Monday, 22 April 2013

Kemps Pinnacle - Willi Willi National Park

Why walk when you can drive?

We could all give a dozen good answers to that question but, in the case of our walk to Kemps Pinnacle, it was simply because we didn't know better. Using our topographical map to navigate, in an area little explored by us before, we started walking along Hastings Forest Way before veering onto a closed, old forest road out to Spokes Lookout. From there, map in hand, we continued further along the escarpment past Spokes Mountain where suddenly our forest road disappeared into an overgrown mess of grass and shrubbery.

Our topo showed that the road continued towards Kemps Pinnacle, about two kilometres away, and so we pushed on, waist deep in weeds, scratched to buggery by wild raspberry and rainforest vines following the faint, overgrown impression of the old road. When we burst from the undergrowth onto what we later learned was called Coachwood Road, a white 4WD zipped past our astonished eyes. So, we could have driven.

From where we emerged onto the muddy but well used road it was just a 500 metre walk to a ragged piece of orange tape and a rough foot pad that led out to Kemps Pinnacle. Yes, we could have driven most of the way but the last kilometre, to the top of Kemps Pinnacle, still had to be done on foot - 'shanks pony' as my father used to say.

About 800 metres in from the road we reached the base of the pinnacle and picked our way up the lower slopes, past tall, straight messmate stringy barks and finally across an open patch of scree. The final climb up onto the top of the rocky pinnacle we did without our packs, leaving them under a small tea tree where later we would scratch out a bivvy site for the night. The main route to the summit led up a damp gully with a tricky and slippery climb assisted by an old rope that someone had left in situ.

My next question from this trip might be: how long will a snake hold its strike pose before striking?

After negotiating the roped gully we crawled around beneath stunted, tough trees on the summit to the best viewing spot which was a tiny flat piece of rock with barely enough room for us both to sit. I'd brought some chocolate and threw it down on the ledge behind me. Twice I reached around to get the chocolate and twice returned it to its ledge. Not until Caz got up to step around me and explore the view behind did we spot the Stephen's Banded snake, pulled back on itself in strike pose, about 20cm from my block of chocolate. We managed a nervous photo, not wanting to upset it any more, then a tense stand off ensued. It seemed ages before the little snake backed off and disappeared through the shrubs and rocks.

Then, despite our discovery of the well defined Coachwood Road, we chose to walk back the way we came; bashing through the same overgrown rainforest and grass, adding more scratches to our already battered shins. And, we took a longer route back - detouring along Scrub Bird Track and onto the Loop Walking Track which would eventually lead us back to Brushy Mountain Camp Area in neighbouring Werrikimbe National Park. This pretty walking track meandered through cool temperate rainforest and past moss covered beech trees. We stopped in at the little waterfall below the now abandoned Grass Tree Picnic Area, all in all adding another five or so kilometres to our return trip, compared to our outward walk. We saw a lyre bird, a forest of white fungi, a giant earthworm the same size as our small snake, yellow robins and black-faced monarchs in the trees. A family of grey fantails took a fancy to Caz and tried landing on his head. Shafts of sunlight speared through the forest canopy and made white curtains of light in the misty air as we walked and we walked and we walked through lovely quiet forest.

Of course all of this, I hope, answers that first question about why walk when you can drive? Why drive when you can walk.


  1. :-)
    If I had a dollar for every time I took the hard road....
    Amazing pics, lovely words.

  2. This is very late but great blog, this is a place I really love and you have given a great account of your visit there. That dry sub tropical rainforest on the summit of the ridge is magnificent.

  3. Lovely post- makes me want to go there! You've probably been to many more wonderful places since. Thank you again for the wonderful photographs + info on your walk.

  4. Tried it today but turned back, the bush was too thick, I found some pink ribbon marking out a track and will return to try it again another time, great photos.

    1. Well done AJH. Definitely worth going back a for another go, for the view from the top.