Monday, 1 October 2018

Grove Creek Falls, Abercrombie Karst Conservation Reserve

Base of Grove Creek Falls

This 70m (210') fall carves an impressive cave system before tumbling down to the Abercrombie River. You can still find gold flecks in the creek and one of the old prospectors walking the hills will tell that the first miners into the area found a waterfall faced with the precious metal.

Split leads above the main falls after a downpour
Grove Creek takes it's name from the occasional small sandy groves along its path, populated by casuarina trees. The casuarina tree has needle like leaves and indifferent wood. But it has two special powers. Firstly, it stops bush fires. The touch of fire will also kill the tree, but another will grow quickly. Secondly, it can sing. If you sit in one of these groves, and hear a breeze in the casuarinas, you may not be able to leave.

East Australia is in the grip of a drought. This particular area is usually dry (and these falls silent). These shots are after good rain.

'House of Stairs', Upper Falls, Grove Creek

Just above the falls is a disorienting place, where you can quickly loose sense of balance. As in Esher's 1951 'House of Stairs', the scene plays tricks on the eye. Does the stream to the middle waterfall run uphill to make it's plunge? In addition to the hazard of loosing perspective, the surface of the rocks near the falls are smooth and slippery.

Split leads above the main falls after a downpour
There is a mystery here (apart from the nuggets of gold that might be at the bottom of the pool).
From a distance, the path of the fall and the rock fractures combine to give a lattice effect - that plays tricks on the eye - if you look at the moving sheet of water, the fall looks a little like the scales on a moving snake.

It took a little while, but eventually i found a weathered carving of a snake on the waterfall wall. Can you see it?

The eye gives it away - it cannot be a natural feature. I took shots from a number of vantages - i think (but cant be sure) that the eye is carved and the curve of the body has been deliberately chipped (it deviates from the rock structure).

There is a dream-time story that connects this place with Jenolan and Wombeyan (all places of extensive caves).

The first people traveled across this land, but the rivers and streams were of primary importance to them. The first people were spiritual but practical. The law of the people determined the names of things. The law set how stories could record names. It set out how stories could retell the names in ceremonies. It required newborn children to take the name of the closest named place to birth. A person’s name tied the person to the land.
In the far past, animals claimed the shapes of men and women. They walked the world as giants. Two giants formed the land including Abercrombie, Jenolan and Wombeyan.
The serpent fish Gurangatch lived in the deep rivers. From the name you can tell that Gurangatch is big and powerful in water, capable of moving fast.
The tiger cat Mirragan lived in the forests camping by the sides of the rivers. From the name, you can tell that Mirragan slides through the shadows of the night forest, deadly silent.

The battle between these two giants scarred the land, leaving waterfalls and deep pools in their wake.

This dream time story is a little different to the Yuin story associated with Tuross Falls.

Reptilian carving in Fall wall

Perhaps the carving is part of the story of Gurangatch and Mirragan :)


This place is poorly signposted. It is worth getting directions to the fall and vantage points from the Abercrombie Cave House (and visiting the caves while you are there).

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