Sunday 2nd October 2016
I woke up around 6.30am, went to toilets (by toilets, I mean peeing in nature 🙂 ) and went back to sleep for a bit. It was so quiet, no one had woken up yet. None of the tents over there.
Christina in her Big Agnes Fly Creek tent near mine had not woken up either.
Everyone started to slowly wake up and get out of their tent around 7.45am. We had brekky, boiling water in the modern billy alias MSR stove and had some other back-country bags or cereals and tea.
Juanitette the smurfette was happy to get back into hiking again after all the hikes she had done on in South America! Here posing on the trekking poles.
We packed the bags and tents and started walking around 10.30am. First, we had to cross a river of course.
There was actually another bigger site of Burra Korain campground on the other side! That’s where those 2 guys had disappeared to in the evening! Right there.
The Grose River, alongside which we walked.
Crocodile, waiting to grab your leg when you pass by.
We saw 2 pairs of crimson rosella, the red and blue parrots. They flew away too fast.
The view we had. It is awesome to have a view where you can see the highest point and the lowest point at once.
We kept walking. Here we realised this was not the right path so I added a cross made of two branches, hoping others would see it later and not get lost like we just had.
Sunshine wattle and other flowers.
I was so happy to see bees. Why? Because they become so rare! 30% of the bee colonies in Europe and the US have been decimated. Have you heard of CCD? alias Colony Collapse Disorder. Great article here: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/australian-scientists-may-have-solved-the-mystery-of-bee-colony-collapse-20150209-13a6ss.html
A little movie contemplating a bee at work. Couldn’t help myself taking it. 🙂
Shortly after that, we had a snack at this mini waterfall.
We saw this bull ant there. There are 90 known species of bull ant in Australia. Bull ants can be aggressive and grab the enemy with their claws then sting with their butt really badly. You don’t want to be stung! http://australianmuseum.net.au/bull-ants
Then we continued our walk.
On the left of the path we saw this other campground which is not on the map.
Before to go down, we passed 6 guys going in the opposite direction. One of them told us: ‘There are so many orchids around here, aren’t they beautiful?’ We got confused. Orchids? Here? Where? Which flower is he calling an orchid? Mmmm. Strange.
We crossed the river again.
Going up on the other side.
Another caterpillar, or larva, alone this time.
Continuing to walk.
We saw a second campground which was not on the map either.
We stopped for lunch near the river.
The view was great.
Lunch. The same as when I hiked in South America, 2 wraps, a third of a pot of cream cheese and a third of salami. Light to carry, durable and filling.
We started walking again around 2pm. There was this sign near where we had lunch pointing to a path so we decided to follow it but it turned out to be misleading so we had to turn back.
The path was actually alongside the river. Lucky a couple having lunch there too could let us know where they had arrived from and send us in the right direction.
The path. It was quite shady so I removed my sunnies and put them in the left pocket of my pant. Then at some point I realised they had fallen off and I had to walk back for about 10 minutes, eyes riveted on the ground.
Then I saw them, here they were. Luckily!
And we kept walking.
Some interesting flower / pod.
Crossing the river again.
Eastern Water Skink.
We passed another secret campground! The third one not on the map!
Jon spotted this caterpillar on a branch. Very hairy. Didn’t look friendly. I found a description of it on the same website I found for the group of larvae seen on the first day. If this is the same one, it is called ‘chelepteryx collesi’ and one hair would be pretty painful. It is one of the largest caterpillar in Australia which will turn into a moth which will have a wing span of 12-14 cm.
Some white flower.
This leaf on the floor made me think of the face of ‘La Linea’, an italian character made of just one line which keeps interacting with his creator Osvaldo Cavandoli and always complains to him about the path / line on which he is walking, in a very italian way, full of gestures and shouting. It is minimalist, very smart and creative, and pretty funny. One episode here. Enjoy!
We started walking through the Blue Gum forest, a pretty special forest where most trees are about 300 years old, one of them being estimated 600 years old but we didn’t see it. This area used to be the territory of the Darug people and maybe the Wiradjuri and Gangandara people too. In 1931, a farmer who had the lease of the forest wanted to chop down all trees and replace them with walnuts, but some bushwalkers purchased the lease from him and managed to protect the trees. One of them was Myles Dunphy who had ideas about protecting this area and got to realise it by creating the Blue Mountains National Park in September 1959. It took him 28 years, lots of passion and dedication and probably negotiations and talking to make his dream come true.
