FJCC NSW Bendethera

summary: Another weekend, another trip to the amazing Bendethra valley in the Deua National Park.
date: March 29/30 2013
region: Deua National Park, NSW
distance: 500kms
duration: 2 days 2 nights
people: Graham, Sarah, Jack [4WDING], Nick (Mark, Nicole, kids) [Berg], Jeremy, Gillian [FrankJr], James [Riffa], Chris [Demented], Maurice, Vicki [Drugdependent]
tags: ADVENTURE - FAMILY - FJCC - 2013
views: 2637

Bendethra Valley

The trip started early for Nick, who kindly went into Bendethra on the Thursday night to grab us all a good camp site. For the rest of us, it was a meeting point of The Big Hole, which is located half an hour south of Braidwood on the Cooma Road.

After the usual FJCC equipment discussions, we were all ready to head off for the trek into Bendethra shortly after 1pm. The weather was looking good (after a rather cold night) so the weekend was off to a good start.

Unfortunately, my time estimation issues started around about now. It took a little longer than expected to reach the turn off into Deua National Park. But once there, we quickly aired down the tyres and crossed the first of many water hazards. The track from here to Dampier trig station was mostly easy. The difficult section starts a few minutes before the trig station where the track has become rather cut up and loose under foot. This was a great place for Maurice to experience the significant traction advantage that A-Trac has to offer!

After a short break at Dampier trig station, we continued along the track to Bendethra valley. Some nice steep sections of track here, and great views of the valley bellow. We eventually arrived at camp around 4pm, to the greeting of "about time you got here" from Nick who had set up a pretty fantastic camping area with a fire pit that was set to last the weekend, and then some!

After setting up camp, we all started to relax around the camp fires.

Saturday

The night was cold and damp, but we awoke to some lovely blue skies. The plan for today was to do the loop track around the valley.

We got underway at about 11am, with the expectation that the trip would take a couple of hours. Strike 2 for my poor time estimation!

Leaving Bendethra valley behind us, we travelled up Dampier Fire Trail, and then turned right onto Minuma Range Fire Trail. We ran into a slight issue with Jack getting a little car sick so we had to take a short break. Lesson learned here is to not lay down on the back seat and try watching TV while winding up the mountain trails! The place we stopped was right above the Bendethra Caves and gave us some great views back into the valley, we could even make out tents and cars clearly bellow us.

From here we continued along the track until we got to the Mongamula Fire Trail, where we turned right and headed back down into the valley. This had already taken a couple of hours, so my estimates were way off! Once at the bottom of the valley though, it was all worthwhile. We stopped for lunch at an amazing clearing, which unfortunately was on private property, so no camping. Unfortunately, due to some technical difficulties, Nick stopped for his lunch about 500m down the trail from us right next to an amazing river crossing.

After we caught up with Nick, we headed off up the trail again. This time the track would take us up out of the valley with some very steep sections to negotiate. We eventually came out on the Mericumbene Fire Trail where Chris and James turned left to head back home, and the rest of us turned right back to camp. Most of the track from here was pretty easy, with the usual steep sections taking us back into Bendethra Valley, and the exciting water crossings to clean off some of the dust the FJs had collected during the five hour trip around the loop track! We finally arrived back at camp just after 4pm.

Sunday

Our final day in the valley and we woke to be shrouded in some low cloud. At least some of us woke to this...It was amazing!

Sarah, Jack and I along with Jeremy and Gillian decided on taking the walk up to the Bendethra Caves for the morning activity. We left camp about 10am for the short drive to the car park, followed by the 4km hike up to the caves. The trail is pretty spectacular, with lots of easy water crossings, open plains, and scrubby forest. Eventually we reached the last 500m which turned out to be a bit of a torture test! Amazingly, we kept passing, and being passed by a young man that was adamant he was going to get his push bike all the way to the top! We had to give him lots of encouragement for the last 20m, but we were all sure that he would have been the first person to ever ride a push bike to Bendethra Caves!

I wasnt sure how far into the caves we would make it, but four of our group of five headed off into the darkness of the cave. It was quite busy in there, with plenty of other people trying to make it to the end. After lots of effort, a couple of mayday calls from Jack, we did make it to the very end! It was worth all the effort, and the caking in Guano (bat poo), as the cavern at the end was pretty spectacular. Even better when everyone turned out their lights and sang happy birthday to some rather your child who had made it all the way to the end with family and friends.

Once we had soaked up the cave experience, it was back out onto the trail towards camp. We managed to get to about the second last creek crossing before Jeremy finally put a foot wrong, and was ankle deep into the creek! With wet feet, we continued on to the cars and back to camp.

There we found people already packing up, so I was quick to pack up FJ Yasi and organize the departure at around 2pm. Jeremy and Gillian decided to stay on another night, so we bid them farewell and headed out of the valley.

Nick left us at the Sugarloaf Fire Trail turn off as he was heading back to Moruya, Maurice, Vicki, Sarah, Jack and I then headed back along Mericumbene trail towards Araluen. Once again, my estimates for timing went out the window! It took some time for us to get to Araluen, but along the way we had some good trails to tackle. Some very steep rocky sections and some steep powdery sections with little to no traction. It was a welcome relief when we finally reached the Deua River crossing, but a little disappointing that there was little water in it. After crossing the river we headed on to Araluen, where we arrived at just before 7pm. We finished airing up the tyres at this point, then again bid farewell and headed off towards Sydney/Wollongong.

Overall, a very successful weekend was had by all. I have taken very good notes on my map for timing of activities for the next expedition to Bendethra Valley.

Thanks to all that came along, as well as Nicks friends who kindly shared their hospitality and Easter eggs with all of us.


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