Jerrara Falls

28/01/2023

Kylie, Hywaida, Kris, Jason and meeeeee

I’m not sure I’m keen enough to drive down, says Kylie. But I caught up with them in ages.

The others were already at Bungonia canyoning away.

How about we meet up somewhere and share the bulk of the drive? Say I

Deal says she.

We enact the plan.

The others look a little wrecked from the previous day.

It was hot, Say they, and the creek water was horrid. we almost ran out of water.

I throw in an extra water bottle.

And we are off.

We reach the creek without too much effort but the day is already heating up. I’m glad I left the wetsuit in the car.

The pool below looks so inviting

Kris heading in as Jas sets the next abseil.
There a some nice creek walking interspaces with jumps and swims.

Then we get to a larger drop. Topo say bolts on the right but they look a bit sketchy to get to ( thou belatedly we spit a traverse bolt)

We opt for a sling on a tree up to the left. This gives us about a 42m abseil into the pool below.

The pool is full of string algae and pulling the ropes throu is like fishing for slime monsters..

Some more cool pools and a 12m abseil follow

Which Jason opts to jump

And then we get to Jerrara falls themselves

At this stage I’m a little confused with the Topo. It’s says the full thing is 85m. But it can be split in 2 doing 60m (bypassing a small semi hanging rebelay) and 35m or in 3 doing 30m, 35m, 30m….

Now I don’t know if maths has changed since I was a boy but when Brother John taught me my sums those numbers did not add up.

Still Bro John also said, quiet frequently, You’re strong in the legs but weak in the heads boys. So maybe the calculation issue was on my end.

So the notes indicated a 5m scramble to the fist bolts. It looked bigger than 5 and exposed AF so I opted to abseil off slings on a tree. As I’m abseiling down Kris walks over a knob and scrambled down to meet me on a big sloping ledge. We can see anchor bolts just over the ledge where it starts to get steeper.

There are also bolts at the back of the ledge which I urge the others to use. Like it’s a reasonably grip surface sloping and a big drop below. I go down to the anchor and set the 70m rope thinking we are going to bypass the first rebelay and do pitch 1 and 2 as one.

In hindsight I think I’ve just come down pitch 1 and the little ledge I’m standing on is the semi hanging rebelay at the start of pitch 2. But there’s no way it was 30m from the top. I’d say it was well less than 15 and I could see and bolts further up that would match the topo for pitch 1

Anyhoo we needed to swap out ropes as I’d come down on the short rope and we are thinking we’ll need the 2nd long rope as a pull chord and send the short rope down to set the last pitch.

As they sort ropes I’m on a baking hot ledge in full sun in short sleeves. I’m roasting. And eventually remember I have sunscreen in the top of my pack. I lather it on to my face shoulders and legs. did I mention it’s hot? It’s baking freaking hot.

Eventually the ropes are swapped and Jason heads down. And signals to take rope up. I had about 65m out and pull up about 10m. That doesn’t make sense.

Things are a little confused, there’s a large group in line of sight with us in bungonia canyon and so whistle signals are getting a little crossed.

Kylie heads down. And signals rope up. I take up another 15m or so.

This is not making any sense with our plan.

The rest of use head down. We are on a big sloping ledge there’s anchor bolts, Jason’s is on a ledge about 20m below and out to the left. None of it matches the small rebelay ledge we bought the king ropes to bypass but we haven’t gone down enough to be on top of pitch 3. Have we?

There’s some discussion on whether there’s 1 or 2 pitches left.

There is no way that is 65m to the pool says I. But we rig the 70m so it can be lowered with the 60 just in case.

Kylie goes down and signals rope up

I’m sitting the the spray of the waterfall longing to get into the pool below but I’m anchor bitch a going last.

Eventually we all get down.

It seems we have done the 3 pitches as described but the heights are off, especially for the first pitch.

From the first rebelay where I cooked in the sun while ropes were sealed Jason probably would have made it all the way to the pool but he couldn’t see the bottom and was expecting another 30m pitch….

Anyhoo, slightly older and not very much wiser we continue down

There had been some discussion about taking one of the short cut exits. But given the choice between scrambling up an exposed, loose knife edge in the baking sun or boulder hoping down and walking up the tourist track at a slightly cooler time of day everyone opted tourist track

Once through the boulders there was some nice sections. The water wax skinky from the string algae but it was hot, damn hot, so we threw ourselves in each pool to cool off along the way.

And then we reach the junction with the red track.

Ok National parks down here have a much more liberal idea on tourist track than those softly graded , full of stairs and board walks found in the bluies.

The start was a hell of a lot more scrambley than I had expected.

