Upper Wollangambe


This section of the ‘Gambe is harder to get to than the more common “tourist sections” but is renown for having some of the best canyon bits on the river.

In hindsight that’s a bit like saying Wang Dam has the best bits of beach in Lithgow….

Or sumfink

Anyhoo, it’s a bit of the ‘Gambe I hadn’t visited before and I had wanted to do it for a while. I knew Madie was keen to check it out too so we semi organised a crew and then half made plans.

Then the weather turned to shite and we ummed and ahhed about going. Even an hour before we were due to head off the rain came in and we discussed doing something else. Then the sky cleared and we thought “Fugg it!” and off we went

I’d planned to do the car shuffle to the end of the Dumbano/Wollangambe fire trail as it should be a shorter walk and I’m not overly familiar with the maze of trails in from Bell.

In high spirits we skipped out to the end of the fire trail and had no difficulty finding a pass down through the cliff.

From there it all turned a bit shit.

My intel said there would be a track.

Reality said there was scrub.

Now I’m not adverse to a bit of a scrub-bash but this scrub was heinous. Razor grass and dead fall and despondency.

Out of the scrubby side-creek and into the scrubby Gambe our efforts to stay dry before the camp were in vain

An hour later we’d barely gone 600m and light was fading. I wasn’t 100% sure where the famed camp cave was so we made the decision to bunk down in the next viable overhang to shelter from the predicted overnight moisture.

Finding a small but sheltered and some what cozy overhang we opted to make camp rather than push on in the dark

We snacked on Madie’s infamous butter chicken and settled in for a reasonably comfortable if slightly cramped and sleepless night.

Of course the actual camp cave with large, flat sandy floor was just 100m or so down stream…

Morning comes and we pack up for a not so early start. Our advice was it was going to be a long/hard day. After yesterdays experience in the scrub we decided to avoid the banks and stay in the river as much as possible.

This was faster. Mostly. But full of energy sapping sand with pockets of quicksand ready to swallow your leg without warning.

The three images above summarise the tip for me. Stunning cliff lines, dead fall galore and complex boulder scrambling. Oh and sand. Lots of sand….

Did I mention stunning cliff lines?
There were fun bits in between the slogs
thou I think Gabby would be smiling no matter what
The canyon sections, when they came were spectacular. Just very short compared to the effort to get to them

Even thou the canyon is impressive here I’d class the trip more a creek walking than canyoning trip

Eventually we make it to a part of the ‘Gambe we are all familiar with.

Reaching the exit point is usually a bitter-sweet moment as you are glad to have finally made it but know the adventure is nearly over. This was no different. We were exhausted (We’ll maybe not Madie, she seems to gain engery the longer she goes) but smiling. It was a hard trip, even tougher than I had expected, but as always the company and laughter made it great.

Now just the 1hr uphill stroll to the car.

Your comfort zone is a very dangerous place to be


Mt Wilson fire-shed to Dumbano fire trail locked gate: 30min (drive)

Locked gate to camp: 1.5hrs

Camp to Exit: 7hr

Exit to Fire Shed: 1hr


Empress Falls the Weird Way


Joel, Amber, Jen, Madie, Matthew, Gabby, Andrew, Sonya, Mark, Bernie and meee. Oh, and Geoff as the devil taking photos at the bottom

One day Joel (the sweet, innocent, shy fella he is) had an idea to do something wild.

Let’s have a dress up canyon party, says he.

And so we had to ask ourselves. What would Ginger Jesus do?

Um, He just suggested a dress up canyon…. Well der, dress up canyon party it is

The theme went from Anti-Valentine to Porn to Slotty to hot and wet to anything goes and eventually a mixed bag of fun loving freaks turned up to, um , have fun and, ah, be freaky in one of the most popular canyons in the Mountains.

If only someone had taken a camera…..

Note: there were more cameras than people

Jack Sparrow and some rock chick he picked up on the way in, AKA Madie and Matt
Cat Woman and Lucifer

We gathered out the front of the Conservation hut for some snaps

Just your standard Saturday morning canyon crew ©Geoff

I’m only doing 1 canyon today, says Gabby. Like hell, retorts Madie. We’re doing all the canyons and we are doing them all today! Come on

Lucky Joel was there to settle them down

Like a bizarre Piped Piper Joel leads the sexy people away
Not your standard Empress Falls attire. It was almost disappointing that we only ran into 1 other group, and that was at the end of the canyon.

With all the fun of the costumes at times I had to remind myself we were in a very pretty canyon
We’re not in Kanas any more Toto

Did I mention the canyon was pretty?


