Friday, January 28, 2005

(*) Bridle track

I did this road today - in my little car! Mind you, in parts of it, I had to crawl along in first gear doing less than 20km/h - but it was really worth it! Sure, I had no rush, so i took my time - the 60km Bridle Track took me 2 1/2 hours to do! But the views!!!! And... guess which Homer left his farking camera behind...?! Awww... I didn't plan on going all the way... I just jumped in the car and went for a bit of a drive... 120km later...! D'oh! A beautiful day.

Check out this page for some glorious photos of the Bridle Track! The last pic is of the ford/causeway - that's what it looked like yesterday!

The Bridle track : On the track between Bathurst and Hill End

"The Bridle Track runs from Duramana, northwest of Bathurst, to the old mining town of Hill End. It is approximately 60 km long, and in 4WD terms, can be graded 'easy'. So easy in fact that driven carefully, a conventional vehicle could manage the entire distance, though extreme care would be required on some of the steeper, shaly sections of the road. (Mal: too true... some of it is pretty hairy in a small car! lol)

"If however, you want to experience some of the better, more isolated camp sites (on the other side of the river), a 4WD with better-than-average wading ability and low range gearing is mandatory.

"The Bridle Track begins as a narrow ribbon of bitumen running through picturesque grazing land in rolling country. It later becomes dirt, but it's easy driving, though some caution is needed on sweepers, particularly after a long dry spell, when the road surface can be very loose.

"In these conditions, dust can also be a problem, so leave plenty of distance between vehicles if travelling in a group. If it rains, the road surface becomes slippery rather than boggy, requiring careful driving, even in a 4WD.

"Further on, the countryside is more rugged, with striking vistas into the valleys and the river winding through them. On some corners, you'll notice the original stone formwork, hand-laid by Chinese labourers back in the gold rush era of the 1870s. (Mal: there's plenty of that in evidence).

"The camp site at Bruinbun offers the first easy access to the river. Bruinbun is a favourite spot with canoeists, as it has both flat water and medium grade rapids. In the old days, all along the Bridle Track, primitive camping was the go, but for many years, long-drop loos have mimimised the risk of giardia being borne downriver in floodtimes. These are currently being replaced by even more environmentally friendly composting toilets, and to assist with upkeep, a $5 camping fee applies.

"After Bruinbun, the road becomes narrower, hemmed in by drops to the water on one side and rugged cliffs on the other. Slow speed is recommended, because a number of corners are completely blind. Over the years, there have been quite a few head-ons. (Mal: some of this, while quite hairy at moments, is made up for with the spectacular views...)

"Perhaps the best camp site of all is at Sailors Bluff. Access requires negotiating a very steep downhill track, a low range traverse of a (normally) dry riverbed littered with large rocks, and finally, crossing on of the small tributaries of the Macquarie. It's worth it. A massive vari-colored rock bluff flanks the site, and in the mornings, the visual impact of the sun hitting the wall is quite spectacular. As with all camp sites on the Bridle Track, high visitation has seen dead wood become scarce, so if you want a cheery log fire at night, bring the necessaries with you. (Mal: this looked truely awesome!)

"After periods of heavy rain, the causeway across the Turon River can become extremely dangerous. Though normally dry or easily splashed through, in flood the Turon causeway lies under swift and deep water, and even heavy 4WDs in low range have been swept away. (Mal: the water was only a few inches high yesterday - thankfully! It would have been a real bummer to have gone all that way and not have been able to get across the causeway! lol. Luckily I remembered how to drive across a causeway no problem...)

"As the Track climbs out of the Turon Valley to reach Hill End, it's at its most rough. You know you're close to the township when you see old stampers rusting by the road, and even some of the drives the miners used to burrow into the rich hillsides.

"Originally called Bald Hill, in its heyday, the Hill End site was one of the richest fields in NSW. The world's largest specimen of reef gold - the massive Holtermann Nugget that stood almost as tall as its discoverer - was unearthed from nearby Hawkins Hill in 1872.

"Now under the control of the NSW NPWS, the town today has preserved many of the buildings from the rush days.

"Even the pub, which still dispenses cold beers, good food and even a bed for the night if that's what you want, dates back to the 1870s, and many of the significant structures around town boast useful information plaques that describe life in the golden years. Hill End is perfect for parents to instill a knowledge of Australia's rich history in young minds. You can even take the kids on a walk-in tour of the Bald Hill Mine.

Traveller's tips

When travelling on the Bridle track be sure to take a spare tyre and do not speed or travel the last 20kms at night. If a car is coming from the other direction you may have to reverse quite a few kms around blind corner mountainsides with 1000 foot is a very dangerous journey at night in any vehicle.
Source: Bridle Track

"Monoghan's Bluff" is that insanely tight steep bit with a few km's of blind corners... but what a view! Seriously - this was a severe case of deja-vu for me... I know I drempt of this very place when I was a kid! I'd seen this very place before - but only in my dreams! ooowwwwww.....

"... The Bridle Track has been graded with some new signage appearing that is classifying it as a "four wheel drive" only effort - after seeing a van tipped over the edge of a bluff on one of the more dangerous parts of the Bridle Track I can see why this aggressive approach of fore-warning travellers along the route has been used. It actually felt weird approaching Monoghans Bluff and seeing a huge sign saying 'use extreme caution through this area' being displayed. The Bridle Track is known for its appeal to four wheel drivers, those who don't possess common sense deserve a one way pass off the edge!... "

HOWEVER - you can take the EASY road to get to Hill End, via Sofala! That dirt road, by comparison, is like a freeway! That's a great road! I took the 'hard' road knowingly! If you're ever out this way, I really recommend a visit out to Hill End... it'll warp your mind how far out in the middle of nowhere these places really are!

Check out these articles about Hill End, NSW.
My norty housemate bought back from o/s a small bottle of Jim Beam Black bourbon - 86 proof, from her hourneys to Ireland. I had a sip the other night, and it sure 'cleared out the sinuses', shall we say! I'm not used to such really strong good stuff! Delicious but - oooh! She had a few people around last night for a very casual birthday/bbq/Aussie get-together (you don't really need an excuse for people to get together over here... just bring a few drinks, maybe a few sausages, and 'she'll be right, mate!'). Sure, the cricket and the tennis was on (tennis - yawn!), but they all worked together at the local paper, so it was a 5-hour-long bitch session! Really funny to listen to. I slowly worked my way thru the bourbon, expecting to feel quite 'tight' at the end. But - no! I only sipped it with coke and ice, and by the end of the night I was just tired! Silly ol' me! hahahahaaa.

And yes... the airline who left her bag behind in London flew and taxied the bag to the front door this arvo!

Mallard d'Quackers


Blogger Ron said...

You certainly brought back some memories with your post on the Bridle Track. I used to travel that road regularly but haven't been down it for more 25 years or so now.

Those were the good old days when you could buy land around there and down to Mudgee for a dollar or two and acre (well, at least that's what I think I remember :-) )

February 01, 2005 1:27 pm  

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