Lots of photo’s this week. Double click to view full size.
Monday 28th January.
I woke to the sound of rain driven against the windows. The wind and rain continued most of the day sending a clear message to stay indoors.
The rain depression and accompanying wind, legacy of ex tropical cyclone Oswald has brought flood havoc to the usual places in two states. Fitzroy River Qld, Rockhampton and downstream. Burnett River Qld, including Bundaberg and Gladstone. Mary River Qld, Gympie to Maryborough. Brisbane River Qld, including the Lockyer Valley and Brisbane. Wilson River NSW, around Lismore and low lying areas to the coast. Richmond River NSW, Woodburn through to Ballina. Clarence River NSW, from Grafton to Yamba. Macleay River NSW, Kempsey through to South West Rocks. I could go on but these are all places which have (and we have been there at the time) experienced floods in past years.
Tuesday 29th January.
I had hoped to be able to drive the Waterfall Way today and find at least one waterfall in full majestic water thumping thunderous spectacle. Specifically I wanted to see Wollomombi Falls, the highest falls in Australia. This height claim is subject to dispute and in fact the falls may be second or even third highest in Australia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wollomombi_Falls
Another waterfall, Chandler, combines with Wollomombi to create the Macleay River which is currently in flood.
The day started with a heavy overcast and a drizzly mist drifting up from the valley. I decided to stay as conditions would not be good for driving or photography. Late in the morning the sun started a battle with the clouds and bit by bit started to win, opening up patches of blue sky.
Tomorrow is looking good.
Wednesday 30th January
The day started sunny and got hot early and stayed hot all day. Perfect for driving to Wollomombi Falls and Ebor Falls (again) both of which are contained in the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxley_Wild_Rivers_National_Park
House ruins on the access road to Wollombi Falls in the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park…Wollomombi section.
Old log cabin style shed near the ruins.
Other falls within the park which I have visited are Dangars Falls, Bakers Creek Falls and Gara Gorge. The gorges within the park are simply “bloody” steep and the falls today are no exception. My photos can only give a small idea of the vastness of the gorges within the park.
Macleay River Gorge.
Little wonder the entire park is called Oxley WILD Rivers National Park. The visit to Wollomombi Falls was prompted by the excessive rainfall of the past few days. On arrival, the falls, were pumping water over the 220 metre drop. The noise, even from the car-park was constant and loud.
Another view of Mollomombi Falls.
There are two waterfalls, both spectacular, especially today with so much water cascading into the gorge. The first, about 500m as the crow flies is the Wollomombi Falls and by a strange coincidence it is fed by the Wollomombi River, in flood at the moment. The second falls are about a further 500m along the same gorge wall is Chandler Falls and by another coincidence is fed by the equally flooded, Chandler River.
Closeup Chandler Falls.
Where both rivers meet on the gorge floor way below they form a new river, the Macleay which in turn is fed by hundreds of creeks and minor rivers on its journey down the mountains and eventually to the sea.
Wollomombi and Chandler Falls.
Wollomombi River and Chandler River meet forming Macleay River.
Little wonder the lower Macleay is in flood around Kempsey and South West Rocks on the coast. A walk took me along the hills to the Wollomombi River just above the lip of the falls. A steel bridge crosses the river and a path leads to a lookout above the falls. From the debris lying on the bridge and river bank it was clear to me the water level has gone down at least 60cm or perhaps as much as one metre in the last day or two.
Bridge over Wollomombi River. Note the debris and the special hinged hand rails.
Maybe I should have been here yesterday. I stopped at the bridge, as a tree, carried there by floodwaters a day or so ago, was jammed on the bridge. No sense risking climbing over the log with a swollen and raging river only 30cm below when a slip would have me in the water and the falls were only 100m downstream. I was alone and nobody knew I was there. In fact there were no fresh prints on the muddy path I followed. The bridge has been designed and built so the hand rails can collapse when trees and logs are being washed towards the falls. I could not budge the rails by pulling on them so the forces involved to flatten them must be considerable.
Warning Sign. Steep Slopes.Trust me, those slopes are steep and 200m to the floor below..
One of several viewing platforms overlooking the Wollomombi Falls.
Steep stair case to viewing platform at Wollomombi Falls.
The signs throughout the park warn of steep and slippery slopes. Even from the safety of a lookout I still felt nervous looking straight down to the valley below.
When trudging the path between two lookouts I noticed an odd shape ahead on top of a tree stump. As I got closer I thought the odd shape was a camouflage pose and may be a young Tawny Frogmouth. In fact it was a camouflage pose but it was a full grown Southern Forest Dragon. http://www.reptilepark.com.au/animalprofile.asp?id=87
I was able to get within a metre of this delightful spikey creature and take many photographs.
Southern Forest Dragon.
Closeup of Southern Forest Dragon.
