When I was a kid a lot of amazing adventures started or finished at 166 Bells Street. We are 13 or 14 popping wheelies on our BMXes, or hanging out high up in the climbing tree, or digging tunnels in the river bank or making home made fireworks out of stuff you could still buy or find when we were kids or sumfink.
Let’s go yabbying.
We grab some string, stuff some form of meet into our pockets, race off on our bikes and head up to some long forgotten little dams in a long forgotten gully right at the edge of town. It all sounds very Huckleberry Finnish. But it’s nothing so grand, just a day in the life of me and my mate Smiddy some time in the 80s. Nothing overly memorable except we didn’t catch any yabbies and on the way back while bridging through what I’d now call a canyonette (but back then was just a nice bit of narrow creek) Pat slipped in. We are wearing jeans and jumpers, it was an icy winters day (the yabbies had been smartly tucked up in their nests) and it was cold ride home for Smiddy.
Anyhoo, fast forward mumblemumble years. (Would you believe 10? No? How about 20? Ok it’s closer to 30, and by closer I mean over 30) Mandy is keen for a small walk and thinks Ida falls might be the go.
Pulling up in the little car park it’s packed (well 4 or 5 cars but enough to ruin the uncrowded feel I like.)
Hey there’s another gully we use to frequent and from memory it’s kind pretty too… says I
Especially after we’ve had a bit of rain through the week.
Laurence, Chris, Tal, Della, Gabby, Ev, Matt, Adrian and meee
The bushfires that raged across much of Australia threw a spanner in the work of a family holiday to the south coast so some last minute phone calls were made to me old mate Della who generously offered us a couple of beds on the central coast, I threw the ropes in just in case
Laurence had been promoting some abseil trips to sea caves that looked quite alright and while under normal circumstances I probably wouldn’t have driven up just to visit them while I was in the area I thought why not drag Tal out of a mini adventure.
A quick message to Laurence to get some info and tips and he offered to meet us there and show us around.
Hey Dell, can you get Thursday off work?
It’d been about 20years since he’d done any abseiling but he was keen. A few other invites were sent out and before we knew it we had met up with the above mentioned folk and were setting up ropes above our first cave. The Nudie cave
We set ropes, and exit ladder and Matt even jumps in at the exit to test the water, then after a few quick tips and reminders me and Dell get on rope and drop on in
Dropping off the end of the rope we swim into the cave and wait for the others
As he was finding his feet on the beach the only wave we saw all week swept up to smash Adrian face first into the pebbles. We shouldn’t have laughed… but we did
And then we swim out and make use of Laurences cave ladder to climb out of the water
Be a cool jump. Say I. Looking back up to the arch
Oh Coop jumps from that platform there, Says Laurence
And then we make our way around to the next one, Pinney Cave. This is just a dunk in the ocean with a bit of a scramble out. By all reports the scramble out is much harder in normal conditions and out right dangerous if the swell is much over a foot. We must have got very lucky with not much swell at all as I found it much easier
But with Laurence’s warning only myself, Matt and Della decided to give it a crack, with Gabby and Ev opting for a dry landing on the exit route and the rest waiting for us up top.
And then we make our way a bit further along the coast to the Shark Hole. An ominous name for us country bunkins.
Actually this is the snake hole, explains Chris. The Shark hole is where u swim out.
Oh, well then. In we go.
And to finish things off we head to the Catho Bay hotel for a cooling beverage or two
Group Size: 9
Time: I have no idea
Caution: You need low tide and a swell of under 2 feet to run this trip the way we did it. Also the rock is sharp as a finely honed cutty thing so rope protectors and good start technique are a must.
Adventure pushes your limits and lifts your soul or sumfink
So my nephew is keen on canyoning but for one reason or another his options for doing a long wet canyon are limitted.
I’ve been meaning to get him down another dryish canyon for a while. My original plan was to take him down Tiger Snake canyon but we had to get back to town early and I had not taught him to abseil yet so we descided on this one with an optional abseil for the hell of it.
