Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Mt Exmouth & Bluff Mtn, Warrumbungle NP, NSW, Australia


2015 October: Day trip to climb Mt Exmouth & Bluff Mountain, Warrumbungle National Park, NSW, Australia

Prolog

Yesterday, DH and I went to Grand High Tops lookout.  ( Photos and an account of that trip is in http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2015/10/grand-high-tops-warrumbungle-np-nsw.html )

Today, we climb:
- Mt Exmouth
- Bluff Mountain
- side trip to the Cathedral

There is supposed to be an arch at the Cathedral, but I can't find it. Well, I wasn't sure what I was looking for. It is only after the trip that I search the web and find out what the arch looks like ... see Photo #11. So now I'm kicking myself for not spending more time to look for it. On the plus side, I climb to the top of the Cathedral which is an imposing rock formation with a great view of the surrounding area ... so the side trip to the Cathedral isn't all in vain.

Needless to say, both Mt Exmouth and Bluff Mountain have fantastic 360 degree panoramic views. And so it was a rewarding day and well worth the 8-hrs drive from Sydney to reach here.


Warrumbungle National Park

Warrumbungle National Park was once a huge volcano. By the time it uttered its last gasps 13 million years ago, the volcano had built up a vast shield that was 50 kilometres across and rose 1000 metres above the surrounding countryside. Millions of years of erosion have since stripped away successive layers of ash and lava, and the volcano's broad flanks have given way to the rugged landscape of today's Warrumbungle Range.

The impressive jumble of spires, dyke, and domes represent parts of the volcano's internal plumbing that, were it not for erosion, would otherwise be hidden from view. We are therefore presented with a rare opportunity to see the insides of a volcano.



Mt Exmouth & Bluff Mountain - which is higher?

Mt Exmouth is supposed to be the highest mountain in the Warrumbungle at 1206 meters. Bluff Mountain is supposed to the 2nd highest at 1200 meters.

But from my Garmin GPS: Bluff Mountain is higher at 1197 m; Mt Exmouth 1187 m.

From DH's GPS: Bluff Mountain is also higher at 1189 m; Mt Exmouth 1181 m.

And in Google Earth, if you hover the mouse over the 2 mountains: Bluff Mountain is higher at 1184 m; Mt Exmouth 1166 m.

The GPS figures can be inaccurate, but more importantly: Which mountain is actually higher ???


Maps

•  1:50,000 scaled 8635-S Tooraweenah

Here is the 1:50,000 scale map of part of the Warrumbungle National Park. (Warning: Some of the place labels are not near where the landmark is.)
The 4 red arrows point to (from left to right): 
- Mt Exmouth
- Cathedral
- Bluff Mountain
- Grand High Tops lookout (bottom right hand corner)


Here is a non-topographic map which is given out at the visitor centre at Camp Blackman. It is more accurate; and the names are better placed.


GPS tracklog file & Route

Our GPX tracklog file can be downloaded from:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B877-h5SCJaSVDFLVDlqanY3Vnc/view?usp=sharing

Here is our tracklog (brown colour) in the 1:50,000 map. (Warning: Some of the place labels are not near where the landmark is.)
The 4 red arrows point to (from left to right):
- Mt Exmouth
- Cathedral
- Bluff Mountain
- Grand High Tops lookout (bottom right hand corner)

A summary of our route is:
- Start at Pincham carpark.  In the above map, it is where Pincham road ends.
- Walk on West Spirey Creek track to Ogma Gap (or Ogma Saddle).
- Then on Western High Tops track to Cathedral.
- To Danu Gap (or Danu Saddle).
- Climb Mt Exmouth
- Retrace steps to Ogma Gap
- To Dows Camp at Nuada Saddle
- Climb Bluff Mountain
- Return to car via Dows Camp, Ogma Gap and West Spirey Creek track.


