trail which we would be taking. Veering West it will take us to Ten Mile Hollow campsite.

The intersection is marked by a plaque which provides some historical information on the area. There is also a log book should you wish to state your intentions.

The trail, now in Dharug National Park, heads up and the landscape becomes more arid. The flora changes. A refreshing change.

It is not a challenging climb and enjoyable.

About halfway up the familiar pain in my kidney presents itself as mild dehydration starts has set in.

Despite my efforts to remain hydrated, the hot and humid climate has me sweating fluids faster than I can replace them.

A result of a previous severe dehydration my kidneys have never truly recovered. I express my situation to Shell.

Her concern manifests itself as angry worry. Whether she is angry at me or the offending kidney I am not sure.

Along Simpsons trail is Simpsons Cave. Sandstone overhangs that protrude from the steep incline to our left.

They are quite interesting. My poor photographic skills do them little justice.

Soon after another snake. This time a green tree snake.

Finally Shell breaks and loudly declares 'these bushwalkers who have been walking twenty years without seeing a snake are walking in their backyard!'**

** Numerous expletives removed to maintain speakers dignity.

Soon after we arrive at the campsite. It is late afternoon.

A rather bland place but we have it to ourselves and sleeping under the stars, anywhere, is preferable to being inside.

The water tank is almost full. After filtering some water and rehydrating we shower.

I have a pang of guilt using this tank water for a shower. I imagine reaching here on a hot day and finding it empty after someone else has used the water to shower.

Regardless, I am hot, sweat covered and stink. The thought of sleeping through the hot night without a shower is enough to make me selfishly indulge.

We set the tent with the vestibules open to make the most of the small easterly breeze.

It is dark when we start to prepare dinner and I am famished.

Laksa from Strive Food in Tasmania.

No protein. It looks unappealing in its dehydrated packet.

It turns out to be delicious.

The heat has gone from the day and the tent is comfortable. We lay there draped over each other, I am glad we took this little adventure.

I fell asleep thinking about Clares bridge. Only the sandstone foundations remain. The clearing we slept in was a mustering point for the convicts who built it. No showers for those enduring penal servitude.

Monday, 26th January.

At 2.00am the wind comes up causing the rear vestibule to flap annoyingly.

Shell offers to remedy the situation but I take charge. She indulges my chauvinism.

At 3.00am it starts to rain.

Again I volunteer to remedy the situation.

I awake at dawn to rain. Though it is not heavy it promises to be wet walk. At least it will be cool.

It is Australia Day. I am happy to be walking in the bush.

We don't rush breakfast. Enjoying hot porridge while listening to the rain on the tent. Enjoying the cool temperature.

We break camp and are on the trail by 7.00am. I am eager to see Clares bridge.

Wet weather hikers.

We are now on the Old Great North Road. The trail that turns right out of the campsite.

After crossing a timber bridge we soon arrive at Clares bridge. The second oldest bridge in Australia.

It is a remarkable piece of engineering and craftsmanship given the era it was built and the tools used for construction. Worth the trip.

We spent a little time here. I tried to imagine the conditions under which it was built. The tools used to hew the stones. I am talentless with my hands. I admire the skills of these men.

I have always been amazed how the artist can take the minds vision and reproduce it so brilliantly on canvas or other media. The same feelings are stirred here. How remarkable to be able to take a thought and produce it in reality.

Once again, these images do not do this place justice.

The rain ceased as we reluctantly left the bridge. In its place a humidity that made me hope for rain.

The trail continues to meander its way to an intersection where we leave our trail for Donnys Track.

Like all the trails we  have walked today Donnys Track is a maintenance road open only to hikers and cyclists. It winds its way down a ridge line and affords some pretty views to the valley below. Most notable, a granite clearing named Donnys View.

Donnys View.

As Donnys Track winds down there are some sandstone walls on the right which are interesting.

We come across a locked gate which sees us leave the Dharug National Park.

It was a pleasant stroll to the end of Donnys Track.

We were now back on the familiar trail to the car. Having already travelled the track the previous day we made quick time toward the trail head.

The same overhang we encountered on the way in the day before was even more appealing as we left.

Another adventure concludes.

At the car as we were discussing lunch options I felt a pang of disappointment. Suburbia awaits. Work the following day.

As we took off wet clothes and threw our packs into the ute I was hoping for those words. 

'Just a thought'.