Perrys Lookdown to Blue Gum Forest – Camping at Acacia Flat

Currently reading: Levison Wood – Walking the Himalayas (still) | Cristina Garcia – The Lady Matador’s Hotel (still) | Jeff Greenwald – Shopping for Buddhas (still) | David Mitchell – Black Swan Green

After the craziness of Christmas, I was keen to get away from it all for a few days, so Kevin, Lee and I strapped on our packs and headed down to the Blue Gum Forest via Perrys Lookdown.

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The trail head

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The gents at the start of the hike

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We set up camp by the river at Acacia Flats for three nights. This was my first overnight hiking trip since last summer. This year really got away. It was so good to be back in my tent…

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No phone, no internet, no computers, no traffic – nothing but the sound of cicadas for 72 hours

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The view from our picnic blanket

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We had the perfect swimming hole right at camp

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With views to the Fortress in one direction…

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… And towards Mt Banks and the Walls in the other

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The boys are masters of relaxation

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My pack weighed 21kg descending into the valley, but the extra weight meant we had some fresh food for the first two nights – including taboule, as evidenced in this poor attempt at a group shot

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On day two we walked to the Pierces Pass junction for lunch and a swim – it didn’t look far on a map, but it was hard work because our legs were stiff from the previous day’s descent

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The Blue Gum Forest is nothing short of spectacular

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Their pale trunks shoot straight for the sky

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Stunning specimens

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It’s a bit of a jungle down there, with even the ferns and native raspberry cane (edible?) towering over your head and scratching up your arms and legs – but it’s great to see so much regeneration after the fires of recent years

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We counted at least 4 ideal swimming spots in the 4km stretch between Acacia Flats and the junction to Pierce’s Pass, all with beautiful escarpment views

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This was our swimming hole and chosen lunchtime destination

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Lee striding out – almost back at camp after our 4.5 hour sojourn

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On day three we explored the valley floor in the other direction, this time walking to Junction Rock with views to Pulpit Rock (just visible here at the end of the ridge), Evans Lookout and the Fortress

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Lee in camouflage

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A clearer view of Pulpit Rock

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The Fortress

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This is not a great shot, but if you look closely there is a snake slithering through the greenery to the side of the trail. Kevin gave this little dude a bit of a fright when a stick he stepped on came into contact with it, so the snake’s sitting quite high in the foliage here, keeping a careful eye on things

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This is an even worse shot, unfortunately, but Kevin’s second snake encounter for the day came when he found himself face to face with this diamond python while filling a pot at the water’s edge. You can see the diamond pattern to the left of shot

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Some of my trusty camping kit: jet-boil stove, camelback water bottles, sea-to-summit plate, cup and bowl set + food bag, Teva camp sandals – and I never leave home without a book – here I am reading David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green

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The walk out took us two and a half hours. It is a constant uphill climb, which I didn’t have the energy to photograph until we were almost at the top. You know you’re near the end, though, when the handrail appears. You also know the steepest section of trail is yet to come…

I have now done all of the major passes into the Grose Valley and explored the length and breadth of the valley floor. In order of completion, the passes are:

  1. Rodriguez Pass to Govetts Leap (descended) (ascended)
  2. Rodriguez Pass to Evans Lookout (ascended)
  3. Du Faur Head to Blue Gum Forest (descended) (ascended)
  4. Mt Victoria Pass to Burra Korain Flat (descended)
  5. Pierces Pass to Mt Banks (ascended)
  6. Perrys Lookdown to Blue Gum Forest (descended) (ascended)

I have yet to do the alternate route to Evans Lookout via the Horse Track, or the more difficult Orang Utan Pass from Clarke Head near Pulpit Rock. Kevin has been talking about this latter route for some time, so I suspect we’ll try it at some point. I found a great write up about it on David Noble’s blog.

We did the weekend quiz and had lunch at the Victory Cafe in Blackheath (where we sat outside so as not to knock the other patrons out with our delightful hiker scent), before heading home. I’m looking forward to a long soak after four fairly intense days of hiking, but am already busy planning my next overnight adventure…

Happy new year!

Booknboot xo

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