The next day, I discovered the bladder on my camelback to be leaking. I quickly re-pack another backpack and carried 2 bottled water instead.
When I got to Angie’s, she served breakfast to me and Ivor then off we went to Berowra. She said that the train station is on Berowra Waters Road, so I set the GPS somewhere in that road – but have I setup the GPS the night before – I would have known that the station is at the Pacific Highway. We missed our train driving around looking for the station, and the rest of the explorer group went on ahead without us. As an added complexity, Tim (same Tim from this blog), decided to join this walk on the invitation of Ivor and was already on the train. Ivor quickly called him to get him to introduce himself to the group. Angie also called Dianne to watch out for a lost soul and ask if his name is Tim. We got a call later that they all met up.
Getting into the the Pindar Cave walk requires that you get the train precisely. You have to board the train at the last carriage. There can be a 4-carriage or an 8-carriage train. Pay attention to the train signs or announcement to know where to wait in the platform. Before you board the train, you have to inform the staff at the last carriage, that you are getting off at Wondabyne. Otherwise, the train will not stop in that station.
There are no roads going to Wondabyne Station. On one side is the Hawkesbury River and on another is a steep bush trail. There are no houses around and the platform is so small – it has a length just enough for 1 train carriage (thus you have to board the last carriage when going to this station). On most occasions, only bush walkers get off or on from this station.
We decided to follow the Macquarie Explorer Group although they are already an hour and a half ahead of us. We will try to follow the trail and if we get lost, we will just head back to the train station (I’m sure these are the famous last words of people who gets lost in the bush – We know how to get back!). There were other bush walkers on the train we caught, and they seem to be heading to the cave as well. We could just follow them, we thought. Except that they were very fast. We were so embarrassed because in their group are 76 and 80 year old walkers who did better on the climb than us. Here we are, almost half their age, panting and gulping water as we climb up the trail.
About half way into the climb, I felt my blood sugar to be running low and before it gets the better of me, I asked Angie to bring out the jelly beans (she always bring these during walks). We stopped to get it out of the backpack then pressed on. At the top of the cliff, Angie realised she left her camera where we stopped for jelly beans. She is also nursing a cold which was slowing her down. We told her to keep pressing on while Ivor and I went back down to look for it. We found it but we have to climb right back again. This time, the group we were following is well in front and out-of-sight. We received a call from our group telling us they left signs on the trail.We found the first one. They arranged some rocks to form an arrow and written “Angie” in the sandy part of the track. We also saw some small rocks placed on top of another (called the can) on parts of the trail where there’s a fork. We later found that these cans have been placed there by other walkers and not by our group but still marking the way to the cave.
Then we caught up with the group from our train – we were feeling good about ourselves because we saw them stopped for morning tea. We decided to keep pressing, buoyed by that confidence we were progressing fast enough and hoped that we could catch our group before lunch. We also heard that one girl in our group had hurt her knees and they may be slowing down.
As we are powering on, we heard the group we left back having morning tea to be closing in on us. They were to overtake us again. We’ve lost heart because we were suppose to be the young and healthy trio. We had no excuse this time why they were able to catch up on us again. This is when we decided to stop and have a break. We were feeling confident we could find our own way without help. We have been very successful so far. After eating, we moved on and not far ahead is another fork. One had a faded yellow and the other a faded pink ribbon. We didn’t know which one to take. We decided to follow the pink one until we got to the tracks that seem to have more vegetation than usual. We abandoned that trail and walked back to where we saw the yellow and pink mark. I went into a bit of a panic because back tracking is not as easy as it sound – everything looks the same and we can’t remember which route to take back. It took us a while to return but we eventually did and followed the yellow sign. Somewhere on the trail we met some more bush walkers already heading back. We asked if the track we’re on is the track to the Pindar Caves – and they reassured us.
We got lost one more time and had to back track again until we finally found the cave. Our group wasn’t there but the train group was there and told us that there was another group that forged on further. We followed the direction they were pointing to for another half a kilometer until we got to a point where we are certain they could not have gone through without leaving signs. This is about the time we received another call saying that our group is still at the cave vicinity. We asked them to stay put as we headed back. Finally we’ve met up. But they have been waiting for a while and we need to catch a train to head home. We were given about 2 minutes to catch our breath then we all headed back another 6 kilometers back to the train station through the same route we took to get there.
After I told this story to Jeanne – she was very relieved she decided to sit out this bush walk.