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Hinchinbrook Island - The walk

Trip: Chillagoe Caves Expedition - 2006

Posted at: 2006-08-18 @ 11:50:08

16th of July
I awoke to the sound of rain on the tent. Seems the bad weather we had so far been lucky with had finally caught up with us.

After staying in the tent for awhile I heard the rain ease and I decided to getup and at least have breakfast, everyone else had the same idea.
Today was to be our "rest" day, where we would spend the day exploring Zoe Bay and generally being lazy. However with the rain we decided that we might as well get walking, we were also expecting that we might not be able to cross the Diamantina Creek due to the rain and may have to camp there until the water went down.

So we packed up the wet tents and luckily the rain stopped for just long enough to get the gear packed up which was very nice.
We then walked up past Zoe Falls in what was probably the steepest climb of the whole walk. With the rain clouds sitting very low on the hills and the look of the tress made this section of the walk look very like Tasmania without the cold!

Once the assent was complete is was basically back down towards Mulligan falls.
We passed the turn off to Sunken Reef Bay however we decided that was probably something we could walk back to, as we still had a spare day.
We came to Diamantina Creek which was flowing strongly but was no where near impassable. It was much like South Zoe creek which we had crossed several times during the day.

We had lunch at Diamantina and then moved onto the Mulligan Falls camp area. The rain seemed to really have set in, it was really starting to get wet and for the tropics a little on the cool side.
We arrived at Mulligan Falls mid-afternoon. After picking tent sites we had a look at the falls, which were amazing and really flowing! One of the group who has done this walk 5 times so far said he had never seen them like that.
The question was then raised what to do for the rest of the day? A couple of the group decided to go to bed and sleep the rain away. It was also decided that we would see if we could catch the ferry out a day early as there were others who were leaving tomorrow as well.

After cooking dinner in the rain there was not a lot else to do but head into the tent, which in my case was somehow still somewhat dry on the inside and go to bed.

I don't have any photos for the day as I put my camera in a dry bag to keep dry during the rain.

Hinchinbrook Island - The walk

Trip: Chillagoe Caves Expedition - 2006

Posted at: 2006-08-15 @ 15:46:22

15th of July
Today we were going from Little Ramsay Bay to Zoe Bay which is one of the longer hops on the walk.
After having a quick breakfast, we packed up and moved out along Little Ramsay Bay beach.
(click photos to go to flickr page)
Little Ramsay Bay

After an hour into the walk we stopped and again dropped the packs to do a short side trip down to Banksia Bay.
Banksia Bay

Banksia Bay

Banksia Bay

After a couple of hours of uphill walking we reached the "saddle". From the "saddle" is was possible to see Zoe bay in the distance.
Zoe bay in the distance

It did not look that far but as we were to learn you have cover a fair bit of country to get there!
From the "saddle" it was downhill into marsh country.
Once on the flat we came to North Zoe Creek which was the first major creek crossing. With almost everyone in my group removing their boots and socks I decided that I would do the same thing. Doing any walking even crossing rivers without ones boots on has never been something I was keen on. The rocks in the creek bed were very slippery and after treading on a sharp rock, recoiling and then treading a slippery one and almost totally falling over backwards into the water I got to the other side.
The sharp rock I had trodden on put a small cut in the inside of my foot, luckily walking did not seem to cause it any trouble. However that was the last time I took my boots off to cross a river!
With all the recent rain the island even creeks that normally don't have water were flowing, one we came to had amazingly blue water.

Blue water

It was not long before we came to more creek crossings, having learnt from last time I just walked right through and put up with the wet feet. A few others in the group were still trying to keep the feet dry and went through the taking boots and socks off deal.
The funny part was it was not the river crossings where everyone got their feet wet, but in-fact a wet marshy section of the walk.

After having spent most of the day walking through rainforest we suddenly came out into more open country.
Open country

Informing us that we were getting closer to Zoe Bay at last!
The Zoe Bay camp site is at the southern end of Zoe Bay, after walking up the beach into the camp site we found that the camp site was starting to get a little full!
Zoe Beach
After exploring the extensive camp we found that there were 2 "rat boxes", with the second one being further away from the beach back in the rainforest with no other people camping near by. So we made it our camp.
The Zoe Bay camp site did not have as easy access to water as Little Ramsay although it was still only a 10 minute walk away. After getting tents put up, we walked up to south zoe river (the water source) and collected water for dinner as well as having a swim. Boy was the water cold!!

