It’s a hot summer day and we’ve decided to hike Northbrook Gorge. Our group includes my sister, her children and two Couch Surfing guests. Setting off up the creek, my nephew and I waste no time getting our feet wet. The creek water is cool and the gravelly creek bed is not too slippery. The rest of our crew try to keep their feet dry by walking along a feint trail next to the creek and rock hopping. I can’t be bothered with all that because we all know there’s a waterhole further up the creek that we will need to swim across.
Navigation is simple. There’s no need to worry about a map, compass or GPS here. Just follow the creek upstream from the bridge (to the left traveling down the mountain). This is a fairly flat walk so it’s perfect for a hot day when we don’t really want to over exert ourselves. The colourful rocks on the creek bed are pretty and the plants create structure with both hard and soft fronds.
We stop at the first gorge and pack all our gear into dry bags. There’s no more keeping feet dry now. We wade in and swim the last section of the pool where the water is too deep for us to stand. Warm rock walls stand above us. The walls here are not too high but there’s still a gorge feeling about this place. There’s a family who have stopped here for a swim and we can see why. Continuing upstream there’s a few more good deep swimming holes. The terrain has definitely changed since we entered the gorge areas. Gone is the shallow gold-brown water. It has been replaced by deep green-black pools that are deep enough to be refreshing.
We swim across a deep waterhole that leads to a small waterfall that we need to climb. When I say “small” I mean small. From the bottom of the pool it looks like it will be a challenge to climb up into the big gorge above. But there are some rock steps to the right of the pool in a dark corner against the cliff face. Other walkers point these out to us to make life easier. My nephew splashes water against the rocks before we start the swim and the drops form a rainbow.
The swim and short clamber are worthwhile. This second gorge is amazing. It’s short, narrow and deep. We sit down and unpack our lunches from our bags. We bought a barbecue chicken and salad greens from the supermarket, and fresh bread rolls from the bakery. It’s enough to feed a small army. Or at least the six hungry mouths in our group. It took us about 1.5 hours to get here. You could do it faster but we took our time and enjoyed the experience; I’m not into marching through the bush. We linger in the second gorge for about an hour, exploring a little further upstream through a big boulder field. And then it’s time to head back to the car. We retrace our steps downstream. My other nephew and I plunge on through the water while the rest of our group again keep their feet fairly dry.
Do not head up the gorge in wet weather or if storms are forecast because it would be a dangerous place to be trapped in rising waters.