Weekends Destination: Summit
Great weekend in Mt Kaputar National Park, weather was good, the park uncrowded and looking better after some rain. The wildlife had returned to the hilltop after spending the warmer months in the valleys and gorges, the only place that still carried water after a long hot,dry summer.
The photo above is from the summit of Mt Kaputar, Eastern,NSW, Australia, 1510 meters above sea level, the view looking west over the vast inland plains, 1200 meters below. It is said that from this vantage point, if the earth was flat and you had a big enough telescope, you could see the next highest peak looking west in South Africa, some……….. kilometers away. Mt Kaputar is an extinct Shield Volcano, 22 million years old, now home to a National Park and a vast wilderness area, Many species of flora and fauna are found here, some endangered, most a common site in the area. The areas to the south, west and north of the park hold some of the largest deposits of coal and gas on the planet, so the park serves as a refuge for the wildlife that has seen its habitat destroyed by giant open-cut mines.
Eastern Grey Kangaroos having an early morning feed
The park is only 50 km from home, a pleasant drive through the countryside, climbing up the ranges to the entrance of the park. The main reason for this trip was an Amateur Radio contest, the John Moyle Memorial Field Days. Held over 24 hours, the event encourages portable radio stations to operate under field conditions, good training for emergency operations. I won`t go into detail about the contest, only to say that I made contact with over 200 other radio stations around Australia and several from around the world.
I don`t need an excuse to visit the park though, having been there on many occasions, there is always something different to see or do. Craggy rock formations, some of the most westerly remnant rainforest in New South Wales and abundant wildlife along the many walking tracks to explore and photograph. The night sky is clear and crisp, the Milky Way so close, the planets bright.
Wildlife abounds, Kangaroos, Koalas, Wallabies, Possums, Goannas, Skinks, Bats and all kind of birds, Western and Eastern Rosellas, King Parrots, Wedged-tailed Eagles, Hawks, Kookaburras as well as many more. Hard to believe that once this place was the site of great eruptions, lava flows and ash clouds. The remains of this activity still remains in the form of volcanic plugs jutting up from the hillsides.
Sawn Rocks, an Organ Pipe like formation formed by the sudden cooling of lava.
Many different rock formations can be seen in the park, Sawn Rocks, seen above and a similar formation in Waa Gorge in the northern part of the park holds giant blocks of the same type, some over 3 meters wide. The ones seen above are around 60cm per pipe.
Western Rosella or Mountain Lowry
The weather closed in around lunchtime on Sunday, several reports on the radio of severe thunderstorms developing om the western plains and heading my way. I made the decision to pack up camp and head towards home as the roads can become impassable after heavy rain, especially on the downhill sections, loss of traction can lead to a serious accident, as well as damaging the road itself. Reluctantly I headed east back towards home, stopping over at another National Park. Horton Falls can be found here, a place I spent a lot of summer months as a child, swimming, fishing and bushwalking. The falls cascade over a 83 meter drop into the gorge below, although they are not flowing at the moment, the gorge still holds some large waterholes
Horton Falls, 83 meter drop. Photo taken after heavy rain several months ago.
With the weather closing in it was time to return home, the threat of rising creek crossings present. With welcome raindrops on the windshield, the promise of some much needed rain in the area, so dry after a summer of over 40 degree celsius heat, I travelled home for some much needed sleep after the 24 hour contest.