The Avenue- the exploration of a long distance trek through Break O’Day

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Cocky me on the 5th September I proposed the following adventure on my Facebook Page
“A must do adventure has been on my mind for 25 years and hopefully I will start later the week. It is a cross country trek through forests bordering our farm.——–
I have been a proponent of walking trails for many years and to date by enthusiasm seems to fall on deaf ears. So I figure the best way is to just do it.
Potentially there is so much that could be done to improve the activities available in our municipality. I had hoped to do a long distance walk to Launceston via Ben Lomond but time does not permit me to do so right now. The Ben Lomond path via Storeys Creek offers lots of possible ventures to extend this trip. One of my objectives of this trip will be to stay off roads as much as possible. This trip starts at Eureka Farm and goes to Upper Scamander where it essentially follows the Avenue River to its source and thence to Evercreech and Mathinna.—-” 

the rucksack feels heavy- but too bad as I must get going.

Goodbye, goodbye. Not sure Ann expected to see me again

 

Well it took a few days before I actually started this trip. The main reason was the weather on the few days before was iffish and not much better was promised. When I woke up Sunday,11th – it looked like a great day so I just decided to go.

To make sure of authenticity meaning that I started from Eureka Farm I decided to ride my racing bike on the fire trail behind the house. This would allow me to get to the pipes more quickly. However the reality was quite different as the these fire trails were in bad condition and not at all suitable for a bike with slim tires. I actually walked quite a bit of the way until I came to McIntyre creek where the bridge had been burnt out after the 2006 bushfire. The is just after the turnoff to Schiers track. As I was due to meet Ann at the pipes I decided to go back along Schiers track and then get to my rendezvous via Upper Scamander Road.

Even though this part of Upper Scamander Road was gravel it made for very enjoyable riding and from then on I  made good progress to the Pipes.

Ann had brought me some lunch. So we sat next to the river ate our lunch and then said goodbye.

 

The purpose of this story is to outline what I saw for others who might want to follow. The Avenue River met all my requirements in that it provided me with an instant adventure to places unknown and unfrequented by the Masses. Whilst there is no track the river is not for most of the time difficult to walk along. A word of warning though this is not a river you would want to be on after heavy rains. Flood debris was evident many metres up the side of the river from the June floods and movement along the river would have been impossible and dangerous then.

One last thing is maps. I had some digital maps on my PC downloaded from Maps Tasmania. Printing such maps didn’t lead to high enough resolution. this may have been due to my inexperience. I also had a KMZ format which theoretically you can load into Google maps. However the file size was too big and thus didn’t work. You can load them into Google Earth but still some problems printing. I did manage to save a Google map file of my trek but there terrain resolution is poor compared with Tasmaps 1:25000 topographic maps. One thing that was excellent is that once you have a downloaded map of your proposed trek you can get GPS everywhere even when there is no mobile reception. This feature is most reassuring when you are in narrow valleys with no visuals to outside landmarks.

Finally I would recommend that trekkers download PDF Maps app which has full free access to all TasMaps topographic. The resolution is very clear even better than the printed map if you are getting old and eyesight is not what it used to be. It also has GPS connectivity.  There are a number of other features in this app such as keeping a route map of your trek. One precaution you might like to think of is having a battery backup so that you can recharge your smart phone enroute.

 

Starting at the Pipes  the Avenue River had plenty of water in it. There was much evidence of the June floods along the banks too. You certainly wouldn’t want to be walking in the creek during that time. It did make me a little apprehensive too as the weather wasn’t as stable as I would have liked and when the sun disappeared it could be decidedly cold.

The side of the river had a pebbly cobblestone banks along which a four wheel drive car had apparently gone before me. It seemed like the best way to go and it wasn’t long before I was crossing back and forth across the large pools as I made my way upstream . There was no way I was going to keep my shoes dry and for that matter my shorts too. My unease settled down as I emerge from one pool to the next as I trudged up a rather straight section of the river. Where the tire tracks were going I don’t know as they disappeared presumably as the water holes got deeper. At the end of a relatively straight section the river turns to the right and goes around a long u bend. I knew this and prepared to cut across the U bend rejoining the river where Catos Creek  flows in. The where tp leave part was the difficult choice as there was no indication that a track existed, In front of me though was a large pool which went from bank to steep bank and this looked like a good place to leave the river. This I did.

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a small hideaway- nestled along the Catos River and looking over a small cleared paddock. A haven indeed

My old legs were getting cramps. probably a combination of my foray into bike riding and followed by long immersion in cold water. Whatever the reason they weren’t working as they should do. The bush along side the creek was also formidable. More water in this region led to mulga scrub , broken and dead undergrowth and flood debris. Persevering you soon get to a less formidable region and reaching the crest one finds himself back in dry sclerophyll forest. And believe it or not there is a track which leads to the one sign of habitation on the river.

