Girraween Again

Sunset behind Mt. Norman

Date: 21 – 22 Nov 2011

Maree and I have started a bit of a tradition of taking holidays during this week over the last few years and we weren’t going to skip this year. After our previous trip to the park in September we decided that we’d like to go back and explore it in further detail without the limitations of a single weekend. The highlight of the trip was definitely an overnight walk taking in Mt. Norman and Twin Peaks.

Day 1:
We set off up the Turtle Rock/Castle Rock track from the Southern end of the Castle Rock camp ground. This was Maree’s first overnight walk and Mt. Norman was the last of the main track accessible landmarks that I hadn’t visited in the park so we were both pretty excited. We set off at about 8:30 in the morning and followed the track to the junction where the Castle Rock and Mt. Norman tracks branch off from the Turtle Rock one.

From here the track headed down hill off the ridge and passed through a wide range of foliage types. We passed over two creeks which both had water in them which was a good sign. By this stage though, the heat was starting to make itself known and we took every opportunity to rest in the shade. After bypassing a large horizontal wave shaped rock we hit the first of the open slabs at the base of Mt. Norman itself.

The first slab at the base of Mt. Norman
Southern Outcrop of Mt. Norman

More-so than many of the other major summits in the park, Mt. Norman is comprised of a mix of giant sloping granite slabs and tree covered sections which includes most of the top of the mountain except for a large broken rocky outcrop which marks the peak. The actual peak requires a bit of a scramble to get to the top and the start of this route is marked by a large painted arrow on the rock. It is fairly well protected and mostly follows a crack/gully up between the boulders where numerous chock stones create a staircase. Care must be taken in a few spots including the very start where a fall could be a bit nasty. The view from the top was spectacular though.

View from the peak
Flower gardens on top of Mt. Norman
Eye of the Needle near the summit of Mt. Norman

Back down on the ground we kept following the track down the other side of the mountain towards the Mt. Norman picnic ground. This section was beautiful and the wildflowers were in full bloom the whole way beside the track and then the road. Before long we arrived at the picnic ground which was fairly minimal and comprised of a toilet block and a couple of tables, neither of which were in the shade.

From here we headed North-East along the dirt road. Usually road walking isn’t my favourite, however this one followed fairly even but varied terrain and was very pleasant walking. We soon started to catch glimpses of Twin Peaks and Billy Goat Hill, which the road would run between, and the first of which would be our camp for the night. Track notes from the “Take a Walk” book indicated that we should look for a “distinctive 3m balancing rock” to help locate the point that we should leave the road to head for the top of Twin Peaks. Unfortunately we didn’t locate this rock and reached a point where the road crossed a creek before realising that we had walked too far. We spent some time retracing our steps trying to find the point that the book was talking about before deciding to just head for the peak.

As is the case for a lot of the park the foliage was sparse enough that bush bashing was easy enough and after snaking our way under and around a scattering of huge boulders we found ourselves at the base of the massive steep granite slab that continued the rest of the way up to the peak. Being too steep to continue straight up we decided to traverse around the base in an anti-clockwise direction as the tree line continued higher up the slope. This was mostly successful however occasionally we were blocked by thick pockets of spiky plants and had to descend slightly before continuing around.

Eventually we found ourselves on a significantly less steep section of the slab and even found a rock cairn. Following these eventually lead us to the top where there was views across to the Northern Peak of Twin Peaks, across to Billy Goat Hill and back to Mt. Norman. We even spotted a family of goats on the steep slopes nearby.

Southern Peak of Twin Peaks
Goats on the Northern Peak of Twin Peaks
Billy Goat Hill

The camp site for the night was only just big enough for the tent, and as the book described we had to use rocks instead of pegs to anchor it into place as the dirt wasn’t deep enough. There would have been room for possibly a couple of small single person tents in addition to ours. After setting up camp we watched the sun set behind Mt. Norman as we ate dinner and enjoyed the view. It was a brilliant camp site.

Campsite for the night

Day 2:
We woke to more great views with the sun rising over Bald Rock. After a breakfast of Fruity Bix with powdered milk we packed up camp and headed back the way we had come. This time we followed the cairns the whole way and ended up right next to the junction of the road and Racecourse Ck where we’d been the day before. This was much better than the route we’d taken on the way up.

The route down
Following the cairns
Just another boulder
Beautiful water marks on the lower slopes
This is where we arrived back at the road. Photo is taken from where the creek crosses the road

After freshening up in the creek and stocking up on water we set off along the road again. Once again this was very pleasant and easy walking as the road skirted around the base of Billy Goat Hill then headed towards Pyramids Rd beside old farm land. As the book instructed we kept an eye out for the second gate on the left hand side which marked our turn off. The route then followed an older more overgrown road through grassy paddocks and pockets of trees and rocks.

After crossing a wide rocky creek bed where the water ran underneath the rock we eventually hit our last road junction where after turning left a short stretch of road led us to Bald Rock Creek. We crossed the creek and followed it for a short distance until we reached the open rocky expanse above The Underground Creek. To find our way down to the main track below we headed left across the top of the wave shaped rock until we found a small rocky gully that we could walk/slide down.

Above Underground Creek
Looking back up the creek in the direction we had come

The last stretch of the walk included following the Underground Creek track back to the carpark and then a slog back down Pyramids Rd. to the campsite for a few km’s. The sun was well and truly up by this stage and was trying its hardest to make things unpleasant for us. We were very glad when the picnic area came into view, indicating that the car wasn’t too far away.

A few more photo’s from the trip.

Lucky turtle trying not to get run over
Camouflaged lizard
Big family of ducks sleeping at the start of the track

3 thoughts on “Girraween Again

  1. Nice one, Girraween is one of my favourite places, its so completely different to where I live.

    Looks like you had good weather while you were there, what were the max & min temperatures?

    I'm planned a 4 day walk around the park when it starts to cool down a bit, its a great place for exploring. You're photos remind me that I can't wait…

    Like

  2. Hi there. Thanks for looking. It really is an amazing place.

    Unfortunately those were the only two fine days of the trip which was eventually cut short by rain. Our thermometer read a max in the high 30's sitting in the top pocket of the pack on the first day. I think it would have probably been about 32 – 33 ambient. It did still get down to pleasantly cool temps at night though. Probably around 12 deg.

    You've got some great photo's on your site. Hope you have a good walk.

    Like

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