Sleepy little town on the outskirts of the Riverina
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
Then the creek drops into a dark hole
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
Madie told me she had trouble finding the entrance to the lower section of Bells creek on a solo mission. So we threw a few dates around. Nothing worked for us both
Poo i have to go to Zanzibar. Says she. I guess April wil be too late.
Na Aprils good. And shit Zanzibar!
Great Now I have a Hoodoo Guru song stuck in my head. And it’s not even one of my favourate Hoodoo Gurus songs
Man I’m back, keen for bells creek???
Apparently Madie’s back. We lock in a date. Others were invited. The weekend came and it was a warm one for this time of year. Perfect for Bells
I breifly considered a car shuffle from the Bells line of road out along the ridges but group size would make that awkward so I opted for the standard slog down to Du Faurs creek and over the ridge. A couple of people dropped out but any way it not a bad walk
I pull into the carpark next to the Mt Wilson fire shed. Marchelle, Ev and Craig are waiting. I look around sure Madie would have camped. Oh that looks like Autal down there.
Autal wanders up. Madie’s there. She is making coffee.
Yep she has a full on camp kitchen going on with a frying pan full of water on the boil. Anyone want coffee. I need coffee.
Sometime later we are all ready to go and set off along the fire trail.
It’s easy walking and with some friendly banter distracting us it seems like no time and we are making our way down the rope into Du Faurs creek
We reach the standard start point for Clatterteeth canyon but head straight across and make our way up through a series of little cliff lines on the oposite side
There is a slight track leading up to the ridge top but then we are on our own. The scrub has grown back since the last lot of fires but nowhere near the horror stories of yore.
I take a compass bearing and we make our way along the ridge and drop off the other side. I considered trying to drop into Little Bell but opted for the easy gully where a track comes and goes at random and soon we reach the start of Belfry Canyon.
It’s taken us just under 2hrs. Which is fairly good going.
For a trip that has a relative beginner rating of 2 in the guide book there are some tricky bits. The navigatioin being one and some interesting down climbs being another.
No one wants to carry in abseiling gear if they don’thave too, despite the unnecessary ring bolt above a realy nice natural anchor….. It looks worse than it is. It’s a pretty simple down climb and a deep pool below, if you land in the right spot…
Bellfry is such a pretty canyon in it’s own right and the early Autum sun light gave us some rays in the narrow bit
The yellows and oranges of the sandstone som give way to lush greens
We emerge from the dark swim and fnd ourselves at the junction with Bell Creek
From here there is a bit of creek walking interspaced with some bounder scrambling and a couple of down climbs that have you scrtching your head at the beginner rating
And then we descend into lower Bell Creek Canyon.
The constrictions in Bell Creek are really top notch. It’s a high quality canyon for a long way
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Hulks hand? The Angry green man seems to like canyons.
The canyon closes in.
This time I decide not to make the same mistake as last time and suggest we blow the lilos up.
Oh, we didn’t bring any.
So me and Madie blow our lilos up and the others will be swimming
Again there is so much more light in this section than on my previous visit.
longish lilo/swim sections are broken by some wading, down climbing and boulder hoping
And then we get to the long dark tunnel like swim.
and just when you think it’s opening out it goes from a narrow dark canyon to a deep grand gorge
What time’s lunch? I’m hangry
How about we get to the junction with Du Faurs, there might be more sun.
How far it that?
Just around the conrer…
It was a bit further. but we continue
We eventually stop on a sandy beach and replenish energy supplies.
Then make our way up into the lower section of Du Faurs creek
And then we exit up Joes canyon.
From there it’s a quick walk around to meet the usual Wollangambe entrance track at the big Pagoda and a final slog up to the car park.
Another enjoyable day with a great bunch of people.
Party Size: 6 all experienced
Timing: A tad under 8hrs car to car
Include some foolishness to you serious plans. It’s wonderful to be silly at the right moment.
So I was looking for people to go canyoning. Lewis and Ben were looking for people to go canyoning. We went canyoning together.
Koombanda is a short canyon, but it has some nice bits too it. My last trip with Mandy and Tal we started fairly high up in the creek and while there was some nice pools and features up there was also a bit of scrub. This time around we shortcut the entry a bit and entred by a short abseil down a now dry waterfall
This put us in the creek not too far up from the canyon. Unfortunitely the creek was bone dry. Last time we were wading here, and the small stagnant pool was a swim.
Anyhoo, it not before the creek canyons up and we done wetsuits and drop on in
Directly below is a deep plunge pool that is a bit awkward to get out of, especially in low water, we were all able to bridge across the the, er, um, bridge today
The water was a tad refreshing. Thankfully the swims are short
Now the next abseil is just around the corner, down through a hole but we had a bit of a WTF moment as there is the anchor above a pool, no hole.
Wow says I, That’s where you normally abseil. That’s freaky.
So that is normally a hole?
Yep we’ll need to find an alternate tree down stream….
Only just down stream is the actual anchor and abseil through the hole…. No idea what the other anchor is for other than messing with my head…
The next drop is really nice down through what looks like a giant clam
Below is a very nice chamber, unfortunitely the anti fog lens cleaner I tried on my camera this morning mad it fog up worse than usual..