Timeline & Distance

05:59   0.0 km  Start at Pincham carpark
06:17   1.3 km  At junction of Pincham Trail & West Spirey Creek track
07:07   4.1 km  At Ogma Gap/Saddle
07:32   5.2 km  At junction to Cathedral
07:54   5.9 km  At the top of Cathedral (after spending sometime looking for the Arch)

07:58   5.9 km  Leave top of the Cathedral
08:05   6.0 km  At top of knoll just north of the Cathedral
08:22   6.3 km  Back at junction to Cathedral
08:32   6.7 km  At Danu Gap/Saddle/Camp

Morning Tea

08:43   6.8 km  Leave Danu Gap
09:33   8.6 km  At where track U-turns to Mt Exmouth main peak (east peak)
09:50   9.2 km  At Mt Exmouth summit

10:06   9.3 km  Leave Mt Exmouth summit
10:18   9.8 km  At where track U-turns to Mt Exmouth main peak (east peak)

Explore to see if I can climb up the western peak of Mt Exmouth

10:32  10.0 km  Resume descending
11:10  11.9 km  At Danu Gap
11:24  12.3 km  At junction to Cathedral
11:46  13.4 km  At Ogma Gap
12.10  14.1 km  At Point Wilderness

12:12  14.1 km  Leave Point Wilderness
12:44  15.4 km  At Dows Camp (Nuada Saddle)

Lunch

13:03  15.4 km  Leave Dows Camp
13:45  16.6 km  At Bluff Mountain summit

14:05  16.7 km  Leave Bluff Mountain summit
14:52  18.0 km  At Dows Camp (Nuada Saddle)
15:23  19.3 km  At Point Wilderness
15:40  20.0 km  At Ogma Gap

15:43  20.0 km  Leave Ogma Gap
16:38  22.8 km  At junction of Pincham Trail & West Spirey Creek track
16:57  24.0 km  Finish at Pincham Carpark

==============================================

Total:  10 hrs 58 mins  at leisurely pace
           24.0 km  Distance is from Google Earth
           26.6 km  Distance is from Garmin GPS


Pictures - to Cathedral and Arch

1)  At Pincham Carpark, trailhead of Pincham Trail which leads south from here ~~~
The plaque on the monument on the left says:
"THE WARRUMBUNGLE NATIONAL PARK
To the memory of Alfred J. Pincham
Who donated much of the land in the park to the people.
The Pincham Trail commences at this monument."
Note: Above pic was taken yesterday. Today, we start walking at 6am. At that time, the sky is not that bright as the sun hasn't quite risen yet.


2)  The Pincham Trail soon gives way to this West Spirey Creek track which will lead to Ogma Gap (or Ogma Saddle).  The track goes along the east side of the West Spirey Creek, this pic. (In the pic, the track is on the left side of the creek,)
Ogma Gap/Saddle is the 3 way junction of West Spirey Creek track & Western High Tops track & track to Dows Camp (Nuada Saddle).


3)  We've been walking on the West Spirey Creek track and are now near Ogma Gap.
The yellow arrow is roughly where we walked up-stream along the West Spirey Creek.
- The left red arrow points to ???
- The middle red arrow points to Junction Mountain ???  (not sure)
- The right red arrow points to an unnamed hill north of Bress Peak ???


4)  We've just passed Ogma Gap and is now on Western High Tops track ~~~
The 2 pics are of the same rock.
The cliff on the left edge of the left pic belongs to Bluff Mountain.


5)  Near the same spot as where the previous pic was taken ~~~
Left red arrow points to Bluff Mountain.
Right red arrow points to Churchill Rock.


6)  A better view of Bluff Mountain with Churchill Rock in front.


7)  Still on Western High Tops track ... view towards the south ~~~
- The left red arrow points to Iron Knob.
- The right arrow points to Mount Naman.


8)  Further along, we can see the Cathedral.


9)  This good looking rock hill marks the junction to Cathedral and Arch.
- To the left of the rock, for 500 meters, is Cathedral and Arch.
- To the right, for 480 meters, is Danu Gap/Saddle/Camp.

We now make a detour to Cathedral and Arch.


Cathedral and Arch

10)  Approaching the Cathedral
The 4 red arrows point to (from left to right):
- Crater Bluff
- Bluff Mountain
- Tonduron Spire (the tiny triangle)
- The Cathedral (upper right hand corner)


11)  I try to find the Arch but not successful. Well, I wasn't sure what I was looking for. It is only after the trip that I search the web and find out what the arch looks like:
- The left pic is from Booshman ... original pic is in:
http://www.bonzle.com/c/a?a=showcase&pl=58294&pg=0&yr=0&u=Booshman&or=3&sz=3&mo=91262672&fn=kkvn7920
- The right pic is from Tom Brennan ... original pic is in:
http://ozultimate.com/tom/bushwalking/2014/20141004_high_tops/photos.htm


12)  Next, climb the Cathedral ~~~
We'll climb it from the right and behind the rocks.


