Summary: A partly off-track bushwalk in the McPherson State Forest, following the Slip Up Trail and visiting some shelters with Aboriginal rock art.

This is the first time I’ve walked the length of the Slip Up Trail, which according to the topographic map follows one of the many ridges in the MacPherson State Forest. The firetrail starts at the end of Kyola Road, and provides the main access to the northern section of MacPherson State Forest and the Warre Warren Aboriginal Place. After about a kilometre from the gate, there’s a junction where the Slip Up Trail continues along the ridge, while the main access trail branches off to the west to meet the Airfields Trail. From this junction, the Slip Up Trail continues in a southerly direction.

There’s a few wildflowers along the trail, but it’s generally an easy and unremarkable bushwalk along what was probably an old logging trail.

It gets more interesting after just over two kilometres, where despite the map showing the firetrail continuing, it abruptly stops. There’s not even a faint indication of a track along the ridge. We drop down a small chute in the rocks to have a look at some large sandstone overhangs, near the end of the actual firetrail (we’re still about a kilometre from the end of the Slip Up Trail, according to the topo map).

In an attempt to roughly follow the route of the old firetrail or logging trail, we continue along the ridgeline, just below the top. It seems logical that even through there’s no longer any signs of a trail, the Slip Up Trail would have followed the easiest route along the fairly narrow and steep ridge. (In hindsight, the route we are taking is about 20m below the route of the firetrail.)

Although there’s not much undergrowth, the side of the valley is steep, and progress is fairly slow as we try and pick the best line along the side of the ridge.

AWAT0241 LR Following the Slip Up Trail in the MacPherson State Forest

Below us the valley drops a long way down to Kyola Creek, while below the top of the ridge are many sandstone caves and overhangs.

One of the overhangs has a drawing of men with upraised hands in red ochre, and an outline of a kangaroo.

AWAT0256 LR Following the Slip Up Trail in the MacPherson State Forest

Near another overhang is a circle engraved in the rock, a likely marker of sacred sites in the vicinity. (There are a few of these rock circles in the McPherson State Forest.)

AWAT0283 LR Following the Slip Up Trail in the MacPherson State Forest

A shallow but very long shelter above the rock circle has a ceiling which has been sculpted by the wind into an extensive honeycomb structure.

The most impressive cave (Basalt Hill Shelter) is further along the ridge, and has over a hundred painted Aboriginal cave art motifs. They include a number of overlapping wallabies or kangaroos, some drawn in a combination of red ochre, charcoal and white clay. It’s quite a stunning and humbling display of indigenous rock art.

AWAT0304 LR Following the Slip Up Trail in the MacPherson State Forest

Although I had an ambitious plan of dropping down the end of the ridge to Warre Warren Creek and returning via the Airfields Trail to form a loop, getting to the bottom of the valley looks like a somewhat foolhardy expedition. The terrain is very steep, and there seems no feasible route down to the bottom. It’s also taken us longer than anticipated, due to the old logging trail I was expecting to follow no longer existing. So we head back the same way. It’s a bit easier on the return leg – this time we do manage to find the remnants of the Slip Up Trail, which is completely overgrown but still presents a slightly easier route to follow.

It ends up being a much quicker return trip – and another rewarding bushwalk through the McPherson State Forest.

Getting to the Slip Up Trail

One of many firetrails within McPherson State Forest, the Slip Up Trail is the main access trail from the gate at the end of Kyola Road; it reaches a junction after one kilometre where it meets the Airfields Trail. Although shown as approximately 3km in length on the topographic map, in reality it ends after about 2.2km

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Chris · March 8, 2022 at 9:28 pm

Some more great aboriginal rock art you discovered!

    Tim's+Adventures · March 15, 2022 at 10:24 pm

    This dude must spend days on end, if not weeks, wandering around the bush to find these places. It’s quite amazing that he finds so many of these!

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