Blue Waterholes NSW

Wednesday, Jan 20, 2010 at 09:08

Member - Michael O (NSW)

Recent trip up into the Snowy Mountains NSW
Saturday January 16
Had packed the Patrol on Friday afternoon after work, so Daniel and I were on the road by 8am on Saturday morning. Out along the Oura Road past the Winery, then Wantabadgery (saw a sign outside the store that read ”Open While Awake”…)
Through Nangus and into Gundagai. Across the old bridge and out on the Brungle Road to Tumut. Tumut was bustling with Saturday morning trade and we stopped for supplies at the Coles in Tumut. Daniel was a great help wandering up and down the aisles collecting the necessities.
From Tumut we took the Snowy Mountains Highway alongside Blowering where many people were camped in the searing heat by the water’s edge. Beats me why people camp right on the edge of the water with no shade - the worst cases of sunburn I've ever seen have been on kids camped at Blowering...
Up the twisty road that skirts Talbingo Mountain, then the run across the Cumberland Range to Providence Portal. We drove in to have a look but it was a sad sight with the water at extremely low levels. One time the view from Providence Lodge would have been all water, but at the moment there is a just a trickle of water flowing down the creek as it winds its way through alpine grasslands.
Back out to the Highway and we turned on to the dirt and headed north up Tantangara Road. We pulled into Ware’s Yard, a horse camp, for lunch. There was a large group from Goulburn with beautiful polocrosse horses with their manes carefully shaved. Daniel and I threw the Frisbee around and had a game of cricket using a log for stumps. Daniel managed to thump a huge six over my head straight into horse yard…

Continuing north we reached the shoes of Lake Tantangara with low cloud and threatening lightning off to the north. We walked along the shoreline as far as the off-take and marvelled at how the dam is only at 6% capacity at the moment. A quick stop on the Dam wall itself, then up Pockets Saddle Track through the snow gums to Currango Homestead.
European settlement of the Currango area commenced in 1834 when the first cattle were taken to the area. Currango, itself, started in 1851, when Thomas O’Rourke built a small vertical slab home and other structures. The property changed hands several times between 1873 and 1893, and was finally bought by Arthur Triggs, who constructed the present homestead and nearby sheds. Triggs’ ownership finished in 1913, and ownership passed to the Australian Estate Company. The next eighteen-year period, the ‘second phase’ and hey-day of Currango’s existence, saw development of a significant beef cattle property.
At its peak, in the mid 1920s, the property grew to 90,000 acres, and up to twenty men, with additional contract staff over summer, worked at the station. It's pastures were used primarily for drought relief. Following the Great Depression, the emphasis moved from cattle to sheep. The pine trees, which still dominate the site, date back to this period. Fishing parties also began to stay in the area, both at Currango and at the Rules Point Hotel.
In 1944, the Kosciusko State Park was created, and the high plains and their properties were annexed by the NSW Department of Lands.
The ‘third phase’ of Currango began in 1946 when Tom and Mollie Taylor moved there. Tom was a Ranger for the NSW Department of Lands, and monitored stock numbers on the high plains, overseeing a gradual reduction of grazing, until its cessation in 1969. Tom and Mollie were granted life-time occupancy rights by the National Parks and Wildlife Service after its formation in 1967, and the lease arrangement also allowed them to rent out the cottages to visitors. Some of these people would later form the club that became Friends of Currango.
From 1995 to 2003, the tradition of high plains hospitality begun at Currango by Tom and Mollie was subsequently continued by their son, Ted, and daughter-in-law, Helen.
Down into the frost hollow that is the top end of Tantangara in Port Phillip Fire Trail and we pushed westwards looking for a campsite. We eventually settled on one near a bridge over the Murrumbidgee River just east of the Long Plain road. We cooked up some spaghetti Bolognese then the clouds miraculously cleared to leave a beautiful sunset. We walked up on the ridge and to the Long Plain Road, found some bush crickets/cicadas, and clocked off early after a long day.

