Sunday, 7 August 2011

Sylvesters Lookout to Mt. Castle

Campsite on Mt. Castle
Date: 1 August - 2 August 2011

Walkers: Tom and Myself

Notes:
Day 1
Well I promised in my previous post from Hole in the Wall that I'd be back to this area soon. Wasn't sure it would be this soon, but Tom was heading off overseas this weekend for 6 months so I thought this would be a great place to take him as a fairwell.

Using my experiences from the last trip I decided to concentrate on the best bits from that walk and add in the trip to Mt. Castle. This walk was also recommended to me by some posters from the Bushwalking Australia Forums and avoids any access issues. The only downside being that the car journey in to Goomburra and on to Sylvesters Lookout takes a bit longer.

We arrived at the lookout by about 10:30 in the morning and after doing a bit of repacking got on the trail by about 11. The steep section after Sylvesters lookout wasn't nearly as bad as I remembered. Probably due to it being at the start of the walk rather than after 8 hours of bush bashing. We once again detoured to the old Sylvesters Lookout, however this time ventured out to the tip of the rocky spur through a clump of massive spear lillies and was rewarded with a more expansive and unobstructed view.
View from Old Sylvesters Lookout
See the notes from the previous walk for more details about the track up till Laidly Creek Falls Campsite and on to Hole in the Wall. We took the direct ridge route to HITW again and having a second person this time meant we were able to get some action shots.
First Downclimb Section
Negotiating the Ledge above HITW

We reached HITW in around 2 hours and stopped there to enjoy the view and to eat lunch in the shade. The temperatures were surprisingly hot and reached 30 degrees in the middle of the day. From there we decided to follow the ridgeline as much as possible and between HITW and Boar's Head there was only one section where we had to deviate from the ridge line.
Ridge After HITW
Tricky Downclimb Before Boar's Head
Before long we arrived at the minor peak of Boar's Head where there were great views in all directions. From this point the track headed downhill again but still following the ridge which by this stage was wider and even had room for numerous cow pats from adventurous bovines making the trek from the paddocks below. I was once again amazed at the number of spear lillies that cover the cliffs in this area, some of which even had some huge flower stems seen below.
Spear Lilly Flower
Tom Vs Spear Lilly
The ridge soon narrowed to a razorback where we attempted to stick to the ridgeline. Once again there was only a single section that we had to bypass to the right because of a large step up in the ridge before we reached the base of the cliffs that line Mt. Castle. From here we traversed North under the cliffs until we reached a break where it was possible to start heading up-hill towards the peak. This was a steep grassy slope broken up by a couple more rock scrambles but before long we had reached the ridge and then the peak.

The campsite was located directly on the main peak of Mt. Castle and was padded with grass and broken up by some small gums and grass trees. It had an amazing view to the East however, care was taken not to venture too far in this direction because of the size and sheerness of the cliffs here.
Mt. Castle Campsite
After setting up camp we went for a wander down the ridge to the South of the campsite towards the cliffs that we had reached the base of previously. The ridge here extended out to a narrow pinnacle with amazing views back along the Eastern face of Mt. Castle. Great care needed to be taken along this section though as the drops on either side were significant.
Looking Along the Southern Ridge at Sunset
Tom En Route to the Pinnacle
Myself Negotiating the Narrowest Section of the Ridge
View Towards Mt. Castle from the Pinnacle
Overnight we were terrorised by some small critter and after apparently not learning from our Conondale walk that small critters enjoy nibbling on silicone we awoke to Tom's Sea to Summit collapsable bowl and cup completely torn to shreds and my water bladder drink tube with a hole through it. These annoyances were far outweighed however by the views we got to the East with the early morning fog sitting in the valleys below.
View to the East from the Campsite
View Towards Mt. Edwards with Fog
View North-East from the Campsite
Day 2
We were soon packed up and back on our way. We decided to follow the track notes and take what we thought would be a more gradual route down by heading North to the Mt. Castle saddle then skirting back around. In the end this route was harder to follow and if you weren't careful you could easily end up lower on the mountain than intended. In hindsight we should have just gone back the way we had come up.

From there we back tracked along our route to HITW where we once again took advantage of the shade. We then decided to take the waterfall route back to the Laidley Ck Campsite for a bit of a change. This was definitely worth a look with the large cliffs leading to the waterfall crossing. There was only a trickle of water here and we were careful about where we walked on the slippery rocks. Although, there was a large enough shelf for this to not be too dangerous.
Cliffs leading up to Laidly Ck. Falls
The scramble back up to the campsite was reasonably steep but easy to follow. From here we re-traced our route back to the carpark. One highlight along this section was spotting a massive wedge-tailed eagle soaring overhead. Overall the distance travelled was at the shorter end of the scale but the views and scrambling make this a very memorable walk.