Monday, 27 January 2014

Up the Mighty Naas on a push bike

I had recently proposed a trip up the Naas Valley Fire Trail as a possbility for the ANPS Wednesday Walkers.  I did so with trepidation, not having explored the area in the recent past.  The proposal was not taken up at the time for very good reasons.  As I did find a window in my busy schedule today for an explore of the route you get to read about the voyage.

But first a little personal history.  I have done the 27km length of this trail from Mount Clear to Caloola Farm in the distant past.  I did that as a car shuffle with 2 friends.  We dropped one car at Caloola and loaded all our bikes onto my car. We then drove about 25km down Boboyan Rd noticing a good fall of snow on the side of the road (that was mid-Winter).
  • About 300m after the start we crossed the Naas River for the first time: it was about 20cm deep so rideable. 
  • After about 10km one of my friends chain broke.  He decided that the best solution was to run pushing the bike on the uphills and coast on the downhills.  As he was fit and the uphills steep he was able to keep up.
  • As we got close to the end we were about over the water crossings: they were not clear on a 1:50k scale map but my memory of them was that there totalled to about 25 of them, getting progressively deeper and colder (remember that snow - it had all melted by the time we drove back) each crossing.
  • The final crossing was groin deep for me and close to waist deep for my shorter friend.  Also full of football sized rocks.
I suspected the water would be less of an issue this time (and with a forecast maximum of 31C a bit of cooling off wouldn't matter).

So here is the route, courtesy of Google Earth (the light blue line to the East is the ACT border).
The track was on average flat (remember the average of boiling and frozen water is nicely warm) and comprised two stretches of about 2.5km each.  The first was through the grazing of the Caloola Farm and would be of no interest to ANPS.  It began by crossing the mighty Naas River.
 All it needs is a few camels and it could be the Todd River in Alice Springs.  Water depth wasn't an issue.

The start of the second stretch was at a gate into the Park with various platitudes available.
I had been told that another member of ANPS had been into the area and rated it a "bit weedy".  
For the first 2 kms that comment was right on the money as shown above.  There was very little understorey and most of the grass had been grazed to bedrock by various marsupials (in terms of what I saw Red-necked Wallabies were commoner than Eastern Grey Kangaroos).  This left a lot of room for the Verbascum and other weeds to sneak in.

I had allowed myself a 45 minute ride in and at about 40 minutes faced this drop into the river bed with a significant slope on the far side.
Rather than flog myself up the hill and then turn and ride back down I decided to have a look round this area.  The weeds seemed less, but still little understory here.
The river bed was well supplied with nicely formed rock  and still held some water, albeit not flowing.
The vegetation around the river seemed potentially QI (quite interesting).
The bird life was also QI including at least two Brown Treecreepers which are becoming a rather unusual species around the ACT.

So the time moved on and I rode back.   The first photo I took was of this tree across the road: there was a footpad going around it which was OK for my bike (and could probably be forced by a fire truck in a hurry, but I did report it to the VC when I got back there).
I also decided to photograph the final crossing in the park, described in the historical note above.  As dry as a very dry thing and all the large rocks have been removed.
My overall view is that the area I covered would make a very poor ANPS outing.  However if the Parks people could be persuaded to let us through the gate and we drove - full size 4x4s only - to the point where I stopped it could be quite good.  (There is a very large condition in that statement.)

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