Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sundown National Park

1 to 4 May 2009

The Itinerary
Friday 1 May
Drive to Sundown National Park, The Broadwater camping ground
Set up camp
Saturday 2 May
Hike up the Severn River to the junction with the Blue Gorge
Sunday 3 May
Hike up the Blue Gorge.
Climb out of the gorge, over the hill and along the fence to Ooline Creek
Follow Ooline Creek downstream to the Campsite
Monday 4 May
Descend Ooline Gorge through to Severn River
Return to The Broadwater
Late lunch at Vincenzo's, north of Stanthorp
Drive back to Brisbane

Rosemary organised the bush walk. The original plan was to go to Girraween, but there were not enough camping spots available. So Sundown was selected as the alternate destination. Ray had walked the area before and Rosemary had notes from the 1980s.

There were only six of us. The park is very dry and we had to refill our water bottles from nearly stagnant pools in the creeks. Ray was prepared with a filter - which was hard work to pump as it became clogged.

The only native animals we saw were a couple of kangaroos. But the were deer and mobs of goats, and a single fox.

On the first day the hike beside and in the Severn was warm, but the toughest part was treading over the river rocks. The cruelest part was the jumping pears. The needles of the jumping pears were sharp enough to penetrate gaters and brittle enough to break off and remain in the fleash when the rest of the pear was removed. We found pears every day we walked. When climbing or descending sometimes they were exacly where I wanted to put my hand , or foot, or bum.

On the second day we climbed up Blue Gorge. Ray lead the way. Ray and Gordon helped by hauling the others' packs where necessary. The gorge was cool which made the walk more pleasant. Some of the climbs were steep with loose rocks and jumping pears. And I learned what exposed felt like - exhilerating.

After climbing out of the gorge we climbed over fallen timber and through scrub to the top of the hill. Lunch on the bare rock of the summit was a welcome break. Then through the bush again and after some difficulty navigating through the scrub to pick up the track along the fence. Where we left the track we were again climbing over fallen timber on steep slopes. Eventually we found the Ooline and followed it down stream to a camp site.

The camp was rocky and I sought softer ground amongst the trees. About twenty bull ants inspected my tent when I was setting it up. But as they left peaceably I did not relocate.

On the last day, we followed the Ooline - a creek, a gorge and a creek again. The creek was reduced to a few pools with no flow, so when we descended the gorge we went where the water would have run. The toughest part was a chute where I had to be hauled twice by Ray and Gordon when I couldn't reach the next foot hold. And apart from that, our guides found a descent that was just challenging not impossible.

At each of the bush camps and with the ranger's permission we lit a fire. There was pleanty of dry timber available - enabling us to sit (and lie) around a fire on a cold evening. The moon was bright enough in the evening to conceal the full glory of the stars.

Vincenzo's was a great reward for a great walk. The apple pie with ice cream was very popular.

I love the afternoon drive from Vincenzo's to Brisbane. Driving through a landscape with wide skies and the sun set colouring the clouds with good company is very relaxing.

Three days later, at home, sitting at the table, a giant ant bit me on the toe - it was agony. I'm glad they didn't attack en mass in the bush.

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