On Friday afternoon nine hearty volunteers (including 3 from BCWC and 3 named Peter) met up with Daniel Ball, Forest Management and Roading Officer, at the DEECA Depot in Dargo for a welcome and briefing in preparation for their work on the Crooked River section of the McMillans Walking Track. It was anticipated that this would be a challenging weekend of track clearing because of its remoteness, difficult access and unknown condition; and so it proved to be. Capable 4WD vehicles were required to get to either end of the 13km section of the track. All camping gear, supplies and work equipment had to be portaged 4km up the track to a make shift camp. There are no recognised camping sites along this section of the track, it took some effort and ingenuity to find and make a camp site not too far from water, tents were strung out along the track. Participants were instructed to “Pack light and compact in a back pack; a small tent, dare I say dehydrated food, limited luxuries. Be self sufficient for camping and all meals except the Friday BBQ”.
The team was pleasantly surprised to find that the first 4km up from the Stonewall end was easy walking having been cleared in recent times, as was the first kilometre and a half from the other end off White Timber Spur Track. Over the weekend the team chain sawed the logs off the whole length of the track leaving some easy-step-over ones and thoroughly cleared a bit over 3km including some dense patches of blackberry. They also did some step cutting and track benching to make walking easier. There is still some 4.5km of track that needs further work in the near future. Blackberry is an issue, it is in patches over the whole length of the track. Spraying would be desirable.
Fine weather blessed the team for the whole of the duration and they enjoyed being on this historically significant track constructed by gold miners in the 1860s through the stunning scenic steep sided Crooked River valley. The benched track was constructed, at places high above the river, to a high standard with dry stone walling still in good condition in some sections.
The volunteers contributed a total of 336, otherwise payable, hours to this activity.
Thank you to Daniel and DEECA for their contributions and support; the BBQ goodies, which were enjoyed on Friday night at Bulltown and on the track for lunch on Saturday, the use of trunk radios and access to their depot at Dargo for getting organised and parking cars and the BTAC trailer over the weekend. And thank you to the volunteers for their time, effort, achievement and camaraderie over the ANZAC weekend on the Crooked River section of McMillans Walking Track.
Joe van Beek (BTAC Convenor)