Dead Tree canyon


Julie, Ed, me

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

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

This pool was crystal clear and looked fairly still but Olympus live comp mode compiles images in a basic histogram type thing that keeps adding the bright sections to the background image and them blends it all together in camera. The guide says it’s for getting good fireworks photos but it is great for waterfalls and foam/leaf swirls too. Here foam bubbles are captured in a slow swirl

Next up we are straight into a cool little tunnel.

Cool in more ways than one. brrrr. fresh

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.

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Julie and Ed at the drop into the constriction, we ended up down climbing rather than roping up
Julie making her way down a very slippery, dead tree/log with an old sling at the bottom
Another drop down a Dead Tree/log follows, this time it stops 2 meters or so from the water level so a rope is needed.
The constriction was narrow, deep and dark in places
Ed squeezes down an tight hole on one of the many awkward abseils.
Canyon formation

click images to enlarge

Ed on rope with Julie looking on from below

click to enlarge images

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Ed on rope, Julie on photo duties below.
Ed watching Julie disappear down into one of the darker chambers

Click to enbiggen

Julie on the final abseil
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Ed on the final abseil
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Just above the junction with the ‘Boori

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.

Julie letting the current do the work

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.

click images to expanderise

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


*Julies types of fun goes something like this

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.

Type 4. It wasn’t fun.

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