Mericumbene Fire Trail, Deua Nat Pk

Submitted: Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016 at 08:17
ThreadID: 131666 Views:2031 Replies:7 FollowUps:11
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Good morning travellers,
Can anyone advise me on whether or not to tackle the Mericumbene FT from Araluen Rd to Bendethera solo. Self-taught 4WD driver with moderate experience, lifted Mazda BT50, OEM tyres, winch, good suite of recovery gear, TREDs (like Maxtraks). Not towing.

Have checked with NPWS but the ranger is out in the field uncontactable and admin staff had limited info.

Weather is good, so it's just track info I need, I guess - degree of difficulty, etc.

Many thanks
FrankP

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Reply By: 999 - Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016 at 09:52

Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016 at 09:52
I did it from the Araluen Rd end about 2 years back and it was good, I'd rate at a but 3 out of 5.
My vehicle is a Patrol 4.2l with 2" lift and BFG's, did'nt need the diff locks just low range. Take it easy and you should be fine.

Gazza
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Friday, Feb 26, 2016 at 20:30

Friday, Feb 26, 2016 at 20:30
Thanks Gazza,

Pretty much my experience too now that I have done it. I did use the diff lock (rear) a few times to minimise slip with the OEM tyres and prevent track damage, but the great majority was pretty easy, just steep.

Cheers
FrankP

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Reply By: garrycol - Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016 at 09:56

Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016 at 09:56
That track is generally in good condition - so much so that my softroader can do it with no low range.

If it rains it is still generally OK but there some slippery sections that may provide some interesting driving.

The biggest issues are the creeks/rivers at the bottom which are OK when it has not been rainnig for a while but rise too high very quickly when it rains locking you in.

So your vehicle will be OK but if has been raining or has a forecast of heavy rain then I would have a long hard think about going. If you do go make sure you take extra supplies to sustain you if it does rain and you have to wait for the river to go down.

The last time I was there it did rain and the river did come up but was still OK for my big 4wd. Climb out in the rain was Ok but I did go through a big pool too fast at the top near Snowball and drowned my ignition.

Typical weather on the way up.


Drowned


Garry
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016 at 10:39

Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016 at 10:39
And in the other corner;

A big storm with lightning, thunder, heavy rain and hail on the way out of Bendethera on Merricumbene Fire Train. Extreemly interesting on the downhill clay section to Dry River crossing. Just take care coming back if it looks like rain etc. There wasn't any sign of the storm when we were at Bendethera itself. Not a sign.

A fabulous place to relax for a day or two. Even a day visit is great.

I have a video uploading at the moment and will add the link when done.

Phil

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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016 at 12:21

Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016 at 12:21
That took ages to upload it.

Link:
[vimeo]Hail in Bendethera[/vimeo]

Phil
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Reply By: Michael H9 - Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016 at 13:05

Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016 at 13:05
I did it at the beginning of January. The track is fine just steep in places that may cause issues if wet. Wet weather is an issue around Deua because of steep tracks and raised river levels. Always keep that in mind but its a great place.
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016 at 13:32

Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016 at 13:32
Thanks Michael. Forecast is good and am well supplied for contingencies.

Cheers
FrankP

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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016 at 15:03

Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016 at 15:03
So right Michael. Did you check out my video in the post at the end of the previous question. Slipper isn't the word for it.

Phil
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Reply By: Frank P (NSW) - Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016 at 13:31

Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016 at 13:31
Thanks gazza, Garry and Phil.

At Braidwood now where the choice of Mericumbene or via Snowball must be made.

Weather is good and forecast ok for the next few days, so with your ifo I'll give it a shot.

I went in there from Moruya a couple of years ago, towing a Kimberley Karavan behind a Prado.. Wanted to stay but had to leave as we could see the thundery buildups happening and didn't want to get locked in. Good decision. We camped up the top and got a few hours of heavy rain. Nothing like your hail, Phil, but had we stayed we would have been in there for a week, as the rain in the area didn't let up. Not heavy, but enough to keep the track wet and impossible to pull a 2200kg trailer up over that yellow clay.