Cap’n Jack

School Girl Jen, Schooling

They’re fighting again

Wait. No they’re not

By the time we were all down the abseil there was a large ensemble of tourists/walkers cheering, jeering and leering at us. Well I say “us” but it was mostly at Joel.

and the looks we got as we hiked back up the tourist track for a bite to eat at the hut were priceless.

Party Size: 11 but we split into 11 groups of 1 because, like, who’d want to associate with those other weirdos.

Time: Time has no meaning when you are having that much fun

If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be: Maya Angelou




*March 2019 I am once again participating in the Wests Cycle Classic to raise money for the Westpac rescue helicopter. If you enjoy my blog or just want to help this great cause think about making a small donation

Natural Amusement Park


Geoff, Gabby, Kent, Ash, Gemma, Mick and meeeee

So before Christmas I had organised a trip to Luna Park canyon. It was suppose to be a big trip for a soso canyon but it’s one I wanted to check out.

Then Thing 1 and Thing 2 surprised me with tickets to see Paul Kelly at the Domain on the same day and I had to pull out.

Kent graciously offered to run the trip, they copped a stinking hot day and the majority of the group swore they’d never do that F$#%ing canyon ever again.

But I was still keen and so when Geoff asked me if I’d join him for a trip I rearranged some other commitments, scored a leave pass and jumped at the chance.

In contrast to the other group our day was cool and drizzly making perfect conditions for big day in steep terrain

Before long we leave the trail and head off into untracked scrub

Kent is the ultimate mentor. Here he is in the s̶c̶o̶t̶t̶i̶s̶h̶ ̶m̶o̶o̶r̶e̶s , I mean Aussie bush giving Ash some Navigation tips. “Just head for that big rock. You can’t go wrong”
First big rock

Now, Ash, all we need to do is head for that other big rock. ©Gabby

It’s a big walk in, you have to drop down a steep ridge, cross the Bungleboori and climb an even steeper break in the cliff on the other side but the day was pleasant and the company was great so it didn’t see that big an ordeal. In fact I really enjoyed the walking.

Some 4 or so hours later we arrive at the start of the canyon, suit up, have a bite to eat then drop on in.

The first abseil has an awkward start into a small chamber. I go first, belay Gabby and Kent down and then me and Gabby go ahead to set up ropes on the next drop

In the rain it was a really pretty section of canyon but the moss was very slippery and a few of the down climbs needed some creative thinking

Kent holding 2 logs steady for Geoff, Well I say logs, sticks really
Ash modelling the latest trends for the fashion conscious canyoner

And then comes the abseil Kent had been warning everyone about. Crowded start. Sharply over hung lip. I offer to be LPAR and wait at top with safety rope just in case.

Kent has no issues but most others have some difficulty. Geoff (a very experienced and capable abseiler) gets the rope jammed badly between device and the rock and needs assistance. Ash goes upside down off the start. Gemma almost gets into the same predicament as Geoff but manages to free herself. Mick gets a finger of his glove stuck under the rope and for a bit I thought we’d need to cut it off.

All this is made me a bit nervous but I go over without drama only to get through the difficult bit and then slip at the very bottom, ungraciously ending up on my butt under the water fall.

One of the most awkward starts I’ve done

The canyon below this might be short but with the atmospheric drizzle adding to the ambience I thought it was outstanding

Gabby under the first arch. TTFH pointed out the photo makes it look like a kangaroo head

And then comes the “Luna park abseil” so called because the arch you abseil through is meant to look like the Luna Park Mouth. I don’t see it.

Maybe if it’s rotated 90° left it might look a bit like the clown mouth, maybe… Ash on rope


And then we have a long but pleasant walk up a magnificent section of the Southern Bungleboori.

Gemma is a bit of a fungi appreciator and had mentioned finding some rare blue specimens on a recent trip in the blue mountains. I don’t have a clue about fungi, or most things really, but told her I had seen blue mushrooms on a couple of trips in the bungleboori

And sure enough

Not the best shot but
Entoloma virescens ?

Gemma assured us they were very rare but the seemed to be popping up everywhere along the banks of the ‘Borri today.

Before long we are changing back into not so dry clothes and making our way back up through the broken cliff lines back to civiliation

We’ve been going for about 10.5hrs at this stage. It’s been drizzling all day. I haven’t been dry since I got out of the car but I’m smiling like a simpleton.

I turn to Gemma and Mick, People must think we are insane. Say I. But I love this shit.

They laugh and agree. It’s been a great day

Part Size: 7 all experienced

Time: 11hr car to car steady pace.

Do what makes you happy and be happy with what you do