Claustral Canyon, with a side of Thunder

24-03-2018

Ed, Ethan, Garry, Jodie, Dick and me.

So Ed had just about run out of awesome photos to edit awesomely into awesomer photos of our awesomest trip to Claustral with Lewis last season.

If you haven’t seen his photos do yourself a solid and look him up on the book of faces or find him on flickr

Anyhoo, with Ed being a new dad he had other things to occupy him and thus was only going on limited trips but we had hatched a plan ages ago for a return trip to Claustral for more photos.

But it just didn’t seem like it was going to go to plan. Ed’s camera had some issue which meant it needed to be sent away for repair. I strained a calf muscle a couple of days before the trip and could barely walk and the weather turned wet and cold and the best laid plans of small  rodents and hairless apes seemed like they would crumble.

In the end it came together and we found ourselves signing the visitors book on the walk in track just past 8am. We had thought the weather might put people off but a group of 3 was just in front of us and a party of two pulled up just as we headed off. We’d perfectly time it to briefly meet each other at the thunder canyon junction and exit but otherwise not see each other in the canyon. (more cars were lined up on the side of the road by the time we returned to the car park)

Ed showed up without his camera. It was just back from repairs and he didn’t want to risk it in the rain. Probably be too gloomy anyway…

The day was actually sunny and we wasted no time getting into the good bits.

A-1.jpg
Ed in the ferntatious fernery of the fernilicious entrance gully fernery
A-3.jpg
After a week of rain water levels were up a bit
A-5.jpg
And the water was a little on the chilly side
A-6.jpg
But the light was divine

We get to the infamous Black Hole of Calcutta. They are roaring. We agree on whistle signals as voices wouldn’t be heard and work out a plan to piggie back the ropes down the abseils to avoid a large group waiting in cold water.

In I go

A-8.jpg
last time I was awed by this section. Today even more so.
A-10.jpg
Descent into the Maelstrom

A-14.jpg

Despite the sun shine up above the black hole seemed even darker than usual. Around the corner the Green Room at the Ranon junction was as spectacular as always. A lovely soft light had Ed regretting not bringing the camera but if he had I think we’d still be there…

Free of camera duties he was quick to strike some poses

A-17.jpg

The quintessential Claustral shot of recent years is looking back towards the Green Room with someone standing on a rock that looks a bit like Hulk’s fist. Just about every group that goes through takes the shot. I’ve heard of people booking a commercial tour just to get the shot. You’d think it would be blasé by now.

But it still holds some magic.

A-21.jpg
Ed contemplating shades of green on the Hulks Fist

Still I try a few different angles and poses just to be different. Now I wouldn’t claim to be a photographers areshole but I think they turned out ok

A-19.jpg

b-1.jpg

 

And we move on.

It’s dark in the canyon. With the mist lifting I was expecting sun beams but it seems we are a tad early. In a few spots I’m glad we had head torches

A-24.jpg

The low angle of the sun creepng down the walls  throws up interesting shots like this shot below

A-25.jpg
Jodie in the spotlight of Garry’s Ay-Ups while up above the light plays hard to get and a mist fall sprays the walls
b-2.jpg
Ed posing in a scene he made famous with his 2017-18 season Ozcanyons banner
A-29.jpg
Jodie joins him to pose for Ethan. I’m pretty sure thats the angle that featured on the cover of National Geographic a few years ago.
A-32.jpg
And onward we go
A-33.jpg
And th greenery continues
A-35.jpg
As does the dark

We get to the junction with Thunder Canyon and I convince them it’s worth the side trip with it’s cold dark swims.

The group in front of us are just coming back out. they have found an intense light ray and are warming them selves in it’s brilliance

A-39.jpg

It was a small teaser of the light show that was about to burst forth

But first to brave the cold swim. Thunder Canyon is deeper and darker than it’s more popular siblings.

A-41.jpg

It has glowworms shinning throughout the day if you know where to look and are game to turn off your light

A-42.jpg

Oh look light rays are starting to come through

A-44.jpg
Dick and Ed admiring the sun beams

And didn’t they what

A-45.jpg
We spent quiet a bit of time here
A-47.jpg
It gt better and betterer

A-49.jpg

But eventually we dragged ourselves away. Further up was more dark but it was worth venturing up to join the short finned eels in the cold waters.

Just around the corner is the base of Westerway Falls.

A-51.jpg
Believe it or not this is 100% natural lighting. As Ed declaired you couldn’t design a light scheme that perfect. And check out the play of that water feature.

But still there’s more. Hidden behind the falls is another delight

A-52.jpg
A deep dark cave behind the falls themselves. You may be able to make out some glowworms in this shot
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The biggest draw back with the little TG4 is the 4 second exposure limit. Thi s needed about 30 to bring out the glowoworms in their full glory. Olympus get around this somewhat with their live comp mode which builds a little in camera histogram type magic that takes multiple shots and blends the bright bits into the back ground image. It works ok for waterfalls, fireworks and stars but glowworms are hard.

I could have stayed here much longer but we needed to move on. This was as far up Thunder we’d be able to get. Time to back track to the junction

 

A-60.jpg
Back down we go

The light beams were waiting for us again

And then we are back to the junction.

Most people consider the next bit to be part of Claustral but technically it is Thunder Gorge in Camathan brook and Clautral brook is it’s tributarty. Sure Thunder comes down and takes a right angle turn while Claustral seems to go pretty much straight but Thunder was the first one explored and named so it gets the glory. Or sumfink

There is some energy sappng boulder scrambles and tricky climb downs

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A-69.jpg

but then the walls close back in for the tunnel swim

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Ed at the start of the tunnel swim
A-71.jpg
Dick heading into the tunnel swim

And some more gorgeous canyon

A-72.jpg

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And then it’s time for lunch and the haul up Rainbow ravine.

It’s hard going in the humidity but the veiws from the top of the camels hump are worth it.

Just up there is the old car park… But we turn back down steeply into the top of Claustral Brook  where we work our way down through some more nice canyon sections. Above us thunder rumbles and a storm hits.

Well that saves the dilema of whether to dry bag the dry clothes or just swim in them. By the time we get to the swims we are soaked any way. The rain was heavy but refreshing and we reach our second exit point and do the climb out to the cars.

It’s later than we had planned. We’d sppent longer in Thunder canyon than I thought we would have but it was just so mesmerising. Still Gaz has to be at work for a 12hr night shift in just 45min so no time is waisted and it’s into dry clothes and a hurried good bye.

All in all a top day.

Your comfort zone is the most dangerous place to stay.

Party size 6 all experienced

Timing: 9.5 hrs not rushing and my injured leg holding us up a bit.

The video is a bit longer than my normal opnes but I could have put up 20min just on the Black hole abseils.

 

BACK

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s