|Girringun National Park - Herbert River Falls||August 25 - 26 2019|
|An early morning look at the platypi. This one decided to
paddle across the pool on the surface. Hence the wake.
We are a little surprised they still occupy this pool as its a popular swimming hole and being a weekend there are other campers alongside.
|We decide to move across the river, to Princess Hills
Campsite. About 20km for crows, more than a hundred by vehicle. Its taken us
a little while to realise that Herbert Falls may be accessible from Princess
Heading west we encounter some early morning traffic. The male at the head of the convoy was last to give way.
|Back across the Herbert River, still a long way to go.
We've been searching for back roads southwards and feel we can find a route that doesn't involve the coast.
|The entrance to the Princess Hills Section of Girringun
National Park. The station, now park headquarters, was Princess Hill
There are two small hills.
The track to our campsite is to the left after the gate.
|Called "Greasy Track" for some reason we can't fathom.
Its not on any of our maps (which didn't help with realising we would be near Herbert River Falls).
|We are a little early, the people from Townsville who had
spent the last four days here were part way through packing up.
We knew from satellite images that there's a vehicle track past the campsite towards the falls. We had planned to follow that and see if we could bush bash on foot to reach the falls.
This pic is looking back after we've left the more sedate part of the river at the vehicle track end.
|There are two lines on this map. The red line shows
tomorrow's walk. The left end is the campsite.
The blue line shows today's walk from the end of the vehicle track following the river to the falls.
The brown lines are contours, the beginning of the gorge is easy to identify.
|The map and the track don't quite coincide. Most of the time we are in the river channel. A couple of times we had to climb over a bluff.|
|The river splits about 300m before the falls. We follow the
dry flood channel, the right hand channel, hoping to look back at the main falls.
Our aim was to stand on the top of the cliff opposite. Its only 200m away.
However, between us and that is a creek that comes in from the right.
We can't follow the flood channel any further, we can't climb up the right hand side (without risk) while realising how long that 200m would take us, so we climb up the left hand side, onto what appears as an island on the map.
|From the island we can just see where water disappears over
We follow the ridge of the island to where we can see upstream. This pic is looking upstream from where we first crossed the island to see the main stream, the big leap of the falls is below to our right.
The granite is dark where it has a coat of algae, and light grey, its natural colour, where washed by the river in flood. There must be times when a lot of water flows along this river.
|It wasn't far in km but the terrain, the long grass, the
boulder hopping, and the sun tired us. We were very pleased to see the truck
again. About 4.7km return, crows cover it in 3.3km.
Under the grass the ground is not nice soft sandy soil, its very coarse eroded granite, small stones that can be a bit like marbles.
A loss of concentration. The gps now has a scratch acquired during a slip, and a bit of back pain from one of those slow motion rolling over falls that occur occasionally.
Shades of "a bridge too far" come to mind.
|We drove back to the campsite and stopped for the night.
And decided to stay a second night. We have sufficient mobile phone signal to use the internet.
|We feel we should know what this is. But, alas, we have to
refer to the bird book. Even then its unclear, but we think an Eastern
It held our attention for a while as it caught its evening meal of insects.
|Upstream from the campsite as the sun set.|
|Next morning Ali does mandolin while I stage a second
assault on the waterfall view.
Initially walk up the vehicle track we took yesterday, looking back to the campsite and checking the radio.
|There's a corner in the track where it leads down to the
river. I climb through the fence (wondering how many other people have done
that) and set off in a straight line towards gps coordinates for the top of
the cliff overlooking the waterfall.
What can possibly go wrong?
There was a suggestion from the satellite image that there were some ridges and watercourses. They are a bit steeper than imagined. It seems obvious I should keep as high above the main river as I can. Particularly knowing there is a creek marked on the map, the one we didn't reach yesterday, that I have to cross to reach the cliff.
|But there's a reward. I can see what I suspect are the Princess Hills, about 10km to the south east, beyond the river.|
|As I follow the ridge I also see downstream the gorge,
somewhere further on is where Blencoe Creek enters.
