Monday, September 26, 2016

Mount Zero, Grampians National Park - August 2016

Looking back at the Hollow Mountain and Mt Staylton complex from Mt Zero.
After James and I aborted our attempt on the Hollow Mountain to Mt Stapylton traverse we were left with a few hours up our sleeves before we headed back to reality in Melbourne. Seeing that we were already up at the very northern tip of the Grampians National Park having just finished our climb up Hollow Mountain, we decided to jump back into the ute and take the two minute drive over to the Flat Rock car park and do the short walk up Mt Zero. With this mountain being at the northern tip of the park the views are quite extensive for such a little hill.
Leaving the car park the track crosses a short swampy section before starting to climb.

Leaving the ute the route heads back across a swampy section before starting the fairly gentle climb, initially up some steps before a bit later the more traditional Grampians rock slabs. I guess the most notable feature of this walk was probably the amount of wildflowers on display, giving me plenty of chances to practise my macro shots not to mention test out my dodgy leg squatting down and getting up. Once the route reaches the rock its just a matter of following the arrows painted on the rock to the summit, although somewhat confusingly at one stage we were faced with arrows pointing in three different directions, after a bit of a sqiz we worked out that one of the routes bypassed a narrow ravine. Being a bit of a fat bastard myself I did consider the bypass track but where's the fun in that? No, I was keen to experience all that Mt Zero had to offer so squeezed my hefty bulk through the narrow slot, James looking very relieved that he didn't have to get behind me and push my oversized posterior through.
Hmm, choices.....
I reckon we'll go this way.
The obvious choice for a fat bastard!

After negotiating the slot, which is probably the crux of the walk, the rest of the stroll was just a straight forward climb. The views back to the south east and Mount Stapylton get quite extensive as you climb and drew the eye every time we stopped for a breather. Once reaching the summit ridge however its the open flat plains of the Wimmera to the north that get your attention, the plains looking a verdant green after good winter rains. After attaining the crest we only had a short rock hop to the north to reach the summit direction dial, not only did it help us identify all the nearby lakes but it also made for a comfortable spot for me to sit while James scurried around the rocky tops trying to get another great photo.
Hey, hey, Parks Vic had even put a chair on the summit for me.
Flat Rock on the right and Mt Stapylton on the left.
The summit of Mt Zero with the billiard table flat Wimmera Plains in the distance.

We spent probably half an hour on top today, we were lucky in that the weather had more or less cleared so apart from the icy wind it wasn't too bad up on top. Eventually though all good things come to an end and we started our descent back to the ute, like the climb the descent featured a few stops on the way down to take some more photos of the wildflowers. The other notable feature on the descent was the views over to Mount Stapylton, not that I needed any but the views provided plenty of motivation for me to get back and spend some more time in this rugged little pocket of the Grampians National Park. After arriving back at the ute we settled in for the drive back to Melbourne arriving home in the early evening, we might not of achieved the original objective of our trip which was the Hollow Mountain to Mount Stapylton traverse, but we still managed to do three different and diverse little walks over the day, not a bad result really.


Mt Zero might be a fairly insignificant hill but it as a view out of all proportions to its height I reckon.
The weather was actually pretty good by the time we started to drop back down to the ute.
Hollow Mountain through the trees on the descent back to the ute.

The Dirt.
This is an easy walk, the only hazard of note is probably once you achieve the summit crest the north facing cliffs need to be respected, there are no safety fences up here (thank god). We walked 3.5 kilometres and climbed 161 metres on our Mt Zero walk. We used the notes out of the old Tyrone Thomas book 80 Walks In The Grampians, although the book is long since out of print. It's a well marked route though so you only really need SV Maps, 1:50,000 Northern Grampians sheet, you're not going to get seriously lost on this little stroll.
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Our intrepid explorers:)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Yankee Hat, Namadgi National Park - September 2016


There's no shortage of Kangaroos on this little walk.
In early September Sam and I were slowly making our way up to Sydney where we were leaving Australia for a cruise to Papua New Guinea. As usual for me I was keen to do some walking before jumping onto a boat for three weeks and sitting on my fat arse, the plan was to head up to Canberra for a couple of days before continuing onto Sydney. The Canberra stop was to allow me to climb one of the mountains in Namadgi National Park, or so the plan went anyway. As is sometimes the way things didn't actually work out as planned though, the weather threw a bit of a spanner in the works today with almost constant rain, not ideal conditions to climb mountains. So jumping in the ute I headed down to the Namadgi Visitor Centre and came up with a plan B, after talking to the rangers I decided to head further down into the park and do the Yankee Hat walk.

