Fools, Pools and Prison Islands

19-9-2020

Dicky, Izy, Libby and meeey

Many years ago I helped carry a girl with a broken leg out of a little known canyon in the Newnes state forest. For the life of me I can’t remember how I got involved in that but I remember asking her party what the canyon was like.

The pools were really pretty, says they. But not worth the scrub bash

Certainly the scrub hiking back up the hill was not pleasant that day.

Figuring that may not be such an issue just now I thought I’d go for a look and the above named legends decided to join me.

Beforehand I asked my mate/guru, Bob if he knew the creek, he mentioned there was an old 4wd track right down into the creek and he use to take his kids down there to teach them to abseil and go yabbying in a pool in an erosion cave but he hadn’t followed the creek further down.

Now I may or may not have misinterpreted the track notes I made from the aforementioned party’s description and so we may have taken far more rope than we needed. Where I wrote Second abseil 50m down creek. I should have wrote 50m further down creek to 2nd abseil… Carrying 100m worth of ropes where the longest abseil was less then 10m may have been overkill…

Anyhoo

Despite some dire weather predictions it was a glorious spring day, mostly, and after Dick and Libby met at my place we swung over to pick up Izy at the crack of d̶a̶w̶n̶, I mean 11am

I chose not to take the 4wd track that goes all the way into the creek as one on the opposite ridge should give us a sorter walk out while still getting us within a few hundred meters of the start of the canyon.

It also gave us great views

Bungleboori Pagodascapes
Libertybell zenning out as the creek starts to look promising
‘Tis just a downclimb
Dick on another down climb. It would be a fun slide into a crystal clear pool except the pool has silted up with sand

So far it’s a pleasant, canyonish creek. Unfortunately it’s about now my camera battery died and I realised I left my spares at home. Everyone else had left their stuff at the car as it was going to be a short one….. Thus we’ve no photos of the best bit, 3 abseils in a very short but very pretty canyonette.

The fires had taken out any decent anchor trees so the fiddle stick came in handy on the first two. 1 off a big log over hanging the drop and the other off a rock wedged low down for a short abseil to a ledge and then a jump into a stunning pool

The third drop proved a bit harder to find an anchor. I was searching in the creek for a suitable rock or some where to wedge a log when Libby says What about that!

She is pointing to a stone pillar in a small overhang up on a ledge just down stream of the waterfall.

We slip up to check it out. Some delicate traversing along the narrow ledge gives me access to the pillar that is in an alcove above a wider ,dirter end section of the ledge, It is about 30cm in diameter and looks and feels nice and solid. I give it a test and drop on in then dig out phone to grab a few final photos.

The little section on top of this was quite stunning. Pity it wasn’t 3 or 4 or 5 times longer. Again this pool was full of sand, that you sank waste deep into. I remember a lot of pools silting up like this after a big fire in the 90s. took a couple of years an some big rain events to clean them back out
The girls were happy with it thou

A final bit of canyon like creek

And then it’s up the hill, across a narrow saddle and back to the car

Did I mention the pogodas out here are awesome

So it’s still early and we decide to leave the wetsuits on and drive across to drop into Alcatraz

all the alcatraz photos are copywrite to Izy

Party Size:4

Timings: First one 2hrs car to car

Alcatraz: ~1.5hrs car to car

You can’t please everyone, unless you’re an avocado: Maddy G

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Kamarah Gully

8/9/2020

Meeeeee

Kamarah:

  1. Aboriginal word for Sleep
  2. Sleepy little town on the outskirts of the Riverina
  3. A small sleeper of a canyon somewhat less visited than it’s neighbours

The name fits with other creek names in the area. Yileen = To dream/dream like. Dalpura = Peaceful, Kamarah = Sleep. I’ve not been able to find a meaning for Koombanda, Jungaburra or Jinki but assume they fit the theme somehow.

Like most canyons in this area it’s not that deep or sustained but has some pretty bits to it.

From the bottom of Koombanda it’s possible to scramble up the nose below the junction and drop back down into the top of Kamarah. I guess this is the way most people do it, it makes sense as they are both short and adding in Kamarah then exiting up to the west via convenient tree roots can be a quicker than exiting via the old mine, especially if you don’t want to do a car shuffle.