13)  I am at to the top of the Cathedral ! ... It makes up for the disappointment of not finding the Arch.
The red arrow points to Tonduron Spire.


14)  From the top, there is a fantastic 360 degree panoramic view.
This scene is towards the south-east:
The 3 red arrows point to, from left to right:
- Crater Bluff
- Bluff Mountain
- Tonduron Spire (the tiny triangle)


15)  (This scene is a continuation to the right of the previous pic.)
The 5 red arrows point to, from left to right:
- South side of Bluff Mountain
- Tonduron Spire
- Iron Knob (directly due south)
- Mount Naman
- ???


16)  (This scene is a continuation to the right of the previous pic.)
Towards the north-west, the 4 red arrows point to, from left to right:
- Bull Mountain
- Mt Exmouth ... excited to see it as we'll be climbing it soon.
- Mt Bullaway
- Mt Aranon


17)  Still at the top of the Cathedral ~~~
(This scene is a continuation to the right of the previous pic.)
The 10 red arrows point to, from left to right:
- Mt Bullaway
- Mt Aranon
- A knoll just to the north of the Cathedral ... I'll be going there next.
- Belougery Split Rock
- Pincham carpark ... where we parked our car this morning
- Mt Woorut
- Siding Spring Observatory
- Morpa Rock
- Westons Mountain
- unnamed peak in Western High Tops mountain range ... north-west of Ogma Gap, the junction of West Spirey Creek track and Western High Tops track.


Knoll just north of the Cathedral

18)  I've climb down from the Cathedral, now at the saddle point between the Cathedral and the knoll just to the north of it ... going there next.


19)  At the top of the knoll, It has the similar fantastic view as at the top of the Cathedral.
- To the west-north-west is Mt Exmouth ... excited to see it as we'll be climbing it next.
- The small peak on the left side of the pic is Bull Mountain.


20)  Towards the south-east is Bluff Mountain.
The red arrows point to, from left to right:
- Crater Bluff
- Bluff Mountain
- Tonduron Spire
- Cathedral ... I was at its top in Photo #13  :-)


21)  Still at the top of the knoll ~~~
An interesting rock with Bluff Mountain in the background.


To Mt Exmouth

22)  We've climbed down from the Cathedral and have already retraced our steps to the junction to the Cathedral. In fact, we are now on our way to Danu Gap.
- There are a few of this type of scree slopes to cross before we reach Danu Gap ... also see photo #23.
- The peak in front is the start of the ridge on the east side of Mt Exmouth. Initially, the track to Mt Exmouth goes up this ridge.


23)  Closer to Mt Exmouth ~~~
- Upper photo: As mentioned in the previos pic, there are a few scree slopes to cross before reaching Danu Gap.
- Lower Photo: We've passed Danu Gap ... in fact, we are at the top of the ridge of the previous photo, and looking at Mt Exmouth summit.


24)  A few wild goats around


25)  Grass Trees dominate the vegetation from altitude 1050 meters to 1150 meters.


26)  A Grass Tree


27)  Approaching Mt Exmouth main summit
Mt Exmouth has 2 summits:
- The east summit is the main summit and is higher ... We are approaching it now.
- The west summit is in Photo #31 & #34.


Mt Exmouth summit

28)  Mt Exmouth main summit (the east summit)


29)  DH and I at Mt Exmouth summit, 1206 meters, supposedly the highest mountain in Warrumbungle National Park
(Refer to the beginning of this blog where I asked which is the highest mountain in the Park).


30)  Scenery at the summit ... from east to south ~~~
The 11 red arrows point to, from left to right:
- Burrumbuckle Mountain ... directly due east
- Mt Caraghnan
- Belougery Spire
- Needle Mountain.
- Needle Rock ... a tiny little dot in the pic ... Click on the pic to enlarge it.
- Crater Bluff
- Bluff Mountain ... the big mountain ... we'll climb it next.
- Bluff Pyramid ... towards the south-east
- Tonduron Spire
- Iron Knob
- Mount Naman ... directly due south
The blue arrow points to the Cathedral.
We came down the Cathedral on its far side, then followed the yellow arrows to climb up Mt Exmouth slope. The route goes along the contour to the right side of the pic and beyound; then makes a U-turn to climb up the summit.