Yes it was getting cold now and as I sat there I thought for a moment that this would be a good place to camp for the night. It did feel secure but come on man don’t be a wimp. Kicking myself a few times I set out again for the lower paddock and the river I had left. In trekking along this river I made a mental note of the bends. The river runs approximately in a westerly direction but the U bends are at right angles in either direction. I anticipated 3 more U bends before reaching my camping spot for that night.

  • The Avenue displays its treasures
    Magic Rocks in Crystal Clear Pools

Lots of waterholes ; some deep too so that not much below the waist remains dry. The water though is very clear but I can’t see any fish in it . ( maybe it is too cold and they have all gone elsewhere). Not much animal life either as vegetation away from the river doesn’t look like it would support much. As the river sweeps around to he north I know I am approaching another U bend. I have to leave the creek too as the pool incloses the entire creek and the sides are steep. But getting out of the river is not so easy especially for me as I am becoming severely cramped.

I drag myself up and the bush levels out but is heavily scrubbed. I more or less know which direction I must go but just in case I make a check with my ancient Silva compass. Scrub and ferns all the way. With cramping and rotting trees no one would find me if I came to grief here.

I break through to the Avenue again and with relief. Cold and wet as you trudge along the river it hasn’t been a bad day with reasonable times when the sun blessed me. I come to a more interesting section of roughlty carved rocks and small rapids. Not so easy now to travel in the creek and I make several forays over rocky obstacles joining the creek only when it seems passable.

I am looking for Long Gully Creek but didn’t really note a creek flowing although I did think that there should have been a creek in the valley to the north. Kept going and after another straight section come to the junction of two creeks Big Hop Creek and Little Hop Creek. Just where they should be and confirmed on my iphone. Nice creeks with clear water flowing but no camp sites at this junction and looking around the corner a number of large pools.

However I did notice a sandy embankment 50 metres back which will be my camp for this night. Frozen as I am I don’t stop for fear that I might seize up. I get the fire going with some driftwood lying on the pebble  sides to the creek and put my tent up and get my gear out. Alls dry in my rucksack but anything in my shorts is beyond redemption.

Shoes off, no others to wear but fire providing some well earned warmth and rehabilitation. Surprisedly I am not hungry just thirsty. I have found that lack of liquid is a major cause of cramps. So I make a billy of soup and some coffee and sit beside the fire and watch the last rays of sunlight. By about 7:30pm I am ready for bed. I was worried about cramps occurring in the sleeping bag. That can be a real nuisance trying to get mobile when locked in a bag.

But no this didn’t happen. It has only been one day ( really much less as I didn’t leave Eureka Farm  until 10:30am) but what a day. So many visuals and body but to heavy work. I go to bed contented and drowse off thinking what a great life I am having.

  • 1:A good sleepiing bag - and don't I look the worse for wear
  • 2:looking down the Avenue, my cosy U.S tent has served me well. ( not sure how well it would be in rain - but fortunately it wasn't tested on this occasion)
  • 3:
  • 4: food looks good for Breakfast. A long cold night but beautifully clear and I lost count of the stars.
  • 5: my poor little footsies
  • 6:

The cold seeps in and eventually I add my other clothes which are few to improve my warmth. I wake up before dawn – opening the tent door I can see the stars above. All is peaceful except the gurgling of the river . No animals to be seen – a little drizzle at night but the better weather still holding out.

I start the fire to cook up some fresh mince so that it doesn’t go off. Warm my bare feet , more coffee and muesli. Actually very similar to my normal Eureka Farm breakfast. The trees and undergrowth lighten up and the sun appears down the valley. It never reaches me as clouds come over too. I thank my lucky stars for the good campsite – one of a very few that exist along the river, pack up and am on my way by 8:00am.

Soon as I round the bend and pass Little Hop Creek a large pool awaits me.

  • 1: Just after Little Hog Creek more ponds. Every bend offers a different vista.
  • 2: Black Hole- a deep section on one of the U bends- greenish hues
  • 3: looking down the river at Black Hole
  • 4: still going well, body in good shape today
  • 5: before Ballyhoo Flat: Here is the fire trail- the only intersection with the outside world until I get to the upper reaches of Durham Creek
  • 6: now heading for Durham Creek

Such a change from farm work. Muscles are in good shape today. All is looking positive. Rucksack hasn’t changed much in weight but feels comfortable. It is over 30 years old and has been a regular companion of so many of my trips. Shoes are not much fun putting on as they are cold and wet but that won’t matter as they will soon be immersed in the Avenue.

Black cockatoos screeching as I trudge up the river. Is this an omen that rain is coming?  Some pools are very long and I wish my camera was more ready and that the GPS had been turned on. But I was worried they might get wet and so had the camera tucked in my rucksack. Every corner seems to want me to photograph it.

Eventually I come to the first firetrail which helps notify me exactly where I am. My iphone is still working but google maps is not so definitive and I had not at this stage switched over to pdf maps.

