It was fairly early and I was ready. Rosemarie, on the other hand, wasn't feeling too well at all. Very sick in fact. Thus it was decided that I would go for a walk around the campsite at Camp Blackman, the only camp with powered sites for my motorhome.
So I wandered off and ascended a nearby crag that rises behind the new sites and environmental centre. It was a bit testing near the summit but eventually I scaled a lookout point but never did make the top.
The lookout point was better for viewing anyway because there was no vegetation obstructing the panorama of the Warrumbungle.
Though a trifle hazy for photography purposes it offers a lovely experience simply being there and the overall profile, as shown in picture two, really sums up the Warrumbungle for me.
The rocky road is fairly well defined until you get about 80 metres from the summit, then it was a bit of a bush bash for me until I attained the heights.
Scrambling onto the crest the panorama opens up and what heights they were.
“Warrumbungle” is aboriginal for “crooked mountain”. From this outlook it is all so clear how it got its name. The jagged spires are irrevocably linked as seen from here and the famed Breadknife melts into obscurity alongside the more prominent spires of Belougery, Crater Bluff and the Grand High Tops.
I've made a practice of spending time when I reach peaks. Soaking up the atmosphere, taking the majesty of the place on board so that it is not forgotten in a hurry. I did so here, and the shots I've taken hopefully reflect that. In fact, I've even had the fourth one blown up and hung on my wall.
The faded sign of "Bress Peak" hadn't seen many visitors judging by the state of the track and the condition of the sign.
I found it difficult to get on the trail on the way back, getting misplaced several times though always being aware that I was headed in the right direction.
Still, at the end of the day and during those that followed as I downloaded the photos, I was pleased I had made the effort. Bress Peak had, indeed, been rewarding.
The Bress Peak track is listed as 7.4 or 8 kms long for the return trip depending on which publication you read. It's also listed as "...very steep ungraded track, suitable for fit walkers only. Very rewarding."
The first 2.5km, which is actually the Pincham Trail, is deceiving. Even stopping and taking photos I was at the turnoff in around 40 minutes. That’s when it all changes. From the other side of the wooden bridge it’s all uphill – and there’s not a step in sight. Loose rocks, bordering on scree, are what you ascend for most of the next hour, and it’s only just over one kilometre. Not even the best of the best will do this without at least one stop.
There’s actually two named mounts, Bridget Peak at 860 metres is the first and by the time you gasp your way to the solid rocks that form Bridget, looking up can be daunting because it’s simply more of the same.
Somehow it looks just as far again (and certainly felt like it) but it's supposedly only another 240 metres.
Glimpses of Belougery Spire (pic 2) and the craggy ridges (pics 3&4) in the opposite direction help dilute the pain you are going through on the ascent.
Hey, I earnt it. I was second to the top on this particular day. Fast Eddie just beat me there but only because I stopped a few times to take photos.
Not that it was a race or anything, it was just nice being first car in the carpark on a gorgeous spring day and being where hardly anyone else will venture for some time.
Here I've just finished my drink and am soaking up a bit of shade before the descent.
One advantage of the Warrumbungles is that a lot of the views are quite open due to the sparseness of vegetation.
As you ascend and the trail starts to bite into your leg muscles (remember, heart on the way up, knees on the way down) little puffs of dust rise from your footprints as you part walk, part stumble along the well-defined track from the carpark.
Toiling ants traversing the trail, scurrying lizards departing the warming rocks, twittering *** (a type of bird) and restless robins flitting around the gum trees, the sparkling wattle vibrant yellow against the sombre green and grey tones of the eucalypts. Such is the scene found in the sclerophyll forests of Australia and you'll find no better example than here.
As you gain height the scenery becomes more vast. Here the highest point in the park, Mt Exmouth (1208 metres) rises behind the weathered rock of another nearby volcanic plug.
