It’s been a bit of a tradition over the last 5 years or so that at some stage over the Easter long weekend we do a bit of a longer social ride. We’ve done the Lithgow-Glowworm Tunnels- Wolgan loop a couple of times. Lithgow to Capertee via Black Fellow hands trail, Long Swamp, Baal Bone Gap, Crown Station was a good one. Sunnyside ridge return. All good rides with a more sociable atmosphere
This year I thought we’d try something different, it would be a slightly shorter ride but broken up with a bit of a bushwalk up into the bottom of the delightful Deep Pass Canyon.
The idea gathered a fair bit of interest so even though i knew a few of the regulars had other commitments I was expecting a largish group. but when I rolled into the meeting spot it was just Shawie, Richard and Wiggo there.
We waited until the appointed time and with no sign of anyone else headed off just the 4 of us.
No dramas, we’re all about the same level of fitness so while not turning it into a race we were able to push a steady pace.
Dragon sky or some such thingie was on so the plateau was infested with 900 or so scouts and venturers out having a bit of fun. In times when people often whinge about kids sitting around playing computer games it’s great to so many kids out learning bush skills. We came across them in groups of 4s and fives as the navigated the maze of fire trials between check points.
Your going the wrong way! called Richard as one group came around a corner. We are not! replys girl with map and compass but no sense of humour. Her friends had a bit of a chuckle. Not her. Serious face. Eyes on the prize.
Anyway after a bit of a cold snap earlier in the week it was a pleasant day to be out riding and we covered the miles to the Mt Cameron fire trail turn off in good time and stopped for a bit to eat. From there it was down down and down into Deep Pass Clearing. An awesome walk in camp ground. The thought of lugging gear in and out the steep track on foot usually keeps the hordes at bay but today it was a little tent village.
After a bit of a look around the clearing we stashed the bikes and made our way up the head waters of Nayook creek to the bottom of the very pretty Deep Pass Canyon. It was on a very similar excursion (Riding, bush walk, swim) I first visited this canyon on a school camp back in the days of my misspent yooff.
A bit of time soaking in the ambiance then back down to the clearing for lunch then pushing out bike up the steep track up to Deep Pass Saddle and then the steeper trail up through the cliff lines before remounting and taking the back roads homes.
This was as far up as we went to day. It’s possible to scramble up into the canyon proper with out getting wet via fixed hand lines and an assortment of logs tethered to the walls in the narrow bit but cycling shoes aint the best option.
So I always thought it odd there were some great canyons running off the Blue Mts Plateau on the North side of the Highway but not much to the South. Sure there was Empress, which is stunning, but I thought it an oddity in among the micro canyons, steep cracks and more open V-gullys running into the valleys on the south side.
Awhile ago I heard rumours that something else had been found but was vague on details. Then the 5th edition Jamieson guide came out with a brief description of the awesomely named “Great Uncle George” Canyon and I’ve been keen to check it out but just hadn’t gotten around to it.
Hey Julie, texts I, U off on ANZAC day? though my spelling and typing is even worse on text.
Sure am, says she or something to that effect and we hatch a plan to visit Old Uncle Georgeyboy. She contacts Jim who pioneered a different exit up an easy ridge back to Ingar Fire trail which makes a very short car shuffle or negates the need for one altogether if you don’t mind a bit of boring fire trail walking at the end.
Jim and his wife Lyn are keen to come along, even better.
Ed can’t make it as he is busy doing family stuff, which is a bummer. As I know he was keen to check it out too.
Tal was keen but when I woke him up at the crack of 7:45am he groaned, rolled over and pulled his covers over his head… Um OK. Julie shows up we stash gear and head up to meet the Cooks at the car park.
It’s a short walk in… if you veer through the private property but it may be best to skirt around the outside, avoiding the swamp and neighboring gully. Up top it’s a bit of an erosion scar. A trail dozed down towards the cliff edge must surely be an old fire break as it’s too steep for a standard 4WD.
Anyhoo we reach the abseil point. Jim set up on the rope, backs up and with a little hop disappears. It’s funny to watch. One second he is there, there next he is not. Hopefully I can get some video together over the next week or so as I have a good clip of Lyn doing the same.
A nice overhung abseil into a awesome amphitheater. A tall waterfall plunges into a sited up hole which must once have been a very pleasant swimming hole.
A set of stairs lead back up the through the cliff line and while the rope is getting retrieved I fire off a couple of photos and head up the stairs to see where they go. A lot of work had gone into making the stairs and the trail above them. It takes me up to a little cave where more stairs are carved up the rock face to no where, as the trail continues around a nose and up above the top cliff line.
A Lot of work went into this track
Wind swept cave in the upper cliff line
Odd place for a step
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What followed was a pleasant stroll down a very pretty creek inter-spaced with some abseils and some nice canyon sections.
More pleasant creek follows. It was mostly easy walking with a little bit of boulder hoping
Nice Creek walking
Starting to Canyon up
Some boulder scrambling and wades
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Several times the canyon threatens to form, swings around a corner and peters out
And after a bit more creek walking a canyon forms with a bit of length to it
Julie photoing me photoing her
Canyon opening out
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It opens out briefly
While never overly deep or tight it does seem to keep going for a while
Canyon formation opening back out
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And then there is more pleasant creek scrambling with enough awesome scenery to make it well worth while
The Jameison guide says to continue down stream a while then out another creek, which requires a car shuttle but Jim had scoped another option last trip and we scramble up a break in the clifflines which leads to an easy ridge back toward the picnic area near the start of Ingar fire trail and thus back to the car.
