Ok I wanted to get my young nephew out to do Tiger Snake canyon and invited the others along for the trip. But 2 things happened
a. Nathan broke a couple of fingers, so he wouldn’t be able to abseil and
b. an alert cames through saying the area would be closed due to Hazard reduction burns
That also ruled out my back up plans and after a bit of thought I threw up the idea of Four Dope canyon.
It was going to be a big walk for a shortish canyon but I had enjoyed the neighboring Dead Tree Canyon last year and it was meant to be a similar sort of trip. Plus it’s one I’d not done before and I’m always keen on checking out new adventures.
The others were a little dubious. They had asked around and got reports back saying it was a very ordinary canyon and not worth doing. Oh well I’m going anyway. In the end they came too.
Madie had been introduced to Maarten somehow and asked if he could tag along. He was a backpacker out from the Netherlands and keen to do some canyoning, he had already done solo trips to Claustral and Kanangra and so Autal picked him up from Paramatta station and now we were a group of 6.
Slight hickup early on as Al rang. Where are you guys at? Asked he
My place. says I
I’m looking for it and there is no 33 Shaft st….
Wow I’d moved out of shaft street 3 years ago. My tired brain must have malfunctioned (it often does)when I texted the meeting place through to him… That doesn’t bode well.
Anyhoo. We eventually all meet up at the Waratah ridge car park and start the walk out.
It’s a long walk along an old fire trail and then onto a foot pad, but it’s fairly flat and the company is good so time passes quickly
The foot pad comes and goes towards the end. I’ve always found it odd, you’ll be on a very clear obvious trail and 20m later it disappears. Then, if you are lucky, you pick up a faint trail, step over a log and it disappears, then you stumble over a clear trail again. And so on and so forth. Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera…
Anyhoo we get to the spot where the track notes say we need to veer off. I may have come a fraction far and we need to skirt back around the head of the gully which would lead into arch canyon and we pick up a faint ridge which begins to drop down early.
The track notes are a bit vague, saying to follow the ridge until it starts to descend then drop into the creek. Well we’ve only just got onto the ridge but it sure is descending. The Canyon is still 1km down stream but we drop into the creek.
Big mistake. It’s scrubby as all get up. We do come across these cool over hangs and erosion caves thou
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It takes us a stupid long time to push through 100m of scrub and we make the call to scramble back out onto the side ridge to traverse above the worst of it.
Some interesting scrambles along the halfway ledge bewteen clifflines and we finally drop back down and suit up.
Are you sure this isn’t 6 dopes? Chardie asks
The slot would want to be special or it’s making my first entry on the never to be repeted list. says I
All kitted up we enter the creek and wade on down stream. Just as it was getting uncomfortably warm in the wetsuits we make our way through a horid mess of tree fall and the canyon drops away below us.
We waist no time roping up. Not even half way down the abseil the walk in is forgotten. Wow.
After a short section of narrow, dark canyon it opens out slightly
And then it drops again and there is a couple of abseils in quick succession
And some nice canyon follows
Now we hadn’t seen any sun in the canyon, it felt like late afternoon twilight the whole time and there was a bit of a cool breeze flowing down between the walls. I was just starting ot feel a bit chilly when we get to the 1 compulsary swim of the trip.
But is is such a nice spot
And then it opened out and we were at the junction with the Bungleboori.
We now needed to make our way about 40min upstream to Arch canyon and a convenient pass out.
I’d used this pass before but approached from the upstream side where we made use of the current to carry us down the deep pools of the Bungleboori. I was thus expecting some cold swims as we made our way upstream but other than a few wades we made good time along the banks and sand drifts in a stunningly wild section of the river
We soon found ourselves at the juncton with Arch canyon and I was super keen to slip up the canyon a little to have a better look at the arch.
It’s well worth the effort of climbing up the bottom drops and steep creek to reach the arch just as the canyon proper starts (or is that ends…)
We make our way back down to find Chardie and Al have made a head start on the exit track. Maarten and Autal follow. I’m getting out of my wet suit. I hate walking uphill in a wettie.
Me and Madie get into dry gear and give chase up the hill.