Thanks again

Frank
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Follow Up By: garrycol - Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016 at 15:02

Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016 at 15:02
I hope you have not got a trailer this time as I understand they are banned from all tracks except from the Moruya end.
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Follow Up By: garrycol - Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016 at 15:04

Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016 at 15:04
I hope you have not got a trailer this time as I understand they are banned from all tracks except from the Moruya end.

Edit: Oopps - just re-read the original post - not towing so no issues.

Garry
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016 at 15:06

Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016 at 15:06
Do it mate. And cool off with a paddle or dip at Dry Creek crossing.

Every now and then move away from noise and just listen for thunder. We heard it but got away a little late. No sign of clouds but we heard the storm. No need to fret about it. But it's worth a part of one "ear" on the weather.

Phil
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Friday, Feb 26, 2016 at 20:08

Friday, Feb 26, 2016 at 20:08
Thanks Phil.

I made Dry Creek my 1st overnight after driving from Sydney so I could start the track with a clear whole day in front of me. Got a late start next morning when Fergus the NPWS fee collector turned up and we chatted for over an hour. Nice bloke and an interesting character.

Kept a weather eye and ear open - all good.

Experience is a wonderful teacher.

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Reply By: duck - Thursday, Feb 25, 2016 at 08:27

Thursday, Feb 25, 2016 at 08:27
Check with Nat parks at Narooma (mrs constable) when I went from Moruya a few mouths ago at night it appeared that at the junction of bendethra/merricumbene fire trails, the track had been ripped up on both junction tracks & stopped you going up to the trig
I could be wrong it was night & raining & we left by snowball (west) again at night

I will say if its wet heading south from Araluen rd the first bit use to be white sticky soft clay (its been years (decades) since I have been that way)
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Friday, Feb 26, 2016 at 20:12

Friday, Feb 26, 2016 at 20:12
That junction is fine now, duck. Some yahoos have knocked the trig over, but it was accessible.

Fortunately did not encounter any wet sticky clay - the track was dry all the way through.

Cheers
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Reply By: Member - Terry W4 - Thursday, Feb 25, 2016 at 17:41

Thursday, Feb 25, 2016 at 17:41
Did exactly that trip in January 2015 the day after a big storm. There were trees down but none across the track. It was a grade 3 in but didn't make it to the campground as the storms returned good judgement suggested that we (all 4 vehicles) drive out which we did.

This year was hoping to do the same trip out of our camp at Dalmeny. However within 24 hours of arriving there were huge storms and about 30 people got trapped at the camp ground at Bendethera for about 4-5 days and supplies needed to helicoptered in and later they were escorted out by the SES.

Abandoned my plans as it continued to rains on and off for a week.

Always carry more supplies than you think you will need.









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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Friday, Feb 26, 2016 at 20:16

Friday, Feb 26, 2016 at 20:16
Thanks Terry,

Yes, I was watching the news when that was reported. All good now, everything has dried out. I had a planned 4 days, took 2 weeks of supplies, in the grocery box, cellar and fridge!!!!!!

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Reply By: Frank P (NSW) - Friday, Feb 26, 2016 at 19:56

Friday, Feb 26, 2016 at 19:56
Thank you to everyone who replied and offered advice.

I got to Bendethera ok - the track was fine, the weather good. There was only one little patch worth mentioning - a really chopped up very steep patch of very rutted dry white clay with evidence of track building. First attempt was unsuccessful and I had to back down. Did a bit of track-building myself, took a different line, gave the BT a few more berries and all good. That patch would be impossible if wet, so my hat's off to those of you who have had to deal with it in those conditions.

Fergus the NPWS fee collector for the campgrounds on the Deua along Araluen Rd reckoned 3 hours from Dry Creek to Bendethera. I took five. Maybe I'm conservative or maybe my suspension is a bit hard (result of GVM upgrade, perhaps?) or maybe a bit of both, but I enjoyed it at my relaxed pace.

Bendethera itself is beautiful. So many nooks and crannies on the river where you can hide away, but you can see from the tracks that it's popular in peak times. And you can see how you could be stuck there (a) if the river comes up and (b) if the tracks in and out get wet.

Came out via Dampier Mountain. A doddle. I wish I had more time to explore a bit more. I will be going back to do the loop around Minuma Range and Alpine Homestead.

Cheers
FrankP

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