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Steve and Michael heading down to Budgary Creek.

The ramp down to Budgary Creek is quite steep.

Upstream the bush was extremely thick and it slowed our progress.

Michael admires a waterfall on Budgary Creek.

The waterfall certainly was impressive and beautiful.

Deep pools upstream of the waterfall prevent further progress.

Budgary Creek is home to beautiful blue yabbies.

Michael and Steve in the upstream River Cave.

Looking back out of the upstrean river cave.

 

Looking back into the upstream River Cave.

Entering the downstream River Cave.

Looking back out of the downstream River Cave.

Track Notes - Budgary Creek and the River Caves Canyon

Date:  19/12/2007

Maps:  LPI Rock Hill 89312N

Route:  Budgary Creek from the River Caves Canyon to GR 484 096 and then downstream to Rocky Creek Junction.  Wet, scratchy and adventurous.  Distance: 10 kilometres.  Ascent: about 125m.

Gear:  Daypack, Gaiters, Camera, Monopod, EPIRB, Maps, Compass, 20 metre tape, GPS (set to WGS84), 1.5 litres water

Party:  Michael Keats (Leader), Steve Murray and Peter Medbury

Notes:

This was an Exploratory Walk, part of the Bush Club's Summer Program.  Michael leads a couple of exploratory walks each week into areas that most bushwalkers would never see.  I'd not seen the River Caves canyon so this was a 'must do' walk for me'  There was an interesting canyon section joining Budgary Creek downstream from the River Caves that Michael hoped to explore.

As usual we met at 08:00 at the Zig Zag Railway at Clarence.  I left my car and travelled with Michael and Steve out to the end of the Mt Cameron Fire Trail where our walk would start.  There were a lot of kangaroos about this morning so we had to be careful

After looking at some aerial photos and the topo maps Michael had revised the walk a bit.  We were going to use the normal exit route from the River Caves as our way in.

When we reached the creek we would turn south and head upstream along Budgary Creek and try to get to a point below a large waterfall which had blocked Michael's exploration on a previous walk.

Except for the River Caves Canyon section, this walk would be all off track in very thick bush, hemmed in by steep cliff walls.  It promised to be great fun.

As I walked along the track I was amazed by the display of wildflowers.  There were all sorts of things flowering.  Crinkle bush, Lady's SlippersConesticksFlannel Flowers and Triggerplants, just to name a few.  I would have liked to have spent longer taking photos but we had a long day ahead of us.

Waratahs were everywhere, many developing seed.  It had obviously been a good season for them in late spring.

When we left the ridge and headed down to the ramp we would follow down to Budgary Creek we were in a sea of flannel flowers.  They were everywhere.

Gnarled, charred old eucalypts stood guard over the ramp down through the cliff line to the creek.  The ramp sloped down steeply and it didn't take long at all to reach the bottom.  The cliff walls were decorated with triggerplants, yellow goodenias.  At times we had to thread our way though the black wattle which like these sheltered spots.

At the bottom we turned south, leaving the comfort of the path to find our way through the thick bush.  It was tough going at times, having to negotiate fallen timber and thick undergrowth.  At other times we able to follow animal pads for short distances and sometimes we were able to find an easier way beneath the fronds of the tree ferns that lined then canyon walls and the creek.

Everything was lush and green.  Along the way we could here the crystal clear water chuckling over the rapids and through little canyons between the fallen boulders.

As we moved upstream and the canyon became narrower, the cliffs seemed even more imposing.  On the eastern side there was a huge overhand shaped like a chapel.

We reached the first waterfall at 10:30.  It was very impressive, situated in a bend in the canyon.  The falls were too slippery to climb past so we worked our way up and around to the west of the falls.  We could climb up easily but would have to use the tape to get back down safely.

Above the falls there was a long flat section of creek that had undercut the eastern rock walls.  The water was running quickly over over a rocky platform for about 30 metres.  On the western side there were a series of connected, deep pools.  I saw a yabbie in 1 for just a moment.  At the base of the next wterfall there was a deep pool.  There was no way round and any further progress would require swimming.  There didn't appear to be any easy way to climb the waterfall.  All we could do was take photos and accept we could go no further.

We retreated back down the canyon and used the tape to descend.  Once down we headed back to the huge overhand for morning tea.  We sat down on a bed of ferns and sand that was so comfortable it would make a good bed.  We relaxed and took in all the sights - huge pagodas on the western cliffs, banks of triggerplants and goodenias on the cliff walls and small birds moving through the Blueberry Ash all around us.  But we had a lot more to see so after a 20 minute break we pushed on back towards the River Caves.

When we reached the creek we noticed a fine healthy specimen of the Blue and Yellow Yabbie moving along the creek bottom.   I was surprised to see it wave its nippers above the water at us when it thought it was threatened and had no way to escape.

We kept on moving downstream through the thick, green bush past many overhangs filled with ferns, until we reached our entry point and we rejoined the track.  We reached the River Caves almost immediately.