31)  (This scene, towards the west, is a continuation to the right of the previous pic.)
Mt Exmouth has 2 peaks:
- The east summit is the main summit and is higher ... I'm a bit to the east of the main summit and looking back at it with its cairn at the top.
- The red arrow points to the western peak which is lower.


32)  (This scene is a continuation to the right of the previous pic.)
The 3 red arrows point to, from left to right:
- Mt Bullaway ... towards the north
- Mt Aranon
- Belougery Split Rock ... towards north-east


33)  Still at the summit of Mt Exmouth ~~~
(This scene is a continuation to the right of the previous pic.)
The 6 red arrows point to, from left to right:
- Belougery Split Rock ... towards north-east
- Pincham carpark ... where we parked our car this morning
- Mt Woorut
- Siding Spring Observatory
- Morpa Rock
- Westons Mountain ... towards the east


34)  Time to leave the summit ~~~
The way back is to first walk towards the west, towards the saddle between the main (east) summit and the western peak (the below pics).

I make a half-hearted attempt to climb the western peak; and give up. The direct route is to climb up a cliff face which turns out to be too precipitous ... to precipitous for me  :-)  A detour to the left involves some scrub bashing and would take too long ... bearing in mind I have an 8-hr drive back to Sydney tonight straight after the walk !


To Bluff Mountain

35)  We've climbed down from the Exmouth summit, but have not yet reached Danu Gap. Here is a view towards Bluff Mountain which we are going to climb.
The 9 red arrows point to, from left to right:
- Belougery Spire
- Needle Mountain ... you can just see a faint TV tower at the top.
- Needle Rock
- Crater Bluff
- Knoll north of the Cathedral ... refer to Photo 18.
- Bluff Mountain ... the big mountain ... we are going to climb it now.
- Cathedral
- Bluff Pyramid
- Tonduron Spire


36)  We've just passed Danu Gap. There are a few of these scree slopes between Danu Gap and junction to the Cathedral. See also Photo #22 & #23.
The 4 red arrows point to, from left to right:
- Mt Woorut
- Siding Spring Observatory
- Morpa Rock
- Westons Mountain


37)  We've just passed Ogma Gap, and are now at the start of the track to Nuada Saddle ~~~
Unusual to see the dense vegetation lining both sides of the track.


38)  Further along the track to Nuada Saddle and before reaching Point Wilderness ~~~
The track goes around the left side of Bluff Mountain and climbs up its summit from the far side.


39)  At Point Wilderness, we have a good view of:
- The Cathedral which we climbed early this morning ... left red arrow.
- Mt Exmouth which we have also climbed ... middle arrow.
- The right arrow points to an unnamed peak in Western High Tops mountain range ... north-west of Ogma Gap, the junction of West Spirey Creek track and Western High Tops track. It is the same hill as in Photo #17 (the right most arrow) ... and no, we didn't climb it  :-)


40)  We keep going around the left side of Bluff Mountain ~~~
The track to climb up to the summit is still on the far side.


41)  On the way to Bluff Mountain we get a good view towards north-west:
The 3 red arrows point to, from left to right:
- Cathedral
- Mt Exmouth
- Unnamed peak in Western High Tops mountain range ... north-west of Ogma Gap, the junction of West Spirey Creek track and Western High Tops track. It is the same hill as in Photo #17 (the right most arrow)


42)  Towards north-east:
The 5 red arrows point to, from left to right:
- Mt Woorut
- Siding Spring Observatory
- Morpa Rock
- Bress Peak
- Westons Mountain


43)  Towards the east and south-east:
In the upper pic, the 5 red arrows point to, from left to right:
- Burrumbuckle Mountain
- Belougery Spire ... behind it and not visible in the pic is Mt Caraghnan
- Needle Mountain ... you can just see a faint TV tower at the top.
- Needle Rock
- Crater Bluff
In the lower pic, the 4 red arrows point to, from left to right:
- Belougery Spire
- Burrumbuckle Mountain
- Mt Caraghnan
- Needle Mountain


44)  Now closer to Bluff Mountain ~~~
The track to the summit goes along the top of the ridge on the left side.


