AAWT, Mount Skene to Stronachs Camp, Easter 2016

The Australian Alps Walking Track is a long distance walking trail of about 655km, starting at Walhalla, east of Melbourne, and finishing at Tharwa, on the Murrumbidgee River near Canberra.

The walk on this section of the AAWT started at Mount Skene (just off the Licola – Jamieson Road) through to Stronachs Camp, on the Thomson Valley Road.

We were up bright and early Saturday morning to collect the Melbournites from Mansfield, then on to Mount Skene where we had finished the previous section of the AAWT. After dropping us off, Ian headed for our camping spot, while we headed down the road and into the bush. I wont remember Mount Shillinglaw for the scenery, but for the wildlife, nearly stepping on a black snake. The head was raised as I back peddled, falling on my back, before I landed in Sylvia’s arms. My little heart was a pounding.

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MOUNT SKENE VIEW

After I had sort of calmed down we headed onward, only for me to espy another snake. After convincing me to continue, Sylvia took the lead, only for us both to step ignorantly over another snake. Thanks Therese for pointing it out. Then it was Therese’s turn to prod one with her walking stick. We were glad to get off the rock strewn sunny side of the mountain. After calling Ian on the UHF I breathed a sigh of relief to hear he had arrived safely at Black River Camp site. “Bit steep” he said. I said he didn’t have to return that way, but failed to mention the other track was even steeper.

The camp site was lovely, even more so when your tent is up, and you can sit down with a cider and watch everyone else put their tents up. To top the day off, Ian spotted a platypus, very special. Unfortunately we annoyed it too much with our torches, and it was off before the others got to see it.

Sunday a pretty uneventful day over to Fiddlers Green, and no Ian. Soon reunited thanks to the UHF radio, with a bit of a discussion to be more specific where we intended to stop for the night, and a little mention of the steepness of the track out of Black River.

As we were into camp early we decided to explore the Woods Point No1 Historic Reserve. Lots of mine shafts, including one that went for metres into the hillside. We continued on, and the girls asked Ian what would happen if we couldn’t turn around. They soon found out as we got to the bottom of the hill. Because of erosion we couldn’t continue. Ian backed the ute for two kilometres, up a very tortuous hill, with more than one passenger saying their prayers, and all eyes closed except Ian’s, which were firmly locked on the mirrors. A sigh of relief when we got to the top, and managed to do a 60 point turn, and praises were sung for the Toyota Hilux’s power.

Monday we were at Red Jacket before lunch, an old mining town. As we couldn’t camp there, we walked two kilometres down the road to Blue Jacket, another old mining town. The rest of the day was spent exploring Jericho and Violet Town, the other mining towns in the valley. aawt-apr-2016-01

Thought it would be breeze to get to the Thompson River on Tuesday, but someone had put a sign in the wrong place, and we ended up on the old AAWT, instead of the rerouted one. Everything was fine until we ran out of track, and had to bush bash on a compass bearing down to the road. Meanwhile Ian was looking for us in the opposite direction, even going for a walk until we radioed for him to come pick us up. You got to love those UHFs.

Wednesday (our last day) saw us head to Stronachs Camp through a logging coup. Bless Ian who radioed the loggers to make them aware we were around. Leaving Stronachs in the ute we wondered what would happen if we met a logging truck on the single lane road. Ian had the answer – yes the good old UHF. Every kilometre is marked on the road, and the truck driver radios every time he passes a sign, (for example “33 full”); so if you see the sign 32 – hmm let’s pull over. Whereas “31 empty” means there’s a truck up your….. Got to love those UHFs

Well thank you to Therese, Sylvia and Willy who put up with my lack of mojo, and my dear long suffering husband Ian, who I think did actually enjoy himself, and the UHF radios which were very well used.

[Adele Ritchie]

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