Michael and Steve had each visited the River Caves Canyons a number of times and patiently allowed me time to look at and photograph the wonders of these canyon formations.  The River Caves aren't really caves at all.  They are canyons, very wide and open at the bottom and very narrow at the top, allowing a very limited amount of light in.

There are 2 canyon sections separated by a short open section.  The River Caves started out as narrow slot canyons.  At some stage the creek eroded through into softer sandstone near the bottom and was able to cut the much larger passages.  The canyons are quite dark except when the sunlight is able to shine into the slot above and illuminate the walls.

The River Caves are not dry canyons and you have to get wet.  On this occasion the water was knee deep.  There was no way to avoid wading.  The best places to take photos in the canyons is often in the water.  I had brought a light weight monopod with me so I could take photos with longer exposure settings for the darker conditions.  It worked very well but it did take a bit longer than usual.  No 'point and click' this time!

A dry sandy bench just past the River Caves was an ideal place for lunch.

After lunch we were exploring again.  We left the track River Caves track and headed on downstream.  Rocky Creek, our destination was still 3 kilometres away.  After we passed the track into the River Caves Canyon the bush was much thicker.   We were starting to wonder if our goal was even possible when we found a track that had only been made in the last few days.  We followed it as it wandered through the valley, crossing Budgary Creek several times.  We saw plenty of freshly crushed vegetation.

This section of the canyon has numerous ramps the would allow passage up through the cliff lines on either side.  There are large pagodas in the valley floor.  Despite signs of recent fires the vegetation in the valley was very thick.  Here and there along the creek there were flashes of colour from the red bottlebrushes in flower.

We found traces here and there that someone else had been through this section of the canyon in recent weeks - a snapped branch, crushed leaves, almost a footprint.  Not many venture away from the track here.  At times it was pretty slow going.

A little over a kilometres downstream there was the canyon wall opened up a bit.  We dropped our packs and headed up to have a look.  The cliff here had been eroded underneath in a huge semicircle.  A small waterfall trickled down the northern end and a little creek ran round the inside wall, through thick ferns, before emerging at the southern end and flowing down to Budgary Creek. We couldn't see the creek, the ferns or the overhand as we approached because they were hidden behind a pile of rocks and earth.  It was a secret little world.

After a good look around we made our way back down to Budgary Creek and our packs.  As we got our packs on we considered our options.  We had spent a bit more time going upstream earlier in the day than had been planned and my photos  in the River Caves had delayed us a bit more.  We didn't think we had time to get to the canyon we hoped to explore and be back at the cars by dark.  We decided to continue downstream, looking for possible exit ramps to the east.  Todays destination would have to wait for another day.

After another 100 metres pushing through the bush we saw a possible exit route.  It didn't take long for Steve to confirn it was a way out (and a way back in on another occasion).  Where we left the Budgary Creek valley we had excellent views back over the canyon.  We could clearly see the canyon junction we had hoped to explore.

The vegetation in the canyon was distinctly different to everything growing nearby.  My guess was Blueberry Ash.  I had seen a lot of similar heavily vegetated canyons on Donkey Mountain with Blueberry Ash the dominant tree. 

There was some lively discussion about just what it might be and that just fuelled determination come back again and explore the canyons. 

It took 30 minutes to climb the 150 metres and reach the Mt Cameron Fire Trail.  At the point I reached the fire trail, long grass and shrubs had obscured it so much it was almost invisible.

Once we out of the valley we were surrounded by wild flowers again. We also saw several Mountain Heath Dragons and a large, unusual beetle.

We had 2 kilometres of easy fire trail walking in front of us to reach the car, 30 minutes, allowing for my photos. 

We were back at the car by 3:10pm.  We'd had a great day, even if even hadn't reached our final goal.  It would wait for next time.

 

 

 

 

Times, Locations and Grid References
Time Location Grid Reference
08:50 Left Car at barrier on Mt Cameron Fire Trail    GR 493 095
08:55 Started down the 'Exit Track' GR 489 094
09:45 Reached Budgary Creek GR 486 099
10:00 Large Overhang GR 484 095
10:15 Waterfall GR 484 096
10:30 Explored above waterfall GR 483 097
10:50 Morning Tea at Large Overhang GR 484 095
11:50 Back at Entry Ramp GR 486 099
11:55 Entered River Caves Canyon GR 487 103
12:35 Lunch at downstream end of the Canyon GR 490 104
13:20 Back on Budgary Creek GR 489 109
13:35 Large Overhang on Western Side GR 488 111
13:55 Returned to Budgary Creek GR 488 112
14:15 Lookout above Budgary Creek Valley GR 490 112
14:35 Reached the Mt Cameron Fire Trail GR 493 111
15:10Back at the car on Mt Cameron Fire Trail  GR 493 095  

 

 

Gnarled old eucalypts stand sentinal over the ramp down to Budgary Creek.


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