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.

Arethusa, again

02/04/22

Madie, Kylie, Russ and meeeeee

It had been 5 weeks since I have done a canyon!!!

Sure I’d done a heap of other cool stuff in mean time but I was itching to get back out.

Wanna do Arethusa?

Does the pope shit in the woods…. wait, um, that’s not it. I mean, hell yeah

So the top photo is my Bestards, renownly awesome boots for Blue Mtns style canyons. On the bottom are my skeches renownly comfy for old men but super slippery. I had the bestards out ready to go with my wet suit booties. Guess which shoes I put on that morning.

Anyhoo we meet up. Head in and gear up.

So yeah 5 weeks since last canyon but more like 9 since I was last on a rope . I may have been a little excited
and before long we are into it

It’s a big call but Imma call it anyway, Arethusa is the best bang for buck micro adventure in the Blue Mountains.

All thrilla no filla. Beautiful canyon sections with minimum creek walking. Pretty waterfall and cascades. Abseils that can be techie unless it’s supper low water levels. Interesting down climbs with optional jumps. Stunning views at the end. And some easy but adventurous climbing to get out.

Some extra bolts have appeared recently and I would caution people to assess the landingzones. We scrambled/walked past most (all) of them simply because it was quicker and easier (even in the slipperiest-shoes-known-to-man(tm). OK I had a few moments but none of them near the optional abseil bolts) but one anchor in particular looked like it would drop you into recirculating water at the flow level we did it in. At lower levels (and maybe higher levels) it mightn’t be an issue but today we looked and said nope to that.

So make sure you assess things yourself rather than just blindly follow. And that goes for all canyons. We got use to the low water levels during 10years of drought, now they are flowing again reassess things.

but anyhoo I have done write ups of Arethusa before here and here, so enjoy the photos (none of which are mine so ©Madie ©Russ and ©Kylie.)

Madie checking out an alternate rap to avoid the pot hole in the waterfall
The girls wondering if I’ll make it across the gap in the slipperiest-shoes-known-to-man(tm)

https://youtube.com/shorts/A9ExmCQuWqw?feature=share

Same spot a couple of years ago different water level
She’s a pretty canyon

meat anchors are me
Frothy

And then it’s time to climb out, well it’s time for Madie to climb out and haul the rest of us up or sumfink

the crew
it’s best not to ask

Of course I’m sane, when trees start talking to me, I don’t talk back: T Pratchett Well Ok sometimes I do: Flynny

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The Not so Dry dry Cnayon. nnStuff

some time in 2021 with some people and me

A massive rain event had laid waist to our weekend plans so we thought we’d make the most of it and check so usually dry slots out to see what they were like in the big wet

A seeing a swimmable Goochs crater was a long term goal of mine. 2021 gave me 2 oportunities
Billabong was pumpy

The creek leading into the little canyon to the right is usually less than a metre wide and ankle deep
Alcatraz looking like a death sentence

So after a morning of driving through puddles and wowwing at things we met up with the others and headed out to the “Dry canyon”

the top section was extra pretty
And the lower section wasn’t exactly dry

Fun was had

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Wet, Windy and, Wonderous. Wolgan falls

13/11/21

Hywaida, Kristo, Jason, Kylie and meeeeeee

Plans were hatched but the weather played havoc with them.

I wasn’t comfortable entering the canyon we wanted to do after so much rain. Luckily the others sort of agreed with me.

Alternate plans were needed. In the end we settled on a return to Wolgan Falls

When Laurie first took me on the trip he had pioneered I was impressed. It’s a lovely waterfall and I had wanted to get out to it for a long time. It’s a testament to his drive to find the line in and out.

But…. Well, I’ve said it before, abseiling for the sake of abseiling doesn’t really do it for me. Sliding down a rope on one wall is much the same as sliding down a rope on another.

For me it’s always been just a means to see new things and get to the next bit of canyon.

So after we had done the standard dry line we were itching to get back and do a wet line. Which was fun but now we had done that too.

Still, in the back of our heads was always, Geez it would be good with more water.

After 2 weeks of constant drizzle interspaced with a couple of good gully rakers we thought it would be worth a look.

Hearing the roar of the falls from the ridge top sent a tingle down my spine. But I’m a notorious over thinker and despite what some might think I tend to the cautious side so we dropped down the first abseil knowing we had an escape route and wandered down to the point to get a look at the falls.

Things were looking good

My only concern now was that the water coming across the shelf above the falls might make it tricky getting off rope on the standard line that required you to swing in to land on the shelf.

So we modified the line and dropped into the side just to play it safe. As it was the water wasn’t quiet all the way across

But it was impressive
We signed on

And then there was only 1 thing left to do

Jason trying to stay semi dry
Kylie getting amongst it

The water wasn’t a bad temp. The icy wind thou….

