Woolshed Creek Base Camp

18-19 June 2016

Woolshed Creek hut sounded like a great place for the weekend closest to the shortest day of the year to celebrate winter tramping at its finest, making the most of the short days tramping and the long nightseating and … There are no stream crossings to contend with and the track is well defined and unlikely to be blocked by snow drifts unlike some other places we have visited.

We were very aware that other people might have the same idea so when the twelve intrepid trampers disembarked at the car park we carefully scanned the other three cars. They didn’t look multiple-occupancy so we thought bunks in the hut looked assured and left sleeping mats behind. Camping out certainly wasn’t contemplated.

The track up the stream was frosty but scenic and the zig-zag up to the coal mine soon warmed us. Some of the relics at the coal mine (equipment, not us) were put to good use by Mary and Yvette as stretching devices. The sidle track up to the 934m high point had been recently worked on but the frost was solid and controlled the mud. The view up the Stour River and Mt Somers was enticing but the hut beckoned and down we headed. No sign of smoke, we might have it to ourselves! Sure enough, when we reached the hut, it was empty. The log book showed there had been 29 people in the 26 bunk hut the previous weekend and we heaved a sigh of relief that we had avoided that.

We established ourselves with a brew and then headed down to the gorge to look at the swing-bridge and waterfall. A small group from Lincoln High School had arrived but there were still lots of spare bunks. As we viewed the impressive gorge, we saw other small groups heading for the hut and by the time we got back to the hut it was practically full.

Our three course meal was started and in full swing while still people kept arriving including a couple with a small child. Musical chairs were being played for seating at the tables and cooking places were at a premium. Then the scouts arrived. At first it was one group but headlamps outside the hut then seemed to multiply. By the time we vacated our space at the table we counted between 54 and 58 people in the hut. It was hard to do an exact count. Two tents were erected outside but most people seemed intent on sleeping in the hut.

There next morning there were wall to wall people sleeping over and under every available surface. We had a leisurely breakfast while people packed, muddled and dispersed. It was impressive how such a large and disparate group had functioned in the hut. The spirit of cooperation and coexistence in the back country is well and alive. As possibly some of the more senior hut members, it was also great to see so many young people enjoying the outdoor facilities that are available.

We headed off back along the four-wheel drive track. The lack of freeze had ensured the mud fluidity had risen and there was some slipping ‘n sliding going on. At least the track is generally downhill and progress was rapid. The appeal of a trail lunch diminishes close to the road-end and we departed to the Stavely Café for lunch. The trip lived up to its easy grading this time while still coming in the category of winter tramping.

Trampers were: Eileen Arnett, John Borner, Margot Bowden, Tim Hines, Mary & Geoff Korver, Mary McKeown, Marion & Keith McQuillan, Yvette So , Maureen Thompson and Gary Huish. (GH)