Category Archives: Reviews

Review | The Shell Guide to the Routeburn (NZ) Track by Philip Temple | Pt 3 Route Guide

Planning to complete the Routeburn track in New Zealand? Want some hints from someone who has walked the track many times? Interested in the flora and birds? This article is a part review of the 40 page Routeburn Track Guide by Philip Temple, published by Whitcoulls in 1976, which has become a NZ tramping classic and still contains valuable information.

© Bushwalker

Route Guide

The track is 39 kms long and average travelling time according to Philip Temple is only 13 hours ” … so that a very fit, skilled tramper with a light pack might accomplish it in one summer’s day.

As is common, he recommends completing the walk in 3 days

Day 1 Routeburn Lodge (Shelter) to Routeburn Falls Hut(8km, 2.5hrs, + 250m)

Day 2 Routeburn Falls Hut to Harris Saddle (4.8 km, 1.5 hrs, +300m) and then to Lake Mackenzie (10.5km, 3 hrs, -300m)

Day 3 Lake Mackenzie to Lake Howden (9km, 3hrs, +?m) to Milford Road. (3.2km, 1 hr plus 1hr if climb Key Summit, – 150m)

Routeburn Falls Hut. Photo taken by Steffen Sledz

Day 1 Track Notes

Bridal Veil Ck footbridge 1 hr

Birds: parakeets, robin, fantails

Flora: Montane beech forest dominates between 500 – 1150 m with three species of beech: red (lower, warmer slopes), mountain , silver. Forest floor thickly carpeted by coprosma, fuchsia, ribbonwood, pepperwood and on the Hollyford slopes, kamahi, broadleaf and totara.

Upper flats: arrive after couple of hours, to cross the river by bridge. The Flats (702m) were the upper limits of horse traffic.

Looking north up the northern branch of the Routeburn you can see Mt Somnus (about 5.5 km away, true 32.5°, GR E0280942 N5048358, 2282m) and further away to the right is Turret Head (16 km across Dart, 62.4° True, GR E0292265, N5051650, 2350m)

Routeburn Flats to Routeburn Falls Hut (976m) 3.2 km, walking time 1.25hrs. The lower hut is DOC and the upper private.

Flora: giant mountain buttercup blooms in early summer in the beds of the higher creeks

Lake Harris, Routeburn track, from the path from Harris Saddle to Conical Hill. © Zoharby

Day 2 Track Notes

1. Routeburn Falls to Harris Saddle, the boundary between Mt Aspiring and Fiordland national parks.

Flora: giant buttercup, flowering spaniard, daisy, gentian, ourisia, hebe, snowgrass.

The track above Lake Harris may be impassable if snow covered and should not be attempted in bad weather.

Views from Harris Saddle: Hollyford valley to west, and behind that the Darran Mountains with Mt Christina (2692m)12 km away to the SSW ( 232° T). Mt Tutoko ( 2964m) to the north.

If you have time there are excellent views to be had by climbing Conical Hill (1515m) to the north of the saddle.

Harris saddle only has emergency shelter

2. Harris Saddle to Lake Mackenzie

About 2km from the Saddle there is a track intersection with Deadman’s Track and after another 2km a large square rock which can be used as an emergency bivouac. Don’t waste time on this section if the weather forecast is looking to be poor.

Looking north, “…..you will be able to see right down the Hollyford to Lake McKerrow and the sea at Martins Bay ….” 8.5 km to the south (200° T), at the head of the Hollyford Key Summit (GR E0272856 N 5033572) stands out.

Great reflections of Mt Emily (1815m) to the NE can be obtained in the lake early morning or evening.

Mackenzie Hut at Mackenzie Lake, Routeburn Track, New Zealand. © Steffen Sledz

Day 3 Track Notes

1. Lake Mackenzie to Lake Howden via Earland Falls

Views: Hollyford and Darrans

Flora: veronica scrub, beech forest, red of rata blossom in summer.

Birds: sweet notes of the bellbird, rattle and bell call of the kaka, whooshing beat of the bush pigeons, waxeyes at forest edge, brown creepers deeper in the bush, black backed gull on rocky bluffs.

After 2 hours reach Earland Falls. After another hour you reach Lake Howden.(671m)

2. Lake Howden to Key Summit (919m) to The Divide shelter on Milford Road

View from Key Summit, Routeburn Track NZ © Metapede

Great views from Key Summit which is a botanists mecca, where “… stunted beech trees take the place of subalpine scrub and merge into perhaps the finest bog and swamp region .. with plant life ranging from sundews, bladderworts and orchids to bog forstera, bog daisy and bog pine.”

Related reading

iPhone app: What Bird NZ

 

Previous Routeburn Track Planning posts

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Bushwalking in the Vulkathunha – Gammon Ranges, South Australia | Pt 1 Trip Planning Resources

Where are the Gammons? Why visit the Gammons? When is the best time to visit the Gammons and how long do you need? What level of experience do you need and does it require any special planning and equipment because of its remoteness? What resources are available to help you plan, appreciate and enjoy what you see?

UPDATE: there has been a mouse plague in the Gammons (April -? 2011) and I would advise taking your tent inner, storing food outside your tent in air tight bags and hanging your food out of reach.

Bushwalking, Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park ……..in brief

Gammon Ranges

Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park is an arid wilderness of spectacular rugged ranges and deep gorges 400 km N of Port Augusta off the Copley-Balcanoona Rd. The park has important cultural significance for the Adnyamathanha people who are the traditional custodians of the region. There are several access points, both for 2WD and 4WD vehicles, with the heart of the park offering challenging wilderness bushwalking experiences. The park includes limited caravan sites, bush camping, 4WD touring tracks and several accommodation options. Bookings are essential for hut accommodation and shearers’ quarters. The park adjoins Lake Frome Regional Reserve and shares a boundary with Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary. Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges Traditional Owners and DEH co-manage the park. ” (DENR )

Google Aerial view of the Gammons

Access

 The last 100 km is largely over dirt roads, which can sometimes be badly corrugated. If you wish to set up a base camp at Grindell Hut inside the Park, I recommend that you use a 4WD as the tracks are sometimes sandy and the wheel ruts can be deep. Many conventional cars will not have sufficient ground clearance. Make sure you carry essential spare parts for your vehicle and read the RAA Outback Driving booklet. 

Up-to-date road conditions can be checked via the Far Northern and Western Areas road condition hotline – 1300 361 033 or by visiting http://www.dtei.sa.gov.au. Alternatively call the Desert Parks information line on 1800 816 078.

Google Map Directions Adelaide to Copley (just north of Leigh Creek)

SA Outback Fuel Chart (pdf)

Google Map Directions Adelaide to Copley( just north of Leigh Creek)

Google Maps Copley, Vulkathuna – Gammon Ranges Nat Pk and Arkaroola Village

Outback Driving (RAA)

Climate

If you are planning a trip to northern SA (eg the Gammons) check the forecast carefully as the temperature is often in the high twenties or low thirties, when it is in the high teens in Adelaide. My experience is that it is often 5 -10 degrees warmer than Adelaide but colder at night.

Check the Weatherzone climate statistics for Arkarooola  , the nearest weather station or visit the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary’s Climate Information page which compares the climate with other capital cities.

Long term averages show May to early September to be the  best from a temperature perspective (mean max 19-20 deg C). Mean minimum temperatures are 3-7 deg C, (lightweight sleeping bag weather). Days of rain 3, mean rain 6-10 mm (you may even risk just a fly depending on the month)

Further north in the Gammons, water can also be short supply after six months with little rain. A spring/early summer trip is risky as most rain falls in December-March as the tail ends of monsoons sweep down SE from the Kimberley and most will have gone by then.