Like nothing overly difficult or exposed but different to what I was thinking.

But the start was in a shady gully which was nice. Coming out of the gully onto the open. Ridge was like hitting a wall of heat. But it snaked it’s way the ridge and I hightailed back to the campground and grabbed the ute thinking I’d do the gentlemanly thing and save the others another 2km walk

But there got to the tip of the hill and took a sharp left, following the green trail back. So I missed them and the bastards beat me into the showers 🤣🤣

All in all another great day with awesome people.

“Let a man walk ten miles steadily on a hot summer’s day along a dusty English road, and he will soon discover why beer was invented.”
— Gilbert K. Chesterton

BACK

Ranon Brook

14-01-2023

It occurred to me I hadn’t done anything biggish for a bit. Nor had I lead anything I’d not done before for a while. Nor had I done the top of Ranon Brook ever.

Time to amend that.

The track notes said to follow the ridge so of course I headed straight down into the creek, joining it just below the feeder swap.

I don’t think Kylie was that impressed but the walking in the creek was mostly pleasant with occasional bits of cutty scrub

There were some nice bits of crystal clear water.
And soon the creek dropped into a stunning little canyon
Happy smiles
Abseil into a pool, swim across and abseil out is a bit of a theme in Ranon

But it’s only short and a bit more creek walking gets us the the junction with Mistake Ravine and into familiar territory

It was a busy day in The main canyon sections.
These tip top Canberrians let us go throu on their rope and caught back up a couple of times through out the day. oddly were the only other group we saw once we got to Claustral
Kylie in the slot above the Claustral junction
And into Claustral.
Just in time for sunbeams
Mandatory hulks fist
And National Geographic shot
And more sun beams
And standard Claustral gorgeousness

Another great day out with great company, somehow missing the crowds.

It’s still magic even if you know how it’s done: Terry Pratchett

Back

Geronimooooooooo

17/12/2022

Kylie, Aimee, Ethan Stirlo and me

It’s been a hot minute so the inevitable call goes out.

Any one want to go canyoning?

Me. said they.

And so it went

A quick meeting of good friends. A hello to the tour groups and then we make our way in to cross the ‘Gambe and bash our way up the other side

Cool for cats
The Wild Flowers are stunning this time of year. We almost had to swim throu fields of Flannel Flowers

And as Paul Kelly once sang, Before too Long…… Um, we found ourselves gearing up and plunging in to Geronimo

Ethan
Some of us brought full wetsuits and were smiling at the pool below
Some of us went a bit lighter
Aimee and Ethan and selfies in a stunning part of the world
Geronimo has such a pretty start
It has some lovely bits of canyon
Clear and cold

Ok I may have pulled out my shark skin jacket here
Kylie had lead the way and was waiting in the cold for the rest of us.
Did I mention pretty ?
And the Canyon opens out just before it rejoins the ‘Gambe
The water is warmer here but not by much
To me this section and the bit just upstream of the Geronimo junction are the most stunning bits on the Upper upper Wollengambe

And soon we are back to the spot where we crossed the river earlier. A quick bit to eat and the guys decide to scramble back up for a quick run thou HorseShoe canyon

Guns out
Hey Flynny. Says Stirlo, This is the first time I’ve ever set and anchor on my own. Now get on rope…
Ah the old dam the flow with your bag until he’s half way down the abseil trick. Leo would be proud.
Horseshoe canyon is pretty much all about this chamber

The wall is slippery as snot
As Ice T once rapped: Colors Colors… Being a Seppo he was all out of Us

And then, about an hour and a bit later we are back at the ‘Gambe

Another great day with truly special people

You need to practice your flow state by getting into some dangerous positions: Andy Anderson

BACK

The Longest Gully

17/09/22

Russ, Libby, Kylie and meeeeee

It’s kind of become a tradition that we do something for Russ’ birffdee.

Come to Bungonia, they said. It will be fun, they said.

Only coordinating every one this year was difficult so it got spread out over a coupe of days with Russ and Lib being the constant and the rest of us joining for a day.

Anywoo, I’m in for the Saturday shenanigans and rock on down Friday night just in time for a good old fashion curry cook up.

The camp ground at Bungonia is amazballz. If you are into that sort of thing

At some point during the night someone asked, so what are we doing tomorrow?

I don’t mind says Russ

It’s your birthday, you choose says us

Awwwww I don’t like decisioning, says Russ. But I’m not keen to put a wet wetsuit back on tomorrow. How about Long Gully,

Now I’ve never really given Long Gully much consideration because nobody really raves about it. But they are all worth doing once and anything is good in the right company. so we get some sleep, rise not so early and break camp at the crack of 8am. Or there abouts.