You do, however miss some nice erosion caves further up the gully

Anyhoo this description is almost longer than the canyon already

With a day off and everyone else seemingly busy I took the opportunity of a quick afternoon stroll. The creek is drier than I’ve seen it before. I wander down off the ridge, check out the caves which seem to have a lot more block fall than I remember, then make my way down until the walls start to canyon up

The water level is down at least 30cm from my last visit
But it’s still a lush green in contrast to the burnt out ridge lines nearby
First drop is about 3m, some careful bridging meant I could keep my feet dry today
You can see how far down the water level is from usual
More shallow canyon follows

Then the creek drops into a dark hole

Typical of canyons in this area it has one, shallow but stunning chamber
And some nice bits follow

And then just before the junction with Koombanda brook you can climb out on the right, or continue down this this nice overhang to scramble up on the left

Time: 2.5hr car to car with a lot of faffing around

Whatever you do today don’t forget to be just that tiny little bit awesome

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Waterfall Weirdos

08/08/2020

Kylie, Aimee, Mattie, Muzzie, Monie, Hywie, Kristoie, Kennie, Jasie, Russie, Libbie, Maddie, Leoie, Gibbie and meeeeeeeie.

NB: Uncharacteristically I didn’t take a single photo all day so full credit for all the photos herein goes to the awesome bunch of folks above.

The forecast was for torrential rain, slushy snow and freezing conditions so when Kylio put out an invite to do a wet canyon followed by a wet abseil trip of course we all said a great big enthusiastic yes.

The day before I’d swung by Adventurebase to catch up with Leo and pick up a bit of gear. It was a miserable day but the torrential rain was more an annoying drizzle and I duck out to check the track out of our second option, as it had been closed for a while last year, but I was happy to see it open.

Anyhoo, Saturday dawned awash with sunshine. Unfortunately we didn’t get as much rain as predicted but Empress was running a bit better than usual and we were keen to hit it.

I don’t think anyone was expecting every one to turn up so we’d need to split into smaller groups to abide the group size limit but also to keep things moving, we were expecting it to be coolish in the canyon, waiting in line for an abseil wouldn’t be ideal.

Jumping into the first pool was a bit of a rush and instant icecream headache. But by keeping a relatively quick pace I never really felt cold, even while manning the abseil line at the end.

We’re not cold, noooo-sireee.
Sunshine and Bubbles
Monas
Yours truly in the flow
Someone in the pump
Krysto photo bombing
Photos upon photos
Me and Russ pulling the rope and enjoying the swim

We all regroup at the base of the falls. Some of us jump in a few times just for the hell of it then we shake ourselves off and head back up to the cars.

Here we say good by to half the group and the rest of us stay suited up and head off for our next adventure

This is one I’ve thought about doing for a while, but in summertime the waterhole at the bottom tends to be busy with all sorts of people from families trying to relax to thrill seekers and instagrammers so I never through it appropriate to toss ropes. Therefore when Kylie suggested it doing it in winter I was in like uncle Errol.

Glad I did, it might just be my new favourite abseil in the blue Mountains

The rocky bottom creek was a bit slippery in places but we all stayed up right, mostly, and soon we came to the main event

Ken rigged it up with a temporary redirect to get us in the centre of the flow, and Kylie took control of the anchor duties

An over hanging start drops us straight into the flow but a short way down was a ledge that ended in a v slot which funnelled the full pump directly intp your face as you dropped into a lovely 10m of free space.

With beaming smiles we make our way back up to the cars and make a bee line for warm food and cold beer.

Find your freaks and run with them

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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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Munmorah Sea Caves

9-01-2020

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

Looking up my snoz…
Me and Della dropping in, or “dangling for great whites.” as it was later described ©Laurence
©Gabby

.

Dropping off the end of the rope we swim into the cave and wait for the others

Inside was surprisingly large and the pebbly beach gave an awesome underfoot massage
Gabby and Ev dropping in to join us

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

What foul creatures lurk in the Nudie cave? Oh, those idiots…. ©Gabby

And then we swim out and make use of Laurences cave ladder to climb out of the water

Exiting without placing a ladder first would be difficult at best

Be a cool jump. Say I. Looking back up to the arch

Oh Coop jumps from that platform there, Says Laurence

I don’t take much convincing. Nor does Della

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.

Matt descending Pinney ©Gabby
Me scrambling out on favourable seas while Laurence descends the exit ©Gabby
Ev opting for the dry landing

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.

So almost like a canyon I got a tear in my eye… or sumfink
What a top mob of fellow adventurers to spend a relaxing day with
Making our way our of the Snake Hole

And to finish things off we head to the Catho Bay hotel for a cooling beverage or two

Did I mention what a awesome mob this lot are? ©Gabby via Adrain

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

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Arethusa

30-11-2019

Dirt Girl, Bad-arse Barbie, Shreevy, Dare Devil, Monners, The Wizard, Sketchy Maddog and meeee

Bad-arse Barbie mentioned she needed a bit of support to get back on the horse after last weekend’s incident so in a funny sort of round about way me and the Mad One pretty much invited ourselves, and later The Wizard, on to the trip she was doing with Dirt Girl. Belatedly we worked out it was originally suppose to be a girls trip….

