We left Moruya about 10:00am with a plan to travel to Bendethera via Little Sugarloaf Road and come back out over Merricumbene Firetrail. It didn't quite go according to plan, but the whole story is here.
Heading west out of Moruya on Araluen road, we turned south onto Wamban Road after about 4.5kms. Wamban Road turns into Little Sugarloaf Road and meanders west-ish into Deua National Park. The terrain is not hard and the bush is pretty good. At about 30kms, there is a little detour off the main road to the east that will take you to an outlook over the Wamban Creek Valley with views east to the Tasman Sea and south as far as Mount Dromedary. It's worth a short stop.
We kept pressing west on Little Sugarloaf and at about 35km there's a little trail to the north that can be walked up to Plumwood Fire Tower. This has spectacular views north into the Coondella Creek and Lower Deua Valleys and you can see as far as Pidgeonhouse. Another few kilometres west, the road splits, with Little Sugarloaf veering south and Bendethera Firetrail heading to the north-west. Head north-west.
The terrain gets more challenging now and at almost exactly 40kms from Moruya we were just under the summit of Bendethera Mountain (997m) at the junction of Bendethera Firetrail and Merricumbene Firetrail - the idea was that we would descend to Bendethera and them backtrack to this point and head north up to Araluen Road and loop around back to Moruya in time for a beer before tea.
The descent into Bendethera is as fun and challenging as it is legendary. Very steep and rocky although not much by the way of hairpins. Once we hit the bottom there were three crossings of the upper Deua River to get into the main campsite along Joeys Flat and Jimmys Flat. The crossings were sitting at about 700mm at the deepest and it is useful to have someone to stand on a couple of big rocks that you will want to avoid. The place itself is amazingly beautiful and I will certainly go back for a camp. We pulled up under a tree on Con Creek just before it empties into the Duea, grabbed some sandwiches and beers out of the esky and sat down on a collapsed log in the creek for lunch.
While we were eating another vehicle pulled up and some people came down to talk to us. In fact it was one of the EAs from work in Canberra and her husband, which was pretty weird. They'd been coming to this spot for years and we discussed our plans to get out. Their advice was that the river was up about half a foot here from recent rain and if the Dry Creek crossing at the far north of Merricumbene was also up, it would be impassable and we would have a 2.5hr slog back to get out.
This sounded like a time risk we couldn't take, so after going and checking out our mates campsite (another few creek and river crossings later), we decided to head back over the river to the junction with Dampier Mountain Firetrail and head west to the Braidwood-Cooma road, head north and then detour through Major's Creek to Araluen, and then head down the Araluen Road to the far side of the Dry Creek crossing of the Duea and check it out. This is what we did.
Dampier Firetrail is great and its very steep, hairpinned and rocky making it a blast. It also provided us with the experience we'd been searching for on a number of excursions but had failed to accomplish - getting up the escarpment from the coast offroad. At the top of the range you turn south onto Minima Range Firetrail to Mount Dampier Trig (get out and have a look, it's an eerie place) and then out on Middle Mountain Road and Curranbene Creek Road to Snowball Road.
We did get around to the Dry Creek Crossing and walked it - the water hadn't got through the system yet so it was easily passable (probably about 600mm). While we were wading in the river and spotting a few fish and yabbies, I got a moment of phone reception and the missus was calling reminding us about dinner. Drat!
The rest is a major dirt road from there to Moruya and easy - but we did learn a few things on this trip:
1. its was easy to get the Isuzu MU-X into Bendethera and it ate up the river crossings;
2. if you are going to come in on the Merricumbene Firetrail, start at the Araluen Road end so you can inspect the possibly deepest crossing first and come in from the north;
3. There is a clear route from the coast over the escarpment offroad using Little Sugarloaf/Bendethera/Dampier Mountain;
4. We should have left half an hour earlier because we didn't have enough time for a beer at the pub in Moruya before we had to go to tea.
Altitude plot of *.gpx:
1:25,000 Series references:
8926-3S - Moruya
8925-4N - Bodalla
8825-1N - Nerrigundah
8826-2S - Bendethera
8826-3S - Snowball
8826-3N - Krawarree
8826-4S - Kain
8826-4N - Bendoura
8826-1N - Monga
8826-1S - Araluen
8826-2N - Burrumbela
1:250,000 Series references:
SI56-13 - Wollongong
SJ55-04 - Bega
SI55-16 - Canberra
|47488||done this in reverse dry creek to sugarloaf great trip||Toyota Landcruiser||Feb 21, 2015|
|24479||Isuzu Mu||Dec 30, 2014|