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Eventually, I met Craig. As I waited for some birds to come a couple of dogs came happily running along the path, eventually followed by their owner. It transpires that Craig and his wife are the main ones responsible for all the tracks (probably 4-5 kms of them) that criss-cross the area.
He tipped me off about the creek. It's hardly fit to be called even that but, if you poke into this untracked section, there's a wonderful area of moss laden rocks and ferns, the last remnants of rainforest in the area. Truly a wonderful spot to get rid of your cares and woes and immerse yourself in nature.
Written Oct 5, 2011
I used to look across the northern end of the lake to the big hill, wherein lay the gravel quarry. I had a small yearning to go and have a look but, I was young and growing up and other things took priority. In the fullness of time I moved away but, nearly 40 years later I moved back to the lake, right beneath the quarry.
So it was that I decided to go and have a look. Though initially blocked by a tall wire mesh fence the idea never went away and then, almost by chance, I found the way in. What a revelation it's been.
It's a bird watching mecca with delightful made-walks zig-zagging across the side of the hills covering rainforest and open woodland.
At the top there are panoramic, some (me included) might say the finest, views across Lake Macquarie.
Written Oct 5, 2011
Chances are, you ask anyone around Lake Macquarie where Awaba Bay is and less than 1% would know. I say that perhaps to justify my ignorance as well because for over 20 years I lived within 5 kilometres of the place and never knew the name.
What I did know was Marmong Point, because there used to be swimming baths and a VJ sailing club. These days there are no baths and it's a windsurfer club that owns the boat shed.
Still, this is the place to start your exploration of the Lake Macquarie State Conservation Area know as Awaba Bay. From here you head south to Bolton Point and, en route, you'll pass through a lot of unspoilt bush before you come to the Bolton Point nursing home whose grounds you simply walk through until you reach the end of the track and its expansive views over the lake. It only takes about 40 minutes one way and is a lovely way to spend a morning or afternoon. Highly recommended.
Written Aug 21, 2011
We slid over the log and moved on, at times not sure where the trail actually was but making headway in the general direction anyway though at times the walking was tough as we negotiated steep slopes with few toeholds. In time we found ourselves beside a cliff face, partially laden with mosses and lichen and luckily with a narrow clear path alongside.
We made good progress but then the sandstone wall ended and, despite looking, we hadn’t sited the arch. The next obstacle was a crossing over Gap Creek but we decided to go on top of the rock face and have a look but, as Ken got to the top it looked like we’d drawn a blank so I said I’d head off across the creek and, if I couldn’t see it, we’d head back.
No sooner had I started out than Ken yelled he’d found it; so I joined him and there it was, in a clear spot on top of the rock face with views across a valley where we could see clouds building up for the predicted afternoon storms but we were too excited about our find and scrambled to get pictures of it before the occasional drop became a downpour.
We gingerly walked across it, the type of thing men seemingly have to have to do to prove who-knows-what, and took several pictures of each other doing it as proof of our manhood or stupidity before we were satisfied. That coincided with the rain starting to fall a little more earnestly so we moved back under the canopy though it soon eased so we went down to the streamlet again to photograph its erratic course through vines and moss laden boulders for the third time that day.
We had a nice session before the gloom returned and foretold that our day in the Watagans was rapidly coming to an end with the coming of heavy raindrops this time so we spurted back down the trail and reached the car without getting too drenched and rocked up to our favourite cafe (they have pies) in Cooranbong. The only difference here was that Ken didn’t leave blood on the floor and a squirming bloated leech to remind other patrons we’d been there like last time and thus we celebrated our finding of the “lost” arch.
Written Aug 21, 2011
I can’t even remember who the man was, can’t remember where I met him, only remembered that he knew where the arch was; the arch I’d read about in some obscure document in a research library. He’d told me how to get there, gave me some little known details and had related how it was hard to find even if you knew where you were going.
It was like an ache; it wouldn’t go away and kept coming back when my mind was on other things. And it wasn’t really anything at all, just an arch secreted away in the bush; one of only three apparently in the whole Hunter Valley.
Heck, I’d been in America just two months previously and had visited a national park with over 2,000 of them in an area not even as large as the valley. Still, it gnawed at me.
Ken was keen to go and have a look as well so we made a date and then postponed it but eventually we headed off for the Watagans, for that is where the arch was to be found.
At the Gap Creek carpark we checked our gear and rubbed Vaseline around our ankles to keep the leeches at bay that had pestered us last time before moving off.
The trail is easy to follow initially; in fact, we’d started out on it last time but rain came and we called it quits when we were shooting some Bridal Veil Stinkhorn fungi. We had no such problem today and stopped several times to shoot more fungi then pushed on until, as the man had warned me, we came to where a large tree had fallen over the trail and after that the track was difficult to follow.
Written Aug 21, 2011
To reach this delightful spot where you can camp or picnic you need to find Mount Faulk Road (off Freemans Drive) and then take the indicated turn onto Bangalow Road right to the end.
From here there's a trail that takes you to a fork a couple of hundred metres in and you take the left fork to descend to the base of the falls.
It's a pretty spot but the falls aren't great in terms of water; in fact, it's best to visit them after rain which also brings the leeches out. You can avoid them by rubiing vaseline or paraffin oil around your sock tops or other areas they are likely to get.
The track down is steep but worthwhile and, if you're into photography, you'll be richly rewarded.
If you take the other fork it's also interesting with a tree wrapped around a rock and several other interesting bits of flora. One we came across was the bridal veil stinkhorn (pic 2), an appropriately named type of fungus.
Written Jan 13, 2011
Of all the places to picnic in the Watagans this is certainly one of the most popular.
If you're looking for a large dam, you'll be sadly disappointed. It's just a small concrete affair that was probably erected for a boarding house, hence the name.
However, it's the location amid tall timbers with a small stream dissecting the valley that makes it a delight. There are toilets, barbecues and sheltered bench seats to make your stay pleasant. Then, when you've finished your meal you can take a stroll along the 640 metre made trail that takes you past the mossy wall for which the location is famous.
Written Aug 10, 2010
The Watagan Mountains (so called) are situated on the western side of Lake Macquarie and are a popular place to go for a picnic or scenic drive.
There are at least three signposted lookouts though, for mine, Heatons, where these pics were taken from, is definitely the best.
Muirs Lookout has a narrow outlook though is a nice place to picnic.
Updated Aug 10, 2010