Anhoo

Mission accomplished. What now?

I knew of another waterfall on the other side of the plateau that might be worth a look in the rain.

I’d first done it last year with Russ after a good dump of rain in what may have been a first decent. But anyhoo the drive to get back across was longer than the trip….

Sadly H and Kris had to leave us.

That left 3

Kylie in East Creek falls

Ok so last year was not long after the fire and the gully out was an easy scramble… Post fires, bit of rain and it’s Jurassic Park with full grown T-Rexs hidden in the ferns. Like lots of them.

Breaking a trail through the ferns was tough but we were soon back at the top. People knock my nav but we popped out onto the road 100m from the car. I aint need no stinking map and compass…

And as it was so close it would be rude not to drop into Alcatraz.

Alcatraz was Juicy and Wild Elly was quick to get into it
Kylie made a quick comparison photo from last time we were here
Jason in the thick of it
Wild Elly emerging from her wild swim

All in all a most excellent day

A cold but happy trio enjoying the shit out of life

<insert pithy inspirational quote or sumfink>

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No Lockdown Newnes State Forest Walk around

31/07/21

Madie, Leo, Pippa and I.

It’s early Saturday morning my phone sounds and incoming text

Wanna do sumfink?

Yep

Well that was settled. Par for the course for our preparation and planning

Pippa needs an outing too so we decide to avoid the National Park and checkout some stuff in the state forest.

First stop Cracks of Doom.

Those playing along back home may recall my previous adventures, After first visiting these features in 1994 a return visit in 2015 saw me not finding them and subsequently not fitting through them to then squeezing through and squeezing through again well it seems like after a pretty lazy couple of months I’m back to not fitting

Leo follows me in
Well this is awkward

So I squeeze. I strip of clothing. I try bridging higher. I can’t bend me knees to get lower….. There is just 1 bit where I can’t get past. If memory serves there is one more tight bit further in so rather than forcing myself through and possibly getting stuck further in I opt to reverse out, with some difficultly and let the young skinny beautiful doggo continue through with Madie and Leo…..

At one point the crack drops sharply, here Pippa decides to take advantage of things and crawl onto Leo’s head.

I slip around and scramble down Crack of Doom 2. We then check out some of the other cracks/Canyonettes in the area

And check out a possible First Nations occupation site before reversing up Crack of Doom 2

A Short easy scramble gets us out the top

Now what?

Lets get wet. Alcatraz on the way home!!!

Winter Alcatraz Undie run comingup

At this point in time there are things I can’t feel.

TBH I sooked a bit and put a top on so that I could go first and then stay to help Madie at the bottom with Pippa and then pull ropes.

scrambling back out into glorious sunshine.

Getting back into dry clothes felt soooo good and we relished the sunshine one back up top

The following day we head into the Freezer. Despite the name its a pleasant crag out of the wind and, today at least, sheltered from the rain (mostly)

Madie leads up the delightfully run out slopperfest, Soul Sister (18). Leo then leads up making it look easy before I struggle my way up on top rope.

Then I leave them to play on the harder stuff and head for home feeling somewhat out of shape and deflated but determined to crack myself back into gear.

Your future. It awaits only you, to live it and to write it. R Hobb

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Getting frothy in Kalang

13-02-2021

Kylie, Monica, Kris, Hywaida, Jason and meeee

Hey, I know you’ve just done Kanangra Main but would you be interested in doing it again with us? says Kylie

Hell yeah. Says I

‘cpet the water levels are up.

A week of dry should settle it. says I, let’s suck it and see.

Good theory but the week wasn’t exactly dry and as the gang set up camp it pissed down then rained steadily all night. I felt sorry for them as I opted to snuggle up in my nice warm bed at home but I’m sure they were having a great time.

When I rocked up in the morning Kanangra brook could be heard gushing away in the gully. I wandered down for a look. The amount of water on the ground was concerning and the little brook below the car park trying to burst it’s banks.

If the brook is flowing like that Kanangra creek will be pumping. Say I. We can walk out to check it out but I’m thinking we need to play it a little safe.

The others agree and we opt to do Kalang Falls instead. It is a bit more open with bigger stances between abseils. It’s usually done as a dry trip but has options so we could choose to get into the flow if it was safe.

And off we went

The rocks at Kanangra are always slippery and loose and the dampness added to this so we went slow and steady, setting up a small abseil to get to the first abseil.

We start on the dry line. Mon halfway down the usual P1 ©Hywaida

But soon we opt to take the wet line.

Kristo ©Kylie
©Kylie
We took the semi dry line for this one. The good thing with Kalang is there are plenty of options

We were bleeding the ropes each abseil but a few drops in we core shot Jason’s 70m rope.

