When a Notion Becomes an Obsession

2009 PART OFFTRACK 6 day walk
41st anniversary walk

What began as a notion became an obsession. Walking one kilometre for every year of marriage seemed a fun and fanciful way of celebrating yet another anniversary, until we applied the maths.
But, having achieved big challenges before, tackling them bit by bit, we may have shook our heads, we then just got on with the task.

First came the logistics. Where could we walk forty-one kilometres? Jude and I have tramped through forests and along rivers before. In fact, ten years ago it was a regular event. So we pulled out our topographical maps and sat down to plan our adventure.

Hmm, the ones with thick rain-forest were set aside. Far too arduous for our sagging tummies. Something with open forests and not too many hills was required. Wracking our poor old grey heads we finally came up with just the right spot. Yep, a place we’d been before, where at this time of year wildflowers would distract our minds from the pain of carrying food and gear.

Out west of Grafton runs the Timbarra; locally known as the Rocky River, that may give a hint to its nature. Its source comes from the loftiest mountains of the Gibraltar Ranges. Tall by Australian standard, surpassing a thousand metres, nevertheless those headwaters can be easily reached from a major highway and this suited our objective.

Next problem, how long would walking forty-one kilometres take? Perusing the map, we noted we’d be going down from over a thousand metres to just four hundred. Going down hill might sound the easy bit, but with aging knees carrying heavy loads, it would have to be taken slowly or they’d be winching us out by helicopter.

You see, we didn’t plan on walking a track. The Timbarra runs through untouched world heritage forests and although there is a fire track; we’ve been on it before and it’s boring. The real beauty lies off the beaten path. In the many creeks that feed Rocky River.

Our selected route would take us down one of those feeder creeks poetically named Pheasant Creek and then back up along another, rather stylishly called Ruby Creek. Wondering what we’d find there, we plotted its rapid rise and realized we’d be climbing a near vertical wall back to our transport. Hmm, the first tendrils of doubt started seeping into our aging grey matter. But hey, you only live once, so let’s give it a go. We could always turn back. Or so we thought.

Jude’s a whiz when it comes to catering an outback wander. Been doing just this sort of thing for years, so she had us ready Monday morning 9AM sharp. For my part, I cleaned and packed all our trekking gear, and paid particular attention to the important stuff like vino, nuts and chocolate.

Then we drove off, telling our sons we’d be back in a week. If not, then come and get us because we’ll be either badly hurt or just plain lost.

That’s enough words. Now let the picture tell the rest of the story.


View anniversary 2009 walk in a larger map  You can scroll in or out on the larger map – and change to satellite images.

Jacaranda at GraftonCar camp at Boundary FallsPacked up, 20kg on our backs


Waratah – Floral Emblem of New South WalesGrassy Creek Camp 1st night


Campsite Pheasant Creek 2nd nightPrivate swimming pool alongside camp


Pheasant Creek 3rd dayScrub cuts


grassy plains -cow countryCamp on the flats – poor water
 Lunch stop – Pool at bottom of Ruby Creek


The day was hot & the pool lovely cool


And then Ruby Creek went nearly straight up!


To yet another poolSo we had to have another swim


After climbing 400 m Looks like the topBut it wasn’t so a camp site was dug out the hillside


On the fifth days trek – We found the top again – 1050m



Rock solid after 41 years, but maybe we’ll just blow out 42 candles next time