Cathedral Range National Park
We decided to head out to the Cathedral Ranges for a couple of days over Easter, and camp on the range. The designated campsite is roughly near the middle of the range, so we decided to take two cars and walk from the southern car (car 1) at Sugarloaf Saddle car park to the second car at Ned’s Gully near the park entrance. We asked the Retired Aussies if they were interested in a day walk on the range, but the reports of hard exposed rock climbing on the track meant they were far too frightened to come along.
Whilst some reports of the Mt Sugarloaf track suggested an exceptionally difficult rock climb, Dad had completed the circuit a couple of ears prior and hadn’t recalled it to be too difficult, despite a little bit of exposure, so thought that it would certainly be doable with the kids and our overnight packs. However, there are two tracks up to the top of Mt Sugarloaf, and we definitely took the easier one (the Canyon track). The other track, Wells Cave, contains a few slots to squeeze through, which would have been pretty annoying with the big packs.
We made it to the base of the climb, and dad boosted himself through the first scramble without too much trouble. He made his way even further up to where the track became a walk again, and left his back pack, so as to help our 4 year old and myself up the rock scrambles. On the way back Dad let another Dad with a 3 and 5 year old get his kids down the track before proceeding. This dad adn’t checked any walk ratings and gone up the “really hard” track with his two boys, and was now coming back on the “hard” track. He didn’t seem too bothered however, and was calmly explaining to his kids how to climb down a rock scramble. Our Dad let him go ahead and kept an eye on one child, whilst the other child made his way down. The downside of this arrangement for us was that it did take the kids a long time to get down, and I waited at the base of the climb with my heavy pack on – it would have been impossible to put it down anywhere – and with my 4 year old exceptionally anxious to climb up the rock wall, for around half an hour. In the meantime an older couple came along and decided they couldn’t climb up – she was afraid of heights .
Eventually however we all got to the top, and I did require a little help due to the weight of my pack and insufficient upper body strength. After this initial scramble there were no further sections that gave us any trouble on the way to Mt Sugarloaf. It was a beautiful lookout and we stopped and enjoyed the views, as well as checked out the Wells Cave Track from above. Soon after our arrival at the to, a large group came up that way with kids as young as 10 in the group, having a great time of course.
After our break we finally started to make our way along Razorback Ridge. It was a pretty cool track, with a dramatic rocky spine along the ridge. After a while walking along the ridge however, we realised that we were making rather slow time as the entire track kept walking through the rocks and there was no “easy” sections of walking. We could see the spot of our campsite in the distance, and it seemed an incredibly long way away. Some of the scrambles to come were quite slow too, with Dad taking his pack of at one section even – which much disgruntlement. Nevertheless, despite Dad’s and Mum’s concerns, our 4 year old who is a notorious whinger did not complain once about walking over the slow and difficult rocks, and had an excellent time. Amazingly he never even asked to be carried once on this section, which certainly goes against his usual rate of asking to be carried. At one point however, Dad did carry him for a five minute stretch, to speed us up a little, which would have been a back breaking experience.
Only once did we pass other people on this track, and we asked the two young fit males how far to the campsite. The dreaded response was 45 minutes away, which was not great news at 4:30pm. Our thinking was we would need to add some margin on that to allow for our slower pace. Another 20 minutes down the track we decided to let Dad run ahead to the campsite, then to return and carry the 4 year old. Fortunately we seemed not to be too much slower than the young men’s pace and Dad got into camp at 5:15, and helped the rest of us in by 5:25, to much relief!
Farmyard Camp was quite nice and we had an enjoyable night. We had carried water in, so decided to forego our dehydrated dessertwhich required a cup of water for a crushed Chocolate Bunny that we had carried in, which was far too sweet! Amazingly our 2 year old had a big sleep in, and as our 4 year old was up first I took him on an early morning walk to South Jawbone Peak for a glorious view – he loved it! We had a leisurely breakfast and pack-up of the campsite, including a little hunt for the unbroken Chocolate Bunny, probably the highlight of the kids trip! The remainder of the walk was an easy trip down the Jawbone Creek Track to the Jawbone Creek Carpark, then onto Cooks Mill for lunch and along the Little River Track to Car 2 at Ned’s Gully. From the campsite, we would have liked to have continued along the ridge and down to Ned’s Gully, but we left the camp site after 10:30, and we were worried about how long that might take, given how long it had taken us the day before.