A walk review: Hells Gate & The Pinch

Michael Giacometti recaps a walk south of town on 26 April 2015

Ooraminna start of walkWalk: Mt Ooraminna & The Pinch
Length: around 11 Km
Time: about 5 hours elapsed
Grade: Easy-Medium off-track. Short and steep ridge climb and descent on loose rocks followed by flat creek bed, 4WD track and plains walking.

Eight walkers joined Diane Alford (leader) for a short and interesting walk with geologic and historic significance on Deep Well Station about one hour drive south of Alice. Permission for the walk was obtained in advance from the Hayes family who hold the pastoral lease. Diane led a walk here last year, but it was marred by bitterly cold and rainy weather. This time we were bathed in bright sunshine.

The cars were left in a natural corral (GR 981344) at the end of the Ooraminna Range, about 2.5 kilometres after turning east off the South Road. (The turnoff is about 100 metres before the Off Road Centre.)

Ooraminna up the gullyWe headed off north of east across the corral and climbed a gutter to the red sandstone ridge, then continued on the bearing across the scrubby tops to descend steeply on loose rocks to a creek. This creek we followed as it meandered north of east. In doing so, we missed out on climbing Mt Ooraminna a little way off to the north. After following the creek for about 3 kilometres we took a brief diversion north-west to a holey-rocky pinnacle. Back along the creek for another kilometre and we came to the remarkable Hells Gate (GR 012356), a vertical rocky wall like the rampart of a castle, breached only by the creek. We stopped here for an hour and explored the castle walls from many vantage points.

Ooraminna Hells GateFrom Hells Gate we followed the original road (in reverse) that led to the Arltunga Goldfields in the early 1900s. Imagine pushing a wheelbarrow with all your possessions and food and water through this dry and rocky terrain. And imagine how rich a load you’ll strike! About one kilometre south and we hit The Pinch (GR 012347), a man-made ramp-like cutting in the sandstone. It must have been hell for the miners and the bullocks getting up this bastard ramp.

Ooraminna plainsAnother kilometre on a sandy track took us past Pinch Bore, then after another 500 metres we left the track to skirt the base of the range, heading west. We crossed several clay gutters and small sandridges, and as the day grew hotter and with no shade, we all wondered how far it was to the end of the range. Finally, after about 5 kilometres, we rounded the end of the steep-sided range and climbed over an obvious saddle to the cars.

Ooraminna outcropsA few of the group scrambled up the sandstone outcrop southwest of the saddle to an overhang with a few petroglyphs (Aboriginal rock engravings).

Overall, an interesting and non-challenging day walk in a region that the club used to walk many years ago, but has not done much recently.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

First bushwalks for 2015

The bushwalking program for the first half of 2015 is being finalised, and before it is released, here are two walks to get us started.

Sunday, 22 Feb – Climb Mt Undoolya.  Contact Nick on 89534530 or 0435134780.

Sunday, 1 March – A short 2-hour circle walk along section 6 east from Ellery and back along north side to swim through Ellery Big Hole.  Contact Jan on 0400303123.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Direction finding by the stars in the southern sub-tropics

by Michael Giacometti

In the southern hemisphere, all of the stars and constellations rotate around the South Celestial Pole (SCP). Unlike the northern hemisphere with its North Star, there is no ‘South Star’ situated at the point of the SCP.

The Southern Cross and Pointers are used to navigate in the temperate and sub-temperate zones of the southern hemisphere. However, they are of less use to navigators in the southern sub-tropics. This is especially true during the southern summer, from October to March, due to the tilt of the earth northward so that the sun shines more directly at the Tropic of Capricorn, and less of the southern night sky is seen.

In the southern sub-tropics the SCP is located close to the horizon. The Southern Cross and Pointers, being situated close to the SCP, are sometimes visible, but for long periods of the night they ‘set’ and drop below the horizon. At Alice Springs (virtually at the Tropic of Capricorn) in the summer months, the Southern Cross does not ‘rise’ (or become visible) until the early hours of the morning. Instead, south can be found using the stars Canopus and Achernar. With the SCP, these two stars roughly form an equilateral triangle.

A practical guide to locating south

Two other constellations can assist in locating Canopus and Achernar: the Belt of Orion, and Sirius (also called the Dog Star).

