BTAC volunteers clear the Valley of Destruction
Fourteen BTAC volunteers worked with Parks Victoria to improve walking access to Tali Karng from the Tamboritha Road in January 2023. They made improvements to the many river crossings on the Wellington River to make navigation easier, cleared overhanging vegetation and did some work on the Riggall Spur Track, but the main emphasis was clearing the overgrown 6.5 km Clive Lanigan Memorial Track through the Valley of Destruction terminating at Tali Karng. It wasn’t all hard work, there was great camaraderie at the camp and volunteers were entertained by the antics of a small black platypus in the Wellington River adjacent to the camp site.
This was a logistically challenging activity with weather and access tracks needing to be dry for the activity to go ahead. It was clear a few days out that the conditions were favourable and that the contingency work would have to wait for another day. The volunteers gathered at Muttonwood Camp on the Wellington River north of Licola on Australia Day ready for an early start next morning to get to and establish camp at the base of Riggall Spur Track, 13km upstream from Tamboritha Road.
On the Friday morning participants parked their vehicles at the Platypus Camp and walked with day packs up the Wellington River, attending to river crossing improvements with hand tools, to the camp site. All camping gear, supplies for the weekend, tools, equipment and PPE were transported to the camp site by two Parks Victoria vehicles which negotiated a network of 4WD tracks, including Management Vehicles Only tracks, to get to the camping spot. A few volunteers scored a ride on the vehicles. Brush cutters were used to clear sufficient area for all the tents and amenities.
Saturday’s forecast was for temperatures into the 30’s so it was an early 7:00am start and an early finish for the two work teams. All workers were back in camp by 2:30pm to make full use of the river and shade to keep cool. It was during the afternoon that Meredith sighted the little platypus as it made its way upstream time and time again, sometimes leaving the water, just to be swept downstream by the current again to a pool created by a log across the river. Parks Victoria rangers provided the volunteers with a sumptuous BBQ for the evening meal.
Sunday and Monday were long days as each day the walk to the start of work and return from knock off position was longer. Fortunately these days were cooler, but still a bit humid. It was heavy work to clear the track of vegetation and fallen logs among all the rocks. The lake, Tali Karng, was reached around 2:30pm on Monday, mission achieved. That night the volunteers slept well with the satisfaction of a job well done.
On Tuesday the camp was packed up and everything stowed on the Parks Victoria vehicles for the journey back to the cars at Platypus Camp. The majority of the volunteers walked the full distance back to the cars with some still having enough energy to do some track clearing with hand tools along the way. The team contributed some 650 volunteer hours to achieve the objective.
Many thanks to the Parks Victoria Rangers, Tehan, Bek and Sam for their hospitality, facilitation and support. Thanks to Patrick for leading the second team and thanks to all the participants for their dedication to the task and their camaraderie throughout the six days.
Joe van Beek, BTAC Activity Leader