Yankee Hat is an indigenous rock art site, the Ngunnawal People have lived in the area for around 30,000 years and it appears that the Yankee Hat Rock Shelter has been in use for around 800 years. The shelter is a complex of rocks below Yankee Hat Mountain in the Gudgenby Valley which is around an hour and a halves scenic drive south of Canberra, the last few kilometre on the unsealed Old Boboyan Road. 
Bogong Creek.
Parking the ute I pulled on my old boots and headed off into the misty rain. The first thing I noticed today was that my old boots are pretty much rooted, twenty metres on the grassy track I could already feel my socks getting wet. The second thing I noticed was the amount of kangaroos that call the Gudgenby Valley grasslands home, there were huge mobs of roos at almost every turn, in fact sometimes I was struggling to take a photo without an errant roo hoping into the frame. The track slowly descends across open grassland down to Bogong Creek, the misty rain giving me plenty of opportunities to work on my atmospheric shots. After crossing Bogong Creek on the substantial bridge the route commenced its gentle climb towards the base of Yankee Hat Mountain.
The route crosses a few of these forested knolls as it crosses the valley.
The big white drawing is thought to depict a kangaroo. The top right red one is thought to be depicting an emu or a brolga.
The climb to the rock art site meanders a bit, the track seeming to head for every bit a snow gum forest in the area. I was still feeling pretty content with life as the track finally left the grassy plains and entered the forest that is the home to the art site and my mood only got better when I arrived at Yankee Hat art site to find that was still able to shelter under the overhang out of the rain, a lot of these indigenous art sites around Australia have had to be fenced off to protect them from dickheads defacing them. Eating my lunch in the shelter looking down through the trees towards the Gudgenby Valley I was looking at the same scene that people had been gazing down on for 100's of years, yep I was feeling pretty hardcore there in my gortex jacket, a couple of wet kilometres away from the heated seats in the ute, like I said Hardcore!

The Yankee Hat site feature drawings depicting kangaroo, birds, dingo among other things. The drawings were done with ochre and clay and have survived so well due to the overhang protecting them from the rain. Most of the information about indigenous history in Namadgi has come from modern researchers as unfortunately the early settlers introduced diseases that basically wiped out any traditional living back in the mid 1800's, so there was no passing the dreamtime stories down the line. 
There's plenty of evidence that the overhang provided a comfortable camp over the years.
There are a few other over hangs to check out at the Yankee Hat site.
The weather deteriorated a little while I had lunch at the over hang.
The view back across the Gudgenby Valley from near Yankee Hat.
After lunch I started back across the valley towards the car park, the rain had got a little heavier while I'd been exploring the Yankee Hat Art Site and I was now using my waterproof camera to try and get a few photos. If I have to do a retrace then it may as well be one like today's where the weather changed enough to give a different perspective on each leg. Less than an hour after leaving the shelter of the art site I was back at the ute and pulling of my sodden boots and drying off, I may not of climbed any mountains today but I'd still had a great little adventure and learned a little bit as well.
The damp weather always brings out some nice colours in the snow gums.
Crossing back over Bogong Creek, it was now pissing down.
Check out the claws on this big buck.
Almost back at the car park.
While I'm in the mood a bit for crapping on I figured that I'd talk a little about the hotel we stayed at while we were in Canberra. We stayed at Hotel Kurrajong, now that may not mean much to anybody but me but I've been wanting to stay in this place for ages. You see Hotel Kurrajong may not be anywhere near the flashest hotel in Canberra but it has one big thing going for it and that's history. The hotel was opened in the mid 1920's and has been the home to numerous politicians and public servants over the years, most notably in my eyes John Curtin and Ben Chifley two of our best PM's. Ben Chifley actually spent his whole parliamentary career living at the Kurrajong Hotel and died at the hotel in 1951. The hotel has been refurbished a few times over the years and has recently been renovated again in an art deco style, and while it might not be super chic it still provides a comfortable place to stay for a few nights.
Hotel Kurrajong, Canberra.
The hotel has recently been refurbished.
There's a lot of history at this hotel and the hotel has many of these small information boards scattered around to inform you of it.
John Curtin spent a lot of his time in Canberra staying here.

The Dirt.
This is an easy walk, the gentle descent and climb across the Gudgenby Valley should be within the capabilities of most people. The walk is around 6 kilometres in total (my GPS is still out of action) and I'd estimate the total climbing to be around 100 metres. So if you are interested in indigenous history or you want to check some large mobs of kangaroo's then maybe consider this nice little stroll, oh yeah the track gets pretty damp in wet weather so you may get wet feet. I used the National Park brochure that I picked up at the Tharwa Visitor Centre and its probably all you need for this little stroll. John & Lyn Daly have written this walk up in one of their books if you think you need a little more detail.
Relevant Posts.

Curtin and Chifley, our two greatest Prime Ministers......well in my opinion anyway.


The detail on these sculptures was extraordinary.