Some pics of trips with Armidale Bushwalkers.



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Six Waterfalls Walk, Sunday 19th June, 2005

Party of: Colin Wood (Leader), Peter Erskine, Robyn Bartel, Brian Cheetham, Seth Cheetham, Margaret Vaughan, Beat Haas, Ben Katz, Margaret Katz, Julie Kennelly, David Lawrence


Most of the New England had been in drought for months. Walkers in the gorges had reported that the Gara River had stopped flowing, Salisbury Waters was just a few stagnant pools, and one party had crossed the Macleay without realising it - the bed was overgrown. So we were a bit sceptical when Colin added his "Six Waterfalls Walk" to the calendar. Some of us expected a day of rough rock scrambling and comments along the line of "Well, in normal times, it's a really good waterfall......"

Nevertheless, ten of us hopefully joined Colin at Yaraandoo, 71 km from Armidale on the Point Lookout road on an overcast Sunday in June. We were well rugged up, with waterproofs, in the hope of seeing actual flowing water.

After a short shuttle, we began walking along the Barwick (Back) Creek. The Grassy Forest made for excellent walking, with Gum Topped Peppermint, Brown Barrel, New England Peppermint, and Messmate Stringybark the common trees of the ridges, and White Sallee, Black Sallee and New England Peppermint the overstorey in the colder areas.

After just about enough walking to be warmed up, we reached the first of our falls, at about (E) 368 264 on the Barwick {Back Creek on my ancient (E)bor 1:25000 map}. This was a pretty little fall and set of cascades, with plenty of water to give it sparkle and dash.

As Colin had anticipated, in this high basalt country, there's nearly always enough water to keep the falls running. Yet the streams are seldom so high that you have any real problems crossing them. We made the first of our many creek crossings for the day. Colin had chosen his route wisely, as it was only a short further walk to Moffat Falls, probably the most photogenic (and the only named) fall of the trip. Framed by tall gums, it was an irresistible sight for the camera-carriers in the party, and we tried various angles to get that perfect Falls shot. We suspect that none of us did as well as Colin- he knew his angles and light, and it is his photo included in this article.

We followed the Barwick west till we cut a south-bearing property road. It gradually petered out as we entered thick scrub, where we made the acquaintance of Prickly Shaggy Pea (also known as Native Holly). In the Styx area, this plant forms dense thickets in a distinct belt from about 20 to about 80 metres above the major watercourses. The botanical description lists the leaves as having " margins irregularly lobed with a spine terminating each lobe". We all now have a few scars to illustrate the description, without seeing the masses of yellow and brown flowers it bears in Spring.

After breaking out of the lower edge, Col suggested lunch, as their wouldn't be enough room for it at the next waterfall. We yarned about earlier trips, good camera angles, the best lightweight stoves..... Refreshed, we then headed down to probably the most spectacular of the day's falls. At about (E) 349 259, the Barwick tumbles about 70 metres through a narrow slot it has worn into the bedrock. We cautiously crawled to the edge, peering down through the thick scrub, then scrambled about looking for a full view of the fall. After a couple of fruitless forays, we resigned ourselves to not being able to take a photo that would do it justice.

We then headed up the northwest ridge. A blue cord marked the way, apparently a survey mark for the minihydro planned by the property owners. A steady puff up the ridge took us to their house site about 160 vertical metres above the Barwick. We all felt the pull of living in this beautiful spot, but its isolation was a bit too much for most of us.

So we headed northwest to take in the last two waterfalls. Smaller, but equally attractive, and running well. Heading home along the powerline to Yarandoo, and waving off the four doing the car shuttle, we settled down to coffee and sticky date muffins before the woodfire at Yaraandoo. A pleasant end to a lovely day. Thanks, Colin!


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