I drove another 37Klms to Ebor and the twin falls which were pumping as well. On the drive I noticed on top of a mountain ahead was a large white shiny structure. Locals I taked to in Ebor told me it was an aviation radar on top of Round Mountain. http://newsroom.airservicesaustralia.com/releases/en-route-radars-to-be-replaced
I noted again the water level in Guy Fawkes River also must have fallen by about 60cm since the height of the highest level a day or two ago.
The Guy Fawkes River as it plunges over the lip of Upper Ebor Falls.
This is Upper Ebor Falls during the drought two months ago.
This is upper Ebor Falls during the floods.
Ebor Twin Falls in flood.
On the drive back to Guyra I noticed where at least 20 trees had been blown down across the road from strong winds a few days ago. Road workers had been through and cut the fallen trees into manageable lengths and moved them off the road.
I travelled 180 Klms and walked around 5 Klms today.
Thursday 31st January
A quiet day of shopping and firing up the lawn mower to cut the grass. Final score grass 3 mower 2. The grass scored an overwhelming win. With the heavy rain followed by sunshine the grass grew quickly, thickly and aggressively. The mower simply struggled. There is always tomorrow for a return bout.
Friday 1st February.
Mower started quickly, eager to get into the grass and show who is boss. The grass!
Hmmm! Round three tomorrow.
Gave Toto the dog a bath which she tolerated but loves running around afterwards to dry off.
In the afternoon a severe storm warning was issued by the BOM (Bureau of Meteorology). Strong winds, heavy rain, thunder, lightning and hailstones. Move cars under shelter etc etc etc. I moved TERIOS across the street and into the neighbour garage. I took down the awning on WWWGO. Closed windows and hatches and went inside to await the storm. Two hours later the storm arrived. Rain, thunder, lightning.
Hmmm two out of three is not a bad average but thank goodness we did not get the strong winds and hail.
Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong got those.
Saturday 2nd February
Today the Sun started a battle against the forces of darkness. In expectation of a win I started the mower and had my own battle against the tall thick and damp grass. The mower struggled but at least some of the yard is cut.
Sunday 3rd February
Overnight the temp got down to 6°. Good thing it was cold when I went to bed and I had the doona on all night. The morning continued cold but mostly sunny. The rest of Australia is bathed in summer and already it seems winter has arrived in Guyra. The Taylor Tribe confirmed they are ready to explore Apsley Falls in the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apsley_Falls
We drove through Armidale to Uralla and turned off to the neat township of Walcha.
Walcha Art Gallery.
Original Fenwicke House.
Machine Gun Woman in park at Walcha. Sort of reminds me of a scene from a Mad Max movie.
As mentioned earlier in this post, Apsley Falls is another of the waterfalls cascading into this gorge system. The falls are fed by the Apsley River which runs through Walcha and once in the gorge system it joins the Macleay River on the journey to South West Rocks where it joins the Pacific Ocean.
Happy Taylor Tribe at Apsley Falls. ( L 2 R. Jason, Justin,Linda Greg with Alesha with Ella the dog and Iain kneeling.
The scenery here is stark with steep sided gorge walls with vantage points to see the two falls which make up Apsley Falls.
Jason sitting rock ledge above upper Apsley Falls.
The gorge walls are a mix of Basalt and slate which has split vertically creating the steep sided chasm walls.
Apsley Gorge showing steep sided chasm walls.
On the southern entrance side to the gorge are several paths and lookouts with stairs leading to suspended viewing platforms.
Jason and Iain on suspended viewing platform.
A suspension bridge has been built to access the northern side of the gorge.
Taylor Tribe at the suspension bridge over Apsley River. Linda with Ella the dog, Jason, Iain, Greg, Alesha and Justin
The original bridge was washed away in a flood in December 2009 and the new bridge was opened in June 2012. It certainly still looks new. At the base of the first fall is an area above the current water level, which looks as though much of the old bridge timbers were washed here in the flood. From our viewing platform 65m above the pool, those timbers looked like matchsticks. Although the day was cold we soon warmed up with walking up and down steep staircases and following the winding and often steep sealed pathway around the gorge walls.
Apsley Falls showing steep staircase to viewing platform on the left.
Lower Apsley Falls clearly show steep sided cliffs.
Another view of Apsley Falls.
The pathway is very close to the edge but the strong steel railing with wire runners gave us a sense of security.
Alesha, Iain and Jason on the unfenced edge over a sheer 65m drop to Apsley Gorge.
I really congratulate all the men and women who were involved in building staircases, viewing platforms, railings and pathways in steep and treacherous terrain.
Old photograph of a New Years Day party in 1906. Imagine the effort of getting to the falls then climbing down the only accessable rock face to picnic beside the falls. There were no roads to the falls in those days. No staircases, viewing platforms or safety fences.
On our way home we stopped at the remains of a settlement called Irishtown between Walcha and Uralla.
Homeleigh and Irisgtown.
Another tiring but satisfying day spent with good company. Thanks Taylor Tribe.