Fire Bans

All wood fires or solid fuel fires are prohibited from 1 November 2010 to 31 March 2011. Gas fires are permitted other than on days of total fire ban. For further information, please contact the Port Augusta Regional Office (08) 8648 5300, the Wilpena Visitor Centre (08) 8648 0048 or the CFS Fire Bans Hotline 1300 362 361.  Timely reminder of fire restrictions in parks (DENR 103kb pdf)

Time Required

The Vulkathuna – Gammon Ranges are a long drive of 8 – 9 hours from Adelaide, over unsealed roads from Copley, which can be badly corrugated depending on how recently they have been graded. For most people, the two days of travel encourages you to spend a minimum of  3-5 days in the Gammons, including some time at the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary and the Paralana Hot Springs which are a short drive away. If you based yourself at Grindell Hut within the Park, then  it would be possible to spend a whole week in the Park and then at least another three days at Arkaroola.

Panorama of Grindell’s Hut, showing the hut and the landscape surrounding it. (Peter Neaum 2009-09-10)

Bushwalking Experience Level

The Gammons are remote with the nearest major town, Leigh Creek, a hundred and thirty kilometres away to the west, which takes about 2-4 hours, depending on the state of the road. In addition to the remoteness, water supplies are unpredictable, the temperatures much higher than Adelaide and the terrain rugged, with significant exposure at times, when climbing the waterfalls. A high level of navigation skill, using both map and compass and GPS, is required as most of the walking trails are off-track with no signage and no trail markers. This Park is designated as being unsuitable for beginning bushwalkers, with experience of multi-day hikes, the ability to carry heavy loads and self-sufficiency in terms of first aid and training a necessary requirement. The carrying of an emergency beacon (PLB), GPS, relevant maps, mobile phone and even a UHF radio in case of emergency communication with nearby stations is advised. Don’t forget to leave your trip intentions form with the Ranger at Balcanoona.

 

 

Flinders Ranges, Eyre Peninsula, Outback South Australia 4wd  Tracks and Repeaters Brochure  (5.5Mb, pdf)

 

Department Environment and Natural Resources

Park Passes

Park Closures

Trip Intentions Form (323kb pdf)

Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park (647kb pdf)

Wildlife of the Desert Parks (419kb pdf)

Balcanoona Shearer’s Quarters Booking Information (145kb pdf)

SA National Parks Guide – Flinders Ranges and Outback Region (816kb pdf)

Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park Weetootla Hike Network brochure (686kb pdf)

Itineraries

 John Chapman’s Gammon Ranges

Maps

Maps: 1:50,000 Topographic Illinawortina, Nepabunna, Serle, Angepena

Northern Flinders Ranges (1.4MB pdf)

South Australian Outback (1.2MB pdf)

The Map Shop 

Map index:  Arkarooola – Gammon Ranges – Yudnamutana – Farina

Map Index:  North Flinders – Wilpena – Blinman – Leigh Creek – Balcanoona

RAA Flinders Ranges & Outback Maps 

Further Reading 

Online

South Australia: Vulkathana – Gammon Ranges (ABC, Program One: 29 December 2003 )

The Grindell Murder Case (Flinders Ranges Research)

Gammon Ranges Bunyip Chasm (ExplorOz)

Grindell Hut ( ExplorOz)

Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park (Wikipedia)

Department of Environment and Natural Resources Search Results| Gammons

Biological Survey of the North West Flinders Ranges (near Leigh Creek) (4.48mb pdf)

Gammon Ranges National Park Access Guide and Newsletter 2006 Autumn Edition (SA Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs Inc) (149kb pdf)

Arkarola Wilderness Sanctuary Activities (nearby tourist accommodation)

Photos

Bushwalk

Gammon Ranges (Flikr) 

Scientific Expeditions Group (SEG)

Vulkathunha Gammon Ranges Scientific Project (VGRaSP)

Vulkathunha Gammon Ranges Scientific Project | General Description (VGRaSP 118Kb pdf)

Analysis of Rainfall in the Gammon Ranges of South Australia 1992 – 2002  (1.7Mb pdf SEG)

The Gammon Ranges Project – Monitoring in a Remote Area D.J. Kemp1, C.J. Wright and S.A. Jewell Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure (pdf,338Kb)

Books

C. Warren Bonython. Walking the Flinders Ranges. Adelaide: Royal Geographical Society of South Australia, 2000.

The story of Warren Bonython’s walk from the Crystal Brook in the south to Mt Hopeless in the north.  xiii, 231 p. [32] p. of plates :bill. (some col.) ; 24 cm. 

