Friday, 2 November 2012

Devine Hut – Mann River Nature Reserve


Devine by name, divine by nature.

Word of mouth is a great tool for those seeking new places, or beautiful landscapes, big or small adventures. In a way, it's what this blog is all about.
So, here is a place that came to us via word of mouth from a bunch of intrepid bushwalkers who belonged to the Inverell Bushwalking Club. We met the club members one October long weekend while hail, fog and snow trapped us on top of Mt Kaputar. Huddled under the small cooking shelter in the park campground we sipped hot cups of tea, wearing every stitch of merino, gortex and polypro available, listening to details of their club’s favourite walks and destinations – all of them, funnily enough, in sunny warm locations unlike our surrounds.
The conversation turned to the Mann River Nature Reserve, west of Grafton. For a long time we had thought about exploring up the Mann River, from the campground on the Old Glen Innes-Grafton road. The Inverell walkers rekindled our interest with talk of an old walkers hut beside the river, built by a man named Devine.

Don't forget, if you want to view all the blog images in a larger screen (they look nicer) just click on one image then you can scroll through all the images from that blog. 

As soon as the weather warmed up we decided to have a look. There was a rough track heading along the northern bank of the river. The countryside was open, dry forest and we just wandered upstream, crossed the river once, somewhere, and kept on going. There were whip-tailed wallabies, now an endangered species, wedgetailed eagles and sea-eagle circled above us. We disturbed a large red-bellied black snake and another small snake that could have been a marsh snake. At one point, we veered up a small dry rocky gully and spied a small brush-tailed rock wallaby, only to be distracted by a big Euro suddenly thudding away up the side of the bank.
It had been months since our conversation with the Inverell walkers but we vaguely remembered being told to keep an eye out “for a waterfall, the second cascade, not the first one” and that we had to “cross the river to the hut”.
It all seemed a bit vague as we weaved our way along the high banks in the growing heat.  Word of mouth is one thing, a map or waypoint is another.
As we rock-hopped up past a large bouldered section of the river we caught fleeting glances of more brush-tailed rock wallabies, one or two, disappearing into the undergrowth and then suddenly a little corrugated iron hut sat before us. Set back from the river and high enough to be out of floods way there wasn’t much to Devine Hut. A sign inside the hut said it had been built in 1976 by the Inverell Bushwalkers Club. Dusty, crooked, filled with bits and bobs, some fold away chairs, a decrepit wood stove, a mask and snorkel, buckets. It was not until you turned around and took in the view from the hut’s rickety, dirt-floored verandah that you get the whole meaning of Devine by name, divine by nature.
Not 20 metres away, the Mann River opened out into a wide section of flat granite slabs and the water slid gently over a 3m drop into a deep still pool.
First things first and in for a skinny dip.





We chose to make camp out on the granite slabs that night, no tent, just the sky. To the south and directly above us loomed Tommy’s Rock, one of the best views around and the scene of a previous ‘wildland’ adventure (a steep walk up, close encounter with peregrine falcons over lunch – but that’s another post).
As the sun fell off west we could see back down the river to the large boulders we had passed on the way up and suddenly there emerged a small colony of seven or more brush-tailed rock wallabies. With the binoculars I could just make out a small joey in the pouch. The wallabies were there again the next morning, dozing in the warm sun.
Bit like me. Taking in the divine nature of this spot.







Map: Yellow Jacket 1:25,000

Inverell Bushwalking Club visit:
http://bushwalking.org.au/~ibc/index.html
The endangered Brush-tailed rock wallaby:
http://bushwalk.com/forum/ 
Mann River Nature Reserve:
Mann River Nature Reserve is in a region rich in local history. The track which became the Grafton Road in 1867 was originally cut by timber getters seeking red cedar in the 1840s. Cobb & Co stage coaches ran a weekly mail service along the road which was the main route between Grafton and Glen Innes, until the Gwydir Highway was opened in the 1960s. With the regular mail run and the discovery of gold in the late 1800s, the area even attracted bushrangers such as Captain Thunderbolt. The imposing rocky knob called Tommys Lookout was named after the Aboriginal bushranger, Tommy McPherson. Tommy was a respected stockman and rider who found alluvial gold, but his life ended tragically in 1879 when police arrested him for threatening a settler, he strongly resisted, escaping and alarming many locals. He avoided recapture but was eventually shot dead by police, beside what is now Tommys Creek on the Gwydir Highway.”


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