Water Dragon canyon


Madie, Matt, Naomi, Graham, Tal and meeee

So Madie had a big weekend of canyoning lined up to ̶c̶o̶m̶m̶i̶s̶e̶r̶a̶t̶e̶ ̶, um, I mean “celebrate” her turning 30. Unfortunately I had to pullout of the Claustral trip on Saturday due to other commitments. Apparently there was a bit of excitement on the trip as Matt scampered up onto the hulks fist and dropped down on one knee and proposed. Luckily Madie said yes. It would have been an awkward 7hr walk out otherwise…

Anyhoo, I drag Tal out of bed Sunday morning and we meet up with the others at the campground.

Options were discussed. An easier, drier day dismissed. And we eventually headed off to do Water Dragon canyon.

The walk down to the Wollangambe was uneventful and we made short work of the hill on the other-side then scrambled down to the start of the canyon where Matt pointed out that had we dragged him all the way to the top of the hill only to descend most of the way back down…

At the canyon we look nervously at the cold water but suit on up and slip on in.

Tal descending into the depths
Neither age nor engagement has dulled her sense of fun
Water Dragon is such a pretty little canyon
of course the people you share the adventure with adds to the experience


This is a tricky little down climb into a cold pool then onto a small ledge for the big abseil. Matt gets to about here, There’s no more room over here Matt can you wait there until we get ropes set up and stuff…. Um yeah, hurry up… Those walls are super slippery. We fire off a few photos…
Stunning abseil with sun beams trying hard to show through


The waterfall is wetter than it looks here


Below the abseil is a lovely dark section, complete with glowworms. This can be visited from below, which seems to be the more popular way to do it. The alternate name of the canyon is Kelvinator canyon as it is much colder than the relative warmth of the wider Wollangambe




And when the canyon begins to open up there is 1 more cold swim to deal with
Naomi and Matt enjoying the cold pool
Then a pretty section of more open canyon leads down to the Wollangambe
Emerging into to the Wollangambe is like stepping into a warm room

Then it’s a bit of a float down stream to the exit



and then up the usual Wollangambe 1 exit track and back to camp


Wollangambe 1 is rated an easy canyon but groups often underestimate it and this climb out has thwarted a few groups in the past.

Another great day in the bush with awesome people

Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers: Edmund Lee

Party size: 6

Time: 7 hours car to car with lots of Phaffing


Closet Canyon


Geoff, Guy, Gabby, Ev, Nichole, Laurie and meeee

I’ve had some half-baked plans involving Closet canyon floating around in my head for a few months now so when I noticed Geoff put it on the calendar for the Upper Blue Mountains Bush Walking club I called a favour and got myself a day off work.

Laurie and I met the others at the picnic ground and we headed off to the car park, sorted ropes and  set off on foot over Galah mountain.

Last time I’d been out along this trail Bill Clinton was PUSA, Dolly the sheep was front page news, you could still drive out to the start of the Breakfast creek trail and we were getting smashed with the biggest hail storm I’ve ever been caught in.

Anyhoo, The trail had now regenerated into a narrow foot pad and the wild flowers were out in force.


We made good time to the end of the main trail but from there the faint trail came and went and was, at times easy to loose. Geoff, Guy and Nichole were sharing navigation duties and kept us basically on line.

Gabby had a small run in with a spider however, disappointingly, she failed to develop superpowers from it (Unless of course she was keeping them secret to use for evil…)

After a bit of scrub bashing a short abseil gained us access to the creek

And a short time later said creek dropped into a canyon. A slightly smelly canyon due to a large dead wombat polluting the pool midway down the second drop

Ev keen to get into it
Geoff avoiding the wombat pool by abseiling in from the side
There some nice, if short, canyon sections

And then there was a a scramble down before you had no choice but to drop into the wombat soup

A nice dark section with a cold swim

The creek then opened out and there were some scrubby abseils in the creek. Apparently it’s possible to exit here.

Why would you thou, when the show stopper is just downstream.

