By Richard Roe | Posted: Monday December 6, 2021
Our Bronze level Duke of Edinburgh group set out for an overnight expedition to the Rock and Pillar Range near Middlemarch last Thursday.
The tops were shrouded in mist as we set off from the Six Mile Creek car park just after 9:30am. It was a warm day and plenty of sweat was expended in the steady 1000 metre climb to Big Hut. Students had plenty of opportunities to hone their map-reading skills, and apart from a navigational blunder 5 minutes after leaving the van they rose to the challenge magnificently.
We reached Big Hut in the early afternoon. It is true to its name, and quite unique when compared to most other tramping huts around the country. The most obvious point of difference is the table tennis table permanently set up in the middle of the room. With no taps anywhere in the building, fresh water can be accessed by dipping a stainless steel bucket into the rain water tank, or, when that is buried under snow an iron bar is supplied to break ice on a nearby pond. A rope is provided to guide you from the hut door to the long drop toilet when the mist is so bad you can’t see the way, or when the wind is so bad you need something to hang onto.
After a break at the hut, we set off to explore along the summit ridge. We walked about 4km south to see the Museum Rock formation, still at a loss to see how it got its name but interesting nevertheless. Heading back north again we reached the high point of the ridge, Summit Rock, at 1450 metres. The mist that had been swirling about throughout the day finally gave up allowing us the chance to see the amazing views on offer. It was a very rare mild and calm evening and we sat up there for some time. It was getting on for 7pm when we got back to the hut to prepare dinner.
Reenergised by their meal, the boys returned outside to enjoy a game of football between the rock outcrops until it became too dark to see the goals.
We woke the next morning to a great sunrise and more stunning views. However, the appearance of an ominous black cloud demonstrated how quickly weather conditions can change and within an hour or so it was raining. By the time we had finished breakfast and packed up the rain was gone again, so we headed up to the rocks behind the hut to search for the giant weta famous in these parts. It didn’t take us long to uncover some fine specimens.
The journey back down the hill to the van was much easier, so, after a few off-track explorations and a stop for lunch, we reached the van just after 1pm.
I was impressed with this group of young men in our first expedition together. They worked well as a team and clearly enjoy being outdoors. I look forward to their continued involvement in future adventures.