After an easy amble along the fire trail amid banter and giggles we head into the scrub to follow a ridge down into our gully
As far as gullies go it’s not jaw dropping beautiful but it’s not hideous either
It reminded me a little of Dione Dell without water. Walk a bit, nice abseil, walk a bit, repeat
Libertybell getting it done. I think this was the only bit where I got my feet wet

And soon we come to this amazing view over the Shoalhaven
And the big abseil was cool. Kylie on rope. You might be able to see Rus and Libby way down below

Russ had gone first. Called out Awwwwwwwww! and gave us the tip to put our rain jacket on. There wasn’t much spray off the falls but it was chilly

I have no idea if I have the order of the abseils photos right but you get the idea.

There was no anchor set up for this one and it looked like it could be scrambled. I contemplated scrambling but considering how slippery the rest of the canyon had been I opted to set up the fiddle stick. Good call. says Libby. it’s slippery as snot and not in the places that look snotty

and before you know it we are on the banks of the Shoalhaven basking in the glorious sun shine.

Our Gully out of screen to the right and the canyon that shall not be named coming in mid right

A lounge about, some lunch and more laughs and then it’s back up the hill.

It has similar if a bit more elevation than the Kanangra canyons but it’s a much easier grade. And in good company it goes fairly painlessly

All in all Long Gully might not be the best canyon but its a reasonable abseil trip, worth doing at least once especially in the company of some of the best adventure buddies going

BACK

Buttering Boxes with Crazy foxes

06/08/2022

Hywaida, Kristo, Ethan, Kylie, Rus, Madie and meeeeeeeeeeeeee

Who wants to do Butterbox this weekend, said I

Me, said them.

As they say in Canada (probably) Well alrighty then

A cold wind blew on the morning of our gathering.

Wait! That’s an understatement and a half

It was an icey gale that ripped through us as we met at the car park.

And it seemed like it would be whipping up through the canyon

Are we sure we want to do this?

Of course.

And so it went.

We layered up and headed in.

Couldn’t quite get the Beetles abby road shot… It may have been cold but patches of blue sky and sunshine lighted our spirits.

Excitement on faces and interesting places.

And it’s about to get real

Butterbox is, for the most part, more open and has less swimming than the trip we did through North Bowen 2 weeks ago. But there are more abseils which could lead to more standing around waiting. we had enough ropes to keep moving. My only concern was the small stance on the chockstone pitch might mean we have a line up of people waiting in ice wind.

Good news for us, once we dropped off the ridge there was hardly any wind at all. I had a set of sharkskin T2 chillproof underneath my 5mm seland wetsuit (* this is not a paid endorsement. but if seland or sharkskin are reading this….. 🙂 ) I had put them on at the first abseil. I’d packed a windcheater jacket but left it in my pack.

By the time we got to the first swim I was keen to cool off

Ah the ol’ hump the log technique. I’ve given up going that way since the logs deteriorated a bit but H isn’t scared

A couple of short swims, a slide and we get to the bit we are here for

Butterbox is a fun, adventurous trip but lets face it. The next 2 abseils is what it is all about
Kristo on rope heading to the chockstone as Madie bleeds rope. There may have been comment made about how the official sign up top shows photos of old school technique and terrible rope management, having a massive pile of twisted spaghetti at the bottom. Something I was guilty of for many years. I’m thankful at how far my knowledge and skills have progressed in the last few years thanks to knowledgeable people sharing their, um, knowledge

So at the bottom of that you go over the edge and pop out to a large rock wedged between the canyon wall, The chockstone. Well I say large, there’s room for 2 people to set up the next abseil, 3 if you don’t mind getting up close and personal. 4 if you want a group hug with little room to do anything else much less try to set rope or maneuverer to abseil.

And 3 or 4 meters below the Chockstone the canyon takes a sharp right and you swing out under the roar of the falls and into the chamber of awesomeness
After the extended wet, and going of other canyons visited recently I was expecting water levels to up. Oddly they were fairly normal or even a bit down on the last trip but sliding directly off the end of the rope as you touch down here is so much nicer and safer than trying to disconnect with a bunch of rope still on the ground, or worse, twisting up in the water ©Hywaida

And I just noticed Madie creeping in the background of the above photo as Kristo descends. What is she doing up there? How did she get there? How will she get down? The answers to all this and more will not be forthcoming in the next instalment of “What’s Madie up to now”

Another short swim, some boulder hoping and a final abseil and we reach the lunch spot and spread out in the sunlight. Pulling on dry clothes Rus reminisces about the time it was so stinking hot when we got here that we found some shade and snoozed for a couple of hours waiting for it to cool down enough to climb out.

