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Barrington Tops loop walk

February 2004
Danny Yee, Camilla Ip
(thumbnails link to larger images)

Wednesday

Heading north from Sydney, we took the slower back road through Kulnura. We had a minor drama when my glass frames broke while I was driving, but I managed to stop without hitting anything. We passed by the Bulgoa mine and stopped in Singleton, where an optometrist put a new arm on my glasses for $20 and we had lunch. A reject shop provided chocolate peanuts, a spoon for Camilla, and the notebook I wrote this journal in.

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Pol Blue loop track

In Muswellbrook we stopped for petrol and a visit to the information centre. On the way into Barrington Tops we saw straw-necked ibis, brown falcon, and wedge-tailed eagles. The drive up onto the plateau was complicated by some eight or so "driver under instruction" army trucks going the other way.

The Pol Blue campsite could fit several hundred people, but our only company was one couple in a campervan and it was very peaceful. A group of grey kangaroos bounded by soon after we arrived and we saw some swamp wallabies when we did the short loop walk around the Pol Blue swamp.

A brief night wander didn't reveal anything too exciting: a fox, magpies, crows.

Thursday

There were wallabies wandering around a few metres from our tent when we got up. We ate bacon and muesli, packed, then headed off to the Barrington Tops trail.

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morning at Pol Blue campsite

We left the car where it said "only four wheel drives beyond this point", though the weather being so good we could probably have got it a fair bit further. We'd just done a last minute repack of Camilla's bag — lost a kilogram! — when the couple from Pol Blue drove up in their 4WD, so we scored a lift to Junction Hole. They'd spent 18 months driving around Australia.

As we walked along the Edwards Creek trail there were brumbies in the distance and lots of yellow-winged grasshoppers; it was hot but there was some breeze. We had lunch near Saxby swamp, then went up to Carey's Peak. A side-trip down to Wombat Creek was a disappointment, as the bulldozers had been at work and it wasn't very attractive, but Camilla enjoyed the spanking new toilet!

The mist came in for an hour or so, which was rather fun and pleasantly cool, but cleared by the time we reached Black Swamp.

We found two leeches, which worried Camilla a bit as I'd convinced her we only needed a fly! We were on unleechy grass, however, and I'd clearly brought them back from the river on my shoes.

We went for a walk in the mist but didn't find any peripatus (or wombats), but we were serenaded by black cockatoos and frogs.

Friday

We were up at 6.20 and had a leisurely breakfast but still got away by 7.40. Going over Aeroplane Hill there were lots and lots of Crimson Rosellas, feeding young, the usual whip bird calls, a rust-tailed fantail, a pair of black cockatoos courting, and caterpillars, moths, butterflies, skinks, and more.

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Junction Pools

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bee going for a flower

We reached Junction Pools (close to where we'd started) around 9.40, had a bit of a splash, and left at 11. There were lots of birds, lawyer vine, and macropods, a brown falcon and two ducks, and a small brown snake. I had a minor navigation confusion in the swamp and lost the track for a while. At lunch, sitting on the road, there was a woodpecker right in front of us. We got water at Been Been creek, where there were three horses (two adults and a foal).

We got to the Little Murray picnic area at around 4.45pm and decided to stay there rather than walking out. There was a breeze but the evening sun was hot, there were exploding seed capsules all around and black cockatoos. Dinner was rice, and finally we got some shade.

On a short wander upstream we saw kangaroos on the other bank and bats.

I managed to convince Camilla to sleep out under the stars -- they were the best I've ever seen, with a totally clear sky and a new moon -- and we watched satellites and shooting stars. There were also microbats flitting around just above our noses, and we woke in the night to the sound of brumbies going up the road.

Saturday

We walked upstream again after breakfast, with an assortment of kangaroos, wattle birds, rosellas, currawongs, etc. Then it was an easy walk along the road out; we passed four 4WDs coming in right near the end, and there were some big tents back at the camping area.

We stopped at a picnic area in a pine plantation -- a scene of devastation after logging, but there were still lyre birds in the wasteland. Then we had a quick look at Pol Blue falls, where there's a nice "swimming tub" and where we had hot soup. Driving out, we saw a wedgetail eagle just 50m away. We stopped at Moonan Flats for lunch and got to Scone mid-afternoon.

In Scone we got ourselves a cabin in a caravan park and had a shower, but the air conditioning wasn't coping -- it hit 43 degrees in Scone that day -- and it was blistering hot. Nothing was open in town except a supermarket, where we bought some provisions and enjoyed the air-conditioning.

Once it started cooling down, we went out to Burning Mountain.

Sunday

Nothing much was open in Muswellbrook at 8.30am, so we had breakfast in Singleton. We stopped briefly at Wollombi, which was full of cars and tour buses and very busy, bought some fruit near Kulnura on the way into Sydney, and had lunch at Pie in the Sky.

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