Thursday, September 30, 2010

RAFT: Packrafting the Nymboida Rv

If you live in an area called the "Northern Rivers" you would expect there to be a good scattering of rivers about and you would not be disappointed.  We live near the banks of the Nymboida Rv and so it seemed appropriate that this was the location for us to use our newly acquired Packrafts. 

Taking it back a step.  For some time we had been tossing up what  to do in terms of enjoying the many local rivers that abound around us, along with a low environmental impact.  The initial obvious choice was either a single person kayaks, we then changed our thinking to a 2 person canoe as the best solution and then coincidentally while reading a post on an Australia Bushwalking Forum, I was intrigued by a concept called a Packraft.  The concept immediately appealed, simplistically they are small rafts designed to be backpacked up the river, then inflated and raft down the river on them/  They were small, stable in white water, could be packed down into a backpack, loaded onto a mountain bike, in a small car, or just onto your back.  Some more research, a few questions to a local Aussie user (Steve) on the Bushwalking Forum and the obvious leaders in the field are the Alpaka Brand.

Visiting Youtube and chatting to others users on the forums, we decided these were for us so we put our order in.  Toni opted for the "Denali Llama" and myself for the "Unrigged Explorer"

They arrived i two packages over the last few days, we practised inflating them with the inflation bag, then headed out the next day.  Starting at the bridge over the Nymboida just up the road from us.  Toni went first, ostensibly so I could take a pics, so I did...

Inaugural Launch !
and we headed down the river...

Heading down the Nymboida Rv.

The rafts don't handle the best in flat still water, no skeg or rudder sees them acting a little skittishly but that's not why we got them.  In their element,  fast flowing water, they were superb, extremely stable.  Toni was a little nervous of the first set of rapids,so she jumped out to watch me.
Approaching the first rapids

The rafts are so incredibly stable and handle rapids and low water easily.
Into the first rapids

Doing the business !  This is what it's all about
or is THIS the business

We saw plenty of wildlife, that most gorgeous of birds the Azure Kingfisher made an appearance, as did a Platypus and a plethora of lizards soaking up some sun.

A Water Dragon enjoying the Sun

We spent about 2 hours for the first trip, hopefully the first of many !

More pics can be found here

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

HIKE/MTB: Cathedral Rock National Park

With the offer of "Giant boulders, sculpted rock and distinctive granite tors make striking subjects for photography and keep an eye out for wedge-tailed eagles on the wing.Cathedral Rocks NP was on our list of close by Parks to visit and walk.

Cathedral Rock NP Map

It's only an hours drive from us, we'd planned to do the longer walk from Barokee Camping Area through to the Native Dog Creek Camp area, about a 12km trip including the walk up to Cathedral Rock and Woolpack Rocks.

The plan was to walk one way and ride our MTB's back to the Car, we wanted to walk "downhill", so we dropped the bikes off at Native Dog Creek camping area, hidden in the scrub and drove around to the Barokee Camping Area to head off.  On the drive back, I noticed a couple of climbs on the road that we would need to ascend after the walk, adding a challenge to tired legs.

The walk is all on formed trail,

Typical Trail

 with no steep or challenging bits except for the climb up to Cathedral Rock itself, even I suffered vertigo going up there ! but wow what a view

The spectacular view from atop Cathedral Rock

The walk starts off through low lying country, with hardened crossings to protect the fragile wetlands, gently ascending alongside a picturesque stream, with smaller granite boulders all around us.

Typical moss covered granite boulder

 After a few km's you turn off the trail and head up to Cathedral Rock, a steep crawl up steep boulders, with one stretch so steep there is a chain available to help haul yourself up !

Using the chain is a must to ascend/descend Cathedral Rock
Banksais of all sizes abound
This nifty ladder helps scale Woolpack Rocks
After enjoying the view and taking the required pics, we headed down and continued on the trail towards Woolpack Rocks.  The trail rises gradually, ascending to the top of the range before beginning a gradual descent.  Banksias of all sizes abound as you walk through Banksia Forests Once you get to the descent, the country changes somewhat, with more granite boulders, and a small flowing creek bubbling along beside you. 

It's not long before you get to the Woolpack Rock turnoff.  A 250m diversion that sees you once again scrambling

though and over rocks to be rewarded by magnificent views from the top.

This was an excellent spot to stop and have lunch and to take time to explore some of the knocks and crannies to be rewarded with a glimpse of the local wildlife 

and distinctive weathering patterns on different rocks


After lunch we headed down to the main trail and kept walking towards the Native Dog Camp Area, with plenty of flora and fauna to admire on the way

We had hidden our bikes at the other end of the trail, at the Native Dog Camp Area earlier in the day, so when we had finished the walk we had an 18km ride back to the vehicle.  The smaller climbs which would normally be no problem on the bike started to look like the mountains of the Tour de France after the long walk, and it felt great to finally get back to the Car and give the legs a rest.  All in all a superb walk, with lots of interesting features I would recommend to anyone. 

If you have limited time, I woudl suggest doing the 4,3km loop from the Barokee Camp area (access is on an unselaed road) out to Cathedral Rock and back.

HIKE: Mt Warning National Park

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