Summary: A long day bushwalk along ridges towards the Sheep Trig, deep in the Wollemi National Park. The route passes some cool sandstone formations and masses of post-bushfire wildflowers.

This long walk in the Tollagong Range area of Wollemi National Park follows multiple ridges from Putty Valley Road out to Sheep Trig… although (spoiler alert) thick scrub near the old trig point thwarted this mission. So, this post is really about a long walk to nowhere! What the bushwalk did deliver was an incredible display of wildflowers, and some interesting sandstone formations.

It’s a chilly, early morning as our party of five sets off along Putty Valley Road, before taking an old firetrail up a ridge.

The firetrail ascends gently through tall forest, and for now is easy walking.

There’s a profusion of Hardenbergia violacea – also known as purple twining-pea, vine-lilac and wild sarsaparilla. It’s enjoyable to look at while it’s next to the firetrail – but a lot less fun when have to push our way through the vine!

We start seeing White Paper Daisies (Coronidium elatum) – thanks Carolyn for the correction to my original attempt at identifying this flower – which start appearing in increasingly prolific numbers.

The firetrail is starting to get increasingly overgrown and progress slower. A few years ago you could drive a car along here; today we’re untangling ourselves from vines and clambering under and over fallen trees. It’s a reminder how quickly the landscape can change, especially after a fire.

The Common Woodruff (Asperula conferta) has lots of small white flowers, and is common in the Wollemi National Park.

After a scrubby and overgrown section, the walking gets easier again as the thick undergrowrth is (mostly) replaced by a carpet of flowers.

Next to the track is one of two spring along the firetrail – both said to be always full, and the only source of water we see along the top of the ridge.

Some flowering Hardenbergia encircling a burnt log is another reminder of how quickly the bush regenerates after fire – and why the best flower displays are a year or two after a bushfire. A staggering 76% of the Wollemi National Park (380,826 hectares) was burnt in the 2019-20 bushfires.

Just below the ridge are some interesting rock formations: an enormous boulders looks like it’s been cleanly slice in half, and neaby a huge slab of rock is balanced across two boulders.

We explore one more overhang below the ridge-top, which would make a great camping cave.

The scrub gets a bit thicker again along the ridge, so with time running out to get back to the car by daylight (it’s over four hours of walking already), I abandon my mission of getting to Sheep Trig. The firetrail ends about a kilometre before Sheep Trig, and the post-bushfire scrub is painfully thick around the trig point.

It’s a slightly quicker walk back, being almost all downhill – and the overgrown sections a little bit easier after we’d pushed through the vines and scrub on the way up!

I’m not normally much of a flower person, but I can’t help stopping to take dozens more photos of the flowering flora on the way back down.

There hasn’t been many views on this walk, despite the fact we’ve been following a ridge – but we get a glimpse of the distinctive Mount Yengo to the east.

Just before we reach Putty Valley Road again, a short detour up a rocky outcrop above the firetrail provides a slighly more expansive view over Wollemi National Park.

We’re back at the cars around 5pm, having covered about 30km in eight hours of fairly solid walking.

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2 Comments

Molly · August 29, 2022 at 4:05 pm

Extremely beautiful and evocative pictures, as always, with the flower profusion delightfully recorded. Thank you. How do you tell the difference between this Hardenbergia (comptoniana) and the other one (violacea, the one people sometimes call native sarsparilla)?

    oliverd :-) · August 30, 2022 at 7:16 pm

    I rely partly on my readers, partly on “What Plant is That?” and partly on Google to figure out what I photographed… so please let me know if you think I got these wrong 🙂

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