Of course the Butterbox adventure isn’t over yet. There still the steep walk out to the clmb.

I put my windcheater on expecting to be in the full force of the icy zepher. Soon I stash that back in the pack and strip down to a tee shirt. It was pleasant in the valley

Up top it wasn’t until we were cross the saddle from Butterbox point back to the car park that the full force of the wind hit us. At one point I think I was leaning 45° to the right trying to resist it blowing me off the hill.

You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t loose it: R Williams

BACK

Goin’ to Bowen

23/07/22

Dick, Kylie, Russ Aimee and meeeeeeeeeeeeee

It’s July.

It’s wet.

It’s cold.

Anybody want to be be Gobsmacked in North Bowen this weekend?

The above mentioned crazy folk said yes.

Schaaaaaaaweeeeeet!

A trip through Lower North Bowen with Thing 2 and the boys was one of the things that got me back into canyoning in 2015. It’s a great little canyon but for some reason I hadn’t done it since.

Before that the last time I did it The Osbournes were on the telly. Time to get back me thinks.

Not to the Osbournes, like, they are entertaining and all but yeah na, back to Gobsmacker canyon

Some land slips on the walk in were a reminder of the effects of the extended wet weather but they don’t dampen our enthusiasm. (See what I did there?) and the track was in far better condition than in 2015 so top work there (though I’m not convince we took the same gully)

Fernalicious

The water was up

Wasn’t it cold? People ask. Of course it was but with the right gear it wasn’t unbearable or even that uncomfortable

It is pretty but

Kylie and Dick embracing the bracingness
He is smooth, he is funny, he is Russell!!!
Kylie’s not scared
Russ and Kylie keep it real… I mean keeping us safe… I mean doing the things with the things
It took a bit of care to stay out of the churn
If you haven’t met Dick I feel sorry for you. I really do.
A few years ago I had an epiphany with modern canyoning techniques. Could you imagine dropping into that with a tangle of rope in the water you needed to disconnect from? After carefully considering the flow with the group Russ set the rope in just the right spot at just the right length. So satisfying
Dick having his twice weekly cold shower
Warning: Photo bomber on the loose
Aimee is unafraid
Dick hasn’t got a fear gland
the flow was a but pushy in spots so a bit of extra care was needed
Some spots you could just go with the flow
That log usually keeps your feet dry

a quick bite to eat and some interesting methods used to warm hands and we head up the exit gully. The handover hand climb was a small waterfall. Sux for those who choose to put dry clothes on.

To be honest it was nicer doing the exit in this temperature…..

It takes more than 1 idiot to get this stupid. Krispy

BACK

Xmass in July 2022

Oh, the weather outside is frightful
And the canyons look delightful
But they closed the park where we want to go
Let us go, let us go, let us go

It doesn’t show signs of stoppin’
But we’ve been costume shoppin’
The light is gentle and low
Let us go, let us go, let us go

It’s Kylies birthday
And Christo’s just gone by
It’s time to get crazy
With another Xmas in July

The rain is barley drizzlin’
But the dirt roads copped a prizzlin”
So we pick a canyon we all know
Let us go, let us go, let us go

We don’t care if it’s ten below
Red costumes setting the drizzle a glow
We don’t care about the cold and the winds that blow
We gear up and say, let us go, let us go let us go

Ooh-wee, goes the storm
Why should we worry when the wetsuit is warm?
Great friends by our side and the lights pretty and low
Let us go, let us go, let us go (I don’t care!)

The weather outside is frightful
But we’re back at the pub and the food is delightful
Since we’ve no place to go
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Or sumfink

Embrace your weird

BACK

Horseshoe Falls

Access: Easy walk though a bit steep in spots, muddy and slippery after rain, which tends to be the best time to visit. There are unfenced clifflines and some steep uneven steps

Navigation: Navigation is straight forward on signposted paths.

Time: It takes about 2.5hr return

Somewhat underrated ( well I’d not heard much of it, then again I wasn’t paying attention either) This pleasant loop in Hazelbrook takes you past 4 nice little waterfalls. Fairy Falls, Horseshoe Falls, Oakland Falls and Burgess Falls

Getting there: Drive to Hazelbrook and navigate to Oaklands road. There is a small parking area at the bottom of the hill. Parking here you note trails heading into the reserve. In the words of Obi Wan These are not the trails you are looking for.

Instead walk back up the road 50m, and you see the track on the other side a small bridge.