A few abseils later I notice a cut in my 60m, right in the centre

The quartzite that dominates the Kanangra landscape is sharp but for all the trips I’ve done out there this was the first time I’d ever cut a rope (Ever! not just at Kanangra). And now we had cut 2. Thou it should be noted both ropes had seen a lot of use.

Luckily the bigger drops were done as that was our two longer ropes relegated to pull cord status.

There were lot of laughs and plenty of smiles in between the serious stuff.

Kylie about to enter one of the tricker abseils of the trip. Slippery, odd angles and pumpy all at once
Mon about to get tumble washed

There was lots of highlights but I think THE highlight was this two stage drop in a good bit of flow

The final drop gave us a good show too

And reaching the junction with Kanangra creek we get back into semi dry gear, have a bit of lunch and then make the steep, slippery, scratchy, bitey haul back up to the cars.

Kylie may have swore once or twice.

The most scared I was on that entire trip was the exit. Says Mon

Good times.

Stay true to yourself, never follow someone else’s path. Well unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path then by all means follow that.

Party size: 6

Time 8hrs car to car.

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It’s the Little Things in Life

Sunday 11/07/2020

Russ and meeeee. With a late inclusion of Leo and Madie

A few options were thrown about for weekend adventures but in the end it was cold and damp… Perfect weather for descending a couple of pretty little slots on the Sunnyside plateau

First stop Zorro

The road out is surprisingly clear. Of course I took the first fire trail, belatedly remembering the rough hill down the rocks. I pull up and explain my error. Madie doesn’t look too keen on testing the 4WD capabilities of her ute. Leo, in the drivers seat, looks like a kid on the way to a lolly shop but I decide to turn back and do the detour. Lucky, as looking back up the hill at the junction the link trail hadn’t been cleared for fallen trees

We find our car park and in no time we are descending between the parallel walls of the entrance hall.

And it’s not long until we get to the first abseil

Bottom of first abseil

Last year the canyon was as dry as I’ve ever seen it. Today more normal conditions saw a couple of pools, some of which required some tricky bridging to keep feet dry.

Leo contemplating the first of the little pools
Checking out the second drop. Russ pointing out the dodgy anchor some people abseil off.

I’ve always just down climbed this one. With some careful bridging you can stay dry. I missed a step and right leg went in up to my knee. That leg was too warm anyway

Have I ever mentioned how pretty the central chamber is

The soft light and mist really adding to the beauty

The exit hall was also very atmospheric today with the mist rolling in

Then it opens out for the final abseil.

Not mentioning any names but somebody <Coughitwasrusscough>may or may not have left the safety draw attached to the pull cord and had to prusik back up to retrieve it. Fun times

Then it’s a short stroll back up the hill to the car and we drive back up around the head of the main gully to some cool little features on the other side. The Cracks of DOOM!!

Finally, a quick stop at Bardens lookout where Madie and Leo romp up a pumpy little climb to finish the day off

Saturday 12/07/2020

Mandy and me

We’d had a lazy morning but decide to head out of a lunch date.

I’ve always thought this one a pretty little canyon so I was a little apprehensive as to the state it would be in post fires.

Turns out the canyon itself was fairly untouched. Some of the ferns in the main chamber were brown but that looks more a result of drought

Some people like to cause commotion. Others like to be the commotion.

I prefer just to be in motion

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Random end of iso climbing

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Empress with a bit of flow

08-02-2020

Time-To-Go, Sketchy, Marcula, BeerandScotch, Justadlib and meeeee

Ah Straylia! You’ve done it again. After all the devastation of the fires it’s pissing down rain.

Driving out of town I half expect to see a line of animals marching into an Ark two by two while a crazy dude calls out damnation from god.

I have to admit I was a little anxious. Empress is one canyon that always had me worried in rain. For a small canyon it has a large catchment and a relatively tight constriction. The Falls at the end have a rep for going from a gentle trickle to a wall of water in not much time. In 2005 Matthew Donovan lost his life when his party was hit with a storm burst part way through and he failed to negotiate the second last pool, being pinned under the sharply undercut wall by the sheer force of water.

While our canyoning cuzies from around the world often play in much higher water flows there are additional dangers of doing flooded canyons that don’t usually experience high flow. Canyons that see a lot of water generally clean themselves of the log jams and boulder chokes that feature in many Aussie canyons. Rising waters often pickup and sweep down stuff lying on previously dry banks creating hazards, both from solid impacts and hydraulic stoppers.

There’s definitely a skill to being able to spot and avoid hydraulic hazards, as well as speciality equipment, techniques and team work required to negotiate the canyon safely.

