Written By ~ Bob Fyfe
Participants ~ TLCC Members with family and friends (25) in 11 vehicles
Trip Leaders: Ian Terley and Sarah Kiely
Duration ~ One day
Destination ~ Koolandilly via mountain trails, Kowmung and Boyd Rivers
To Koolandilly via the mountains fire trails including Mount Emperor, Emperor Creek, Kowmung River, and Boyd River.
The day finally dawns and a very pleasant day it is for the much-awaited trip down to Koolandilly via the mountains fire trails. I left home at 6:15 am for the drive to the meeting point at Hazelbrook. After filling up at the M4 service station at Eastern Creek, I arrive at Hazelbrook at 7:35 am to find quite a few vehicles already there, with everybody enjoying a coffee and an assortment of pasties from the local “pie shop”.
Last to arrive, and a few minutes after 8:00 am, were Joshua and family. This earned them the job of video editing, and if my mind is telling me the truth, Nicole handled the video duties with some distinction. Then came the call at 8:10 am to board the vehicles, noting who was driving in front and behind to assist in convoy procedure. At 8:16 am we hit the Great Western Highway for the trip through the upper mountains to the turn off to Jenolan Caves near Hartley.
Just to totally destroy the myth that it’s always the females that call for comfort stops on a regular basis, Mike made the call to the trip leader, Ian, that he desperately needed a stop at Medlow Bath as he had attacked some very hot chillies the night before with too much gusto. “Can’t you wait an hour until we get to Jenolan Caves?” Ian replied. The answer was “no”, so it was decided that Mike should do what he needed to do and that we would wait for him at the turn off to Jenolan Caves.
With the wait stop behind us, and Mike becoming Tail End Charlie, we proceeded on to the caves for a scheduled comfort stop, arriving at 9:50 am and parking near some handy rest rooms. Leaving the car park after ten minutes we hit the dirt of Kanangra Road some eight minutes later. At this point, conditions were particularly dusty with about 200 metres being required between vehicles to maintain clear air.
Next on the agenda, about 20 minutes later, was a stop to air down for the fire trails we were yet to face. This process was quite speedy and we began the journey again at 10:39 am. What seemed like only a hundred metres or so later, we turned right on to the exotically named Budthingeroo fire trail and proceeded along a number of fire trails including Mount Emperor, Emperor Creek, Kowmung River, and Boyd River. We stopped for lunch near a river crossing at about 11:40 am. An hour later saw us crossing the fairly shallow water. This provided both photo and video opportunities.
By 1:00 pm we were back on the Boyd River track and then the Kowmung for the drive down to Dingo Dell. The descent was very steep and required low range. Thanks to the weather gods, the tracks were dry as this decent could be very nasty in wet conditions. Crossing the Kowmung River at the bottom of the steep decent was very easy as the river was more like a stream with not much flow at all. Some of those in the convoy commented that they had never seen this river so low. We had a very short stop at the Dingo Dell camping area to use the facilities. Due to the traffic that goes through this area, this seems like a very dusty and non-appealing place to camp.
Leaving Dingo Dell required some steep climbing on the Kowmung track, with a turn on to Bouchiers fire trail and then another steep decent to what was to be the highlight of the trip, the infamous Bog Hole. Ian being the lead car and trip leader wasted no time in attempting to blast through the bog in his nice new HiLux, only to become well and truly bogged. So began the fun; pull out the winch rope, attach winch extension strap, and place tree protector on a well-placed tree some distance away. This distance also required the use of a chain between the extension strap and the tree protector to bridge the gap. A successful recovery was achieved and it was then that all following vehicles took their turn in the bog. Except for Renee driving a Prado and Mark driving a Jeep who made it through successfully, everyone else required snatch recoveries. A big thanks to all involved in the work (fun) particularly 17 year old Sam who participated with much enthusiasm and increasing skill. I can’t let this section of the trip go without mentioning that Mike decided, perhaps with prompting from Ian, to try another line some 50 metres away. He required a recovery from the rear and then had to back up and go through the original bog hole and undergo a second recovery. The process of bogging and recovery took about an hour and a half but the experience for all made it worthwhile.
After climbing back out of the bog hole area on Bouchiers fire trail, we stopped on higher ground and out came the chainsaws to collect some firewood for the night’s campfire. We left the firewood area at about 4:00 pm and travelled through to Wombeyan Caves Road and to our destination, Koolandilly.
At least half the convoy enthusiastically enjoyed a swim in the Wollondilly River whilst others began setting up camp and making ready the nibbles and cold drinks to the campfire bash. The most enthusiastic swimmer had to be Aaron (Mr Extrovert) and one half of the twins, with his brother Kurt appearing to be much quieter.
As always the campfire, the drinks, and the banter that goes with it all was a great part of the trip. For this old guy, it was a late night by my standards, however it was a great opportunity to learn more about these lovely people.
It was good to see that the Club includes some strong family groups, and that 15 and 17 year olds still enjoy coming on a trip of this nature with their parents is most encouraging.
A big thank you to the Working Bee members at Koolandilly for their efforts on the land that make Koolandilly a truly relaxing and beautiful place.
Finally thanks to Ian for his organisation and leadership. I’m sure that all participants had a good time and would be looking forward to more trips of this nature with a great bunch of people.