The trail is reasonably well signposted and soon you’ll get the option to branch off and head down to the creek bed to the base of the fall. Lower trails take you in past the waterfalls and you can loop back along the upper trail

Each water fall has a little cave behind it. Tip for the adventurous, Glowworms at night

Note 1: Taking care  While reasonably well known these spots are still wild places and care needs to be taken around cliff edges and on the steep trails.  Carrying the right gear as well as having adequate food, water and clothing is important. Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to get back.

Emergency beckons (PLBs) can be hired from Katoomba Police for very little.

Note 2: First aid A basic first aid kit is essential bit of kit whenever heading into the Aussie bush. A basic first aid is highly recommended

Note 3: Maps and Navigation Having the right map, a compass and knowing how to read them is very important when heading into the bush. If you are new to bush walking joining a club or accompanying more experienced walker for you first few outing is a very good idea. I found practicing map reading on well defined trails was helpful when I started out.

The Maps mentioned are the 1:25000 series. They can be purchase at Lithgow tourism information center, from outdoors shops or online for around $10 each.

Note 4: These are wild and beautiful places, respect them. If you are able to carry something in you can carry it out. Don’ be a tosser. Leaving your rubbish behind is a sure way to ruin it for every one else.

Hassans Wall Undercliff track

Access: Easy access to the start of the trail then steep and vague in spots

Navigation: Navigation is fairly straight forward .

Map: Lithgow

Time: It takes about 1.5hrs

Traditionally known as Gnallwarra, Hassans Walls was named by Governor Macquarie who thought the stunning pagoda topped cliff line reminded him of the hill forts and Hasanamba temples of the Hassan district of India.

The Under Cliff track began construction in 1916, Largely the work of Richard Merrick and the Lithgow Progress Society, and stages were added over the years.

It largely fell into disuse but was reopened for a short time in the late 90s or early 2000s before being closed by council due to concerns over the stability of the cliffs above (I think a cliff collapse may have taken out part of the trail so be warned or whatever)

Its a shame because its a great walk under some spectacular coloured cliffs with little alcoves of rain forest hidden in the nooks. Just beware of falling rocks, small and large.

Getting there: Head up Hassans Walls Road. Before you get to the top there is a spot people park on the right near the imaginatively named “First lookout”. Park here and look for a road angling back up to the right.

Most of the gullies between here and the lookout will give access to the track but head up to the right passed the locked gate.

The easiest access is in a gully to the left as the road starts up the steep hill https://goo.gl/maps/BcPjZqdgfqBtjD1

But for a more adventurous start keep heading up the hill. Take the left fork at the top of the hill and the next left fork as well.

The road dips down into a saddle, just before the bottom it flattens out. Head into the bush here and find a break in the cliffs to the right of the main gully (main gully cliffs out) https://maps.app.goo.gl/NyPxTjhz5dGzcgQZ9

Alternatively go to the bottom of the saddle and just before the road climb up the other side go left into the bush and find a break to the left of a great lookout. But note the undercliff track is vague at the point.

Once through the cliff line follow the base of the cliffs around to the left. The track can be vague in spots but if you loose it follow the base of the cliff and you’ll eventually pick it back up.

The colours of the cracked and errored cliff line is stunning in afternoon light and you will find small pockets of rain forest in their shadow, unfortunately the biggest section of rain forest is below the car park of the lookout so littered with shopping trolleys, toilet paper and other crap shit humans throw off the top.

Eventually the track will take you around King Georges head ( AKA Indian Head or Iron Dukes head) and it appears to peter out. But continue around and head up the ridge keeping near to the base of the cliff and you will pick it up again on the otherside of the lookout.

This will bring you past the table and chairs in Gannon cave before winding back up to the road near the turn off to Hassans walls Lookout. A short walk down the road will take you back to the car

BACK

Note 1: Taking care  While reasonably well known these spots are still wild places and care needs to be taken around cliff edges and on the steep trails.  Carrying the right gear as well as having adequate food, water and clothing is important. Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to get back.

Emergency beckons (PLBs) can be hired from Katoomba Police for very little.

Note 2: First aid A basic first aid kit is essential bit of kit whenever heading into the Aussie bush. A basic first aid is highly recommended

Note 3: Maps and Navigation Having the right map, a compass and knowing how to read them is very important when heading into the bush. If you are new to bush walking joining a club or accompanying more experienced walker for you first few outing is a very good idea. I found practicing map reading on well defined trails was helpful when I started out.

The Maps mentioned are the 1:25000 series. They can be purchase at Lithgow tourism information center, from outdoors shops or online for around $10 each.

Note 4: These are wild and beautiful places, respect them. If you are able to carry something in you can carry it out. Don’ be a tosser. Leaving your rubbish behind is a sure way to ruin it for every one else.