15-Jul-2001 -- When you set your alarm for 5am on a Sunday morning, you really have to ask yourself the question “why am I getting up this early to take photographs in the middle of nowhere”. I looked at the map again and realised that today’s destinations were great places to go bushwalking to – Confluence or not.
Fergus and I had discussed going to 150E 34S because it was so close to an area in Kanangra-Boyd National Park where, 30 years ago, we had headed off to at 2am, because we had been called to search for bushwalkers who had failed to return on time.
The three hour trip from Sydney was very easy since there were few other people leaving Sydney at that time ! Even though we were considering visiting three Confluences that day, we decided we had time to do some sightseeing at Kanangra Walls that morning. The steep slopes below Kanangra Walls were a reminder of the steep country we were heading into (Photo 2). Even though they were 100km away, the skyscrapers of Sydney were distinctly visible.
We then headed down the firetrails that took us within two km of the confluence and then started the bushwalking part. The first part was easy walking, but hard navigating, because it was crossing a featureless plateau with the aim of arriving at a specific point. I tried the traditional compass navigating, but whenever I checked against the GPS, I usually found I wandered quite a bit off track. Soon we were heading down the steep slopes at the end of the plateau which led down to the Kowmung River. Fortunately it was fairly open bush, so there was no “scrub-bashing” as Blue Mountains bushwalks often are. The map suggested we had to go abut 200 metres from the edge of the plateau, but I’m sure we ended up going more than that. Once we were within 50 metres of the Confluence we had an excellent view of the Kowmung River (Photo 3) and we decided there wasn’t much point in going another 50 metres vertically – “remember that the further you go in, the further you’ve got to go home”.
We decided to combine Confluence visiting with Geocaching and placed a Confluence marker beside a conspicuous rock. (Photo 4) The marker is a half-metre long orange tube that contains a visitor’s log and a few interesting bits and pieces. It is well away from any bushwalking tracks, so the only visistors here will be Confluence or Geocaching hunters (Photo 5).
Then it was time for a serious uphill climb to get to the top of the plateau – it is so steep that even the trees have difficulty staying upright. If the photo didn’t include a horizon, viewers would assume that a tilted the camera to make it look steeper, so we decided to include the “artificial horizon” in a water bottle (Photo 3).
The map suggest we were only one quarter of the way down the steep slope, but the view across the valley convinced me that we were closer to half way down (Photo 1).
Then it was off to Confluence number two for the day – 34S 149E – only 90 km to the west, but hundreds of kilometres by road.