Anyhoo,

It had been awhile since I’d seen some of this crew and it was the first time meeting Sheervy and Monners in real life so we do a meet and greet and I notice every one had the packs out ready to go.

Um, we still need to drive down a bit to the car park…..

The Crew

At the carpark we wake some campers with our not so quiet banter and then make our way along the trail

Last couple of times I’ve followed the trail down a bit far east and had to traverse back through scrub. This time I make more or less a bee line down the ridge. Through the scrub

Sketchy Maddog starts to “question” my navigation. It’s just down there. Says I. pointing to a big tree down the ridge

I think it’s over there. Says she. You’re shit navigator. It’s over that way

I’m pretty sure it’s just there. Say I

Oh shit, I can see the sling on the tree. Says she pointing to the very same tree I pointed to earlier.

1 point: Flynny

Two crazy souls right there. Sketchy Maddog took control of setting the abseils for the day. 1 point: Sketchy Maddog

We gain the creek and boulder hop down to the start of the canyon and one of the coolest abseils in the Blue Mountains.

Explaining the system. The rope goes through the thing and then you do a thing with the things so that when things happens you can do things and it keeps ya mate safe. Simplz ©Shreevy
Stunning shot by ©Madie. How good are phone cameras these days.

Even in this dry spell it didn’t disappoint

Click to enbiggen

The gang

Click to make large

It’s a great little canyon ©Madie

Click for the sake of clicking

Team work makes the Dream work

We’ve gotten through the canyon fairly quick without ever feeling like we were rushing. So we have an early lunch and chill out in the sun

Just around the corner is a magnificent view ©Madie

The traditional exit was to continue down, then traverse the Carne Wall, then get benighted. then cry a bit, then swear you’d never ever, ever do it again.

A climbing exit now makes Arethusa one of the most funnest, adventurous little canyons in the mountains. Not to mention how pretty it is.

But you need to have reasonable climbing skills

There are 3 proper climbing pitches, that are a little run out on lead, and several scrambles and hand over hands
Madie lead all of them. 3 Points Sketchy

And as luck would have it a cool breeze greets us for the walk out

Champion crew ©Shreevy

Party size: 8 all experienced

Time: 6.5hr car to car

I have a simple philosophy: Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. And scratch where it itches.Alice Roosevelt Longworth

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Flynny’s angels… or sumfink

Kanangra Main

19/10/2019

Jamie, Aimee, Mamie, Gamie and shamie…. I mean Jamie, Aimee, Matt, Mark and Meeeeee

Confession time: I’d not done Kanangra main before.

Abseiling for the sake of abseiling doesn’t really float my boat so it wasn’t a trip that ever featured high on my priority list but with anchor options that put you into more of the waterfalls rather than beside them it sounded fun and when Mark invited me on a trip I thought it high time I pop my K-Main cherry

After an early meet up we set off into the Kanangra wilds amidst banter and bravo. Before long we arrive at the start of the epicness and gear up

Epic is a word used a lot with the Kanangra wilderness and I have to admit it humbles you as you get dwarfed in the terrain.

Pitch 2

While water levels are down after a long dry spell, and even at normal level it’s not considered anywhere near hi-flow there is something about being swallowed into a waterfall halfway down a rope

Jamie on rope
Waterfallbow
Aimee looking tinier than usual
She took control of this anchor and look at her go with feeding the rope out of the bag. Nice work

Below is a typical “Ethical and safe” blue mountains anchor…. sling crumbled with 1 sharp tug

At least there is not far to fall…

I’m glad Mark converted me to releasable systems and flaking ropes into/out of bags. Constantly coiling and uncoiling ropes on this trip would be a PITA. We got the others into it too

Rope stuffing beside waterfalls, it’s a thing we are into…. Or sumfink
Looks like a jump, feels like a jump, smells like a jump… Well half a jump. Woot woot

And then we rock hop down the the Kalang junction and begin the “gentle stroll” back up manslaughter ridge… Helps if you stop to smell the orchids every now and then

Another great day with great people

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face : Eleanor Roosevelt

Party Size: 5

Time: 8.5hr car to car taking it steady

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Aimee’s take on the day

A peaceful dapple in Dalpura

05/10/2019

Aleasha, Gibbo and Macca and meeeeee or sumfink

With too many hobbies and a bunch of commitments I just wanted to get out for a pleasant, short afternoon canyon and thought to myself Dalpura is pleasant and short and a canyon and Saturday has an afternoon. A plan started to form…

I’d hadn’t caught up with this lot of awesome folk for few weeks and they were keen enough to join me. Awesome.