These four – Orion’s Belt, Sirius, Canopus and Achernar – describe an asymmetric arc in the night sky.

1. Start by locating the Belt of Orion.

2. Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, is in the opposite direction to (and in a straight line through Orion’s Belt from) Pleiades, the Seven Sisters.

3. Canopus is the second brightest star in the night sky. The angle of the arc of Sirius–Canopus from Orion–Sirius is about 135°, and the length of the Sirius–Canopus axis is about 1½ times that of Orion–Sirius.

4. Finally, Achernar is the brightest star in the constellation Eridanus. The angle of the arc of Canopus–Achernar from Sirius–Canopus is about 135°, and the length of the Canopus–Achernar axis is about the same as that of Orion–Sirius.

5. Using the location of Canopus and Achernar, project a third point outside the arc (on the convex side) which would form an equilateral triangle (a triangle where all sides are the same length). This projected point is the South Celestial Pole. (It lies roughly on the extension of the Sirius–Canopus axis). Drop a plumb line from the SCP to the horizon and you have south, accurate to within a few degrees.

[The Southern Cross and Achernar are on opposite sides of the SCP in the night sky. In the southern tropics, if one can be seen, then the other cannot.]

A star chart can help you to locate the constellations (such as those available from http://skymaps.com).

Note: This is an addendum to section 5 of the Map Reading Handbook, edn. 2 (TASMAP 1991).

Download a copy of the instructions [displayed below] here: skymap south by stars PDF

 

Finding South by stars

Star chart for Southern Hemisphere November 2014 from skymaps.com.

Note: the southern hemisphere star chart is designed for use at 35°S (the latitude of Adelaide) and up to 15° either side of this latitude (as far north as Tennant Creek. For the southern tropics, refer to the Equatorial star chart.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A walk in the East Macs

Nick Tyllis recaps a walk in the East Macs on 2 August 2014

A walk in the East MacsWalk: Goat Camp Creek Gorge
Length: around 12 Km
Grade: Hard – 80% was boulder hopping, 5 % sphincter-challenging waterfall and 15% flat woodland.

All images by Dianne Alford

A group of four curious and intrepid club members went East to explore some stunning gorges and gullies, cut into the rock formations. The area is open woodland with quartzite ridges cut by multiple waterways flowing from the northwest to the southeast into Giles Creek, which drains into the Todd River.

Goat Camp Creek GorgeWe chose to explore an area around a gorge cut by Goat Camp Creek, about 95 Km east of Alice Springs, along the Arltunga road. The weather was cool with minimum of 0o C to a maximum of 17o C and windy – perfect off-track walking conditions.

The track into the property took us to within 1 Km of the Northern entrance into the gorge. The walk up to the gorge was along flat, relatively even, lightly-wooded terrain. There is lots of evidence of horses and cattle, but mainly horses. The gorge itself, is about 2.5 Km long, rocky, with steep walls and numerous shallow pools of sweet water.

We followed a gully eastward, then up a stunning (one of many) waterfall, with a large, dark pool at the bottom. Then we walked down a show-stopper of a waterfall back into Goat Camp Creek Gorge. This time the photographer was too focused on getting down alive and in one piece to take any further pictures.

The walk was an easy day walk, but there is still lots to explore in the area and could easily make for a multi-day walk over a few happy days.

Goat Camp Creek waterfall

Goat Camp Creek Gorge

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Walk this weekend

The bush walk for this weekend, Sunday 31 August was mistakenly left off the new program.

31 August – Section 1 of Larapinta Trail. Contact Nannette 0409 377 545 | nannettehelder@bigpond.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Leaders Guidelines updated – Driver responsibilities

It may seem like common sense, but all drivers have a duty of care to their passengers. This applies on our bushwalks too. To clarify this, the following has been added to the Leader Guidelines:

Driver Responsibilities

In terms of the potential of major injury or death, driving to and from the walk is probably the riskiest part of bushwalking. Drivers should put the safety of their passengers (their fellow bushwalkers) first. Stop or share the driving if tired or unwell.

Due to post-walk fatigue, drivers should be ‘Sober Bob’ and refrain from alcohol and other drugs.

As a passenger, please inform the driver to slow down or pull over if you feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

You can download the full guidelines here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,000 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment