[SUBW-A] Trip Report: Lilo the Colo
ycli at bigfoot.com
Sun Jan 13 03:05:32 AEDT 2002
in a bout of insomnia i will attempt to clear some of my considerable
trip report and e-mail debt. so here is one. as it's the wee hours of
the morning don't expect much in terms of wit, because i am trying to
put myself to sleep too....
Trip Report: Lilo the Colo, 1st-2nd December 2001
Party: Wendy Au, Albert Chetcuti, Belinda Madin, Nicole Marchhart,
Cameron Schmelitchek, Brian?, Homo nutcase fjordlandis
On a bright Saturday morning I extricated myself from the bed and out of
hospital to meet Albert and Wendy in front of the notorious laboratory.
It had been showery all week, but the weather was clearing just in time
and the sun popped out of the clouds. By the time we reached the North
Richmond bakery the gloomy clouds have dispersed, leaving a light blue
sky and that fine fresh air just after a shower.
We met with Cameron and went into the famous bakery for some rather
infamous tucker. Not long after the other car appeared. Nicole looked
at us four ruffians suspiciously, as if wondering what she has got
herself into spending a weekend with such dodgy people. Unfortunately
she did not trust her instincts and we proceeded to Mountain Lagoon.
We left Cameron's Jeep Cherokee at the start of the Gospers Ridge fire
trail, and the two cars proceeded north on the fire trail. After the
disaster on the Mountain Lagoon fire trail (refer to the "Hard Way" trip
report), I felt rather tentative about unleashing any other fire trails
onto innocent and unsuspecting cars. However Albert seemed to have much
less reservation and drove along with much zeal, so that when we arrived
at the T3 track end his bumper was almost no more. Being ever so
resourceful, he pulled out his duct tape and duly reconjugated the
bumper and the car.
After marvelling at Albert's adroit skills at reconciling fallen
bumpers, we set out onto the T3 track towards the Colo. Of all
approaches to the Colo River, this is my favourite with age-old rocks,
panoramic views on the ridge and a bird's eye view over the gorgeous
Colo Gorge. It is just a joy to be in amongst such magnificent scnery.
After the customary stop at The Loookout and 3 rolls of film passed
through Wendy's camera, we descended the cliffs and arrived at the white
sandy beaches of the Colo River at midday.
By this time the early summer sun was out in its full force, the hot air
was starting to twist and dance, and we were perspiring. Therefore we
decided to hit the water instead of having lunch. The wiser ones of us
waterproofed our belongings again with the dozens of BioHazard/Clinical
Waste bags courtesy of Westmead Hospital. The not-so-wise ones, well,
didn't quite believe in the merit of our venerable public hospitals,
much to their regret later on. After much ado, we eagerly jumped into
the beautiful water.
Thus begun a fantastic afternoon of liloing. We set down the river,
practicing Kuma Sutra: Menage à Trois with the lilo and the pack, trying
every position possible and every little toy we could use to propel us
along. Unfortunately Brian's lilo went floppy very early on, so he had
to swim with his pack most of the way. That didn't seem to stop him
from having fun though.
The river was absolutely beautiful - I should stop bragging about it
lest people start to flock to it and therefore spoil the wilderness.
Magnificent cliffs, gum trees, beaches... However, it's a rather slow
river to go down - we managed to do only 1 km / hr. There were only 3
rapids we encountered on the way, where we threw the pack down stream
and went back again and again for fun. The rest of the river was very
relaxing - just floating and going with the flow, enjoying the sunshine
without a care in the world. It will have to rate as the best afternoon
I had that year.
At 6pm we reached the tip of the Hairpin. This was half of the progress
I had hoped, and therefore I gave up all hopes of reaching the Meroo
Campground. We made landfall at a beautiful beach marked on 90313S
842006, dried ourselves, and proceeded to set ourselves up for the
And what a night it was, sitting on the beach around the bonfire,
cooking up gourmet meals, drinking great wine, chatting, listening to
the wind and the crackle of the fire, stargazing... I didn't even get
into the tent - the beautiful day, the wine, the chatting just made me
drift off and fall into slumber on the beach under the stars! It was
We took our time waking up the next day, and after a few more morning
swims we reluctantly packed up to leave the river. As it would take too
much time to lilo to Meroo Campground and back to Mountain Lagoon, we
decided to bushcrash up to Mailes Ridge, much to the horror of Nicole.
Well, what can another bit of bushcrashing hurt, as I have no reputation
to salvage anymore :-) This is almost becoming a pattern now :-)
So the plan was to go back to the Hairpin to avoid the low line of
cliffs, crash up the gentle slopes beside the river and then proceed due
north to avoid the line of high cliffs. Well, our wise Tolstoy has
philosophised so clearly in War and Peace. I could have the most
elegant plans for bushcrashing, yet history is a sum of random events
driven by unknown biological forces. So one can plan and plan the
bushcrash ad nauseum, but the eventualities result not from planning but
from an inexplicable human urge to go up and up and up. And a trip
leader is swept by this historical current and only plays a role in
appearing to direct his party to tramp on one rock rather than another.
OK I have to cut the philosophical crap if I am to get some sleep
tonight. :-) Basically what happened was we walked towards the hairpin,
but at the end of the beach no one could be bothered taking his/her
boots off to keep them dry. So we basically just got into the bush and
started crashing. The end result was we basically tramped straight up
the lower line of cliffs through some rather compact contour lines, much
to Nicole's horror. After hauling ourselves up cliffs by holding onto
bits of grass and getting past the lower cliffs, the going became much
easier and it wasn't too much trouble going along the bottom of the high
cliffs and finding a break to dash up to the lowest point on the Mailes
Ridge at 844011 where the track was found. Here lunch was taken amid
great views of the surrounding valley and Mt. Townsend.
So all that was left was walking back to the car. This was a real
anticlimax and a drag, after the beautiful liloing day and the, well,
interesting bushcrash. A thunderstorm was forecast that evening, so the
air was humid, hot and still, making the walk rather unpleasant,
especially when we ran out of water and Albert almost collapsed due to
heat exhaustion. The only thing I could think about was beer, beer,
beer... It seemed forever, but we managed to get out to Mountain Lagoon
at long last.
After gathering the cars, there was only one course of action possible -
to head to the beer. Therefore we duly appeared at the Kurrajong Hotel
where salvation was obtained. The bartender informed us the kitchen was
closing in five minutes; therefore we flocked to the kitchen and ordered
our dinners, much to the dismay of the cook who thought he could knock
off work already. So he very grudgingly set about cooking our food.
We went back to our beers outside and sat down to chat. Suddenly, a mob
of unruly canyoners pulled off the road, led by a rather familiar figure
who turned out to be no one else but David Noble. After saying a quick
hi, the hungry mob swarmed into the kitchen, only to be informed by the
grumpy cook that the kitchen closed five minutes ago. Right then the
cook started serving our dinners so he could get away from the
threatening mob. And it was excruciatingly funny to see one plate of
greasy food after another pass in front of the mob to our table,
followed by 10 pairs of eyes that were staring so hard that they were
about to pop out of the eye socket any moment. I was getting ready to
perform some emergency roadside surgery in case their ocular muscles
didn't hold out, but (un)fortunately had to save my ophthalmological
skills for another time. And I could hardly repress bursting out
laughing when we started eating. Some of the tongues from that adjacent
table was protruding prominently and oozing salivary secretions, while
some tried to say "I can take rejections", appeared dignified and
pretended to be cool and not to notice the grease that was sliding into
our stomaches only centimetres away. I don't quite want to know what
damnations were passing through their minds, but they would not be very
Thus concluded our great liloing weekend. It was just the best trip,
the best scenery, the best fun. What can I say? How much are you
missing out vegetating in the foul smog of Sydney?
N.B. The day after we did the trip the lightning storm set in and
started a fire that burned out that particular section of the Colo River
we visited. And of course the entire Colo Gorge area was scorched to
charcoal during the bushfires in the last few weeks. So in the next
long while there will be nothing but black stumps lining the river...
Well, at least that will make bushcrashing a lot easier!
joesky, time to try to sleep again
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