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Burning Mountain

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

We had planned to go to Burning Mountain in the afternoon, but it was a stinking hot day - it reached 43° C (nearly 110° F) in Scone that afternoon - so we waited before leaving, and ended up starting the walk around 6.10pm.

The Burning Mountain walk starts from a (signposted) carpark just off the New England Highway, about 20km north of Scone. According to the sign at the start, it takes 1.5 to 2 hours for the return walk.

If you're interested in the ecology and geology of the walk, there's a great pamphlet put out by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. This doesn't, however, provide a map, or any idea how long the walk is, either in distance or time. Less extensive information about Burning Mountain Nature Reserve is available on the NSW NCCW site.

It was still pretty warm on the way up. We took our time and stopped to watch spiders, Noisy Friarbirds, Eastern Rosellas, several skinks, and lots of ants.

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a spider
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weather-worn tree-stump
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a Copper-tailed Ctenotus (Ctenotus taeniolatus)
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a kangaroo on the path
In the open area around the top we ran into a couple of kangaroos -- an Eastern Grey and a Red-necked Wallaby.

Burning Mountain itself is the result of an underground coal seam which has been on fire for at least 5000 years. (Along the track on the way up we had passed subsidence cracks and a natural "brick pit".) It is the only known example of this in Australia, and apparently one of only three in the world.

We cooked a light dinner on the viewing platform at the top, while watching the sun set over the volcano-like peak of Burning Mountain. In the valley below we could see a dozen or so kangaroos grazing.

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Burning Mountain
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cooking dinner
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farmland to the south
We walked back down in the dark. No echidnas were to be seen, but there were bats chirping and we heard the possum gliders up in the canopy, thunking their way between the trees. And on our way back to Scone we saw a wombat trotting across the highway.
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