Monday, January 28, 2013

Mt Wee Jasper, NSW, Australia


2013 January: Climb Mt Wee Jasper, NSW, Australia

Prolog:
Today is supposed to be a looong looong day to climb Mt Kelly in ACT - 3 people from NSW, 3 from ACT, 1 from SA, 1 from WA - a multi-State effort. Unfortunately, a bad weather forecast spoiled the adventure and the climb was cancelled the day before. Only Tania and I are still enthusiastic to spend the day outdoors. So from Canberra, we drive 125km west towards Yass to avoid the rain, and climb Mt Wee Jasper instead.

Elevation:
Mt Wee Jasper summit is at an elevation of 1121 meters.

At the Fitzpatrick trackhead where the walk starts, the elevation is 390 meters. Hence it is a gain of 731 meters to the top, not a height to sneer at.

Start of the walk:
We park the car at Fitzpatrick Trackhead which is about 4 km south of Wee Jasper Bridge over the Goodradigbee River. (Photo #1 below is taken near that bridge.)

The trackhead is a picnic and camping ground, with barbecue and toilet facilities. It is well maintained. The start of the walk is at the west side of the picnic area.

Hiking route, distance, time:
The route is Hume & Hovell Walking Track to Mt Wee Jasper.

Return trip is:
15.6 km
6 hrs 40 mins

GPS files:
Our recorded trail can be downloaded from:
KML file: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B877-h5SCJaSdmszd01aUVlYQ1k/edit?usp=sharing
GPX file: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B877-h5SCJaSQzhVZllhZlN4bW8/edit?usp=sharing

Map:

The topographic contour map is the 1:25,000 scaled 8627-4S Couragago


Book:
Tyrone Thomas in his book "120 Walks in NSW", has a chapter describing this walk.

Water:
It is a hot day. Forecast was 29 Celsius at Wee Jasper. But I suspect it is hotter on the day.

We each take along 3 litres of water. By the time we return to the car, not a drop is left. Must make a mental note to take along more water in similar conditions in the future.

Timeline:
It is a day trip.

10:27   0.0 km - Start at Fitzpatrick trackhead
12:40   5.1 km - Reach waterfall
13:47   7.8 km - Reach Mt Wee Jasper Summit after 3 hrs 20 mins of walking

----- 50 mins lunch

14:37   7.8 km - Leave summit
17:07  15.6 km - Return to car - 2 hrs 30 mins of walking

----- Total: 6 hrs 40 mins; 15.6 km

As it is a hot day, hence we are not as fast as we would like. Tyrone Thomas, in his book, says it would take 6 hours 30 minutes with minimal break.

Description:
This is quite an interesting walk.

The trail starts at the west side of the picnic area. It is part of the 440-km long Hume & Hovell Walking Track, and is sign-posted all the way to Mt Wee Jasper. You won't get lost - just walk on the trail and follow the sign (see photo #11).

( Hume and Hovell are two Australian explorers whose expedition from Jan 1824 to Nov 1825 was one of the most important journeys of explorations undertaken in eastern Australia. More details are in Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hume_and_Hovell_expedition )

Although from the trackhead, it is only 7.8 km one way to the summit, but it is not easy. It takes us 3 hrs 20 minutes to reach the top ... up-hill most of the way. In addition, parts of the trail is overgrown with blackberry shrubs. Their sharp thorns slow us down considerably.

At 5.1 km out from the trackhead, there is a waterfall. On the day it is dry. At the top of the fall there is a small pool of water. It is really refreshing to wash our hot faces with the cool water.

I'll now let the photos to do most of the narration.

Photos:

1.) Nice scenery of the tree-lined Wee Jasper Road. Hi, Tania, you are blocking the view. Haha, Tania, just joking! :-)  This picture is taken at Wee Jasper, near the only pub there (Photo #16); and near the Wee Jasper Bridge over Goodradigbee River ... you can almost see the bridge in the distance in the sunlight.



2.) Scenery near the start of the trail



3.) Scenery near the start of the trail



4.) There are a few places where we need to climb over fences. This is the first time I see this simple but ingenious way of using tree logs planted vertically to get over a fence.



5.) Parts of the trail is overgrown with these blackberry shrubs. Their sharp thorns slow us down considerably.



6.) The wild blackberries are very sweet. We spend some time plucking and eating them out from the thorns.



7.) We see a few of this Silybum marianum - it has many common names, Milk Thistle for example. Originating near the coast of southeast England, it has since been distributed widely all over the world. Many countries, including Australia, consider it as an invasive weed. However extracts from it are supposed to be good for liver, kidney and gall bladder problems.



8.) A few minutes earlier, Tania was asking what if there is a bushfire right now? I said I read that if one is caught in a bush fire, the best chance to escape alive is to crawl into a wombat hole, then seal off the entrance with a space blanket. But I wonder how many people actually go hiking in a day walk with a space blanket in their backpack? In addition where can you find a wombat hole? But before the ink is dry, we encounter this wombat hole!



9.) At 5.1 km from the trackhead is a waterfall, the top of which is a small pool of water. It is really refreshing to wash our hot faces with the cool water ... it is a hot day.



10.) A termite mound



11.) The trail to Mt Wee Jasper is part of the 440-km-long Hume & Hovell Walking Track. Throughout the trail, you often encounter this sign post with a red silhouette of the 2 explorers - Hamilton Hume & William Hovell.



12.) We are nearing the top of Mt Wee Jasper. The vegetation is different now from the start of the trail.



13.) Almost at the summit - in fact it is at the centre of this photo.



14.) Made it!!! ... after 3 hrs 20 mins and 7.8 km later. Unfortunately there is no view from here ... too many trees.



15.) Some of the comments in this log said it was a hard climb. To some extent, we agree.



16.) After the climb, we stop for a cold drink at Wee Jasper at this pub (near where photo #1 was taken). Wee Jasper is only a small village. When driving through it, I can only see 2 or 3 dwellings. But don't expect an Aussie village without a pub !



17.) At the front of the pub are these 2 green tops on white stakes. Have a guess what are they for?



18.) It is a snake repellent. The solar panel in the green top generates sound waves which are meant to scare off snakes. But according to the pub owner, it doesn't work. The snakes still come and go as they please. Back at Sydney, when showing this pic to a guy called Ken, he laughs at it, and says it is like those kangaroo whistles you mount on your car. The wind creates a high frequency sound that supposedly would scare them off your path. One of his friend tried it, and crashed into a ... yep, you guessed it, a kangaroo!


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