Sunday January 17
Heavy condensation on the tent as we rose for breakfast and packed up to be on the road at 9am. We called into Long Plain Hut which was built in 1916. This was the Hut that the Wagga Bushwalking Club was responsible for in the early 1990’s but is now looked after by the ACT Land Rover Club.
Next stop Cooinbil Hut, with its large horse yards and campers. It was built for grazing in 1905. It was partly demolished by a falling black sallee tree in 1987, but has been restored.
Turned east on the Blue Waterholes trail and traveled through lovely snow gums to the restored Coolamine Homestead. Spent some time there reading the old 1930’s newspapers which were glued on to the walls to stop the mountain draughts.
Down the hill to the camping area and we fluked a great spot in the shade when a family from Wagga pulled out just as we arrived. We had lunch at a picnic table made of 3200 recycled plastic containers! Backpacks ready and he headed down into the Gorge, rock hopping back and forth across the Creek into Clarke Gorge. I lost a shoe on one of the creek crossings but a kind man downstream grabbed it for me. Amazing really as they were the only people we saw on the entire walk!
We made it as far as the Cave Creek Falls where we rested on the edge admiring the view down the valley towards the Goodradigbee River.
On the way back along the Gorge we had a swim in the bracing water. Daniel was very brave getting in the cold mountain water but after a day without a shower, it was very refreshing! We dried off in the hot sun and continued on the walk back to the camping area, all the time shadowed by large rainbow trout in the Creek.
Restful afternoon reading and relaxing. Daniel was invited for a game of volleyball with the campers across the way, a lovely family from Batlow with 6 children, 3 of them the same ages as ours. We cooked jaffles on the fire and after tea were then invited over to join Sue and her family, toasting marshmallows by the fire. We were also joined by a young couple from Coolamon.
Monday January 18
The morning dawned overcast and windy and what seemed like large snowclouds were gathering over the western horizon. I lit our fire and had a cuppa while Daniel had a long sleep in. Sue and the kids were up and around, and Sue made a great rice custard that we warmed over the fire. Eventually the threatened snow shower arrived but it was not enough to send us back to the tents!
We had sun, rain, wind and snow, all before Daniel eventually surfaced about 9am! Andy had told me to keep the trout he had caught the night before but I thought it would be better to cook it when everyone was around, so I grabbed a pan, some oil and alfoil and put the pan in the fire. The kids all enjoyed the treat of freshly cooked pan trout for breakfast!!!
Andy knew of a cave down the creek and wanted to go back there to scratch off some graffiti that some students had left there on a trip last year. The cave was Barber Cave and the entrance was a tiny “wombat hole” high on the slopes below the limestone cliffs. The first part was very difficult with a 2-3 metre drop into the darkness. Andy went first and was a great help as we got a frightened Daniel and Aaron down a very ricketty wooden ladder. High fives all round when we made it to the bottom…
We crawled, scrambled and walked through the cave admiring the formations including a huge shawl in “the Cathedral”. We exited the cave in a completely different spot high on the hill and headed for camp, elated at our achievement. Barber Cave is one of the Cooleman Plain caves known for a long time. Inscriptions on the cave walls take white man's knowledge of it at least back to 1875 when it was visited by a party led by John Gale of Queanbeyan. However, the actual date of discovery remains obscure and may belong to the period of the late 1830s to the early 'fifties when there were convict and ex-convict stockmen looking after T.A. Murray's (later Sir Terence Murray) stock on the surrounding plains.
Packed up the tent listening to the last throes of Pakistan’s innings in the third test from Hobart, a game Pakistan threw away by dropping Ponting on 0 and he went on to score 209. Poor Daniel was trying to help pack up and the shock cord snapped in one of the tent poles. A repair job for later… We left just on 2:30 and drove up the hill past Coolamine to the Long Plain Road where this time we turned north towards Broken Cart Trail. The road was in very good condition and we passed a large pack of brumbies feeding down on the plains.
Broken Cart Trail leads through large stands of beautiful trees, and eventually becomes Bramina Road, then Barnetts Road, where a large freshly fallen tree blocked our path until I could attack it with the bush saw and get around it. We reached the Brindabella Road just on 2 hours after leaving Blue Waterholes and drove east and down into the Brindabella Valley. Up the hill on the other side where we saw some evidence of the devastating 2003 bushfires, two of which started in this area (Webbs Ridge and McIntyre’s Hut) Down to Cotter Dam, which is being expanded to cater for the growing metropolis of Canberra, then the Cotter Campground, where we stopped to air up the tyres.
Across suburban Canberra onto the blacktop and our dirt road adventure was over...
We stayed a couple of days in Canberra and saw the Mint, the Australian Institute of Sport, the National Gallery, the Museum of Australia, Black Mountain and had some great meals at a Pub in Kingston, the Tradies in Dickson, Ainslie Footy Club and My Cafe in Manuka.
Monday I have Friday on my mind...
The Easybeats 1966
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