This walk, along a small section of the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales border in the south of Namadgi National Park is not an official walk within the Park. Accordingly, it is not marked on maps nor is it signposted.
The primary purpose of my doing this walk was to look for, and at, a couple of border markers (referred to, for some reason beyond me, as blazes). Additionally, when I did the walk I also got to see the impact of other blazes – fires – which had burned along the New South Wales side of the border, not long before my visit given the acrid smell still prevalent.
There are two options for those wishing to walk along this part of the border.
Option 1 – an approximately 5km detour from the official and signposted Settlers Track walk making a total walk around 14kms (this is what I did), or
Option 2 – an approximately 14 km return walk starting at the Settlers Track car park and heading, clockwise, to the New Grassy Creek (not to be confused with the Grassy Creek) fire trail via Westerman’s Homestead. While similar in length to option 1, because option 1 is a loop walk you get to see much more on it, albeit with a higher risk of getting lost if you head out unprepared.
Option 1 – Detail
Leaving Waterhole Hut via the Grassy Creek fire trail and having just crossed Grassy Creek the trail takes a sharp left-turn. At this point we went, pretty much, straight ahead leaving the path behind and taking to grasslands. The next kilometre of the walk was through longish grass (soggy in part due to recent rains) and reasonably dense undergrowth, across a rather swampy creak area and up a fairly steep wooded and rocky hillside (picture 1) to reach the New Grassy Creek fire trail from which point the remainder of the walk was relatively easy. As this 1 kilometre section of the walk is not on a track and unmarked you should not attempt it unless you have a map/GPS device with a loaded track and a decent sense of direction. See later for details on how to download a track for your GPS device. Take my advice, you absolutely do not want to get lost out here!
Having reached the fire trail we turned right and continued in search of the 112 Mile survey blaze. I was expecting to encounter some form of stone cairn or other obvious border marker and was thus fairly sure that a pile of stones (picture 2) I found at the correct location was the marker so left happy. (I was using a GPS device and am sure I had the correct location give or take a few metres).
Within a short distance everything on the New South Wales side of the fire trail for a couple of kilometres was badly burnt (picture 3 – note the scorched earth, in particular). The sight and acrid smells of recent fires brought back sad memories of devastating fires in Canberra some fifteen years ago, in 2003. Not having heard of any fires in the area in recent times I think the fires were the result of back-burning – the deliberate burning of undergrowth by authorities to reduce the risk of catastrophic unplanned fires.
I have referred to fire trails a few times on this and other reviews on this page. These are basic roads through forest areas and have a number of purposes. They provide access to forest management staff and the fire brigade in case of fire, in addition to separating forest areas into discreet sections such that if a fire does occur the fire trail breaks the fire, thus stopping it spreading from one section to another via undergrowth at ground level. Of course more significant sized fires can easily ‘jump’ the fire trails – hence the back-burning. Picture 4 shows how a fire trail is supposed to work – note how everything is burnt on the right hand side while nothing is burnt on the left hand side of the trail in this picture.
I have to say I became mesmerised by the sight and smell of the heavily burnt forest and could only think of how vulnerable we are to the elements in Australia.
Anyway, moving on, it was soon time for a 50 metres detour from the trail to search for another border marker (Reference Tree) which, this time, I knew to be a tree. I easily located the said tree and instead of seeing a metal plaque or the like thereon I found that it had been marked by severely cutting back the bark and inscribing numbers, etc directly onto the tree (picture 5). Most interesting.
When I got home and read a bit more I realised that the 112 Mile survey blaze was identical (though with different inscription) to the Reference Tree and I had missed it. I was slightly comforted, and felt less of a fool, when I also read that the tree at 112 Mile may have fallen over and the marked area now faced the ground and was thus no longer visible.
Our walk to this point, from shortly after where we turned of the Settlers Track path had been gently rising such that we had gained over 100 metres. Shortly after the Reference Tree, the fire trail took a sharp turn to the left and quickly descended back into the Bobeyan Valley below, where we reconnected with the Settlers Track at Westerman’s Homestead.
For those with a GPS device you can (and should, if you plan on walking it) download a KMZ file (for Google Maps) of Option 1 and convert it, such that your GPS device can read it. The KMZ file can be downloaded from http://www.johnevans.id.au/Pages/Walk%20Descriptions/2010_12_28.html (checked July 2017).
John Evans (owner of the webpage) is a seasoned Canberra walker and his webpage is a wonderful source of maps, tracks, commentaries and photos for countless walks in the Australian Capital Territory and further afield.
Note that there is no mobile phone/internet access along this walk so whatever devices you use need to be usable offline.
Option 2 – Detail
Option 2 is easily doable by anyone without any danger of getting lost (though as noted earlier it is not as scenic as you return to the car park via the same track as you leave it). To take this option, walk along the Settlers Track in a clockwise direction from the Settlers Track car park to Westerman’s Homestead and then head south passing the Westerman graves (refer my Westerman’s Homestead review) and continue until you meet a very obvious fire trail – the New Grassy Creek fire trail. At this point turn right and walk along the trail to the 112 Mile survey blaze, if you can find it. Repeat the walk in reverse.
Address: Bobeyan Road
Directions: Walk commences at Settlers Track car park
This blog entry is one of a group (loop) of entries on Namadgi National Park. To continue with my next entry chick HERE.