Sunday, 9 October 2016

Road Test - Mulligan's Hut

Coombadjha River
A short hop today, moving from one campsite to another, still in Gibraltar Ranges NP.

Our mid morning shift took as along the Gwydir to the main entrance to the park and what used to be the Ranger Station, was then an information building and now appears to be plush accommodation for the park.

This has been a regular stop for us over the years, being on the track to Yamba and so close to the head of the escarpment which drops down to the Mann River.

Despite this, the nine kilometre drive from here into Mulligan’s Hut, the main campsite and step off for most of the park’s walks, has been one we have only made once. Even then, it was for a reccie, not a stay.

It's a good drive in. Easily negotiated unsealed surface and enough room to pass for those towing a van.

The campsite has been established on the slopes above the Coombadjha River, although dense bush hides it from you. Despite this, it can heard clearly enough. The sites are individually hewn and at least half a dozen are suitable for vans, which means ours, small by comparison, had no trouble. Most sites had fireplaces and tables and a series of tracks cross the campsite and lead you down to the day use picnic area. An smallish amenities block is located near the entrance. It's tiled and has flushing loos but it's cold water showers only. A hook is provided beside the shower head, most likely for patrons with their own solar showers.

There is a lovely open picnic area for the day users, and a couple more toilets, this time of the long drop variety.

Mulligan's Hut
The last level down the slope is an open glade where the Coombadjha hurries past and where Mulligan's Hut may be found. Originally one of two built by William Mulligan, this is actually a recreation done by the National Parks in 1968. The first was destroyed by fire and the second became unsafe.

Mulligan had come to the area during the first world war in partnership with others, seeking a licence from the government to establish a hydroelectric scheme and to open a copper mine. The plan was to build a hydro electric power station at the foot of Coombadjha Falls and use the pace of the falling water to generate electricity. To prove that the waterfall would flow at a sufficient rate, Mulligan built two weirs across the Coombadjha so he could monitor the flow and prove that the scheme was feasible.

Government engineers eventually disagreed and the scheme was abandoned. Dreamer or visionary? Who can tell, but it must be said, that Mulligan's name has lived on long after those officials have been forgotten.

We took a walk towards the Needles but returned early when it was discovered I had left my asthma medication behind. As it turned out, I had messed up directions given us by a park worker to a publicly unknown waterfall. Messed up in that we were heading in the opposite direction.

Later in the afternoon we went for a stroll. The wild flowers are gorgeous and so many pretty
Click here to see today's photos
birds. Just around our campsite we saw a yellow robin, male and female satin bower birds, a tree creeper and a rufous fantail. Returning from our stroll, two little wallabies were feeding right beside our campsite.

Afternoon tea of pikelets and tea, then reading for Sue and writing for me. It's chilly. Looks like a cold night ahead.

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