Adrian Heard. A Walking Guide to the Northern Flinders Ranges. State Publishing South Australia, 1990.

An excellent book, describing 3 circuit walks of around one week’s length in the Gammon Ranges and briefer notes to the Arkaroola Sanctuary area. Recommended if you are planning a long walk in the Gammon Ranges. Probably out of print, price unknown.

John Chapman  Bushwalking In Australia, 4th edition 2003

320 pages, A5 in size – full colour throughout, 181 colour photographs, 56 colour topographic maps, 

Thomas, Tyrone 50 walks in South Australia Hill of Content, 1992

Paperback, 168 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. (some col.), maps, 180mm x 120mm x 11mm. The Flinders Ranges and Kangaroo Island are featured in the walks over terrain ranging from coastal scrub to mountains and arid desert. ISBN: 9780855722111

Barker, Susan and McCaskill, Murray (Eds) Explore The Flinders Ranges RGSSA Adelaide 2005

A ‘must have’ for all travellers and admirers of the Flinders Ranges.  Recommended by tourist authorities; ideal for tourism studies and school projects.

Osterstock, Alan Time: in the Flinders Ranges. Austaprint,1970

56 pages, A5 in size, 8 colour photos. Covers the geology and history of the Flinders Ranges.

Osterstock, Alan The Flinders in Flower. Austaprint,1975

53 pages, A5 in size, 25 colour photos. Describes 27 of the most common flowers of the Flinders Ranges.

Corbett, David A Field Guide to the Flinders Ranges Rigby, 1980

A field guide to the plants, birds, mammals, insects, reptiles, fishes, frogs, rock types, landforms and a brief history.

Pedler, Rosemary Plant Identikit: Wildflowers of the Northern Flinders Ranges  Rosemary Pedler1994

This pocket size booklet describes, with accompanying colour sketches, 70 of the most common plants of the northern Flinders Ranges

M. Davies,  C.R. Twidale, M. J Tyler Natural History of the Flinders Ranges Royal Society of South Australia Inc 1996

This 208 page A5 book describes the history of settlement and exploration, the geology and minerals, fossils, landforms, climate, soils, vegetation, aquatic life,invertebrates, mammals, birds, reptile and amphibians and aboriginal people . It is well illustrated with B&W photos, graphs, tables, maps and has an extensive reference list

Thomas, Tyrone 50 walks in South Australia Hill of Content, 1992

168 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. (some col.), maps ; 18 cm.  ISBN     0855722118 (pbk.) : Includes index.

Subjects     Hiking – South Australia – Guidebooks.  |  Walking – South Australia – Guidebooks.  |  South Australia – Guidebooks.

Morrison, RGB  A Field guide to the Tracks and Traces of Australian Mammals Rigby 1981

This unique 198 page field guide contains a large number of B&W photos of tracks, diggings, droppings & scats and bones and skulls of Australian animals which helps with identification. [ISBN 0 7270 1489 7

Bonney, Neville & Annie Reid Plant Identikit Common Plants of the Flinders Ranges Neville Bonney1993 [ISBN 0 646 15406 0]

This pocket size booklet describes, with accompanying colour sketches, 51 of the most common plants of the Flinders Ranges, including the Gammon Ranges National Park

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Review | The Shell Guide to the Routeburn (NZ) Track by Philip Temple | Pt 2 General Information

Planning to complete the Routeburn track in New Zealand? Want some information about  access, accommodation, weather, clothing and equipment, fitness and preparation. This article is a part review of the 40 page Routeburn Track Guide by Philip Temple, published by Whitcoulls in 1976, which has become a NZ tramping classic and still contains valuable information.

General Information

Ranger Stations and Access

Located at Glenorchy and Te Anau. Check in /out required

Can be walked from either end. Eastern access is from Queenstown to Glenorchy.

Western access from Te Anau to The Divide on the road to Milford Sound

Accommodation

  • Off Track: Queenstown, Te Anau, Glenorchy,  Eglinton Valley (on Te Anau-Milford Hwy)
  • On Track: Commercial Lodges at Routeburn Falls and Lake Mackenzie but can only be accessed as part of a Guided Walk.

