A Whingee Whungee Wheengee

27-10-2019

The Angles, the Demons and meeee

I had a busy weekend lined up and didn’t think I’d get out bush at all but when The Mad One lined up a trip with the awesome Canyoning/Climbing fam I was keen as a bean for a catch up so I rearranged some stuff to free up my Sunday. They really are a great bunch of like minded folk and a ball to hang out with

Anyhoo we meet at Mt Wilson at a very lazy 10am and dither about before setting off along the fire trail. Laziest start to a canyon day for ages.

The walk in would soon address that….

The shade of the overhang below the first abseil proves an enticing place to have lunch so more lazing about before we slip down the creek. I scramble into the start of the canyon and try to entice the others down with my best Pennywise impersonation, Do you want a balloon too, Georgie? but they go over the top to the next climb down.

The first little bit was as dry as a nuns nasty

Madie and Aleasha making their way in

The swim into the first “Duck under” was little more than a deep wade. There followed an impromptu chorus of Ooooh shit it’s cold. Which had Libby dubbing the trip the Whingee Whungee trip.

Russ and Libby Liability enjoying a coolish dip

Whungee is usually such a high quality canyon but the low water and lack of glowworms took a bit of the shine off

io! Wanna fight? Caaarn, I’ll fight the lot of yas
Leo and the Wizard
It does have some beautiful bits thou
Dualing photographers dual

Barely a duck under
Russ, Libby, Aleasha and Jez

Ok the top section was a little down on it’s usual high standard but the final hallway is still bloody stunning

We briefly check out a rumoured short cut exit but decide the climb is too dicey today so it’s into the ‘Gambe for a float down to the usual exit.

Surround yourself with exceptional people, experience exceptional things

Party Size: 8

Time: I didn’t really pay much attention but I think it was 7-8hrs with plenty of stops along the way

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Hole in the Wall Canyon

10/03/2018

Shaha, Frankie, Kristy and me

Hole in the Wall consists of 2 canyon sections interspaced with a more open creek walk. It’s a reasonable walk in and out, mostly along a flat to undulating ridge. It is a bit of a Show Case canyon thou, being dark and twisty with glowworm caves, fun little water jumps and interesting abseils so well worth the walk.

It also empties into a very pretty section of the North Bungleboori crk, AKA Nine Mile crk, AKA Dingo Crk (though that name was originally appplied to a just small but interesting tributary)

It starts with a bang. You are in a pleasant sort of creek that looks like it might canyon up but is other wise unremarkable, you duck under a chock stone, round a corner and BAM!

Anyhoo

I was half keen on the  Banks double again but decided after a couple of big weekends I’d be better to take it a bit eaiser. Shaha, Frankie and Kristy joined me for the trip.

Setting off from the car park it was a coolish day that made walking pleasant and an hour and a bit of relatively flat ridge top walking later we descended into the little creek that would soon canyon up.

Normally I wouldnt bother with wetsuits yet, the top section has a few short wades but no swims, but with the day a bit of the cool side I made the call to put them on and in we went

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Kristy entrying the canyon

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It’s nice but just around the corner…..

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It drops into this amzing, deep, dark  slot

I’ve done this canyon a few times now and it blows me away every time. For the others it was their first time so I encouraged them to take the lead and find the wonder for themselves.

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The tops section is fairly short but it packs in some wow moments

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I once got flooded out of here seconding a comercial group. This was a deep swim as we came up it against the flow. I had to swim up, kicking off the walls pulling my self along the rocks. I then set a rope to pull the others through,..

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Dark, narrow, twisting halls open out to wider chambers which in turn lead to Dark, narrow, twisting halls

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And after a tricky climb down or two the canyon opens out to a pleasant walk down the creek interspaced with boulder hopping and quick sand

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Just when it was starting to get uncomfortably warm in the wetties the creek begins to drop again and the walls close in.

We harness up above a small drop. The water down below looks so inviting.

What are you guys like with water jumps?

Shaha and Frankie were up for it. Kristy, not so much.

Ok we can rope you up here or it’s a fairly easy down climb. She opted for the down climb.

Frankie takes the leap first and then Kristy follows using the sling to hand over hand.

Me and Shaha jump.

Another nice canyon section follows before we get to the first abseil.

