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Walking in Guy Fawkes (12 May 2011)

contributed by iandsmith
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Morning mist from the bluff

Chaelundi, it has an exotic ring to it donít you think? Although thatís where I was heading itís actually down the road. Well, Chaelundi National Park that is; not Chaelundi Creek which begets Chaelundi Falls that you can view from Chaelundi Bluff. No, theyíre all in Guy Fawkes National Park and you can readily access them all from, wait for it, Chaelundi campground, which is where I started my walk from. This naming has confused more than one person!

Other than myself there was a couple from New England, about 30 kms west of Armidale, and they had decided to pack up and see some of the great wilderness that was, so to speak, in their own backyard.

Iíve spoken to quite a few who have the same passion for bushwalking as I do and theyíve universally said theyíd thought of coming out here but had never actually made it so I felt like something of a trailblazer amongst my contacts.

Guy Fawkes River National Park Panorama in the afternoon

For some reason I had it in the back of my mind that it was a 4WD road in but the new brochure that I picked up from Dorrigo seemed to indicate otherwise and so it turned out, although the National Park section of the road in was narrow, even more so when youíre driving a motorhome.

Guy Fawkes River National Park Chaelundi Creek

Though my nephew and his partner couldnít make it, I met up with another bushwalking buddy, Julie, and we set off after an early lunch, initially following the creek that had a little fresh in it which was just as well because it would be struggling to even trickle in a drought.

Guy Fawkes River National Park Chaelundi Falls.  It's not just one fall but a series of cascades descending for over a kilometre to the valley floor

Itís less than a kilometre before you reach the falls though itís not a sheer drop; no, itís more a series of steps going down a steep incline for a long way. The view from there was good but, as we pushed on along the Lucifers Thumb Track it became apparent that it could be special up ahead, as touted by the National Parks brochure.

Sitting on Chaelundi BLuff

The relatively mundane sclerophyll forest eventually gave way to the final bare rock of the bluff and immediately convinced us that we had made the right decision to come here. It is unquestionably one of the better panoramas Iíve gazed upon in Australia, this viewpoint giving around 180 degrees of panorama down the valley to where the Guy Fawkes River meets Chaelundi Creek and the truly adventurous can do multi day walks.

Guy Fawkes River National Park From a lookout just past the falls

The high points visible from here and listed further down at Misty Creek Lookout are too numerous to mention but Woolpack Rocks, where weíd trekked the previous week, was among them.

Thereís something special about sitting on an outlook such as this with the updraft caressing your face and just the sound of flexing leaves and the occasional bird to disturb the peace. Not even the distant drone of aeroplanes pervades this place, merely the white cloud puffs rolling across the sky, their shadows traversing the ridges and plunging into the canyon floor before effortlessly climbing across the verdant landscape, rent rich green by the recent rains.

Thereís a feeling of spiritual renewal in landscapes and moments such as this and we tarried awhile to soak it up, though I spent some of that time photographing a bird Iíd never seen before, the white eared honeyeater.

Guy Fawkes River National Park Fungi on the trail

We later visited Wurrang Lookout because thatís one of two entry points to Jordanís Trail, a two day hike that starts its descent here and returns up the ridges when you reach Wallaby Point a few kilometres upstream. It was here that we felt the first bite of afternoon chill that pervades these parts in autumn and winter and beckons you to warmer places, such as the fire that our New England friends had already started.

The day had started so gloriously, if a tad cold.

Guy Fawkes River National Park This is the start of the walks from Chaelundi Campground

I revisited the exceptional Chaelundi Bluff, suitably attired for the chill conditions of the brisk morning air.

The moving white blanket of fog, prodded north by the prevailing wind, shifted along the valley like a giant glacier, from time to time exposing islands in the mist as small hills flaunted themselves in the drifting mass.

View from the top of Chaelundi Falls

It didnít seem really cold but perhaps I was just in the correct attire as I sat on the rocks of Chaelundi Bluff while around me the morning birds rose; striated pardalotes, satin bower birds, wattle birds and white faced honeyeaters to name but a few. I later found out it had been minus 2 around 7 oíclock.

On the way back I revisited Chaelundi Falls, hoping for better light than the previous day and so it turned out to be. The only problem was I descended further than I had previously, going where prudence dictated that I shouldnít have. Genuinely rock climbing I reached a point where I decided I had a photo that no-one else would get. Problem was, it coincided with my battery life expiring so I never did get that shot.

As I clambered back up the precipitous cliff, desperately seeking hand and foot holds, I little realised what the rest of the day held for me, yet it had been a portent of things to come.

Back at the motorhome I downloaded my pictures and watched frustratingly as a yellow robin and then a beautifully coloured pigeon romped around on branches just 10 metres away. Oh that I had been set up for more photographs.

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