The main event, day 2, a full day to explore West, Middle and South Bald Rocks. Overcast conditions, so not too hot, pretty much just right really. We started off walking out to West Bald Rock, planning to work our way back to camp, and do South Bald Rock after lunch, depending on how things went. Things went well really, just nice quiet walking through the bush, along old roads in the back country. Plenty of flowers and a variety of plants, the australian bush is a lovely place. We walked around to the west side of West Bald Rock, and pretty much just sort of wandered up, following our noses. We found a cairn half way up, but basically just picked the easiest looking line. One or two bits were steepish, but nothing of any real concern. Just nice big sweeping expanses of granite. They don't call this the granite belt for nothing.
After a nice stop on top of West, where we even had mobile reception, and made a couple of calls to prove it, we headed back down, next stop, Middle Bald Rock, which we'd admired through the trees while passing earlier.
Matthew stayed on the track and lounged about while Mum, Helen and I bush bashed through the scrub a bit towards the base of the rock. We saw quite a few rufous fantails too, which was neat. Middle Bald Rock is a lot smaller, more like the pyramids than the others. We followed our noses a bit, and got pretty high, but came out underneath a cap of steep slab that was too much for me and mum. We didn't particularly feel like going back down and around and looking elsewhere, so we just headed back down to some coool creek water and meet up with Matthew again. We later found out you have go in a bit of a circuitous route, going to the _left_ of the big orange overhang and then cutting back around.
On the way back to camp, stopped for lunch, Helen and I both found leeches, though mine hadn't really gotten into me yet. Matthew, the caring brother, ritually cremated Helen's leech as a symbol for all other leeches to stay the hell away from his sister!
After a sit and a snooze back at camp for a bit, we decided to head up South Bald Rock. South Bald Rock has a great big cave running underneath it, that we were here to find. We'd heard about it from a few people, and that it was reasonably difficult to find the entrance, but well worth it. Well, we failed :) Making me 0 for 2 on South Bald Rock :) Still, we had a lot of fun exploring up the gullies on the flank of South Bald Rock, and it's a great big chunk of granite, so even just wandering up the slabs to the top is beautiful in and of itself.
After one of our early forays into a brush choked little gully, we came up a lot higher and found another obvious place to try and look for a cave entrance. We passed the line of rocks looking like beached dugongs, in sight of the great Shark Fin of rock, in this sea of wild granite, and found a nice deap dark whole leading in the right direction. However, we also started to hear thunder overhead, and the last place any of us wanted to be was trapped inside a granite labyrinth with rain flooding in from the slabs above. So we opted instead to just head up to the summit and have a look around, before heading down.
The summit was another nice big dome of granite, with great views in all directions, including across to the southern summit. There's so much granite around here to explore, but we were on our third dome of the day, and it was time for some food and an early night. Coming down the mountain, we were treated to an amazingly well formed anvil cloud, just beautiful, under the lowering clouds of nightfall.
And so that was that, or so it seemed.
Sometime later that night, it started to rain.
Which was no big deal.
Or was it? All of a sudden I realised that although it was no longer blowing in the tent onto my face, there was a disturbingly large puddle building under my feet! I then realised that we were camped in the low spot along the road, and with the massive slabs of South Bald Rock directly beside us, allll the rain was rushing off the granite and right into our camp site. Matthew and I immediately got up and sutffed some sleeping gear into a pack, and moved it up to higher ground.
We pretty soon realised that we weren't really going to get set up anywhere again anytime soon, so with Helen and Mum now flooded out as well, we decided to just enjoy the rain and wait it out til morning and walk straight home. (Pretty much the plan anyway, just with a few hours less sleep than expected.)
So, while we were a bit miffed at losing our sleep, and a few of us have some rather damp books, it's still mid summer australian rain, so it's warm. And we're standing beside a great big granite dome, with water POURING off it, which isn't something that many people ever get the chance to see, so it was really pretty special. And then, while walking along the road looking at the water everywhere, we noticed the crayfish! Big suckers, 15-20cm long, with big pincers out in front. We spotted probably 8 of them, out enjoying the wet and looking for food. This was _really_ neat, I'd seen them maybe once or twice before, but they were _everywhere_ now. With the rain easing off, and the rushing water off the slabs slowing to a trickle and then drying up completely, we moved one of the tents up the hill a bit, and used it as a rain shelter to repack packs. Keeping what we could dry, sorting out what we needed for the morning, and basically keeping busy while waiting for first light.
After a quick breakfast, amid the sodden ruins of our camp site, we headed off back the way we came... But that's a story for another time
More photos from this trip can be found at Mum's flickr page, or you can read another take on this whole trip at Helen's blog