After having been told that I’d missed some important things in my exploration of the Silver Stream area two weeks ago, I decided another visit was in order.
So we retraced our way to the little car park on Silver Stream Valley Rd and set off once again into the valley. We paddled through the first ford but managed to locate the swing bridge which allowed us to avoid the second. Too bad our feet were already wet!
Then it was up past the bottom weir, along the slippery board walk again, and up the steep incline to the turn off for McRaes Weir. Then we joined the derelict water race and followed it, this time in the opposite direction.
The forest seemed lusher here, and we were soon surrounded by tree ferns. Some were even growing out of the water race itself!
There were also a few more crumbling aqueducts along our way.
I noticed a little fantail flitting about and decided to try a trick I learned as a child. Selecting a stick from the ground, I held it out quietly. It worked perfectly as the fantail alighted briefly on the proffered perch several times. A very special moment!
We soon reached the place where the track crosses McRaes Creek and turns back down the other side of the gully. To reach the creek bed we had to scramble down a small cliff with the help of some ropes provided. Safely across the small stream, we took the detour to check out McRaes weir 45 metres upstream.
We passed through a spooky tunnel of matted foliage before we came across the mossy little weir. Fallen yellow leaves floated on the pool up top while below a tree had fallen across the narrow stream.
Then we retraced our steps and continued along the other side of the gully. The map claimed another ruined hut was around here somewhere, and I was hopeful that I would finally be able to find one of the elusive old dwellings of the men who maintained the water race.
And I was in luck! We soon came across the partially-collapsed corrugated iron building.
From the other side, we were able to get a better look at the structure, with chimney and fireplace still standing. I can imagine this feature was much appreciated by the race workers, as I don’t imagine this little building was ever very warm! At least it was free, in addition to the eight shillings per day the raceman would receive for their work, which included cleaning the race, adjusting flow levels, and finding and repairing leaks.
Beyond the hut we passed along the border of the City Forests plantation. The pines had been recently harvested, bathing the track in sun light.
After crossing another ditch, we were walking along the water race itself, and soon discovered one of the two tunnels to be found along this route. I crouched down and peered inside – the tunnel curved to the left and appeared to fade into complete darkness.
Bravely I shuffled inside, thankful for once to be short. The tunnel turned out not to be long at all, and we rejoined the track on the other side.
Once in the open again we continued to the second tunnel, partially obscured by debris and filled with stagnant water. We had no torch to light our way through the much longer passage so we decided to go around.
We emerged into bright light as we stepped out on to the tortured and debris-strewn City Forests land. We were able to follow some pink ribbon markers up the hill but then we could find no more. We wandered up the uneven road way but soon came to a dead end.
Unable to find our way to the other end of the tunnel, we headed back in defeat. We backtracked past the first tunnel and along the water race until we came to a turn off which allowed us to return to our starting point without having to walk all the way up McRaes Gully again.
So it seems there was still plenty to see in this area, and perhaps there’s more remaining! Only further adventures will tell!