Duffy Creek, Victoria Range

22-23 September 2018

This two day round trip is described in Sven Brabyn’s 1995 tramping guide as short, albeit lots of bush bashing, with an easy final descent back to the road.

At the end of October 2009, when Merv M, Paul Smith, Aarn Tate and Bill Templeton did it in perfect weather, it was just as Sven described. Although bearing in mind that any bush navigation with Bill in front is always going to be easy. We climbed up the true left of the valley head, circled around to the eastern ridge, through the lower tarns at 1350m and up to camp on a large rock in the middle of the snow filled tarn near pt1575m. Lovely night! Leaving the campsite at 8.00am, Sunday wasn’t too hard along the ridge down to the bushline. Once into the bush it was a bit of a pain and we did have to sidle left or right to avoid bluffs, but the descent got easier lower down, and we reached the road by 1.00pm.

I tried scheduling a return trip in Oct 2016, but with only two for a 225km drive, we didn’t go. So I scheduled it again this year, and again, only got two; Di and I. But the forecast was too good to not go on a ‘tops’ trip; so we did. Leaving Di’s place at 8.00am, we were at Duffy Creek by about 11.00am and walking by 11.30am. No trouble with the walk up the track to our lunch spot at the big clearing. Then into the bush. Instead of tending to the true left of the valley I veered more to the true right, which eventually lead us to a steepish spur and a rope assist to emerge on the rocky spur below the saddle. Instead of continuing up to the saddle, we climbed out, up a small steep gully to the eastern ridge and descended to the lower tarns by 5.00pm. At this time, the tarns area was always going to be home for the night. We found a good camp site, with a full moon and the wind dying down, we settled in to enjoy the evening – us and a few hundred or so whistling frogs. Di was intrigued at the range of tones -tenors to baritones to basses. Di also pondered on how they might be getting on with sopranos! Anyway, they stopped sometime after I went to sleep.

Sunday morning we rose to find valley filled with cloud. It was late morning before it almost fully cleared. Away at 8.20am we climbed for an hour up to 1575m and the snow filled tarn. Sitting on the eastern ridge, we marveled at how the valley cloud was blocked from the SE and was shooting vertically into the big Shaw Stream valley way below us. Continuing south, we rounded 1557m and sidled down to the bushline for lunch at 12.30pm with spectacular views all round on a lovely day.

Then the fun. The first bit in the bush was on a sharp ridge as expected, but once it broadened out, it wasn’t any easier. Di’s GPS programme kept us mostly where we felt we were best to be, but the tree falls and dense understory made for slow going. Again as expected, bluffs blocked descent and we sidled right. Then we got to the ‘Lawyer level’ with the souvenirs to prove it. As we got closer to the road it still wasn’t easier and a surprise when we suddenly popped out – at 6.00pm. The short walk back down the road to the car was a pleasure. All changed and away, we just made it to Springs Junction before the old café shut. Obviously grateful for any food, a very helpful young chap could provide. And the tea and coffee, of course. Away home then, to arrive well after 10.00pm, very satisfied with a trip that turned out harder than previously, but is still a great circuit. (Maybe for someone else next time, if we are truthful)

We were Diane Mellish and Merv Meredith (leader). (MM)