Old House Falls (by Lake Rowallan), Apr 2018.
Old House Falls looked nice and simple on the map. I checked with a guy who’d been there the day before as to whether I could get my car along this road, and he said there’d be no problems. Blissfully ignorant, off I set, along the usual Mersey Forest Road I know so well from bushwalking. But, instead of crossing the Mersey and going down the normal, eastern side of the lake, I continued on the western shore, as per the map I had: on and on and on and on. Like a kid who keeps asking its parents: “Is it time yet?”, I kept consulting my map as the road got worse and worse. Is it time yet? SURELY it’s time by now. Na, came the inevitable answer each time. Not warm yet.
The pot holes got deeper, the stony bits rougher, the mud sections slipperier, the ponds I drove through murkier. How deep were they? I almost closed my eyes so I wouldn’t see my own accident as I drove through, hoping I wasn’t going to drown myself or my engine. I have a Subaru AWD, not a huge 4WD. This was nauseatingly scary. I was by now miles and miles and miles from any help should I need it, and it looked like I would need it very soon. Lucky I can run long distances. I could see a very long training run for help coming up. Tessa was pleased. She likes that.
Eventually, I came to a creek I was supposed to drive through with steep banks (for me) each side. Enough was enough. My adrenalin levels were now through the roof. I managed to execute a hundred-point turn, and, convinced NO person in a quarter of a right mind would come this way, decided a skinny car could get by, parked, and off I set. I had 1.6 kms to walk until the creek I wanted, Old House Creek. The Falls would then be about 60 metres to my right up the hill (west). The foot bit was glorious. I began to relax and enjoy the view. Why hadn’t I abandoned my car and given myself peace of mind earlier?
Just before the falls, I saw a claret coloured ute. Amazing!! Someone had got that car all the way there. It must be an abandoned car, its owners too scared to drive it out, I figured. On I went to the beautiful falls and photographed them. Just as I approached the area where the claret ute had been, I saw it leaving. Oh no. It was too fat to get past me. I waved and called. They drove slowly but continued on. Had they heard me? Oh well. The walk had taken thirteen minutes. If they took four to drive it, they wouldn’t have to wait ALL that long. On I pressed.
As I neared my car, I saw two guys, brandishing axes. Luckily I am not suspicious or paranoid, and so did not think the axes were intended for retribution delivered to my car, or, worse, to be used to punish me for being an inconsiderate twod preventing a normal citizen his right of passage. They assumed I’d broken down (how generous and kind of them) and were just going to cut their way out. Instead, I drove, with them as my backstops, until the danger was over. They, too, were waterfall baggers, so we all sat by the lake once we’d finished with mud-slides and driving through lakes of unknown depth and over fallen trees, and had a lovely time eating and chatting whilst staring at Clumner Bluff perfectly reflected in the waters of Lake Rowallan. You’ve no idea how unscary the road was when I had a backstop. Thanks to Shane and Ed, I even like these falls, and now I’ve got over my “beginner’s angst”, I may even go back one day to check them out when the flow is bigger.