45)  As is the case with Mt Exmouth, here at Bluff Mountain, between 1050 meters to 1150 meters, there are plenty of Grass Trees.


46)  Heading to the summit of Bluff Mountain


47)  Heading to the summit


48)  That is the top of Bluff Mountain ... so I thought  :-)


Bluff Mountain summit

49)  After we climbed over the rocks of the previous pic, we realized it was not the summit. The real summit is a bit further away ... in fact just in front, and you can just see the cairn at the top.
- Left red arrow points to Mt Exmouth.
- Right red arrow points to Mt Bullaway.


50)  At Bluff Mountain summit, 1200 meters ... we make it !


51)  As expect, the 360 degree panoramic view from the Bluff Mountain summit is fantastic.
Towards north-west is Mt Exmouth ... we were there 3 and a half hours ago. (The large-ish mountain to the left of Mt Exmouth is Bull Mountain.)

Mt Exmouth is supposed to be the highest mountain in the Warrumbungle at 1206 meters. Bluff Mountain is supposed to the 2nd highest at 1200 meters.

But from my Garmin GPS: Bluff Mountain is higher at 1197 m; Mt Exmouth 1187 m.

From DH's GPS: Bluff Mountain is also higher at 1189 m; Mt Exmouth 1181 m.

And in Google Earth, if you hover the mouse over the 2 mountains: Bluff Mountain is higher at 1184 m; Mt Exmouth 1166 m.

The GPS figures can be inaccurate, but more importantly: Which mountain is actually higher ???


52)  From north-west to east (continuation to the right of the previous pic) ~~~
The 11 red arrows point to, from left to right:
- Mt Bullaway
- Mt Aranon
- Belougery Split Rock
- Pincham carpark ... where we parked our car this morning
- Mt Woorut
- Siding Spring Observatory
- Morpa Rock
- Westons Mountain
- Burrumbuckle Mountain
- Mt Caraghnan
- Needle Mountain ... you can just see a faint TV tower at the top. (Click on the pic to enlarge it.)


53)  Still at the summit, towards east and south-east (right side of the previous pic) ~~~
The 2 blue arrows point to The Breadknife.
The 6 red arrows point to, from left to right:
- Balor Peak
- Burrumbuckle Mountain
- Belougery Spire
- Mt Caraghnan
- Grand High Tops lookout
- Needle Mountain ... you can just see a faint TV tower at the top. (Click on the pic to enlarge it.)
- Crater Bluff


54)  Still at the summit, towards south-east:
(This scene is a continuation to the right of the previous pic.)
- The yellow dash line is how we climb up to the summit.
- The left red arrow points to Crater Bluff.
- The right arrow points to Tonduron Spire.


Return to car

55)  That's the end of the mountain climbs. Now retracing our steps back to the car.
Here, we are at the West Spirey Creek track which goes along the the east side of West Spirey Creek.


56)  On the tourist paved track back to the car at Pincham Carpark

Then it is an 8-hour drive back to Sydney ... reach Sydney at 1 am the next morning ... but it is a rewarding climbing trip, well worth the long drive.


Yellow flowers

It is Spring time. There are many varieties of flowers blooming along the trails.

57)  Acacia paradoxa (kangaroo thorn)


58)  If you know the name of this flower, please let me know.


59)  If you know the name of this flower, please let me know.


60)  Hibbertia dentata; or is it scandens? (Guinea Flower)


61)  If you know the name of this flower, please let me know.


62)  Acacia (Wattle) flower ... but which species ?


Blue flowers

63)  If you know the name of this flower, please let me know.


64)  Perhaps Wahlenbergia stricta (Australian Bluebell)? Please correct me if I'm wrong.


65)  Glossodia major (Waxlip Orchid)


66)  Wonder if this is Dampiera stricta ? ... please let me know.


Daisies

67)  Common daisy


68)  Purple daisy


What is this flower?

69)  Mystery soved ... In the comment section, someone pointed out it is Cassinia leptocephala subsp. everettiae

4 comments:

  1. 69) is Cassinia leptocephala subsp. everettiae

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I've updated the trip report accordingly.

      Delete
  2. 57) is rather Acacia paradoxa (Kangaroo thorn)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I've updated the trip report accordingly.

      Delete