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Walking the Wilmot River (29 December 2012)
contributed by Billshep1
(contact Billshep1 about this story)
Walking the Wilmot River. The Wilmot Heritage Trails Project 2002- 2012
The walking tracks along the Wilmot River from Alma to Spellman’s Bridge started as a Wilmot Community project around 2002. There was an article in the Advocate’s Kentish News on 11 June 2002 promoting the venture. The Kreger family of Narrawa were the leaders in all this, backed up by John Burton, Bruce and Ian Johns, John Quigley and others.
Jerry Kreger had become fascinated by J .M. Dooley’s packhorse trail of 1859 which aimed to access the gold prospects on the upper Forth. His group had ambitious plans to establish walking tracks from the Alma Bridge to link up with the North West Walking Club’s Penguin to Cradle trail, with a side track into Cethana. In hindsight this has proved too ambitious given the manpower available for track cutting and maintenance, and the Great Flood of January 2011 left such havoc that we have restricted our tracks to the area between Alma and Spellman’s Bridge.
However in the ten years and more of working on tracks and amenities a great deal has been achieved, although most of the original volunteers have left the project and Jerry went to Novia Scotia in May 2010. The current track workers are from Devonport and Ulverstone, all two of us! We would be delighted if Wilmot people lend a hand, particularly at the Spellman’s end. We do get help from members of the NW Walking Club , especially Chris Dennis,and the Monday Girls Walking group. The Monday Girls recently raised $680 to fund the track work and they are helping repair the East Ellis crossing in January 2013.
A booklet on the circuit from Alma to East Ellis picnic area has just been published, aimed at attracting more walkers to the tracks, especially tourists to spend money in Wilmot! There is a blog at www.http://billshep1.wordpress.com which has full details of all five walks on the river. Four of the walks are fairly easy, one is very hard. Most people will go on the Alma to East Ellis circuit starting on the Gentle Annie Hill about 900 metres from Alma Bridge. It has tracks on both sides of the river with concrete stepping stones at three places. Lucy’s Track is on the east bank, with the famous Dooley track on the west. Wilmot folk might find it more convenient to access the southern end of the track at Spellman’s bridge- the route starts on the east bank(Wilmot side) heading down stream. There are nice swimming pools below the bridge and a great beach and pool on a big bend about 35 minutes down river. The track is rough in places here. An interesting feature is the ramp over a big rock started by Jerry and completed by Max and I in the winter of 2010.
Jerry and his team did wonderful work on the Dooley track building shelters and bridges, putting up signs and notices. Most of their work survived the Flood of 2011. Alas their biggest shelter at Osbert Crossing has been wrecked by thieves and vandals three times . John Burton did epic work on that Shelter driving down the horrendous Groove Creek track with loads of gravel. Jerry’s work was aided by community grants, but the current work is funded by volunteers.
We extend a warm welcome to all Wilmot Folk to come and walk the tracks. They extend to over thirty kilometres with shelters , lovely swimming pools , fishing holes and nice camping spots. Its mostly in State Forest so you can bring your dog (on a lead please) The wild flowers are special in Spring and early summer with many orchids. Unfortunately some sections are overgrown with foxgloves and thistles, please feel free to pull them out! Remember that you walk the tracks at your own risk and storm damage may affect the walks at anytime. The crossings are usually easy in summer but avoid the river in times of flood . See you on the track!
This story was uploaded into the Bonzle Digital Atlas of Australia entry for the River or Creek 'Wilmot River'.
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