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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Strange Beds and Sleepy canyons

21-05-22

Loz, Kylie, Madie and meeeeeeeee!

I believe all canyons are worth doing once and actually get some satisfaction of checking out those rarely visited ones. They are normally low quality scrub bashes but in this day and age the feeling of being one of the few who have been somewhere is rare.

I felt Whores Bed canyon would be one of those.

And too be honest I’m glad I didn’t do it mid drought. On a cold misty day after 6months of wet weather it was a pleasant little trip.

The company made it better.

It was Loz’s first canyon so to give her the true Flynny/Madie experience we changed plans last minute, hadn’t done any research, parked in the wrong spot and started down the wrong trail.

Classic

Anyhoo we eventually deduced we weren’t heading into the correct gully and reversed out. Some of us scoffed a quick hot chocolate. And then we corrected previous mistakes and dropped in right at the anchor

Looks dodgy and wet.. Aweome ©Kylie
Madie giving her mum a final pep talk… or threatening vengeance. One of the two
Demons disguised as cherubs
©Kylie

And then it was over ©Madie

There are bolts here but they are oddly placed and looked like they would give a difficult pull down so after a bit of deliberation we opted for a traditional anchor ©Madie

And that pretty much it. Shorter and a bit easier than the near by Boars Head trip (for which this one is a play on words) but in these conditions it’s a prettier trip.

And the walk back up the Devils Hole isn’t too bad either

Of course some of those worth doing once canyons are actually worth doing again with the right company or weather conditions. Thus back at the cars the day was young and still had adventure written on it so we slipped across the Darling Causeway and dropped into Karamah.

Somewhat fittingly Karamah is a first nations word meaning “Sleep”.

Like a most of the canyons in that area it has some nice bits and 1 very pretty chamber.

This one has the crappiest single bolt anchor that I take the sling off every time and switch to a natural anchor. This is last time I was single roping with a fiddlestick this time I double roped. That water is deep enough for a good dunk and cold….. The double rope made for some tricky bridging action
Lucky I somehow manage to stay dry and no video was taken ©Kylie

The main chamber is a bit of a pothole. Pretty in good light but I’m glad it wasn’t flooded today.

and a short section of canyon follows

they are all worth doing once: Shit Flynny says.

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CLAUSTRAL WITH SOME OF THE BEST

23/04/2022

Stirlo, Madie, Leo, Kylie, Jason, Aimee, Mark and meeeee

I was hankering to get out. Some options were discussed then Leo says BMNP is set to re-open.

Claustral it is than.

It seems impossible to me but I’ve never done Claustral with the above mentioned folk before. It’s one of my favourite canyons and they are some of my favourite people.

Time to fix that.

I’m a bit early so I make a quick stop to check in with the ancestors,

And on to Claustral. Whether you think it Claustrophobic inducing or Cloister like or a combination of the two is irrelevant right now. We meet up, gear up and shut up….

Wait, that’s not right.

We meet up, gear up and set off, chattering like magpies with lots to chatter about.

That’s more like us.

Once again photo credits go to a mix of the crew

Rightously Ferntacious
I’ve never abseiled this one before but Madie had the rope set up and threatened to cut me if I didn’t use it. Kylie follows me down

And we work our way down to where the real show starts

Stirlo on the first drop into the Black Hole of Calcutta

Click the photos to make the magic

Compulsory “Hulks Fist” photos and shenanigans ensue

Get fisted ©Aimee

Click to enbiggen

Then there’s not much left to do but make our way down the gorgeous canyon and in the gorgeous company of gorgeous souls.

Oh, The “National Geographic” shot is also compulsory ©Jason

We are too early and it’s too misty for Sunbeams but the muted misty light is nice too

There was a little bit of pump in spots
Top bunch of humans and me. ©Madie

A bit of team work never goes astray

The tunnel swim

and all to soon it’s over.

We have a quick bite to eat on Tash’s rock of Shame and then it’s up Rainbow Ravine and onward

I have a fear of heights and I’m claustrophobic: Kunal Nayyar

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Yileen

04-04-2022

The Mad One and meeeee

Something weird was happening.

It wasn’t raining..

An after work run through Yileen seemed like just the thing for a Monday afternoon

Probably should have invited the others.

We were pulling into the carpark.

If you run you’ll catch us. Madie messages the group implying I’m slow or sumfink

Blue bird day

We make our way in and nearly step on a Red Belly Black no-bop-noddle just as it canyons up.

Yilleen isn’t that deep as far as canyons go but it always seems to surprise me at how pretty it is. ©Madie
©Madie
©Madie
I’ve still only ever done 2 abseils in Yileen. I know some people abseil this and that’s fair enough but I still don’t know where they get the 4th…. ©Madie
©Madie
©Madie

And then we get to the end with it’s awesome views into the Grose and a 55m abseil to finish.

The anchor looked a little M. E. H. Meh. so we spend time to back it up and then Madie goes.

I jump on rope, work my way down the boulder and do a final check before going over the lip.

Hmmm

That’s my bag up there next to the anchor with the pull cord in it…

I go back up and grab my bag. Then instead of feeding the rope out of the bag on the way down like a normal person I decide to feed it all out now…

What happens next we shall never speak of again but some time slightly longer than it should have taken me I’m down.

©Madie

“If happiness is the goal – and it should be, then adventures should be top priority.” â€“ Richard Branson

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