After dinner we went to bed early, around 30 minutes later it started raining! Thankfully I had remembered to put my camera in the dry bag and my pack liner is semi water proof.

Hinchinbrook Island - The walk

Trip: Chillagoe Caves Expedition - 2006

Posted at: 2006-08-11 @ 12:16:35

14th of July
Today was the day we were to catch the ferry for the island. Lucky the heavy rain from the night before had stopped although the weather looked anything but good.

The ferry left from the marina at Cardwell, first stop was the eco tourist resort on the island and then into mangroves of Missionary Bay where we were dropped off onto a boardwalk.
From the drop off point we walked onto the beach at Ramsay Bay. No turning back now! The weather was still overcast but the humidity was on the rise.
With all the rain even the normally dry creeks were flowing and made getting water a snap.

(click photos to go to flick page)
Ramsay bay
Photo: Ramsay bay

Some of us dropped our packs and walked up Nina Peak. Nina peak is by no means the highest point on Hinchinbrook island but none the less the view is amazing!
View from nina peak
Photo: Looking towards Missionary Bay

View from nina peak
Photo: Looking towards Missionary Bay

View from nina peak
Photo: Looking towards Mt Bowen

View from nina peak
Photo: Looking towards Nina Bay

View from nina peak
Photo: Looking towards Boulder Bay

Once we got back to the track we walked to Nina bay for lunch on the beach.
From there we walked along the beaches and boulders which would be best described as a beach with huge rocks that you need to hop along.

The next major stop was Little Ramsay Bay which is where we were going to camp for the night.
Little Ramsay Bay - Camp site
Photo: Little Ramsay Bay

Little Ramsay Bay - Camp site
Photo: Little Ramsay camp site

Little Ramsay Bay - Camp site
Photo: Looking towards The Thumb

Little Ramsay Bay - Camp site
Photo: Little Ramsay camp site

It was an amazing spot and we were even able to go for a swim in one of the freshwater creeks just before it ran out into the ocean.
However, it was not long before the native rats and mice on the island appeared. Each camp site has a "rat box". No, it's not a box to put the rats in, but a box to put your food in to keep the rats away. The boxes are around 1.5 metres long and 50cm wide.
As we were eating dinner I had a couple of mice running under the log I was sitting on only a little time after dark.
One group had 2 holes eaten in their tent, another forgot to hang his pack up and they ate a hole in the zipper and someone left a chocolate bar in their pants pocket from a walk a couple of months ago, the pants had since been washed however the rats found it and put a hole in the pants to get to the pocket.

We spent the rest of the evening sitting on the beach in the dark listening to the tide coming in and watching the lights of the fishing boats out to sea.

The Road Trip North

Trip: Chillagoe Caves Expedition - 2006

Posted at: 2006-08-07 @ 02:14:59

After all the weeks/months of planning, wondering what gear to take and trying to keep life at home running, it was time to leave!

Packing the gear up (click photo to go to flickr page)
Storing it all out


All the gear packed up for the whole trip

We were going to walk over Hinchinbrook island first so we needed to get from Sydney to Cardwell where the ferry for the island leaves from.

I was travelling in a Pajero Inter-cooled turbo diesel 4wd with 2 others from the same caving group. We are also travelling in convoy with another 4wd that has another 2 members of the club.We had arranged to stay the first night at Kyogle with a mate of one of my travelling companions. Kyogle is a nice little place around 70KM short of the Queensland border.

From Kyogle, made for Bundaberg where we were able to stay with ex member of the club who was coming to Chillagoe but skipping the walk.
The change in country once we went over the border into Queensland was quickly noticeable. As we got near Bundaberg we saw the first cane fields. With the sun setting into the distance the roads leading into the cane fields looked like something out of a photograph. It seemed almost familiar.
By the time we got to Bundaberg we were all a little tired having covered around 1500KM in 2 days!
The next day was a shorter drive, however, it was not without its excitement. We got a flat tyre which was a little bit of a pest. We also discovered that the Queensland coast road is not really a coast road! You don't see the water the whole way up!
We found a caravan park around 50KM north of Mackay where we were able to have a shower and all those fancy things!

