Thursday, April 9, 2015

Flying Carpet, Gardens of Stone NP, NSW, Australia


2015 April: Flying Carpet, Gardens of Stone National Park, NSW, Australia

Prolog

Six of us go on this All Nations Bushwalkers club walk:
  - Charles
  - Freda, leader
  - Mei Ha
  - Nick
  - Saf
  - and me

We take two cars - Charles' and Freda's


Flying Carpet

The Flying Carpet, GR 409 144, is a rock platform jutting out of the Newnes Plateau cliffs in Gardens of Stone National Park. It was discovered only recently, less than a year ago in May 2014 by Yuri Bolotin. And he named the platform as "Flying Carpet". You won't find this place marked on any map.

This has to be one of the more memorable trips I have done. The experience of standing on the Flying Carpet platform is just surreal ... sort of like floating in space ... I haven't experienced anything like this before !

( PS: A month later, I was at the top of a cliff to looked down on the Flying Carpet. Photos and a write up of that trip is in my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2015/05/michelangelo-other-caves-and-flying.html )

Google Earth says our trip, a circuit walk, is merely 4 km. But it takes us 6 hrs. Nothing difficult about it ... we take our time to enjoy the scenery and the dramatic rock formations. The photographs don't do justice to the beauty of this place.

By the way, almost the entire Gardens of Stone National Park is filled with extraordinary and varied rock pagoda formations, sandstone cliffs and canyons. The stunning rugged landscape makes this World Heritage Area a must for photographers, a haven for adventurers and excellent opportunities for canyoneers.


Maps

- 1:100,000 scaled 8931 Wallerawang
- 1:25,000 scaled 8931-3N Cullen Bullen

The below map is from top right hand quadrant of the Cullen Bullen map:
•    The small blue circle is where we park our cars on the Newnes Plateau.
•    The small red circle (southwest of the blue circle) is the Flying Carpet platform, GR 409 144.
•    Halfway between the blue and red circles is a creek (unnamed in the map). Where the creek cuts through the cliff line is called Gurgler Pass. After visiting the Flying Carpet, it is through here that we climb up to return to our cars.

Gurgler Pass is not marked on any of the maps. But in
    http://www.dingogap.net.au/navigation/scenery/gardensofstone/gurglerpass.html
you'll find a reference to the pass. Michael Keats and Brian Fox have written a series of books titled "The Gardens of Stone National Park and beyond". I don't have their books, but they would have written some notes on Gurgler Pass ... I think.


GPS tracklog files & Route

- Driving in: The KML tracklog file from the Great Western Highway at Mount Victoria to where we park our cars in the Gardens of Stone National Park can be downloaded from:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B877-h5SCJaSaWM0TU5IdGtTbFE/view?usp=sharing

- The walk: The KML tracklog file of our walk can be downloaded from:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B877-h5SCJaSd3dDVmpZcHRMVnc/view?usp=sharing

In summary:
•  Park cars (small blue circle of above map) at the side of Glowworm Tunnel Road, 1.5 km (by car) north of the junction with Old Coach Road.
•  Walk on a disused fire trail which is marked on the 100,000 scaled 8931 Wallerawang map, but not on the newer 25,000 scaled 8931-3N Cullen Bullen map.
•  Somewhere between 700 to 900 meters from where our cars are parked, go off track.
•  Around GR 406 152, go down to a small valley (Photos #3, #4, #5).
•  Walk along a ledge of the cliffs in an anti-clockwise direction to Flying Carpet (as per the KML file).
•  After the Flying Carpet, continue anti-clockwise along the ledge of the cliffs to Gurgler Pass.
•  Go up Gurgler Pass and up the valley to the Newnes Plateau where our cars are parked.

- Driving out: The KML tracklog file from where we park our cars to Wentworth Falls via Lithgow can be downloaded from:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B877-h5SCJaSUHhXcldmQjFDNTQ/view?usp=sharing


Timeline & Distance

09:56  0.0 km  Start walking
10:43  1.3 km  Stop for morning tea (somewhere between Photo #5 and Photo #7)

Morning Tea

10:48  1.3 km  Resume walking
11:02  1.5 km  At a rock shelter which is like a church cupola

11:11  1.6 km  Resume walking
12:28  2.4 km  At base of Flying Carpet
13:01  2.5 km  At Flying Carpet

13:28  2.6 km  Descend Flying Carpet
13:29  2.6 km  Stop at where the climbing tapes end

Wait for Charles

13:39  2.6 km  Resume descending to base of Flying Carpet
13:40  2.7 km  At base of Flying Carpet

Lunch

14:08   2.7 km  Resume Walking
15:50   4.0 km  Finish


Pictures - Disused fire trail

1)  We first walk on a disused fire trail. It is marked on the 100,000 scaled 8931 Wallerawang map, but not on the newer 25,000 scaled 8931-3N Cullen Bullen map. Maybe the authorities don't want us to know about it.



Off track walk to Flying Carpet

2)  Somewhere between 700 to 900 meters from where we started walking, we go off track. The scrub is quite thin, easy to get through.



3)  We climb down from Newnes Plateau to a valley (see next photo). I'm looking backwards ... we came down from behind the rock pagoda in the middle of this pic.