The creek canyons up again and we are greeted by a very Butterbox-like chasm

Laurie watching Guy set up

Traditionally done as 1 long abseil Guy decided the risk of the ropes getting snagged in the the sticks jammed at the halfway ledge warranted doing it as two and so set a re-belay


Geoff above the halfway ledge


Guy leading the final abseil
Geoff on the final abseil
Gabby dwarfed by the scale of the canyon

leaving Laurie to belay I scrambled down a little further and found a comfortable rock that offered a great camera angle.

What’s the view like from your rock? Asks Gabby

Pretty good. says I. I’ll move over so we can share it.

Before I knew it, it went from “My rock” to “Our Rock” to “Gabby’s rock” and I was left wondering how the hell that happened. Maybe she did get evil superpowers after all.

That was my rock… Was.
The highlight of the canyon


From there it’s a short journey down to the junction with Rocky creek and then upstream a bit to the exit.

Rocky Creek




Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten. ― Neil Gaiman

Party Size: 7 all experienced

Time: 10hrs car to car relaxed pace with plenty of phaffing (Photo and otherwise)



Starlight canyon and a quick look at Devils Pinch exit chamber


Gaz, Jodie, Mckenzie and meeee

The forecast was for rain, lots of it topped by severe storms…

Gaz had been keen to do Starlight canyon and I suggested the MTB/canyon combo rather than the full loop. If the tunnel was dry we’d get all the way up to the waterfall. And if it was not abseiling in from the top is not the best idea anyway.

Anyhoo. Dawn came sunny and warm and we crossed the Wolgan and pedalled our way down the management trail.


Even with a detour through the ruins the bikes turned an hour long walk into a 20min ride.

There always seems to be a handy tree to help crossing the Wolgan

Almost immediately we ran into this little beauty

She was a bit of a poser and almost seemed disappointed when we took the cameras away
Entering the Amazing Wallaby Tunnel
The light was pretty special today


There was a big colony of bats above us, as evident by the poo floating on the water

This use to be our go to winter trip before realising the impact to the Bats. The tunnel is an important hibernation cave for bent wing bats so the canyon is now officially off limits over the winter months.

I’ve done this one quite a few times and while I’ve heard tales of people be caught out by high water levels  personally I’ve never had water over ankle deep before

The layer of batshit wasn’t the most pleasant part of the trip

Just before the little climb up/down in the tunnel the water became too deep/cold for us to continue today so we turned back early



Sitting on the halfway ledge enjoying the sun and a bite to eat when around that corner deep down the valley came a plane flying right at us…
Banking hard left to make the turn up the valley.

These guys did a few laps, some of the were so low it seemed we we looking down on them.

And then as it was only early and the predicted storm was still a few hours away we followed the cliff line around for a look up Devils Pinch



The better way to do this combo would be to abseil down Devils Pinch and then reverse up Starlight.

You can only get a few hundred meters up the bottom before you a blocked by a waterfall but it is a spectacular section.

Once again more water in here than usual and after a coupe of cold wades and tight canyon sections we were startled by a gawdaweful rachet and something dashing past us into the next pool.

A young lyrebird… Not sure if it fell in or was nested here and got trapped by the rising waters after a wet couple of weeks but it was was panicked and trying to swim and not doing very well.

Producing a small hand towel Mckenzie and Jodie caught it as genitally as they could and carried it back out past the deeper pools to release it at the lower end of the canyon.

For a bird renown for mimicking the best sounds they sure produce horrible pitches when they are scared.



Party size: 4 (3 experienced I beginner)

Time: 6.5hrs relaxed pace bit of photophaffing

“There is a hidden message in every waterfall. It says, if you are flexible, falling will not hurt you!”
― Mehmet Murat ildan


Kalang Falls


Tim, Al, Gabby, Ev, Geoff, Roy, James and me

I’ve said before that for me the abseils are just a means to get to the next bit of canyon.

I’m far more excited by exploring the dark confines of a slot canyon. I’m captivated by the play of light as the sun arcs over head. I get fascinated by the way water and time have sculptured the rock, and I’m dazzled by the ferntacious greenery…

Ayhoo with that in mind the Kanangra canyons have never held a massive appeal to me but when Tim invited me on a trip down Kalang Falls I thought I may as well check it out to see what the fuss is all about.

With the east coast experiencing some much needed rain it was moody in the forest waiting for the others to arrive.