Now some people dismiss the smaller, drier non abseil canyons but this one has one of the prettiest constrictions going and it’s close to home so it was a no brainer
Nathan and Mandy enter the canyon from the bottom
A massive storm 18months ago scoured the sand out of this bit leaving a puddle just on balls deep. Today it was icy
With frozen toes we decide to slip up onto the tops for a bite to eat and a bask in the sun
It was glorious
looking back into the depths
Warmed and fed we continue on
And make our way back to the cars for a bit of wedding cake action
What if something is on TV and it’s never shown again? :Smudge- Outdoor type
So we were hosting the 24hr on our home trails at Rydal. In return for getting the trails ready Martin offered us a free team entry.
We’ll just ride around as marshals. says I. I’ve had a few injuries and haven’t been doing a lot of riding.
You may as well be timed…
Richard was keen, Phil less so. What about you Mick
I have a bit to do on Saturday but could do a few laps late afternoon.
We’re not taking it serious you may as well be involved.
The team was entered.
I’d have to say I got a little excited the morning of the race but with the 3 of us there racing in a 4 man team we had a chat and agreed we’d go for double laps and go as hard or not as we wanted and if we weren’t feeling it we’d sit out and have some beers.
Set up next to us Gaz as doing it solo so we were happy to give Jodie a bit of a hand supporting his efforts
All good nice and casual.
Except 3hrs in someone looked at the times and realised we were just 30seconds of 3rd place an dnot far in front of 5th. I’m not a competitive person, or so I sometimes tell myself, but if I’m on the track I want to do my best. Game on.
Turned out the team we were chasing was that of a work mate from up at one of our sister mines. Definitely game on.
We began swapping back and forth from 4th to 3rd.
I was feeling pretty good, Mandy was out there massaging for Mind Body Intigration and I was lucky enough to get a bit of maintenance after each stint.
I’d forgotten how awesome the atmosphere is at a 24hr race. It’s really special. Last one I’d ridden was Dargle Farm in about 2005.
Music was blaring. At one point old mate came up to me and asks what time the music was going off as he was trying to sleep. It was 8:45pm…
It’s a 24hr race mate.
But we are trying to sleep!
You know the whole concept of 24hr race?/!
The music went off around 10:30. It came back on at 5:30 super load and techno. Sounds horrible but it was such a great pick up after a long night of riding
A couple of Rydal residents didn’t think so and rang Martin to complain. He invited them up for coffee and an egg and bacon roll. all smoothed over.
Anyhoo I get ahead of myself
We were doing well, each of us with very consistent lap times.
Mick turned up around 6pm. He is quick anyway and with fresh legs shot out for a couple of fast laps.
What the hell was that. Muddy says, coming over. We were wondering how you’d go when you 4th rider showed up. He has just punched out a 27min lap!
W’d all been lapping in the low 30s.
Pity he isn’t staying.
Richard goes out, we are up into 2nd.
Mick goes again. We are in first
I go expecting that was Mick last stint. It’s good while it lasts.
Katrina, I might drop you home and come back. Woohoo Mick is in it for the long haul.
We extended out a bit of a lead over night. Get almost 7mins up but come day break the teams in second and third sent their fast riders out for some catch up laps.
Long story short heading into my last lap there was about 3min between the top 3 teams, not bad over a 24hr race. I got back giving Mick a 1min lead. He brought it home well and We found our selves on the top step of the podium.
Fantastic event. Martin and Juliane put on a great show.
Thanks to outer image collective and Lithgow Council for the photos
Ed, Ethan, Caius, David, Shaz, Tom, Claire, Tillie, Skinny, Dyso and I
For the 3rd year in a row we’ve decided to spend new years day floating down a canyon rather than nursing a hang over (Why can’t we have both? Maybe we do)
Anyhoo this year Tal and Beth both ditched us but Shaz and her kids were back and Skinny and Emily joined us as well.
We opted for the section of the Wollangambe commonly reffered to as the Lower Tourist Section or Wollangambe 2. That’s a little misleading as there are many canyon sections (Including some of the best bits) up stream. It is also reffered to as the Greg section by some of the older bushwalking club stalwarts.
While I’ve done bits and pieces of this section as part of trips to the steeper, narrower, more canyony side canyons I’d never done this bit in it’s entirity on it’s own so I was keen to check it out.