So, while I wouldn’t say the canyon itself was overly spectacular it was a very nice trip in a beautiful creek that was, for the most part, very easy going. While a couple of the abseils had tricky starts they were all a bit of fun.
Party Size: 4 all experienced
Timing: 5hrs car to car with lots of photo phaffing, exploring, chatting and taking it easy )
All in all a great day in the great outdoors with great people
I thought the entrance chamber was so awesome I went back with Mandy and Tal a couple of days later for a picnic via the stairs
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We were trying to figure out why these stair would be carved under the cave, its certainly easy enough to walk up the slope beside them then Mandy cottoned on to a likely answer, could they have quarried blocks from here to use int he stair case below?
Julie invited me and Ed out on a trip out to one of the less raved about canyons on the Southern Bungleboori, accessed off Waratah ridge and we weren’t about to say no.
The original plan was to do 4 Dope but after all the rain the Julie suggested Dead Tree (AKA “Dead Log” in the Jameison guide) instead as 4 Dope required 1km of wading, swimming and, scrambling upstream to exit the Bunglebooori which may well be pumping.
I had previously read on Dave Nobles blog that he hadn’t thought much of the canyon on his first trip through (thou that was at a time when canyons like Rocky Crk, Crikey, Steep crk… were still being discovered) and while on a much later trip he was more impressed with it, of the 2 he still preferred 4 Dope. So even though Julie assured me she liked Dead Tree better I didn’t have high expectations for a spectacular constriction.
Whether it was these low expectations, the extra water flow or a combination of both I thought it was a great trip through a very pretty constriction with plenty of challenges to keep you thinking.
Anyhoo I get ahead of myself.
Oddly the Jameison guide suggests 1 day for 4 Dope but, even though it has a shorter walk in and out, suggests a “long day” for Dead ‘Log’ I’m figuring it must be slow going in the canyon so was a little surprised with reasonable starting time and we roll out of my place a little after 8.30am.
The Waratah Ridge car park was empty when we arrived (though had another 3 cars by the time we returned) and the walk out was fairly uneventful with a clear trail for fair way before we veer off the main ridge and head into trackless scrub. Julie is navigating and I enjoy just tagging along.
We wander out to the end of our ridge to a big pagoda complex that offers views out over the trackless wilderness of the Southern Bungleboori.
then we back track slightly and drop into our creek
Delicate irons stone structures
Themighty cliffs of the Bungleboori
Julie leading out across a small ridge
Doesn’t look like much ahead
Avoiding an abseil via a Plately pagoda and a slippery chute
Straight away we are greeted with a very pretty pool at the base of a small cascade. I set the little camera up in live comp mode and leave it recording as we don wetsuits and harness’s
Next up we are straight into a cool little tunnel.
Cool in more ways than one. brrrr. fresh
Ed follows Julie into the darkness
It was a short swim through darkness
What follows is a bit of a slog down the gully. It wasn’t too bad but lots of dead fall, peeled bark and washed down stick jams to negotiate between some slippery boulder scrambles.
And then the canyon closed in and we were met with a lot of tricky little down climbs and abseils that looked higher than they were. You’d be squeezing down a hole, trying work out how to get your foot over the next ledge by feel as you couldn’t see then you realise that ledge was the floor…
With the water levels up a little the waterfalls were all very pretty and a few of the abseils had you swinging under them. it was all very enjoyable.
Julie and Ed in the Canyon Formation
Ed in the canyon
Julie on another tight abseil with a tricky start
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I’m sure the little extra water flow added to the experience
Julie making her way through the canyon
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Ed and Julie in the canyon
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After the coolness in the canyon we scrambled up into a patch of sunlight to thaw out and grab a bite to eat and then it was back into the water and down stream on the Boori.
Type 1 fun*, says Julie as for the most part we lie back on our packs and let the extra current take us. Some short, shallow rapids were shot. Sure the video makes it look tame but it felt fast and fun at the time and sure beat wading up stream.
We forgo the exit suggested in the guide and continue down to the one next to Arch canyon. This is a fairly easy pass with a bit of route finding but with slight side trips offers nice views over the arch, only slightly obscured by trees.
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Back on the ridge top it’s fairly easy going. The trail comes and goes from clear as clear, well trodden and defined to nothing but the scrub is sparce and we know we just need to follow the tops. Eventually we find the trail proper and it’s an easy march back to the car park.
A most enjoyable day
Party size: 3 all experienced
Time: 8.5hrs car to car
After all the rain there was a lot of fungi out and about and we spotted some nice looking ones. If you can identify any of them I’d love to see it in the comments below
Don’t eat the red ones: Boletellus obscurecoccineus willkilluious deadii
White ones. What ever you do don’t eat the white one. Glowious inthedarki deatheous
I thought these were fallen flowers
Deathiate bi beautii
Like fantasy castles waiting to launch an attack on your mind and kidneys
Tremella fuciformis, the white brain that will fry your brain. Like crystal meth but spongy
Smurfs disguised as ‘srooms. They are sure to kill you. evil smurfs
Shagadelic. 1 sniff and you’ll be talking to a great dane and eating Scooby snacks
If you peel it and boil it for 4hrs then tip the water out and boil it again it’ll probably still kill you
Tpye 1. Good old plain fun. Its fun planning, it’s fun doing and it’s fun looking back on. You really wish you were doing it now
Type 2. It was fun after the fact. You know once you’ve forgotten the 3km of scrub the scratched the crap out of you on the way to the fun and you have also forgotten also the 5000m of vertical you climbed to get out of the fun. You’d definitely do it again
Type 3. You claim it was fun. You tell your mates it was fun. But you’d would never do it again.