We combined two walks at Mooraback into one, exploring the tableland where the Hastings River has its source. Mooraback is an old farm that dates from 1885, now part of Werrikimbe National Park. The name Werrikimbe is thought to be aboriginal in origin, meaning “meeting place of three rivers” as the Hastings, Forbes and Kunderang Brook all have their sources in this high country.
Leaving from the campsite on the first 500m walk, Mooraback Walking Track, we crossed the stream and circled through eucalyptus forest. A tall New England manna gum grows here. Soon we joined the longer Platypus Pool loop, choosing to walk clockwise. We walk past an old wooden fence line, beyond is the farmhouse, now a Field Studies centre
Two small kangaroos hop away as we approach, hiding in the tall grasses. It is late summer and the wildflowers are going to seed. Near the river, a small spiral pink orchid catches my eye, Austral ladies tresses (Spiranthes australis). We also see two conspicuous piles of poo – dingo perhaps? Werrikimbe is a core breeding area for dingo.
On our way from Brushy Mountain campground, we followed Racecourse Trail, past Racecourse swamp. Of course there was no racecourse here, the name derives from the oval cleared shape of the swamp, rather than a tradition of betting on farm horses. Racecourse swamp, like Bishops Swamp which this walk passes, are unique on the tablelands as the underlying geology is sedimentary rather than granite or basalt. The swamp is estimated to have taken 10,000 years to form and provide habitat for unique flora. Until the settlers arrived, with their bullock teams, and attempted to drain it, upsetting the natural balance and introducing weeds.
From the swamp and Hastings River, the walk climbs into old growth eucalyptus forest, with some views of the Werrikimbe River, then drops down to join the river again near the Platypus pools. Its a gentle return to the campsite and lunch.
There are two other longer walks in this area: the 7km walk on Mooraback Trail to Racecourse Swamp, which can also be ridden on a mountain bike, and Werrikimbe trail with a detour to the summit of Mount Werrikimbe (1115m). Difficult off track walks lead to the Hastings River.