After a week of drizzle mixed with rain we’d check the water levels and if it was too high we’d abort and do Dione Dell instead.

As it was it was pretty much prefect

And so our group of merry adventurers set off from the car park with a buzz of excitement and a swagger in our steps.

Despite a few of the others having done the trip before myself and Al got nominated leaders so the real leader, Tim could follow along at the back of the group as safety man with the spare rope. So we set  off to rig the first drop.

Making our way down towards the first abseil conditions were very slippery making it slow and steady going

There is a bit of scrambling to get down to the first anchor and Tom’s notes warned the final drop before the anchor could be dangerous so in the wet slippery conditions we rigged the abseil from above it.

I have to admit the waterfalls are stunning

As with all of Tim’s trips we had multiple ropes and walkie-talkie communi-doonies so the group could spread out. Me and Al would set rope, the next person would arrive, we’d take their rope and descend to the next one. And so on and so forth etc etc etc. So even with a largish group taking their time on slick rock we made good time down the ravine.

Al, Fingers crossed I’ve tied the knot right Bro.
It’s technically a dry trip but I got soaked in the spray off this one. If doing it in winter with this much water you’d want some good waterproof clothing


Rope management was the theme of the day. Lots of vegetation and ledges for ropes to get tangled on. I can see where flaking it out of a rope bag would be handy on a trip like this.

You can just make out Ev about to come over the edge


Tim at the 3rd anchor, this one is a little hard to locate.
Not the best silky smooth waterfall photography today but not bad for hand-held shots with the TG4
Epic Kanangra country
Al below the 3rd abseil. You can see Ev on belay where the ropes come down to the right



I found the scrambles between the falls took a lot of concentration. The quartzite is a lot slipperier than the standard Bluies sandstone and also tends to have a lot more loose rocks ready to roll your ankle.

Ev at the bottom of the big drop with Gabby way up high on rope to the right at the top of the falls
Despite the cool day Gabby felt the need for a bit of a swim. Ev is trying to dissuade her.
Geoff handling it with ease


Then he went for a swing and only good team belaying by Ev and Gabby kept him dry
Always time for a selfie
Geoff’s enthusiasm for the bush is infectious
And then it was up Manslaughter ridge and out


 Probably really common, but can anyone tell me the species?

Thuratt Spires and Kanangra wilderness

How did I find it? Well the waterfalls were stunning, the company was awesome, the abseils were abseils and the walk out wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be.

Another great day in the bush with great people.

The mind is like water: capable of going anywhere but once hemmed in by walls of it’s own making it takes a powerfull flood to burst it’s banks and change its course: me



Group size: 8 all experienced

Time: 9hr 20min car to car, not rushing in the slippery conditions and taking it easy up the exit ridge.



Slavens Cave


Mandy Tal and meeee

There’s not much to see. Says Tal. It’s just a hole in the ground

In one sense he is right, it is just a hole in the ground.

But the hole had significance in a couple of ways.

  1. As drab as it is it happens to be one of the largest sandstone caves of it’s type in NSW, possibly Australia (1 report I read claims 10th biggest in the world). From what I’ve been able to make out from what I’ve read sandstone doesn’t tend to form these large subterranean cavities that often.


ii. 25 years ago, when we first started going out Mandy dragged me out on a wild goose chase trying to find this cave that was suppose to be near her grandfathers property. Way back before we got really into the adventurous outdoors we had a couple of goes at finding it and never did


So when Tal comes home after a weekend of camping with his mates and nonchalantly announces they found the cave I was 2 parts proud dad 1 part jealous.

You’ll have to take us there one day. Says I

Meh, shrugs he. There’s not much to see. It’s just a hole in the ground

Any way with a bit of bunged up ankle and a free afternoon I con him into taking us for a walk. He and his mates had traversed quiet a bit of private property on their journey. We try the approach from the other side.

It’s further around then we thought and hard to spot until you are on top of it but he navigates us in with nary a wrong turn.

Like he said it’s just a hole in the ground.


But that’s not the point



Tal leading the way in. The big depression this hole lies at the base of suggests the cave was once much much bigger



A little witchcraft is needed to find it
Bad photo of a pit left over from an archaeological dig done in the 80s(?) Apparently nothing was found


Mandy Exiting back out