Weston Wollemi Trip

12th –16th November 2014

Trip leaders:   John and Helen Smyth                Toyota Prado


Ian and Kathy Mellross         Colorado

Natalie Duncan                       Toyota Hilux

Max and Helen Eddie            Landcruiser

Poul Wergeltoft and Grace    Toyota Hilux

Allan and Beryl Howard          Toyota Prado

Wayne and Susan Prendergast    Pajero

Tony Clark                                  Challenger

Dave and Sandy Austin             Toyota Prado

Six vehicles met at Freeman’s Waterhole, most on time or ½ hour early, me I was 5 – 10 minutes late, hence I am writing this trip report. We left about 8.20am in convoy and headed for Sandy Hollow rest area for morning tea, then onto Rylstone for lunch, followed by a 25km drive out to Dunns Swamp to set up camp.Some of the local scenery (1)

The name may not appeal to some but that is what it was called long before a dam was built to provide water for Kandos Cement in the 1920’s. It is a beautiful national Park campsite with pit toilets and no showers, but most of us provided our own. The water in the dam (swamp) was clean and clear but should be boiled before drinking; almost all brought our own drinking water. After pitching tents we went on a short walk to get an idea of the lay of the land and have a look at the unusual rock formations called Pogodas. We had tea followed by a campfire where we were given a talk by John who once worked in the area as a school teacher and had a good Knowledge of the surrounds and history. After saying goodnight to everyone it was off to bed only to be woken by noisey possums but no real damage.

Thursday morning saw most of us (not me) go on a short walk to the long cave and Kandos Weir, the dam wall on the Cudgegong River. It was a warm day 34 degrees so it was paddling with kayaks up stream about 1 ½ kms then downstream 2 kms to the dam wall. There was a lot of swimming during the day in the cool water. For me the highlight of the day was the sighting and close contact (2.3mts) with a Musk Duck. I have travelled twice around Australia and never once have I seen or heard about this unusual duck with its short fan like tail and distinct jowl under its beak. The locals referred to it as a platypus duck.The Dunns Swamp Musk Duck (2)

Friday morning there was a walk to Pogoda Lookout, more kayaking and swimming in the very warm day of 38 degrees. We had a visit by the National Park people who informed us and put up signs about the total fire ban in the park area, so ended the camp in the evening, but was completely understandable. We played a game from Finland called Finsla introduced by John and Helen Smyth.

It was decided to divide into two teams, boys verses girls. Without watching the game it would be too difficult for me to describe here but anyway the boys won.photo 1

Saturday morning promised to be a warm 37 degrees, so it was off early to Ferntree Gully, a 45km drive on bitumen from the campsite. The gully is something like a rain forest in a depression but unfortunately was very dry, not much rain lately. After testing out several walks by different groups we compared them to each other and then headed back to Rylstone for an early lunch at the pub.

The fire ban was still on, so more kayaking and swimming followed by a return match of Finsla where the girls won this time. After eating tea we all assembled around our make believe campfire and attempted to answer a written quiz set out by our Maths Master leader. Ian Mellross was declared the winner, (teacher’s pet) he did the least arguing with the adjudicator on any of the answers.

Sunday morning saw a bit of light rain start at about 7.30am, it stopped after Tony did an anti-rain dance, so we packed up and decamped around 12 noon. It was decided to ring the property owner who had given permission to go over his road for the 4wd part of this trip and get some insight on the conditions of the track after the rain. This was relayed back to us, as just enough to settle the dust so it was up and over Nullo Mountain to Bushrangers Cave for the six vehicles taking part. Inside the cave was Aboriginal drawings and a beautiful impression of a black horse, not sure if it was a drawing or painting but as the story goes it was once stolen. Captain Starlight and the Lady Bushranger have reportedly once been occupants of the cave.10425104_10203782523855815_4743291639996372280_n

We unfortunately had a few delays on this part of the trip when we sighted a kangaroo with a badly broken leg. John returned to the property owner’s residence to inform his of its condition and location. The other one was when Rodger became entangled with a gate lock when acting as Tail End Charlie He was soon mobile again after some very quick first aid work by Helen Smyth.

The next stop was at Sandy Camp Hut, a summer camp originally built by early pioneer pastoralists. We then travelled on up and down steep hill side narrow roads, where we were passed by a group of motorbikes. We were expecting them to come from the opposite direction. Our next stop was Keith’s Lookout. A truly panoramic view over the steep hill sides.

Compressors were brought out and we aired up as we approached Widden Valley with its horse studs. This area would have been much more spectacular with a bit more rain needed to make it a lot more greener, but still very interesting.

ISome of the local scenery (27) Aboriginal paintings in cave 10421610_10203782513655560_4274978365026870179_n

It was decided over the CB by those not in a hurry to have a bite at Denman. All present said it was a great couple of days and would do it again. Thanks again John and Helen for putting in a lot of effort to give us all a wonderful experience we will never forget.

Max Eadie