In the dim dark past the Herbert River used to flow to the west. Some time, as the Great Dividing Range (which is to our west) formed the river diverted through the coastal mountain range and progressively cut its gorge.
|The only obvious feature beyond ridges and gullies was this
granite outcrop. Visible on satellite pics.
I reckoned the ridge in the distance was on the other side of the creek I had to cross and would lead me to the view.
At some stage in such undertakings as this its not unusual to question "why". And to wonder if the end point is achievable. This was one of those stages.
But common sense either prevailed or lost depending on one's perspective. For whatever reason, probably simply that I would finish what I started, I carried on.
|Cattle tracks are fine, cattle usually follow each other,
an animal track that looks like it crosses the creek probably does.
The difficulty is of course that a cow making a new track has the same problem I have. I've never been here before and don't know if there's a way down, or a way out.
Fortunately, in the great lottery of animal tracks, I follow one that was successful. Just a bit of scrambling on the granite marbles, and hanging on to grass that really doesn't have strong roots. If cattle can do this with four legs, and kangaroos with two and a tail, then I can do it with two legs and two arms.
|I climb out of the creek up to the top of the ridge, and
turn north. The last 600m is relatively flat and easy.
Within about 50m of the gps coordinates I have the vegetation changes in subtle ways. Apart from the grass being longer there are more shrubs forming undergrowth.
I'm within 20m of the edge of the cliff before I hear the waterfall.
|Eh, voila! A waterfall. The Herbert River Falls. On the
left is the dry flood channel we followed yesterday. And the island in the
middle that we stood on and followed upstream.
I can see the pool at the bottom of the waterfall. Just. I recall from yesterday's pics that its a long way down with no really clear edge.
The last pitch of the waterfall is about 60-70m. Not particularly high, but in the scheme of things a spectacular waterfall.
I will never see it (not only because it would be too hard to reach on foot but because the spray would obliterate the view), but I can perhaps imagine a little of what it may be like in flood - helped by an ABC article from the last time.
Holding a tree with one hand and holding the camera out as far as I can reach is the best I am willing to attempt. The coordinates were -18.23643,145.37082
|The electronics (including the camera) that any
self-respecting bush basher must carry grows almost by the trip. The
satellite phone, the gps, the two-way radio. I left the PLB (personal
locator beacon) at camp. In the pack is the vital supply of water - getting
lighter even as I take the pic. Yesterday we could fill up water bottles
from the river. Today I can't.
At this stage I decided to contact Ali. I'd been away longer than planned. The radio failed, though apparently some crackling for Ali. Once a communication attempt has failed its possible the recipient knew something was being tried but not whether its good or bad. I tried the satphone. The mobile phone signal at camp was a bit iffy, all Ali knew was someone was trying to call. I sent a text, but by that time Ali had (fortunately) decided to walk up the hill to the high point of the vehicle track and try the radio.
Having tried and failed to communicate I thought it wise to tell someone else, so a couple of "All Ok" messages, with brief explanation why, to daughter (remote area support coordinator). Once having tried to communicate and failed our imaginations can take over.
I was on the move again, headed home, when I heard a faint "hello". It wasn't the satphone (how could it be?). I tried the radio. All good, Ali's extra height gave us a good signal. Ali knows I'm OK.
|I took a slightly different route back, staying higher on
the ridges for longer, further away from the river.
350m makes a big difference.
I can see the coarse of the river, and even water. I can see places in the landscape I recognise and cross the last watercourse at the same point as the walk in.
Nearly home, a total 8.7km in 3 1/4 hours. Not my usual 4.5km/hr, nearer 2.2km/hr while moving.
|Ali is sat beside the river. The steps cut in the bank to
give river access are only a small obstacle to tired muscles. The aches and
pains from yesterday, that magically faded overnight, have predictably
returned. We are not as young as we once were.
But mission accomplished - I nearly said "the things we do for a picture", but there's more to it than that.
Just upstream is a resting turtle. Ali's been watching it for a while. As I point the camera at it out pops head and legs. A few seconds later its gone.
We'll watch for them making ripples in the calm water of the river.
|Burdekin River - Mt Fox to Fletcher Creek||August 27 - 28 2019|