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Kristy tackling the awkward start over the log

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Shaha makes the whole thing look easy. Check out the moss on the log to get a bit of an idea of the high water mark/throw of the falls when the canyon  floods

And then it’s into the show stopper section. a dark cave like tunnel filled with glowworms

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“I see Oriens belt but say nothing”:-Ani Difranco

The cave seems to periodically silt  up and flush out. Last time this was a deep swim and a difficult climb up out of the water over a mid way shelf. this time it was barely ankle deep at the shelf and and easy step up.

Over the shelf and back into a deep pool then a tricky climb out and up a cave like squeeze

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Regrouping after the squeeze

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Some more very nice canyon follows

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Log choke. I can’t fathom the power in the flood waters that caused this

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And then the longest abseil, down through a hole. When we first visited this I remember it being a sandy floor with a log spanning a hole a bit back from the edge. you had to rope up around the log and it was a very awkward to get on rope and then you swung in and down you went. At the time we joked that “Hole in the floor” would be a better name. Now the floor is bouldery and it’s obvious you are on chock stones. The hole is right at the edge, the log all but decayed. A handy anchor is found on the wall.

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a 12-15m drop with a nice bit of free space at the end

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Some more narrow, dark canyon follows

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A tricky down climb or awkwardish jump into shallowish water

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Then it’s one last abseil/slippery hand over hand

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Shaha, looking out through the Hole in the Wall

And then we are into the magestic North Bungleboori… AKA Nine Mile, AKA *hackspit* Dingo Creek.

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The hole in the otherwise towering walls of the North Bungleboori that inspired the canyon’s name

Now its a 500m wade, swim, scramble, walk up stream to our exit.

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Don’t get me wrong, I like Dingos but they have nothing on the Bungleboori

All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible. T E Lawerence

Party size: 4

Time: 6.5hrs car to car

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Whungee Wheengee woohoo

20-01-2018

Ed, Tal, Gaz, Jodie and me

*Slight detour* in March I am again taking part in the West Cycles Classic to raise money for the Westpac rescue helicopter service. Whether preforming bush rescue, emergency patient transfers, and all the rest no one has ever had to pay to use the helicopter due to public donations. If, like me, you believe this is an invaluable service or if you just enjoy reading my blog think about pitching in with a donation. Large or small every bit counts. follow this link for details 2018 West Cycles

 

Anyhoo…

I explained the naming of Whungee Wheengee on the write up of our previous visit there. It’s a great canyon with lots of different challenges, or “Activities” as Ed described them, things of interest and wow moments. It’s very technical in places and the water is much colder than that of the wider Wollangambe. It’s also reasonable sustained.

Anyway, on a hot day it was a great place to be.

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Crossing the Wollangambe. Water levels have dropped at least 3″ since our New Years day trip 3 weeks ago

On the walk in we had caught up to a larger party at the climb down the tree roots, They were doing Whungee too and  graciously waved us throu. They caught us on the climb up the other side and again at the abseil point. but were happy for us to go in first.

Through the week a couple of groups had posted to Ozcanyons about a brown snake inbetween two of the abseils. I let our lot know to be careful and let the other group know as well, offering to point it out to them if we saw it.

We saw it, waited for a while but it was getting a bit cold and while we couldn’t think of a way to notify them we figured it had been really obvious so they’d have no trouble spotting it. We meet up again at the exit beach.

Did you guys see it? asks Ed

Yeah, laughs one of their guys, wasn’t quiet the size they made out.

Ah it was a good meter long, Says Gaz

Really? The one we saw was tiny… Holds up his hand 15cm apart.

Ok there are a few snakes in Whungee Wheengee at the moment.

 

Anyway on with the show

Abseiling down the cliffline into the creek I was molested by a dead tree… It grabbed me right on the arse…. Well it caught my shorts that I wear over the wet suit to protect it a bit. Um I’m kinda stuck.

There was a little fork in the top and it wasn’t letting me go. I was nearly ready to crack the prusiks out. Before I did I tried a final pull up with the top hand and reef on my leg. Rippppppp!

OK thats the 3rd set of shorts I’ve torn the arse out of in 3 canyons…. Bugger

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Jodie dropping into the first “optional” bit of canyon

Optional? yep you can bypass this bit by staying on ledges above… No idea why you would though, unless it was in high water or you are in a big hurry.

