Day Three: Camp Saddle to Thompson River “Push Through The Bush”

A wonderful sunrise, obscured only by the snow gums.

The Whitelaw's Hut on the way to the top of Mt. Whitelaw.

The day starts with a wonderful sunrise, obscured only by the snow gums.  I take advantage of a head-start last night since I have camped only one hour south from Whitelaw’s Hut. It’s a bush-push to get there and the overnight dew saturates me from the waist down.  The re-growth dissipates after Whitelaw’s Hut and it is relatively easy walking to the top of Mt Whitelaw and down the other side.  There are nice views appearing to the south before descending down a wide fire trail track.  Lovely boulders are strewn around.  I remember that a rolling stone gathers no moss, and this one has been stationary for a while by the looks of it.

The view on Mt. Whitelaw Top
Tree or Snake?

My subconscious is still on the lookout for snakes, and it finds a tree root which reminds it of a snake.  It’s enough to make me freeze for a few seconds while the conscious mind evaluates it.  Spiders also love the width of this track and their web of intrigue spins me out.  I pass the junction to the Upper Yarra track, and  I reach the logcutters’ Stronachs Camp for lunch.  I log my time on the logs, then push on uphill through a relocated section of the track to another log-strewn ridge with wonderful northerly views.

Logcutters' Stronachs Camp

Three-legged Martian

Up the Trig Point track is a survey marker resembling a three-legged Martian.  The track downhill from the trig point to the river road is really steep.  I have to reverse down.  I encounter a moth caterpillar who is well-adapted to the steep gradient.  It has evolved 4WD capability on its full circumference and the full length of its body.  I could use some of that right now, I think.

Well adapted caterpillar

A kookaburra is laughing, reminding me that I should be also, despite the steep gradient I am negotiating, and despite the intense heat from the rocky track and from the sun.  Some respite appears as the track narrows and the tall trees close over it.  At the bottom of this track I feast on some bush tucker blackberries.  I sit down for a short break and a wonderfully scented gum leaf flutters down and lands on the top of my hat.  Nature gives and gives again.

Easton Reservoir Cascade

I walk on to reach the Easton Reservoir weir and I am suitably refreshed by the cascading of water onto rocks.  In the last kilometre towards the Thompson River camp there is a snake sunning itself on the road.  It turns out to be a rather large snake who thinks my boots are fair game.  I trump it with the Humour Stick and wave the snake on its way.

The track leads away from the road and into overgrown fernery entangled with blackberries.  I push my way through and find a log crossing the Thompson River.

I cross the log and find there is major overgrowth on the other side too.  It is the end of a long day’s walking and there is no clearing in sight.  My option is to find an area large enough to pitch the tent under the overgrowth.  That done, I fight my way back to the river and fix up a meal.  While sitting on the rocks at the water’s edge, a fish surfaces from below, swims up to me, nuzzles in between two rocks, looks me in the eye and says hello.  This is the start of a very tall yarn, I think.  But quickly the fish is looking like a fish out of water and it backs itself into the river and swims off.  I feel as if the fish plans to visit me again before I finish my dinner, but we’ll see.  Dinner is brief, I’m  having tuna.  Now it’s time to relax.

The vegetation says this is leech country.  They appear on the walls of the tent, so I wonder if my man-made defences will suffice for the night, or whether the leeches will leach through.  My advice is they will not, but just in case I take the advice with a grain of salt.  The leeches squirm at the thought of the salt.  Night-time comes early due to the low-lying camp and dense vegetation.  I make the most of the rest-time, and for most of the rest of the time I am restless about the leeches.

Thompson River

Author: Andrew Watkins, The Adventure Capitalist