Dalpura starts with a nice little section
You only get wet to your waist, said I. Forgetting that takes a bit of effort and even then it was more like chest deep

Um, Russ, did you not pack your harness and stuff? said all of us as Russ rigged up a munter hitch on makeshift tape harness

I have them in my bag, says Russ. But I couldn’t be bothered getting them out. I’m a minimalist….

OK then, cool beans. Rock on,

It is still a nice spot thou
a-13.jpg

From there the canyon opens out, closes in and opens out again. There are some nice bits but nothing mind blowing

It’s odd how compelling these little challenges can be. We were already wet but we all had a crack
The I’ll have a Crack kid may or may not have made it to the end… You can do it Jez… Maybe
Never overly deep or narrow it does have pleasant bits
And crystal clear water

Hey there is a little ledge down here with stunning views…. It was fogged out

Hey from up here there awesome views toward Mt Vic and Blackheath…. FoggyMcfogfog.

Still the wild flowers were out on display

How awesome are Waratahs? The correct answer is Very.
And Spiderwebs in the rain… this one was tiny, Captured with the macro setting

Party Size: 4

Time: 2.5hrs car to car

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

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Previous trips 26/03/16 / 31/03/2018

Dione Dell and Margaret Falls

07-09-2019

Before setting off Libby dubbed us the Six Pack.

Half a Coopers, Bottle of St Rieul, Pint of Stella, Glass of Chardonnay, a Wild Yak and a Tooghey’s Old or sumfink

The weather was shite, windy as all get up and a grass fire was raging across the Wolgan road.

Our plans had changed and changed again before settling on a quick trip out to Kanangra-Boyd to do Dione Dell. Well sort of

The wind was still raging. There was snow on Oberon Hill and Mt Trickett, but Madie declared, We’re not Pussies! and Leo confirmed, We press on.

I’m not scared.

No really, I’ve done Dione Dell in snow before.

Still, I got slightly concerned when all the others pulled out wetsuits and put them on… At the car. Um are we setting up wet?

Don’t you get wet?

You can but I’ll be staying dry.

Before leaving the car park a familiar car pulled up. Hi Flynny. Ah Phil Clegg and co had the same idea, he’d actually invited me on the trip weeks ago but at that stage we had other unformed plans. We have a chat before we set off.

Dione Dell has some very pretty waterfalls but in between there is a bit of walking across loose Kanangra scree.

At the top of the first abseil we run into Dylan Jones and co. Popular little spot today.

Dione Falls
Madie and Leo at the base of the first abseil between Dione Falls and the Larger but AFAIK unnamed falls where Christy’s creek meets Dione Dell Brook

As expected it was fairly sheltered in the gully and warm in the sunshine

At the base of the second Waterfall, Also unnamed

After a bit of a walk we reach the top of Wallarra falls. We consider doing the big abseil starting on the left, crossing the fall and finishing on the right but opt to stay dry, So scramble the first pitch, where Dylan graciously offers to let us leap frog his group and we drop in beside the falls. I still think this is one of the prettiest waterfalls going

Russ filming Lara Crof…. I mean the Mad One
The 4th abseil, Suns out guns out or sumfink

And then there’s more scrambling and boulder hopping down to the top of Margaret Falls. This is what we are here for. Abseiling beside the 110m waterfall has become a popular option lately. Previously it involved silly long ropes and/or passing knots so not many people contemplated it. New rebelay options make it more appealing but please note it’s not simple and you need to be familiar with hanging belays and advanced techniques. Just getting to the anchors is not straight forward.

It is goddamn spectacular thou

Madie 3/4 of the way down the stunning free hanging 2nd pitch

The guys at the hanging belay at the start of pitch 2. Leo and Madie’s experience in Europe definitely came into play in getting us all down here nice and efficiently

And then we were down.

It took the 6 of us about an 1hr to do the pitch, that’s almost as long as it took us to do the rest of the canyon. We used single rope techniques to string out all 3 pitches with Leo aiding every one on the first rebelay and Madie looking after us on the second.

I got to the bottom first but now the issue, a slippery traverse to stay dry. I sidle my way around… I’m doing ok but there is 6m of blankness between me and keeping my socks dry… It’s slippery as snot. In the end I decide choosing wet feet is probably better then falling in and having wet everything…

Then its back up the hill where the wind nearly blows us off the tops…

Party size: 6

Time: 5hr 50min car to car

Don’t try to understand life. Live it

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