Weather and Season

“Prevailing winds are NW and SW; heavy rainfall is common and snow may fall down to 1000m at any time of the year. The Hollyford Face between Harris Saddle and Lake Mackenzie is particularly exposed to wind and precipitation and the Saddle is normally snow bound during the winter and early spring. The usual season for track walking is late November to mid-April. The saddle crossing should not be undertaken at any time except under favourable weather conditions.

Clothing and Equipment

Temple warns that the weather is very variable with trampers needing to carry both warm weather and cold weather/snow gear. He gives the normal warnings about the need for a waterproof parka, well broken in boots, first aid kit compass and map.

Fitness and Preparation

The author gives some excellent advice on the need to be fit and have well broken in boots so that “you will have more time and opportunity  to appreciate the scenery and natural features that you have made so much effort to reach!” His wise counsel that “there’s only one way to get fit for tramping- and that’s tramping” is very sound.

Approach to Walking

I like his hints on how to walk. “Don’t rush and don’t loiter….. And rests should not be too long, otherwise you may stiffen up and lose your rhythm…..Start out early each day, so you always have time on hand. … Remember the golden rule – the pace of the party is that of the slowest member.

Part 3 in this series will discuss the actual route notes provide by Temple.

 

 

Related reading

Related Routeburn Track Planning posts

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Tramping Book Review | The Shell Guide to The Routeburn Track (NZ) Philip Temple, 1976

Philip Temple

In the seventies, Philip Temple wrote a series of Shell guides for many of the great New Zealand walking tracks including the Routeburn, Milford, Heaphy, Tongariro, Waikaremoana, Copland and Hollyford.  The Routeburn Track Guide, published by Whitcoulls in 1976, has 40 pages, including a two-page centre map, and a personal notes page. While it is no longer in print, it has become highly sought after as one of the first guides to the track. Philip Temple has written 36 books going back to the early 1960s, with many related to New Zealand and his mountaineering experiences. He was a keen walker, personally walking the routes and taking part in expeditions to New Guinea and the sub-Antarctic. His diverse skills have included landscape photography and he continues to write novels.

I love reading walking guides and my bookshelf is full of such guides. It was therefore with a great degree of anticipation that I waited for my copy, bought online from the Tall Ships Gallery in Palmerston North.

This book is well illustrated by historical photos of Routeburn Flats, The Earland Falls, Emily Peak reflected in Lake Mackenzie, Lake steamer Antrim at Kinloch, Sir Thomas Mackenzie, the original hut at the start of the track, Harry Bryants open air buses, a two page map of the Routeburn track, Routeburn Gorge, Routeburn Falls, Lake Harris in spring, Looking down the Hollyford Valley, Lake Howden and the Greenstone Valley, Mounts Christina, Crosscut and Lyttle, Harris Saddle and shelter.

Preface

This guide is one of a series and in the author’s words ” ……designed to assist those who would quit wheels for walking, shoes for boots, and make the effort to explore the country first hand.”

History of the Track

The track has enormous historical significance for the Maoris as it represents an early route from Lake Wakatipu to mine greenstone in the mineral rich ranges to the north-west for trade in South Westland and Central Otago, which continued to the mid-nineteenth century. Wakatipu was first seen by Europeans about the same time. Not long after goldminers, searching for an more direct way to get their gold to Australia other than via Dunedin began exploring the Routeburn with the aim of establishing a port at Martins Bay.

Over the last hundred and forty years, the Routeburn has steadily gained popularity with tourists and trampers. Early in the 1900’s the track was extended from the Harris Saddle to Lake Howden.Then in the nineteen thirties, a motor service from Kinloch into the Routeburn commenced. Just before WWII the final section of the Routeburn track was completed and in the nineteen seventies the road over the Dart river meant that the Routeburn became accessible by motor car, replacing the lake steamer Earnslaw.

General Information

This section gives information about access, accommodation, weather, clothing and equipment, fitness and preparation.

In  future posts, I will comment on Philip Temple’s sound advice and his route guide.

Related reading

Related Routeburn Track Planning posts

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