More info here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Gum_Forest,_Blue_Mountains
and here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Mountains_National_Park
It was 4.50pm and we saw this sign, pointing to where we were coming from.
And that sign, indicating to us the way to the Acacia Flat campground.
There were some information panels where these signs were, one of them explaining how the GBMWHA (Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area) was consulting local indigenous groups to identify opportunities for indigenous communities to participate in the management of these reserves. It was listing the Darug, Wiradjuri and Gundungurra people but also the Dharawal, Kamilaroi and Darkinjung people. According to various statistics, there are between 400,000 to 700,000 Aboriginals left in Australia, which is still better than zero Alakaluf, Seknam, Ausch and Yaghans left in Patagonia. It is great to see efforts made by some associations like the GBMWHA to involve them especially in the management of a land which they respected and took care of for thousands of years.
A map showing roughly where we were.
We arrived at Acacia Flat which was a huge campground. On the right, a father and son.
On the left, another father and son.
We found a spot and pitched our tents here.
The group of 6 arrived slowly afterwards, they were maybe 15-30 minutes behind us. We didn’t interact much that evening though, both groups were pretty knackered and exhausted. We had joked before going on this hike that it would be a piece of cake, come on, 22km total, couldn’t be that hard, right? I was walking 16-18km per day on the Circuit 9-day hike at Torres del Paine, even walking 22km one day. So how could it be possible that it took us the entire day to walk…9 kilometers only? I wished I had saved way points all day with the GPS to validate that the distance walked was really just 9 kilometers. We went up and down, crossed rivers, passed above logs, it was such a hot day and a tough walk, tougher than what we expected! We had dinner pretty early. Jon made me laugh when quite hungry he decided to setup the stove himself, having never setup that kind of fuel stove and got everything right except he put it upside down! Saying that, it can be tricky, I would not have even gone that far in setting it up if I had not learnt how to use it first, ahahahah. But that was funny.
We ate some lamb and olives risotto while Jon had some spaghetti bolognaise from Back Country bags again. We had a really good laugh when Christina tried to figure out the Apple pie dessert. The bag said to find a plate and poor the content and cover with hot water then put the separate bag of biscuits on top and wait for 10 minutes. I was not too keen because 10 minutes later it would be cold which was not fun to eat so I suggested that we keep them aside, wait 10 minutes and add them at the end so that they would still be crunchy. Jon suggested that we pour them into the bag so that the content remains warm and we kind of get them to touch the hot water, so Christina did that but when we opened the bag 10 minutes later, they had completely melted into the apple water. So I said ‘ There is no biscuits in there!’ and Christina said ‘There is only biscuits in there!’ and Jon was laughing so much he almost fell from the air chair which made us laugh too in return. Ultimately, that desert was hot, which was great.
After that, Christina who had brought 3 little 20ML Jagermeister bottles introduced us to the Austrian tradition of drinking it which consists in opening the bottle, putting the cap on your nose, putting the bottle between your teeth, bending your head backwards and swallowing in one gulp without the help of your hands. It was fun!! Thanks Christina! Prost!
Luckily, those 20ML didn’t get us too drunk so with Jon who also had a gorilla pod, we tried to do some night shots. The back of my XT-1 somehow had lost the screws so I could not screw the pad into it needed to plug it into the gorilla pod (tell me about that camera hey, I have had it for a year only, it takes great shot, but it is completely falling apart!). When the photos were not blurry, there was lots of light going on because of everyone’s torches around. I still managed to get that shot though.
We were pretty tired and wanted to wake up at dawn to try to start walking around 8am and make it for the 3pm train in Blackheath so we went to bed around 9pm probably. The weather was not too cold, we were just wearing 4 layers (t-shirt, long sleeve, jumper and raincoat, no downjacket) and 2 pants (leggins and hiking pant). Alright, I also had my rain pant on, called my chocolate protector pant by Christina the night before as I had put lots of chocolate on it during the banana chocolate session. I didn’t need that one against the cold though.
Next day, last day of the 3-day hike, walking from Acacia Flat to Blackheath!