Mitchell River Base Camp
12 – 14 Sept 2014
Leader: Al & Deb
Distance: 24km Angusvale to Echo Bend Camp.
Echo Bend Camp Ground AEST 17:00 Friday, hikers start to gather adjacent to a tin shelter with a washing machine tub for a camp fire, not that anybody has ever used one of those for a fireplace before! The light fades, tents are pitched and dinners are had before wine, JD’s & beers are sipped to the sounds of classical crooners. A nice relaxing evening preceeding a big days hike.
08:45 Saturday, troops file out of 2 4WD’s some 20km upstream at Angusvale on the Mitchell River, thereafter hitting the trail alongside the Mitchell. It’s a fairly flat start, quite often treading on ground that is occasionally underwater from flooding & passing trees and shrubbery like Bottle trees (brachycyton), lillypillies, clematis and even Fairy’s Apron Orchids, all identified by our esteemed Club Leader who has wealth of horticultural knowledge!
As we tread further on our elevation increases gradually meandering to and fro from the river and the sound of the rapids ebbing and flowing to a point on just how many adjectives can you fit into one paragraph before our path leads us inland to a rest stop? Michael takes Paul B down a track to search for a camp ground that lies beside the river and discover a beaut place to lead a overnight camp sometime in the future.
The track now is into some serious undulations and a creek crossing that takes some sure footing, otherwise you could end up in the drink with a naked boy as witness to your misfortune, fortunately this scenario did not play out!
The first of our 2 big highlights for the days trek came just on our lunchbreak with a magnificent view across The Amphitheatre. The Amphitheatre is a sandstone rock face gouged out by the Mitchell winding around in front of a hillside over many a millennia. Rock debris settles at the base of the cliff sitting at an angle that resembles a theatre setting. As we climb higher above this viewing spot to the top of the cliff a lookout deck provides a spectacular vista upstream under blue skies. During lunch at the nearby picnic ground a Goanna strolled across the path going about its business, that was until Andrew, like Papparazi hounded the lizard so much it scuttled off into rehab.
Post lunch the troops press on in and out of ‘temperate rainforest’ gullies for a few hours eventually leading us to our 2nd big highlight, Deadcock Den… now who (and how) would come up with a name like that? My guess is someone found a deceased Rooster in the Den…. Anyhow back to the story at hand, Deadcock Den, just off the main track is a magnificent canyon with a cascade of water pooling within an open room of rock pools and scalloped rock walls. Just beyond Deadcock is the Den of Nargun, although we did not visit as it is accessed more easily by car, these two together would be an excellent place to visit. Not far from here the steep track takes us back to Camp 15 minutes away where Deb has the fire stoked and the chairs re-set around.
Day 2 sees us hiking for an hour in the opposite direction from camp on well formed tracks lead us to a reasonably steep descent through a little scrub and rock trekking back to the Mitchell. There at our destination is what looks like a solid stone wall damming the River. Alas once in full view, the Glenaladale Weir built in 1893 succumbed to Mother Natures forces later that year and now huge chunks of wall lay idly downstream leaving a massive gap in the wall allowing kayakers and rafters a free pass of the river. A good half hour or more is spent scrambling up, over, on and around the weir and exploring it’s surrounds before heading back up the hill to Camp and ending our weekend.