As we are waiting for Lewis we hear a crash-bang-karfuffle.
Are you OK calls Ben
F@#$ing kangaroo just fell into the canyon replies Lewis.
Poor old skippy takes off up the canyon. With the abseil up up stream I fear he is trapped, unless he wants to take the 10m jump down in the the next bit. In any case he wants nothign to do with us and Lewis comes on down.
So we get back up to the second car which we dropped at the exit point and Ben looks a bit sheepish. Um, sorry I think I misunderstood my keys are in your car….
Taking it back a bit. When we met up Lewis was driving and we dropped what I thought was his car at the pick up before jumping in mine and driving a coupel of km up the road to the start of the walk.
When Ben asks will I be right to leave my keys here, I’m still assuming it’s Lewis’ car and Ben has his house keys or something.
Yeah sure say I, just leave them in the car there…
Anyhoo an extra 2km walk along the railway in the heat of the day never hurt anyone.
I thought he was joking, says Lewis….
Party Size: 3 all experienced.
Time: About 3hrs car to car
It’s still early in the day so I deside to take a stroll down to check out something else close by.
Access: Getting to the carpark involves a dirt road with a few rough bits. Nothing extreme but a 4WD is handy just for the ground clearance and traction
Navigation: Navigation is fairly straight forward.
Map: Wollangambe 1:25000 These can be purchased at Lithgow Tourist information center or online for around $10
Time: Less than 2hrs with a bit of time for lunch on the clifflines at the end
Depending on which map you look at or who you talk to this is either the Wollangambe or Dumbano fire trail. Open source and google maps seem to show it as Dumbano fire trail. Wollangambe fire trail is what I always knew it as and makes more sense to me as at the end you lookout over the ‘Gambe just upstream of Wollangambe crater.
Anyhoo, whatever you want to call it, it’s a pleasant stroll with some stunning backdrops.
Turn off the Bells Line of road at the ZigZag Railway onto the Newnes Forest rd. Follow this along for around 4.8km and turn off to the right at the bottom of a hill below Bald Trig.
Unfortunitely the start of the fire trail looks a bit like a rubish tip where grubs seem to dump there soft drink bottles and coffee cups… But it gets better.
Set your odeometer here, you want to stay on the main fire trail but there are a couple of intersections where it is easy to take the wrong fork.
At Approximately 1km keep left (right follows the old Wolgan Railway easment around Bald trig to the sand quarry.)
At Approximately 2.5km stay right then at approximately 6.4km stay left. After a little over 8km you will come to the locked gate (GR 499952).
Park up and follow the old road on foot past the gate. The first couple of hundered meters is steep then it is easy going along a flattish ridge for 2km.
Either side of the ridge are sheer sided gullies and at the end of the ridge is a rocky point (GR 505931) in between where these two tributaries meet the Wollangambe.
This is a nice spot of a bit of lunch (or as we did today cheese on smith chips…) there are some great views with Mt Banks straight ahead, Mt wilson slightly off to the left and Bell out to the right. And the wild Wollangambe can be heard gurgling below.
For the more adventurous this route, with some off track navigation at the end is the shorter way to access the Wollangambe crater which is usually done as a over night bushwalk from Bell. (its not a real crater but a circular depension holding a hanging swamp. I think it is the reminants of a large billabong type feature made in a sweep of the wollangambe. It sure looks craterish from aerial photos and satelite images though.)
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. First aid training 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.
Koombanda canyon: A long write up of a short canyon
Mandy, Tal and I
My original plans for the weekend had fallen through. A back up plan never got off the ground so come Friday morning when the boss asked what I was doing on the weekend I smiled and said “I have bugger all on. I might have one of those rare weekends where I don’t do anything at all.”
It sounded pretty good….
Who am I kidding not half an hour later I’m texting Mandy “You up for Yileen this weekend?” I’ll admit at this stage I’m 3/4 joking but Mandy texts back “Not sure I’m up for the big abseil. Sunday looks like its the pick of the days what other options have we got for a small trip” “What about Koombanda? and what about doing it Saturday, leaving Sunday for an even lazier swim somewhere.” The idea was planted.
We’d never done Koombanda Canyon before. I’d heard it was short but OK plus it’s an easy walk out up old abandoned colliery haul road.
Saturday dawns wet and drizzly. We had a nice 7:30 sleep in. We still hadn’t committed to the idea but, What do you reckon? says I over breakfast. Want to get the gear packed?
Why not, says she.
We let Tal sleep while we get stuff ready. Finally waking him up around 9:45. We tell Beth our plans and ask if she wants to come. I didn’t think she would as she does like abseiling that much. Declines does she
So it was about 10:30 before we even drive out of town. Talk about a lazy canyon trip. To be even lazier we take 2 cars to do a bit of a car shuffle and reduce the walking even further.
The weather was miserable. I’m thinking of pulling the pin, say Mandy as she climbs in the ute after dropping her car at the locked gate at the top of the Colliery. They predicted 1-5mil and I’m pretty sure that’s running down my forehead just from dashing between cars, says she
’tis a mere heavying of the mist, says I.
