Saturday, 28 March 2015

TOD Tour, Day 46 - Mt Warning & Natural Bridge Drive

Uki with Mt Warning looming
in the background.
Facing facts, Sue and I were never going to be able to complete the climb to the summit of Mt Warning. Just too far and to hard on Sue's back and on my body recovering from an ear infection.

As a result, we took a different option and drove around Mt Warning and detoured up to see something we missed the last time we were through this area.

On the way out this morning, I wander about the caravan park and spoke to people abut the gig tonight and then we went to the nearby Rainforest Cafe. It was one of two choices to make for a cuppa before we hit the road. We chose the wrong one.

Heading clockwise on a drive which would take us right around Mt Warning, we stopped first at Uki.
Established as a town in the early years of the twentieth century and with rural industry base don dairy cattle, like most of the North Coast, it was an area initially explored by non-indigenous people in search of Red Cedar. A remnant of those days is a Red Cedar stump which lies behind the Uki School of Arts Hall. The town has an aging population which has change to include many people who have moved from major cities to the more laid back lifestyle of the "tree changer". There was ample evidence of alternate lifestyles being a strong part of the population of slightly more than 200 but with a totally different vibe than Nimbin.

It was market day and with the added attraction of a state election to bring people to town and the little place was buzzing. Very friendly, very happy, very welcoming.

Clarrie Hall Dam
Just south of Uki, a detour from the Kyogle Road takes you into Clarrie Hall Dam, an additional water supply for the Tweed Valley based on Doon Doon Creek. It also acts as a recreational centre for fishing and water activities, although there was a strong bloom in evidence today. The area was of significance to local aboriginal people and much work was undertaken with elders in preparation for building the dam and inundating some sacred sites. Two particular artefacts were removed from sites for safe keeping, only to be stolen at a later date.

Only a couple of kilometres after the dam, we turned off the Kyogle Rd and picked up the narrow Byrill Creek Rd and followed it to the west as it wound along beside the creek. There were four creek crossings to negotiate and a slow passage over, initially narrow bitumen and then for twelve kilometres on the western side of Mt Warning, reasonable unsealed road. Once the road turns to the north to travel along the western side of Mt Warning, it climbs up the lower slopes and into farm land and turns onto the Brays Creek Rd.

The Pinnacle
Brays Creek is nothing more than an old property now but once it was a small community with its own hall and tennis courts. They lie broken and taken over by weeds. We turned to the south west and followed the Brays Creek Rd for several kilometres to capture views of the Pinnacle and the western caldera of Mt Warning. The Pinnacle is a narrow lava flow which has remained after the surrounding rock material has eroded, much the same as the Breadknife at Warrumbungle NP. Its much taller and long than the Breadknife and stood out starkly.

Head north again, it was only a few minutes until we reached Tyalgum. Markets again dominated the village. We had nice chats with a photographer and a lady who sells natural oils but then a disappointing cuppa at Tyalgum's big draw card, Futterbies. Perhaps it was because it was very busy but it seemed more commercial and like tourist central than we remembered it.

Striking out to the north again and then back east, we followed the Limpwood Rd along Hopping Dicks Creek - no, I'm not making these names up - until we crossed the Rous River at Chillingham and picked up the Nerang-Murwillumbah Rd for our ascent of the Macpherson Range and our first taste of Queensland for the trip. It was to be a small incursion, only as far as Natural Bridge in the Springbrook NP.

Caves Creek, Natural Bridge
Springbrook contains areas of Gondwanna Rainforest which have been declared as being of World Hertitage, just as Dorrigo NP is (visited earlier on The One Day Tour). At Natural Bridge, the original lip of the waterfall was the edge of a basalt lave flow which emanated from the huge Mt Warning shield volcano. It had been over 2000m high and 80kms wide and as water began the slow erosion of the volcanic soils, rocks in eddys in the stream bed began rip away at the stream floor, eventually boring a hole through the roof of the cave below and making a spectacular waterfall which disappears down a sink hole and emerges in the large cave underneath. An excellent system of walking tracks takes visitors past the face of the falls, into the cave and across several vantage points to observe the sink hole.

The area inside the walking tracks is off limits for conservation and public safety reasons. This, of course, didn't stop two girls getting their kit off and going for a dip in the splash pool below the sink hole in the cave and ruining everyone else's photographs. Nor did it stop the buffoons who climbed over the rails and stood in the middle of the creek above. One even entered the small pool immediately above the falls running into the sink hole but it was some consolation when the current proved stronger than he thought and he received a rather nasty fright as he quickly headed in the direction of the plunge. Had the current been successful, he would have had to not only survive the 25m fall but also a landing on a large tree which has lodged in the bottom of the hole after a flood event. He almost certainly would have died and some of us would have had to fish him out and all of us would have seen it happen.

A large, recently fed spotted python sat on the shore right beside this group waiting its own turn to scare them.

Despite these distractions, it is a spectacular sight and must be awesome when in flood.
The cave below is home to a colony of glow worms which are only evident at night. small birds were darting about as well.

Returning to the Rainforest Park, I did some preparation and read until my poetry gig in the early evening. Once again, a small but enthusiastic group gathered, which included a few of the park residents. I managed to sell a book and received some donations and the poetry was well received.

Brisbane tomorrow.

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