I had hoped the track going up the creek would take me further up the creek but no it quickly reversed direction and joined the firetrail heading uphill. Still I followed it as the pool above the trail was quite deep. Open country once you get out of the creek and some signs of clearing of the bush. It looked easy to cut back to the creek which I did. There is a big U bend and when I looked down on the creek it had disappeared. How could I have lost the Avenue River in such a short distance?  I scrambled down to the creek  as it happened I had to go down in the gully as there were cliffs just beneath me from that observation point. When I reach the bed it can be seen that the creek flows underground coming from a south east direction. This is an area known as Ballyhoo Flat. Nice country with what probably at one time was grazing country but now overrun with wattles. Possible campsite in this area.

The creek here has quite a bit of flood damage making it difficult walking along the banks loaded with debris. Walking through some deep pools still seems to me to be the best way and I accept being wet hopefully from the waist down as part of the deal.  Soon after a big pool the Avenue swings off to the right and Durham creek  is to your left. The beginning of Durham creek is wide and readily accessable.  I had a choice of Durham Creek or Barnes Creek. I choose Durham as it looked to be the bigger of the two with pools showing on my map  but in hind sight it would have been more expedient to take Barnes Creek,

  • 1: ca massive pool just after the intersection with the fire trail
  • 2: the Avenue River disappears under gravel- for a moment perched above I wonder where I am
  • 3: flood damage on Durham Creek is still visible and the rock pools can be deep
  • 4: this is one where I had a little trouble and nearly fell in - overcast and looking llike rain
  • 5: what's next????
  • 6: durham Creek eventually joins a second fire trail - which will eventually take me to Barnes Road and the Creech.
  • 7: the Climb out of Durham Creek is not fun and it is repeated at Barnes Creek
  • 8: the path down to Barnes Creek looks very similar to the one I took coming up from Durham Creek. I can't image a 4 wheel drive vehicle would have enough traction on this trail.
  • 9: leaving Barnes Creek when I reach the crest the soil looks rich - lots of she-oaks and grass for the Roos.

A little drizzle accompanies me as I move up the river. In the lower reaches there are some good sized pools but eventually the creek gets smaller. A nice surprise for me is to find a wombat trudging along the river on the opposite side. He (or she) is obviously some distance from safety and I guess didn’t expect to see me. No other company to report and eventually I make it to the second fire trail which marks my exit from Durham creek. I am quite tired and decide to take my lunch break here. It is good to sit down for a while but the trail out of the creek looks very steep and can’t really imagine vehicles being able to travel on it. But obviously they do as fallen trees have been recently cut away from the trail. The trail takes me to the crest and then back down to Barnes creek. Such a waste of energy and then another climb out of Barnes creek  to reach Sugarloaf Road which runs along the pine plantations to the east of the Creech.

Even when I make it to Sugarloaf Road it is a long traverse to the Creech. Finding the right roads is not so easy either and that was where PDF Maps came into their own. I make a few doglegs and eventually get to Barnes Road. Feet killing me and evening is fast approaching. No traffic and a strong possibility that I will have to camp. It has started to drizzle and campsites in the plantation look forlorn. But I am in luck as two forestry logging vehicles come by and are obliging to pick this old bugger up and deliver him to the Creech.

All the comforts await you at the Creech. I would highly recommend Justin and Jill for their hospitality.

All the comforts await you at the Creech. I would highly recommend Justin and Jill for their hospitality.

Not many people walk into the Creech and certainly not in the drab state that I looked. But fortunately Jill beleived my story  and made me more than welcome. The Shearer’s quarters have got all the comforts, the showers are hot and finishing the day in the crib room with an open fire is a great ending to this section of the trek. My hosts were forewarned about my arrival and groups would be acceptable with prior notice.

 

I hope to revise the end part of the trek perhaps to cut across  to the South Esk from Barnes Road and avoid the radiata plantations. More on that later hope my readers will be inspired.

To finsih up my remble I noted an article in the Age (OCTOBER 1 2016) by Katherine Johnson which supports my philosophy:

  • Wild Medicine: there are greater truths in nature than our brains can comprehend

 “Wilderness as salvation” is a relatively new concept in Western thought. And remnants of the old definitions – of wilderness as dangerous after-lands that challenge individuals and societies with their savagery and lack of rules – still linger. They rear their heads when our defences are down. When we are tired and stressed, heading off somewhere remote, particularly with children in tow, can seem too difficult, even crazy. But perhaps—— that’s just what we need to snap ourselves out of our Wi-Fi-induced comas and busy routines, the constant blah-blah of a 24-hour news cycle and the impulse to “check mail”. Perhaps launching ourselves into unknown, untamed spaces is, in fact, the sanest thing we can do.

Nature might make you slow down. it might make you strip off and jump into a cold mountain lake for the fun of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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