Brindabellas, Bago Forest and Snowy Mountains NSW

Friday, Aug 13, 2010 at 17:47

Member - Michael O (NSW)

Met the crew at the picnic area at the pleasant Cotter picnic area to air down tyres and check our maps. We had a large group of vehicles and kids and were a little concerned when one couple turned up in a stock Pajero with 18-inch street tyres. It was winter of course (and cold in early August) but we felt well prepared and headed for the hills.
Up the Brindabella Road as far as Curries Road, then onto Pabral Road where the Pajero (and a Grandtrek tyred Prado) struggled in the clay sections. We turned up the Mt Coree Rd and were shocked to find it graded and a very easy ascent. Still worth it though with glorious views in all directions. There is limited room at the top for a large group of vehicles so we split into two groups. The new earth works at Cotter Dam were evident as well as the damage from the '05 fires which started not far to the west of Coree.
There is a small clearing near the base of the Mt Coree Summit Rd with a dam and a picnic table so we decided to stop there for lunch. This would make a good campsite for a small group.
South to Two Sticks and on to Piccadilly Circus, where we turned west on the Brindabella Rd headed for Tumut. The road is unsealed but in very good condition and we arrived in Tumut with a welcome from someone who had obviously scanned us on the UHF and told us what a sh**hole Tumut was… We disagreed.
Through Batlow and on to Tumbarumba, then took the Elliot Way to the Alpine Retreat at McPhersons Plains, where we were welcomed by a large fire bucket and a smile from Julie and Chris who also cooked us a great dinner.
There are cabins at McPhersons Plains Retreat and with the mercury plummeting, we were grateful not to be in the tents....
Breakfast in the restaurant for a drivers’ briefing and the convoy headed back onto the Elliot Way, turned west and then north onto the Powerline Road. The track was very wet and the clay sections were “interesting…” Onto Jimmies Road, which was snowbound (but easier to drive in than the mud) We passed a graffiti-covered hut, then gingerly picked our way up to the Navigation Tower at Mt Granite, which was covered in deep snow.
Snowfights and snowmen took place as some admired the view south towards Tabletop Mountain. Back down the hill to Jimmies Rd, then Bullongra Rd, then Hardy’s Rd and JDX Track into Paddys River Dam, which had an incredible ice sheet covering it to a thickness of about 1cm. The tracks were slippery and the road tyred Prado and Pajero had more than a few moments of excitement.
In the heart of the Bago State Forest, Paddys River Dam is a delightful campsite on, naturally, Paddys River. The campsite has seperate areas for caravans and tents. The shallow Dam is full of life with trout and even a resident platypus. Brumbies roam through the bush, and there is abundant bird life everywhere. Lying on the Hume & Hovell Walking Track, Paddys River Dam Campsite is a favourite with bushwalker, day trippers, and campers. And for those who are fascinated by history, the area and the nearby Quartzville have plenty of indications of the settlement that used to be there.
We retraced our route to Bullongra Rd, then Granites Track and Bull and Damper Road southwards, passing below the nav tower we had visited in the morning. Fallen trees stopped us four times and the chainsaw got a workout!
We had a late lunch at the junction of Jimmies Rd and Bull and Damper Rd in a large clearing beside a dam. Snow clouds were gathering so we didn’t hang around too long.
With the afternoon fast disappearing, the plans to reach Cabramurra were shelved in favour of a visit to Paddys River Falls, a delightful spot on the Paddys River just out of Tumbarumba.
Back at the Retreat Chris and Julie had cooked up a Xmas in July dinner in August, and "Santa" made his arrival in a 1940’s vintage tractor much to the kids’ delight, dishing out the presents we had all arranged in advance.
Leisurely morning after a late night and we set off for Cabramurra, the highest town in Australia 1488m ASL. Cabramurra was established in 1954 using prefabricated houses, as part of the Snowy Mountains Scheme and associated Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme. An earlier surveying camp had been established there in 1951. The town was moved some 500m and 20m vertically to a more sheltered position, its current site, in 1974, leaving the original site as the lookout.
Cabramurra is a 'company town', being the place of residence for workers in the nearby Tumut 2 hydro-electric power station and electrical switching yards, and Tumut Pondage dam.
The town has 48 houses, a general store and petrol station, primary school, pub (tavern), indoor swimming pool, downhill ski slope, and tennis courts. The nearest small towns for other shopping are Adaminaby and Tumut; the nearest large towns (that is, with a hospital) are Canberra and Cooma. Emergency evacuation can be conducted by helicopter.
In winter, the town can be covered by snow for 3-4 months. This has dictated the building design with a very highly pitched roof for the houses. The town's downhill ski run was the first in Australia to have lighting installed to allow night use.
Recent snowfalls left a great hill up near the lookouts above town so we spent hours there with the kids on toboggans. It was a beautiful morning, snow, blue skies and not a breath of wind.
Down into the coffee shop in the village for a recharge before setting off for Three Mile Dam, near Mt Selwyn. Three Mile Dam was established during the Kiandra gold mining era providing water for sluicing operations via race lines to Kiandra (New Chum Hill). The eastern side of the dam was once a former Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme site.
We “waded” out across the snow to the camping area for a look at the Dam which was frozen in Parts and looked magnificent. We did vow to bring the X-country skis next time…
Dropped below the snow not far from the Yarrangobilly Caves turnoff and had a lunch stop at the old cottage at Yarrangobilly Village on the Snowy Mountains Highway before heading back home.
Monday I have Friday on my mind...
The Easybeats 1966
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