To keep an explorational type feel I’d only read the basics about the trip. Where to park, how much rope we needed. But I gave Tal a copy of Tom’s track notes. It says to contour around the hill. Says he. But it doesn’t say which side of the hill, left or right. We check the map, take a bearing and split the difference. Straight over the top
Despite the vigorous regrowth after the State Mine fire that had ripped through a couple of years ago it was fairly easy going, if damp. We dropped into a tributary and it only got scrubby towards the junction with the main creek. Even then it was more ferns then anything else
We soon reach Koombanda crk. It sounds like it has a bit of water flowing through it so we decide to put the wetsuits on. We had done a bit of humming and haing as to whether to bother taking wetties, especially after not using them in Pipeline last weekend but with the weather having a piss weak attempt at summer I’m glad we took them. The swims were short but the water was chilly.
We come to a spot where the water disappears down a drop and under a rock. Is there a tunnel through Tal, asks I. Not Sure, says he. From here I can’t see light coming through from the other side. Best have a better look, says I.
There was an easy path around but under looked like a bit of fun, we were in no hurry, the big arse cave crickets didn’t look that scary and, we might as well make use of the wetsuits
It was a tight squeeze in the middle but the water is crystal clear. It was a bit of fun
There followed a bit of crk walking. Did we come down the same tributary the note mention? Does it mater? The canyon eventually closed in and we scramble down a little chute to a beautiful, if somewhat cold, pool for our first deep swim.
A little more crk walking and we come to our first abseil. It looks like it would be easy enough to down climb to save getting the ropes out but instead I ask Tal if he’d like to try going first? Alright, says he.
Not sure if it was because he really wanted to or just he wanted to freak his mother out a little. He ropes up and down he goes. Fully pro.
I can’t remember the last time Mandy abseiled, it must be 17 years since she had done one in a canyon as I’m sure it was before Beth was born but she handled it like she hadn’t had a break at all. Only problem she had was scrambling out of the deep pool at the bottom onto a ledge in a tight squeeze.
A really gorgeous bit of canyon follows. Not overly deep or narrow but As the great R Smith once sang it was so wonderfully, wonderfully, wonderfully, wonderfully pretty. (He may sang that more than once, who knows. Not I)
And just around the corner is our next drop. Once again it’s down a cool little hole dropping into the narrows below. The notes says 15m but I don’t think it’s that high. A 20m rope would be very close to reaching so long as the anchor is on a long sling.
Tal offers to go first again
The water here has a reddish brown tinge suggesting high levels of manganese and iron and stuff usually associated with mine disturbance but we are a fair was up stream of the coal seem so maybe its just tannins leaching to the water, there was a lot of vegetation in a couple of the pools up stream. One I may have compared to Yodas swamp on Dagobah. Down stream it seemed much clearer again.
Anyhoo, a couple of twists in the narrow section and we come to a final drop.
The notes say it’s an abseil, says Tal. But it looks like a down climb. They say that it might be able to be jumped. He looked hopeful. I think he wanted to jump
The drop is about 2.5-3m it looks like an easy scramble so I offer to slip down and check the depth. Swinging in under a chock stone I notice there is a hand line set up. Definitely wouldn’t bother setting up an abseil, even without the hand line its a relatively easy scramble. Water is deep and clear of hazards I point out where the rock ledge ends and Tal takes the leap.
From here the creek opens out a bit. A stunning waterfall comes in on the right then things degenerate to a choice of boulder hopping in the creek or picking our way over, through, around and under dead fall on the banks or sometime both together. One of the legacies of the intense fire that ripped across the ridge above, followed by some big gully rakers up rooting trees and washing branches and stuff down to jam up in the gullies. It’s not too bad but it does sap a bit of energy
It seems to take a fair bit of time to get from the waterfall down to our next point of interest. One of the more unique finishes to a canyon trip in the Bluies. You round a corner and suddenly the creek bed is concreted… After carefully working your way down the slipper concrete cascade and around another corner the walls of the canyon look more like a man made breakwall… and there is a bridge spanning them.
We have arrived at the old Grose Valley/Canyon colliery. Dad worked here as a truck and loader driver on the surface in the 70s and 80s and I still look back fondly on the pit Christmas parties that took place over at Glenroy, on the Junction of the River Lett and Coxes River, a bunch of kids high on sugar running through the bush and finding spots to swim, jump and rope swing into the rivers.
It’s an interesting industrial relic in a very beautiful setting, I remember dad bringing me down here when I was young but don’t remember much except getting to ride around in the loader for a bit. We took our time having a bite to eat and a look around.
The cliff lines are stunning and some artists have added a splash of colour to the drab concrete wall.
And then for the walk out… Up the old haulage road. It’s a gentle grade, the only difficult bit is a spot where the road disappears into a land slide but with a bit of care it is soon crossed.
There was a slight threat of summer heat at the bottom but not far up the rain set back in which made for a pleasant stroll back to the car.
Party Size: 3
Time: 4hrs 50min, car to car (with the second car saving us maybe 2km walking) Taking it easy with lots of faffing about with photos and stuff plus a relaxed lunch and look around the colliery site.