Edwin, Garry, Meggs, Ben and myself
This was one I’d earmarked to do this year. Some of the others seemed a bit dubious, it’s a long walk in for something with no abseils, says they. Yeah but it’s got a great constriction in deep water, says I. I think I convinced them. Sort of. They agreed to come in any case.
Tal was out with a twisted ankle from 7 games of basketball through the week and to be honest I was feeling a little worse for wear from reffing 7 games of basketball through the week, but the wet canyoning season was drawing to a close for us wizened (or is that soft?) souls and I was keen to get it in before the cold set in.
Mandy wasn’t keen on the thought of a 3hr walk in and Bryson pulled out at the last minute.
The second part of the walk in is zero-tracking and I had heard of groups struggling to find their way in and ending up in the wrong creek so Thursday night I thought I’d double check the batteries in my old E-trex just in case. Screen was, well, not blank but as good as. Belatedly I remember it once having two battery covers, the water proof one and one that doubled as a bike mount. Last canyon it didn’t make it into the dry bag. It had the bike mount. Bugger! But it was purchased in the 90s so probably time for an update. ‘Cept no one but no one in my area had any in stock.
I find a plot online and get Dukesie to enter it into his Garmin 800 bike computer for back up just in case we need it. Turns out navigation was fairly straight forward anyway but I get ahead of myself.
We depart the ‘Go around 7am, head up to meet Ed at Mt Wilson and set off on foot just after 7:40am.
The hike in starts with a pleasant stroll along a fire trail with stunning views over the Wollangambe wilderness, before continuing onto a foot track down to Du Faurs creek at the start of Clatterteeth canyon.
I’d done Clatterteeth canyon with Mandy and Scott in the early days of our first canyoning craze I think it was the 3rd or 4th canyon we’d ever done but I remember parking the car further down the main road towards the big bend and fighting the leeches through dense scrub across the hill. Now there was a clear trail and we made good time with no dramas.
The scramble down into Du Faurs was a little intimidating back then but seemed fairly straight forward with a fixed line in place this time around
Clatterteeth gets nice really quick but we head straight across and scramble up the other side. From here there will be no trail and I have map and compass ready.
The undergrowth is fairly sparse so it wasn’t really “bush bashing”. I pointed Ed in the right direction and he had no trouble following the ridge up and around. Occasionally we double check with the bike computers to see if we are still on the right path but the only bit that really needed confirmation was where we choose to head down the other side and we seemed to have hit that spot on.
Hold up, calls Meggs. Ben had bonked. Out of energy. Flat. Kapunked. We’d been going steadily for around 2hrs at this point, with some steep terrain thrown in. Ben had simply run out of energy and was tripping over himself. Teenagers! Back in my day…
We stop for a break and Meggs pumps some food into him. Refueled Ben looks a lot better. Good to go. We continue down into the gully that would deliver us to our first slot. Belfry Canyon
Belfry is a pretty little canyon and having lugged his SLR all the way in Edwin gets busy with the tripod to grab some shots.
Us less fussy photosnappers do our best with our phone cameras
There was some scrambling to get in, a tricky slide/climb down a log and around onto a ledge then some very nice constriction. Followed by some airy down climbs and boulder hoping once things opened up again.
Bizarrely as I wait on top of the big vertical down climb my phone dinged away with in coming text messages. 2 bars of service. Cool. I fire off a photo to Mandy and Tal to show them what they are missing out on.
We soon reach the junction with Bell crk and head down stream into the constriction.
It was pretty special.
I’d told the guys to bring lilos as there were some long deep pools but there were also lots of log jams so we didn’t inflate them just yet.
Should we inflate the lilos? Na, a bit of tricky down climbing.
Should we inflate the lilos yet? Na, its a bit shallow.
Should we inflate the lilos yet? Na, looks like a bit more scrambling yet
Should we inflate the lilos? Na, it’s a bit narrow and shallow
Should we inflate the lilos? Na, too late waters deep, constriction is narrow. Too much awesomeness distracting us to bother now.
You don’t see too many photos of the main constriction in Bell crk, now I know why. It’s a dark, sustained slot in deep water. Too dark for a quick shot. Water too deep to set up a tripod. It’s a bloody nice bit of canyon.
It’s a long cold swim and by the half way mark we are all thinking the lilos would have been a good idea but the delicate curving of the walls keep our minds off the cold.
The canyon opens out a little and the water becomes shallow enough to wade. Up ahead we see a dry beach, maybe that’s a good spot to inflate the lilos
It wasn’t until we find a sunny spot for lunch we realise how cold we had gotten. The sun was nice but once we stop moving hands quickly turn numb and I, at least, begin shaking a bit.
It was a bit of a struggle to get going again but with more boulder hoping and scrambling to be seen down stream I don’t think I’d bother with lilos next time either. Sure it was nice to take them out for a walk but I’m sure they’d be just as happy back at home.
Some more nice, openish canyon follows before we reach the junction with Du Faurs crk, several kms down stream of where we had crossed it earlier in the day.
We head up Du Faurs, AKA the bottom section of Clatterteeth canyon, encountering a long upstream swim (Should we inflate the lilos yet?) in a very nice section of canyon
Then up Joes canyon, another pretty little constriction, which offers an easy scramble out the top and hence up to the main Wollangambe track and from there back to the car
Party size: 6. all experienced
Time.: A bit over 8hrs car to car with plenty of photo faffing