Day 4 of the road trip was just a short leg, as we only had to get to Cardwell. We got the tyre from yesterday fixed up along the way. The bad news was that the weather was starting to close in.
By the time we got to Cardwell it was really raining and the clouds were so low that we were unable to see Hinchinbrook from the road!!
We booked into the Caravan park are Cardwell, where we met up with the others who had decided to fly up.
After 2500KM in 4 days we had arrived!

Caving gear

Trip: Chillagoe Caves Expedition - 2006

Posted at: 2006-08-05 @ 14:30:23

Not knowing the caves, we were not totally sure what equipment was required.
We took a lot of SRT, rope, rigging and laddering gear, however very little of it was used.

Rope gear
I took 2 ropes (30m & 20+m), 3 tape slings (5 metres each), 1 harness, 2 ascenders, 1 descender, 1 pulley, 1 cowstail, 15 karabiners and a few rope slings.

My normal helmet mounted 1watt luxeon LED light, with multiple sets of spare rechargeable batteries.
Petzl Zoom with 2 4.5volt flat battery.
Mini maglite plus matches.

General stuff
Helmet, cave pack, couple of zip lock bags, lunch box (stop lunch getting squashed), 1lt water bottle, box to store spare batteries - knife - garbage bag, couple of old pairs of sox, 2 pairs of old shorts and shirts and two pairs of overalls and an old set of boots.

Because the caves at Chillagoe are very sharp on the outside I should have also included a set of gloves.

Bushwalking Equipment

Trip: Chillagoe Caves Expedition - 2006

Posted at: 2006-08-05 @ 11:51:34

We were going to spend 5 days on the island, in terms on food we needed 5 lunches, 4 breakfasts and 4 dinners plus a spare meal in case of emergencies.

It was decided that the group should be broken up into groups of 2. In my case we both carried our own tents, shared the cooking gear and we each carried 2 dinners and did our own thing for breakfast and lunch.

The first dinner I took was pasta (enough for 2), 1 85g of tuna and dried mushrooms.
The second dinner was also pasta (enough for 2) with a powdered curry pasta sauce.

My lunches consisted of the large vita weat biscuits six per lunch, 2 sticks of salami (1/3 per day), 2 blocks of parmesan cheese, 1 mini tube of philadelphia cream cheese per day, one jar of semi sun dried tomatoes, 1 squeezable tube of vegemite.
Lunch Parmesan Parmesan
As you can probably see I took far too much food for lunch! I hardly ate any of the sun dried tomatoes and very little vegemite, I also took too much cheese!

Breakfast was 4 weetbix with some dried apple and milk powder all in a single zip lock bag.

I also took enough muesli-bars to have 2 each day, a few tea bags and some milk powder.
All dinners and lunches were in their own individual zip lock bags. With dinners being in one stuff-sack, and lunch and breakfast in another.

Sleeping Gear
The tent is a small two person tent and weighs in at just over 2KG.
Sleeping bag was a +5degree rated synthetic sleeping bag with a silk liner.
I took a thermarest camping mat which was great!

Cooking Gear
The stove was an MSR whisper-lite stove using shelllite. We took 1 litre of fuel which was far too much as we only used around 350ml. A single 650ml bottle would have been enough.
We used a small billy and trangia bowl along with our own cutlery, bowls and cups for eating.
I also took 2 cigarette lighters, 1 pack of matches in a water proof bag along with the cleaning equipment for the MSR.

3 shirts, 2 long sleeve and 1 short, 1 pair of shorts and one pair of long pants with zip off legs. 3 pairs of thick socks, 2 Pairs of underpants. 1 thermal top, 1 raincoat, 1 fleece top and a hat.

Having a good pair of boots is MOST important, they will be the only shoes you have and you want them to be very comfortable.
I have a pair of Scarpa ZG65 and I was very happy with them.

My pack is a macpac ravine which is around 70lt. The ravine which is very simple pack but functions very well. I also took a waterproof pack liner which was a lifesaver and a MUST TAKE! Some of the group took waterproof pack covers however the liners were better.

Misc gear
2lt drinking bladder with a wide mouth. First aid kit. Sunscreen and insect repellent.
toilet paper.
Toothbrush, deodorant
Light weight towel - I took one of those super absorbent ones
Sharp knife. Head torch. Length of cord

My pack weight was around the 17KG mark with water. Although I was aiming for 15KG and probably would have got that if my walking partner and I had not decided to carry separate tents due to the wet.

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