Emerald Pools, Popran National Park
Emerald Pools is located in Popran National Park, approximately 1h30m from Newcastle. An easy 10km circuit provides walkers with a few points of interest, Mt Olive, 248 track, and of course, Emerald Pools.
10 February 2018
One of my broad goals this year is to have a healthy social life. I've set to achieve and measure this by leading 26 events this year. When I first arrived in Newcastle, I set out to attempt to create an active community in the Hunter using social media as a primary tool. Like any good relationship these days, I met Steven online. Steve created the Newcastle Outdoor Adventure Group (NOAG), a mirror image of the Cairns Outdoor Adventure Group I had founded up in the Tropical North. In 2017, we organised about half a dozen excursions and more than doubled the group's members. Through this group, I will achieve some of my target 26.
The crew left Newy around 9.00am and arrived at Ironbark Rd picnic area. Heather and Fifi left their cars halfway, as one section was very steep and rutted out. The first part of the trail was wide fire trail and easy walking, although did not provide much shade cover on the hot summer's day. Almost immediately a sign tempted the crew to summit Mt Olive, they couldn't resist and took the 310m side track to check out the views. The lookout was essentially one massive rock, with sheer cliffs on both sides. No visible bolts, but with several large trees, a mental note was taken to come back with some slings and climbing gear. After a few happy snaps, back to the main trail for another 3 kms to their next stop and main event, Emerald Pools.
The oasis on the blistering hot day was a welcome spot, an opportunity for the crew to chat, eat lunch, and cool down. However, to be honest, it was a bit anti-climatic. Being spoiled by almost a decade in the tropical north, the stagnant pool was not all that inviting. We ended up spending most of the 30ish minutes dipping our toes in water, half pressuring ourselves to not give a shit, strip down, and get the f#ck in. Unfortunately, it didn't happen and once the chocolate hot cross buns were depleted, it was time to head back.
The 2nd half of the circuit was quite enjoyable. The gradual walk up provided a variety of vegetation and a rocky outcrop at the end of the optional 248 trail. The lookout offered some nice views of the surrounding valleys and was supposed to have some aboriginal carvings, but all we found were arrows etched in the stone pointing the way out. Oh, and we also found a wasps' nest that managed to take two victim with their arsenal of stingers.
All in all the trek was fun and worth doing. I'll definitely keep my eye out for a large rainfall and head out there immediately the following day. It will be a completely different experience.
And how am I tracking on my goal? This was my 2nd event with NOAG, and 7th total for the year. I'm on pace to achieve my goal before the midway mark of 2018. Should be a great year!