Spectacular Sluicings (Thursday 12th)

We woke to the sound of rain on the roof. Now that was unusual. We cannot remember when it was that we last had real rain – how’s that for lucky. It was a gray morning, low cloud, light rain, cold, southerly. So it was a bit of a catch up time with the computer. The forecast was for it to clear a bit – or at least stop raining. We decided to go out for an explore/walk/tramp anyway. We loaded up the walking gear into the car – although these days it is mostly in the car and we just need to make sure we’ve got the rigfht stuff. She’s a well-stocked wee car at the moment – I think we could launch a fairly ambitious cross-country expedition provisioned with just what we could find in there 🙂

Mainly it was a case of digging out our warmer tramping clothing, beanies and gloves etc! And this in Central in February! We armed ourselves with sandwiches again, and finally got away about mid-day. We were aiming for places just across the lake from here, about 700m as the shag might fly, but more like 15km by road back down to the Cromwell bridge. We had some guidance from my sister, and we also flound a good walking/tramping/biking map in the Cromwell info place.

First stop up the lake was to check out the Northburn vinyard cafe, called The Shed. Cos it looks like a shed, so they might as well get that out of the way for a start. We were having a recce for lunch on Saturday for Wyn’s birthday. It is a lovely spot, and we made a booking as it might be busy with it being weekend, and Valentines Day. It’s very new, and very nice.

Then we went llooking for the walking track to the herring bone tailings, about 1km further up the road. The track starts opposite the John Bull Creek picnic area, and there is a small carpark beside John Bull Creek on the side the track leads away from. The DOC sign announces “Quartz Reef Historic Reserve” and the walking map we had called it “Northburn Tailings”, all very understatred. It’s a 1km walk up onto the terrace and to a viewing platform. Which looks out over the amazing handiwork of the miners 140 years ago. There is a large area of tailings – enormous when you think it was all done by hand. From the air it looks like the skeleton of a decomposed leaf, several leaves actually. They piled the stones up in rows to be able to sluice underneath. They doblehandled each rock, presumably to be able to get down further. They were looking for alluvial gold, and we hoped they found lots – they deserved it. Maybe DOC is not wanting to encourage people to see the site. Whatever, their signage off the road is low-key to say the least. As one of the interpretation boards describes it, it is a work of art – they were obviously well organised and meticulous.

Again the day was getting on, and we had a late lunch back at the car. Then we headed another couple of kms up the road to the Devil’s Creek picnic area, and another track up the hill opposite. This is marked off the small carpark on that side of the road, on the true left of Devil’s Creek. This is signed as a 3hr walk/tramp to the Bendigo Reserve. We geared up with tramping boots/shoes (my No 3s) and walking poles and parkas and beanies and sunhats, and headed up at 3.50pm. and up, and up, and up. For about 1 hr 30 mins, and maybe 400m higher. We’d had enough up by then, and it started to rain very lightly, so we put our parkas on and ate all our food (a muesli bar each!) and turned around. And walked down and down and down. We had great views up and down the valley, and directly across to Pisa Moorings. We were back at the car in an hour, happy with a good outing, not too far but we knew we’d been walking. In fact by the time we called into the supermarket in Cromwell we looked more like candidates for the mobility parks 🙂

Then it was back to Suzi, with the cold wind still blowing up the lake. Another late tea, and the heater going, and a couple of cups of tea, and we could reflect on another lovely day.

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