But I knew I was in good hands, people whose skills and judgement I trust. And overriding the nerves was an undertoe of excitement

I get to Mt Vic only for my brain to do this weird thing where it remembers it forgot to remind me to pick up my wetsuit! Some swearing happened. Passing cars probably thought the crazy dude in the ute had a bad case of road rage…

A quick phone call to Mandy and she offers to grab my wetty and meet me half way back home. She really is golden.

I’m slightly late as I pull into the car park and was surprised to see just Madie and Leo. It appears there was a little confusion over the late night change to the start time. They all know changing plans is what we do the best. Or sumfink

Anyhoo, we decide to head off for a look and if all goes well we’ll do a second run when the others arrive. But all agree it is probably going to be a none event today, we’ve had a lot of rain.

On the way down we discuss Go/No-Go indicators. If its below this rock at that point that section is good, If you can see such and such from that vantage… Blah Blah Blah. We also talk emergency exit options. The good thing about Empress is it is short and you can get many looks down into the canyon on the walk in and there are options to get out.

At each inspection point things look better. Time-To-Go’s been through at higher levels. A quick look at the radar and while there is going to be steady drizzle the heavy stuff isn’t due to hit until later. This thing looks like it is on. Woot Woot.

We are warned about which sections have siphons and whirlpools and where the water wants to force you into under cut walls and then we are in.

Usually dry side creeks are gushing
Normally a trickly requires a bit of bridging
Frothin’ on the froth ©Madie
Its hard not to have fun. My friends inspire confidence and laughter
I’m so familiar with this canyon it can bore me a little. I like the challenge of finding the path through a new canyon rather than doing ones I know well. No boredom today. It was like a whole new canyon
Contemplating the whirlpool ©Madie
Moslty you walk on down, climb up on the ledge and jump. but with a bit of flow the second last pool turns into a whirlpool death trap. Leo negotiates it on safety and sets up a traverse line for us

Me being a passenger on the guide line ©Madie
Madie negotiating the whirlpool on a guide line
New years eve it was a disappointing trickle. Last week it was a bit of a splash. Today was going to be the biggest flow I’ve abseiled in.

I’m a bit cautious as I go over the edge but I am grinning like an idiot. Dropping over the edge I get hit by a wall of water but I’m through it quick and behind the main brunt. Working my way down I’m being peppered but the main flow is to the left of me. At the halfway ledge I say hi to BeerandScotch

The halfway ledge, in the calm before the power ©Russ

and then I’m into the flow.

It’s hard to describe the sensation. White water. White noise. It’s almost instant sensory derivation as the water pounds into you, pushing you down the rope. I feel a weird mix of being a passenger, being in control, being in consequential, being alive… I’m watching for the tail of the rope as I know Sketchy set up short so she could bleed rope out as I went. I see the bottom, Well I think I do and I let go and fling myself down. What A rush.

I float there being smashed by the spray and just enjoy the moment.

I hear the others calling and It’s-Time-To-Go hurls the throw bag. Perfect throw. I grab hold and they pull me across the pool. I’m still grinning like an idiot.

Sketchy about to disappear into the beast
Spot the abseiler. Madie is just above the halfway ledge getting pumped in the best possible way. The others had arrived to watch us

The throw bag was pretty much a must

We laugh and high five and all that. The others are keen for their turn.

2nd run!

Damn phone rings and I’m stupid enough to check it…. Work. Looks like I’ll miss run 2:-(

By the time they get back to the start the water is up another 2 foot or so. Still doable and it looks like they had a ball.

Libby Smiles for miles ©Madie
Guided abseil needed this time around. ©madie

The heavy rain hits a few hours later pushing water way up past safe levels. I’m glad we got in when we did. It was a great experience.

As usual there are a lot of opinions on the socials as to whether people should be out in these conditions.

Should people be encouraging others to do so. Most definitely not.

Personally with this group, at that time, in those conditions I felt perfectly safe, or as safe as usual when canyoning.

As stated earlier I trust their skill levels and their judgement. I think they are amongst the most safety conscious groups I have ever been out with. There is a level of skill across the group that we have worked to achieve and a level-headedness that I admire. I wouldn’t suggest others try to do it without building those attributes up first.

Was it risky? Yeah sure. But it was a calculated risk based on skill levels, knowledge of the canyon and escape routes, team dynamics, keeping a close track of weather apps and always being prepared to back out.

500 people die on the roads in NSW every year. What risk analysis did you do last time you hopped into a car?

“It’s in those quiet little towns, at the edge of the world, that you will find the salt of the earth people who make you feel right at home.” Aaron Lauritsen . Substitute “quiet little towns” for adventures and it captures this group prefectly

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