Published: Jul 2020

Nerriga to Binnari Pass

Note: indicated routes and locations are approximate.Use official topographic maps for navigation

In late 2019 and early 2020, bushfires burnt through a large fraction of Morton National Park. Parts of the park reopened in July 2020, including the Nerriga and Wog Wog entrances. Simon from the Canberra Explorers Meetup group organised an overnight walk, mainly to locate and possibly ascend Binnari Pass on Quiltys Mountain, but also to check out how the country was responding six months after the fires.

Many Australian plants are adapted to fire, and I was relieved to see that most of the Eucalypts had survived and were sprouting epicormic growth.

A lot of the herbaceous undergrowth, like the grasses and Lomandra longilfolia were already doing well, and the woody understory plants like Hakea, Banksia and Xanthorrhoea were either sprouting from seed or regrowing from lignotubers.

Notably absent though was the dawn chorus. I thought I heard a lyrebird at the campsite before breakfast, but that was about it. We saw a few wombat scats and some burrows which looked like they'd seen some recent traffic, so that's encouraging.

It's going to take a few years for the area to return to its former glory. Let's just hope that we don't have another major fire in the area before the newly germinated understory has a chance to set seed or the ecology of the region may be disrupted for a long time.

Many thanks to Simon for transport, planning and the GPS trace, and thanks to both Simon and Joe for a great walk.

Alum Creek Firetrail

Well this is a bit grim isn't it? Although most of the trees have survived, they've clearly suffered through the fires, and a fair bit of heavy machinery has been through here in the post-fire cleanup.

Near Running Creek

We left the Alum Creek firetrail after 100m or so and headed east through the bush in order to skirt around the private property in the area.

Walking off-track was unusually easy for the Budawangs, due to the lack of woody undergrowth.

Thanks Kitty White!

Parts of Morton National Park around the Nerriga entrance and Sassafras were once private property, and the plaque on this stone acknowledges the generosity of Catherine Clare "Kitty" White (1912 - 2002).

About to cross Sallee Creek

Joe (left) and Simon preparing to wade across Sallee Creek.

Endrick Pool

Just upstream from the junction with Sallee Creek.

Quiltys Mountain outcrop

An outcrop on the side of Quiltys Mountain. Somewhere around here is Binnari Pass…

Binnari Pass

Simon negotiating Binnari Pass, with Binnari Pass trying to remain non-negotiable. It's a pretty tight squeeze and getting full-size walking packs up here would be a bit of a challenge.

Pacman Banksia

I'm guessing these capsules have opened in response to the fire. Hopefully the seeds will now germinate and in ten years' time walkers will be cursing the impenetrable Banksia scrub.

Epicormic growth
Nomchong Creek
Endrick River crossing
The campsite — July 2020

A bit worse for wear, but still a reasonable campsite. I see we have a new sitting log.

The campsite — then

As it was in November 2019.

Twist and sprout
Redground track

Walking back to the Nerriga entrance.

Xanthorrhoeas sprouting

On Quiltys Clearing. These should become grass trees someday

Burnt out
Shedding bark

Different trees seem to have different responses to fire. These ones have shed their burnt bark.

Shallow creek crossing on Redground Track
Nerriga gate

End of the walk. You can see a remnant of the grey-blue palings that used to clad the fence before the fires.