4)  And what a beautiful green valley !!! Like Shangri-La !!!
I don't normally repeat a trip, but this place is definitely worth another visit.



5)  But maybe it isn't such a paradise for the animals ... coz Saf finds a ... he is holding it in his hand ...



6)  ... A skull. Wonder what animal is it?



7)  Cliffs surrounding the valley ~~~
The rock pagoda on the right is the one in the distance in Photo #5.



8)  The further we go, the higher the cliffs.



9)  We come upon this lovely rock shelter with a beautifully formed cupola roof.



10)  We are walking along the ledge of the cliffs. There are plenty of rock shelters like this.



11)  To reach our destination, the Flying Carpet, we walk for quite a while along the ledge ... one side is the cliff face, the other side is a steep drop down to the valley. In the pics below, the lady in red checkered shirt is Freda.



12)  More of the steep cliffs and the steep drops down the valley.



13)  View of the cliffs on the other side of the valley where Carne Creek flows.



14)  A log with orange/red moulds. I saw the same mould on a log on top of a cairn at Mt Foxlow summit in Yanununbeyan National Park 3 months ago.

Photos and a write up on the Mt Foxlow climb are in my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2015/01/foxlow-harrisons-peak-nsw-australia.html


15)  Nick finds this snake. It is a broad-headed snake, Hoplocephalus bungaroides, venomous, often confused with a young diamond python. From Wiki, it is Australia's most endangered snake - and we have the good fortune to meet one live !

(Above photo was taken by Nick)


Near base of Flying Carpet

16)  About 3 hrs after we started, the Flying Carpet comes into view ... marked by the red bars in the photos. It is a rock platform sticking out of a cliff of the Newnes plateau.



Climbing up Flying Carpet

17)  To reach the Flying Carpet, first pass this narrow gap.
- Left pic: Looking up.
- Right pic: After climbing up to the top of the passage, I look back and down and take this photo.



18)  Next, a steep upward climb



19)  Even steeper climbs ahead ~~~
The Flying Carpet is the horizontal platform at the top of the photo.



20)  Charles with the climbing tapes around his arm ~~~
He'll climb up first, then drop the tapes down to make it easier for the rest of us.



21)  Charles doubles up the climbing tapes.
- The white one is his tape, 30 meters long.
- The black one belongs to Freda ... about 25 meters long.



22)  Freda climbing up



On Flying Carpet platform

23)  Finally, we are on the Flying Carpet !
Nick loves it !  He can spend the rest of his life here !

(In the above, the left pic is taken by Charles.)


24)  My turn for a photo



25)  From where I stood in the previous photo and looking back at where we came from ~~~
- Left pic: The red arrows indicate where we climbed up ... along a fissure between the large cliff at the back and the Flying Carpet rock formation. And where we reached the platform is at where Freda is standing ... she is the tiny figure in red shirt, at the far end of the platform.
- Right pic: Charles is helping Freda to get across. I'm the guy in blue further back.

It would be interesting to get to the top of the cliff to take a photograph of the Flying Carpet. From where our cars are parked, it should be just a short stroll.
(In the above, the left photo is taken by Charles. The right one is taken by Nick.)

( Post Script: A month later, we'll take the short stroll to the top of the cliff to look down at the Flying Carpet. Photos and a write up of that trip are in my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2015/05/michelangelo-other-caves-and-flying.html )


26)  Fantastic view across Carne Creek valley, with the Flying Carpet in the middle
(Click on image to enlarge it.)



Lunch at base of Flying Carpet

27)  Then it is climbing back down to the base of Flying Carpet for lunch.
Clockwise - Freda, Saf, Nick, Mei Ha.
Charles is still retrieving the climbing tapes. But of course when it comes to food, we don't wait for anyone  :-)



To Gurgler Pass

28)  After lunch, we keep going forward to complete the circuit along the ledge of the cliffs.



29)  Just to spice up an already fascinating trip is a tunnel to squeeze through.



30)  Saf & Charles emerging from the tunnel



31)  An interesting slit in the cliffs ~~~
It would be exciting to explore around and see if there is a way up from here to the top of the cliff. But we decide not to as we are short of time and not sure how long it would take us to return to the cars before the sun sets.. Maybe next time.



32)  More of the cliffs



33)  Another tunnel to squeeze through ~~~ if you are any fatter, you won't be able to pass through here  :-)



34)  Saf emerging from the tunnel



35)  More walking along the ledge of the cliffs



Gurgler Pass

36)  Finally we come to Gurgler Pass, then go up a small valley towards the Newnes Plateau where our cars are parked.



37)  Still at Gurgler Pass ~~~
On the right is a tree trunk with interesting bark patterns.



End of walk - almost

38)  No - we are not lost. We are quite close to where our cars are parked. But we are so anxious for food and drink that we can't wait to consult the map now on where is the nearest pub  :-)
Left to right: Saf, Mei Ha, Freda, Charles, Nick

For the record, after the walk, we go to the pub in Grand View Hotel on the Great Western Highway at Wentworth Falls and rave about this amazing Flying Carpet over lamb shanks and port necks.

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