As you near the entrance to the National Park, one of the first things that gets in-your-face is Timor Rock, a fragmented shattered volcanic plug that sits astride some cultivated fields making it even more dramatic.
It is but a foretaste of things to come in the Warrumbungles.
This is labelled by the National Parks and Wildlife Service as "A great introductory walk to the park". I heartily agree.
This shot is not actually of the "Split Rock" but is taken on the walk where another section has become eroded away from the main bulk of rock.
Also shown in this picture in the cleft are "blackboy" trees. Surprisingly they're actually related to the Lily family from the genus Xanthorrhoea, from the Greek which relates to the yellowish gum flowing from its trunk. This gum was utilized by the indigenous people as a glue, the outer bark casing as fire lighters and other parts as food.
Their trunks are blackened by bushfires but they have a protection mechanism and thus survive. In point of fact, they mostly flower immediately after bushfires.
In Australia, this is one of the most famous rock outcrops after Uluru. Its dramatic form, just over a metre wide, is never better viewed than when you have reached the apex of the Pincham Trail and are sitting on the Grand High Tops congratulating yourself on having made the hard 2-3 hour slog up the steep path.
The longer you sit there, the more it mesmerises you. For all those with a camera, it's one of the must-see photo opportunities in Australia. Here are the remnants of molten rock that tried to push itself up through a narrow crack but had to wait millions of years for recognition of its efforts.
It is one of only two peaks you are not allowed to climb in the National Park, for understandable reasons.
Looking for a cuppa or just want to see some art? This place has my vote.
On a glorious spring day I pulled in to this place and sat on a classic Aussie verandah to partake of some victuals.
The food was delicious, the atmosphere superb and the host interesting. Sipping a soothing Earl Grey accompanied by the sounds of the ornitholigical wonders of the Australian bush backlit by a clear sunny day is a lovely way to wile away time.
The fact that two paintings crashed to the floor after their hook departed the wall, smashing their glass cover to pieces with a loud bang as the shards scattered randomly all around the floor was just another interesting thing that happened.
Never mind, pass the sugar, we're all relaxed here!
There is a variety of art here with the emphasis on stained glass but the eclectic mix is worth your time even if you don't wish to eat anything.
From here it's over 5 kms back to base. Starting from the carpark it's 4.7kms to Breadknife and 5.5 to Grand High Tops and from there you can come around the other side of the Breadknife (which is where I'm at right now) and make a 2 km loop at the top which saves you going back the same way entirely and gives you a totally different aspect on the Breadknife, accenting just how sheer the cliff face really is.
It takes over 4 hours even if you're a good walker. Though few steps are involved, at times the track is very steep though well made.
The tenacity and toughness of the Australian native flora is exemplified here by a wattle (mimosa overseas) that barely manages to cling to life in a crack in the side of the ancient volcanic plug. Eventually its root system will crack the rock or the tree will die (they only average about 7 years' life). Either way it's part of a crumbling landscape but it makes for a wonderful splash of colour in spring.
Looking west you can see across vast tracts of western N.S.W.
The yellow of the wattle in the foreground is duplicated by the bright canola crops in the distance, growing in the washed away remnants of the volcanoes.
This is a view looking back towards the carpark but you actually have to go back about half a kilometre, descend and then walk around the base of the cliff before going down the track under the cliff.
In two spots it actually ascends again and I can honestly say that when I completed the second ascent it was time for yet another break.
Though it's commonly known as the Split Rock walk, the full title given to it these days is the Belougery Split Rock Circuit which, to my way of thinking, is a little bit of a misnomer.
What you actually do is climb Split Rock but one of the things you see when you're up there is Belougery Spire.
Here, it is the one on the left. Other notable features are the Breadknife (centre in shade) and Crater Bluff.
Access to those is via another popular walk that takes around five hours return and is also steep but without any chain-grabbing areas.
Prisoners were actually used to make a lovely brick path that covers a lot of the walk to the Grand High Tops which is where the Breadknife is.