We met at the Fire Shed at the crack of 9:30am. chuck all the gear and most of the people out and then drop cars down at the camp ground in the spirit of being lazy.
The walk in was uneventful, we set a handline on the exposed down climb that had made the news 2 nights before after a seriously under prepared group on a bucks party required rescuing when several members were too worn out/freaked out and couldn’t climb it…. Do your research and go prepaired people
Every one made it down without incident before I told them that story. I reteived the rope and made my way down.
Did I mention the spirit of being lazy? We get to the water and it looks so inviting. People pull out lilos and start huffing and huffing. Me on the other hand had had a brillant idea before leaving that morning. I’d pulled out the soldering iron and rigged a little high volume pump to plug into my MTB light battary.
I had worried it might ruin the serenity of other groups but no one was around and it had most of the lilos up in no time (After some manipulating the cheap pool beds Shaz had got the kids who valves were plastic welded shut). It was certainly less disturbing than listening to a bunch of people hyperventilate trying to blow air into the air beds.
Despite a number of cars at the fire shed and at the camp ground we didn’t see a single group in this section of canyon.
I was pleasantly surprised with this bit of the river. There was some nice long pools through some reasonable canyon sections and there seemed to be a bit less boulder scrambling than in the more popular “Upper tourist Section/Wollangambe 1”
You can make your way a fair way up Whungee Wheenge but even the first hundred meters or so is worth a look. Walking up it is impressive but when you turn around to come back down the bottom chamber is something else again
By now we’re starting to get a bit peckish but the exit isn’t far down and that’s probably the best lunch beach near here so we keep on going.
It’s time for a late lunch as we let the floaties deflate, wetsuits dry and bodies warm up
Then it’s a steep climp up through the cliff lines and a longish walk up the ridge, all up gaining about 400m elevation, and back to the camp ground
Party Size: 11 mixed experience
Time: Didn’t really pay attention but I’m guesing around 7hrs relaxed pace
Gaz, Lauren, Renee, Jodie, McKennzie, Rob, Sav, Dick, Luke, Swav and me
I think I have mentioned before that Rocky creek canyon is my all time favourite. I’ve no idea how many times I’ve been through but I still get goose bumps every time we get to the spot on the entry track where you start to hear the little waterfall at the start.
We leave town at sparrows fart and make our way up to the carpark. We are early but there is one other car already there. It looks vaguely familiar but I don’t take a lot of notice as we gear up and swing down the entry track towards Twister (not Sheep dip).
I’m a bit excited.
Wet suits get donned. stuff gets crammed into dry bags. For some reason I always seem to get a lot of go pro footage but not many photos in Twister and the opposite in Rocky but I digress.
For quiet a few of the group this is their first canyon and despite a few nerves on the jumps the smiles are big
Up ahead the waterfall can be heard. My pace quickens. And then Rocky creek comes in on the right and where our little stream meets it it plunges into an inviting slot
It was about here I walked around the corner and see the light of a camera ahead. Think I might have walkedinto someones carefully composed long exposure shot.
Sorry, calls I, How awesome are these rays.
Is that you Flynny, comes the reply.
Oh Autal. I couldn’t see who it was, how are you mate.
We have a quick chat. He has been in there for a while already and is keen to stay a while longer chasing the changing light. We leave him to his snaps, can’t wait to see them, and continue down.
We do our best to catch a bit of sun to warm ourselves while having a quick snack.
Now it is posible to continue down the creek aways and then climb out via a break in the cliffs then follow the ridges back to the car. I prefer to reverse back up the canyon. In the little time it takes to turn around you can guarantee the light will have changed. Plus you see things you missed on the way down.
We grab packs and head back up the canyon
All in all a great day out.
With the early start Autal was the only one we saw in the canyon itself. A few groups walking in as we were walking out and a few cars in the car park but much quieter than I thought i would be on such a nice weekend near christmas.
Party Size. 11. 4 experienced 7 beginners though most of them have experince in varying outdoor activities
Time: 4hrs 20min car to car
Rocky creek canyon dwarfs you, engulfs you. Your troubles fade in the face of it’s grandour. They aren’t even a blip on Rockys geological time scale