Autal is waiting at the base of the upper cliffs and we set off after the others. We can hear them ahead which is a good sign as we scramble up the first viable option and find every one waiting to regroup on the ridge
And now for the long slog back to the car.
Was it worth the 20km of walking and nearly 800m of elevation gain for a short canyon?
Well, whenever you are out in the bush with a great bunch of people it’s worthwhile and to be honest I was impressed by the canyon itself. It had a beauty to it and the first abseil was stunning. It also has a less traveled feel to it, like you are one of the privledged few to experience it’s wonders.
I wouldn’t rush back next week and I’m glad we didn’t do it in the height of summer but would definately consider doing it again in the future if the company was right.
Party size. 6 All experienced, all a little loopy
Time: 8.5hrs car to car with some stuffing around finding our way in.
After a lazy long weekend in the Wolgan, with just a stroll up to the arch to break up the eating and drinking
I was keen to head back down and have a bit of a look around a dry canyon I knew of but hadn’t explored before and so I dragged Mandy out and ventured back down the valley.
I’d heard about this in the early to mid 2000s but never got around to having a look.
The road in crosses some private property, a couple of old school mates owned a block up the end but wasn’t 100% sure there weren’t other properties on the way up so in the interest of doing the right thing we left the road at the first gate and wandered up through the scrub on the other side of the creek.
We soon passed Ringo and Karl’s block and started climbing the steep hill that would bring us to the lower cliffline and the first short canyonette.
It was steep and loose and the weather had decided to play spring so it was fairly muggy too but we made our way up and reached the base of the cliffs without too many dramas.
The first canyon section started with some promise, a scramble up through another impressive arch. The slot carved up through the lower cliffs but opened out almost as soon as it started.
Climbing out of this brief slot we wandered up through a pleasant, if sometimes scrubby amphitheater to the next cliff line
The scrub was thick with lawyer vines as the valley rose up to the base of the upper cliffs but once there the cool breeze racing up the constriction was like a sigh of relief.
We had to negotiate a squeeze through a tunnel section under boulders
And then we were into the main constriction
My original plan had been to scamper up and out the top to admire the views and check out some other little canyons near by but Mandy hadn’t been feeling the best so I contented myself taking a bunch of photos and then we retraced out steps back the way we came.
If you stick our tongue out it helps you squeeze your gut through
Party size 2, both experienced, but Mandy feeling unwell on the climb up so taking it slow
Access: An easy to moderate walk on a reasonable trail. Steep sections and exposed cliff lines. Some rock scrambling if you want to view it from below or down from the cliffs opposite
Navigation: Navigation is fairly straight forward
Time: 2hrs with a bit of time to look around
There are quiet a few sandstone arches scattered around our area. Dargan Arch is one of the most accessible and photogenic. It is situated just inside the Blue Mts NP boundary
A remnant of an erosion cave whose roof has collapsed the area was popular with rock climbers but climbing on the arch has since been banned and the bolts have been chopped.
The arch is maybe 8m high from the cave floor and spans a gap of around 15m. Adjoining wind caves and nearby pagodas and ravines are also worth exploring.
Getting there: Turn off the highway at Bell onto Sandham Rd and follow this back towards Dargan for approximately 3.5km (The last bit is dirt and can be fairly corrugated at times). Look for the turn off marking power pole 384 (There is usually a small sign nailed to a tree marking the pole numbers at each intersection). Turn right and follow this under the power lines. You will need to park hear as the road gets rough and is normally blocked as it continues into the scrub on the other side.
Walk down the old 4WD track for approximately 500m to it’s end and then continue on the foot track that heads off slightly to the left.
This will bring you down to a bend in the ravine and a view over the top of the arch
With a bit of care you can continue down to the left and scramble down into the gully upstream of the arch, then follow it back around to the underside of the arch with access to the adjoining caves.
Return back the way you came in
Note: The great outdoors is an ever changing place. Bush fires, changing weather, vegetation growth and forestry activities can all effect the trail conditions and thus the difficulty of the walk. These are a rough guide only and are by no means meant to be a definitive guide . They do not replace the need adequate map reading and navigational skills
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.