This has to be one of the better, and spookiest geocaches we have visited. Located along the Simpsons Track, following the shores of Mangrove Creek – the Inn of the Damned (GCY3M3) cache by GroovyChook is located at a site used to film the 1976 horror movie “Inn of the Damned”. Sadly, only scattered remains of the building are left since being torched by vandals in 1979 and barely recognisable with the lush forest greenery taking over. All that’s left standing is a small tin out house.
Our plan was to park near the Mangrove Creek weir, and cross it – if possible, make our way up Simpsons Track to this geocache, and then progress another 3km further up the track to the Simpson’s Cave geocache.
It was a hot stinky Saturday morning. The temperature was hitting 35′c, and our first obstacle was we couldn’t drive all the way to the weir because access was restricted. So we parked near the gate and walked down the steep, sizzling paved roadway – not looking forward to the return hike up the hill.
Before long we were at the shores of Mangrove creek.
Our next obstacle was how to cross the creek. There is a concrete weir, and unattended pumping station – with warning signs and fences to keep us out. Adjacent to the weir was an alternate rocky crossing, but difficult to get to. Instead we decided to find a way under the fence and cross the safer, and easier, concrete weir.
After a minor southward detour, were soon following Simpson’s Track westward along the southern shores of Mangrove Creek. This old convict track was oozing history – being the original road from Sydney to the Central Coast and used up to as late as 1930. With the history came the ghostly eeriness of being out here, all alone, on this lonely yet legendary track.
The heat was stifling. The silence broken by the song of the ever-present bellbirds in the trees above. Now and then wildlife was heard and seen to be scuffling away from us as we approached. We saw goannas, a platypus, snake tracks slithering across the ground, and probably other interesting things we dared not look for.
Perhaps the spookiest thing of all wasn’t found until after we were at home later that afternoon, examining the day’s photos and in at least three cases we could find “faces” in amongst the trees and bush. One of the most startling, and clearest, being that of a young boy.
We were closing in on Ground Zero. First a rusty car, then an out-house as the cache description had hinted we should look for, and a flat area, devoid of trees that we could only assume was the site of the Inn that now no longer exists. But we could “feel” it, like it was still there in front of us – and it was rather unsettling.
Something told Wolfie Guy the cache is “here”, I mean “right here” – and I’m not talking about our GPSr. He just was somehow “told” – and he looked, and it was there. Right there. Exactly. First go. In a non-obvious place that would have otherwise taken quite a while to find. We told you this is a spooky place.
The cache was last signed in 2007. I guess not many visitors make it out this way. We took from it a Unite for Diabetes Travel Bug that had been sitting out here waiting to hitch a ride since 2006. We thought about leaving the geocoin we picked up yesterday, but didn’t think the owner of the coin would appreciate it being left in a cache that gets visited only once or twice a year, if that!
Now it was time to continue along Simpsons Track toward Simpson’s Cave (GCXZFP) – we made it about one-third of the way along the 3km hike when we came to a junction with a stone monument.
The plaque reads:
SIMPSON’S TRACK TEN MILE HOLOW TO MULBRING
This track was established as a major branch from the Great North Road and intended by Lt Percy Simpson as the road north, at least to Newcastle and Maitland (Wallis Plains). He was Assistant-Surveyor at Wiseman’s Ferry from 1828 to 1832 and one of Australia’s earliest scientific road engineers. He supervised the construction of some of the Road’s finest structures.
The line of Simpson’s Track was like so many others, probably a path used by aboriginals. First known sighting by a white man was by McDonald, who was the overseer of a property at Ellalong. It goes from Ten Mile Hollow on to Mangrove Creek, then up Dubbo Valley on to Mangrove Mountain, then down Bumble Hill up through Yarramalong, Dooralong and then on to Cooranbong.
Lt Simpson had selected land near Dora Creek in 1828 and no doubt wanted the Road to go past his property.
The Great North Road, the first made north of the Hawkesbury, was constructed by convict gangs between 1826 and 1836. Some parts of the Rod have carried traffic continuously since that time. Other sections have been abandoned or have become little used.
The GNR was made when settlers were pushing up into the Hunter Valley and when sailing ships found it difficult to get into the harbour at Newcastle.
Today you can walk or ride ‘the convict trail’ from kerbed and guttered suburban streets, to the dry, rocky ridges and spectacular forests around Wiseman’s Ferry and St. Albans, to the pretty Wollombi Valley and onto the open plains of the Hunter Valley. Along the way you will find much that will amaze you. Get a map and EXPLORE.
After reading the plaque we looked down to see we were standing on some snake skin that looked quite fresh – to be reminded of the potential dangers of being out here.
From this junction, we detoured off the Simpson’s Track a little and headed over toward a nearby cool, refreshing creek, for a bit of a rest in the shade before looking at continuing up the track. As we approached, we startled a crocodile-sized goanna which took off across the water and up a tree – I’m not sure who got the bigger fright – the goanna, or us!
It was a nice cool oasis here – a place for us to dip our hats in the water and get a bit of coolness onto our hot and flustered heads – after which we returned back to Simpson’s Track and made a decision not to proceed today.
This part of the track was becoming very overgrown with knee-height grass, and given the weather and abundance of snakes in the area, we decided to give it a miss this time. The temperature was soaring and we had a fairly long walk back – and besides, it was lunch time and we were getting hungry.
We haven’t forgotten Simpson’s Cave – but next time we’ll approach it from the west, thus giving ourselves opportunity to explore even more of this amazing convict-built historic track. This has definitely been one of our most favourite, and spookiest of places we have been.
Thank you GroovyChook for such an awesome cache hide, and for sharing this piece of history with us.