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Why you you bypass these cool little tunnels

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Jodie squeezing down a hole

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The first dark tunnel swim

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Canyon formation

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Gaz in a more open bit

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Gaz

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Entering the next constriction

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When the water levesl are up a bit you have to swim under water to pass this “Duck under”

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The top section alternates between the dark tunnels and these grand passageways

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Another duck under

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Tal

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Tal emerging from another tunnel swim

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Another “Duck under”

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Crap photo pf a leaf tailed gecko getting fat on the massive cave crickets. Gaz got some cool footage of it swimming in the video linked below.

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Gaz and Ed coming out of the cave

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Check out this grand old dame. The big yabbies are typically the females they carry their young and eggs, or berries as they are called, under their tail. I double checked this one had none before lifting her out of the water for some photos. It’s the biggest one I have seen in ages.

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Eastern Water Dragon

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Tal doing his ABCs.

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And all is good

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Canyon formation

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Another tunnel section

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Tal following Ed downthe canyon

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The final hallway

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After a few hours in the cold confines of Whunee Wheengee the more open Wollangambe feels almost bathy warm

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And as always with the ‘Gambe there are options for water jumps

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A room just for Ed.

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And a final float down to the exit point.

Another great day out in the great outdoors with great people. Whungee throws a little bit of everything at you  and never has a dull moment. I’d have to put it in my top 5 favourate canyons

Group Size:5 all experienced

Time. 8hrs car to car

This edit is slightly longer then normal but Whungee is such an action packed canyon and gaz got so much good footage I thought it worth it.

Human beings make life so interesting. Do you know that in a universe so full of wonders, that they have managed to invent boredom.-  (Terry Practett)

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Petries Gully

Access: A nice walk up an old logging track beside a bubbling brook.

Navigation: Navigation is fairly straight forward if you stay on the trail

Map: Mt Morgan

Time: Give yourself a few hours to enjoy it.

Date walked: 04-09-16 Mandy and myself

Petries gully is a pleasant stroll up an old logging track in the Wolgan Valley, just down stream of Newnes. We were lucky enough to catch it after a wet spell so the  cascades were in full display.

Getting there: From the main camp ground at the end of the road follow the trail down stream staying on the left (North) side of the Wolgan river.

You’ll pass the ruins of the old managers residence, which is worth a look around.

After about a kilometer you will come to a Y intersection at the bottom of a hill. The righthand trail is signposted “Pipeline Trail” go left instead and this will take you up Petries gully.

It’s fairly easy going and straight forward to begin. As you get higher the trail crosses the stream a few times and can be hard to follow as it’s overgrown and washed out the higher you go..

Return: Return the way you came.

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Steps to the managers residence for the Commonwealth Oil Companies shale works

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it’s all a matter of balance

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This one is normally dry

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http://www.mapmyhike.com/routes/view/1407750250

 

 

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Dione Dell

25-09-2016

Jodie, Garry Edwin and me

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Dione Dell is a good introduction to the Kanangra-Boyd style canyons. Unlike the dark, sandstone constrictions of Blue Mt canyons the ones out this way are more steep ravines that drop through a series of water falls as the streams cut down through the quartzite landscape.

Now at first glance quartzite looks a bit like sandstone, and once upon a time it was just that but then it got subjected to heat and pressure which melts down the granny structure and metamorphises it into and different beast.

Gone is the grittiness that offers some semblance of grip, and it’s harder too so tends to break off in lots of block sized chunks. Loose and slippery. It can make for hard going as you try to traverse it.

Anyhoo it had been ages since I’d been down Dione Dell (Almost 18 years) and I was keen to take Tal, he  and his mates had other ideas and went camping instead but I was still excited to show the others through it.

As I said earlier, it’s a good intro into Kanangra Walls canyons. One of the smaller trips out this way it consists of 4 major waterfalls, which are, for the most part, descended in single pitches, and a relatively easy walk out.

All that said it shouldn’t be taken lightly. The quartzite is slippy and loose and some of the abseils have quiet a bit of vegetation and in high water it would be a bit of a challenge.

In summer it is possible to take the direct route down through the falls. Today we opted to stay mostly dry (‘Cept for me who fell in. Pay back for the time I took Della down in the snow and he fell in multiple times)

But enough of my blabbering. here are some photos to wet your appetite.

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Edwin testing out my new Canyonfire rope

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Jodie and Gaz

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Gaz on the second abseil

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Jodie

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The crew at the base of Wallara falls

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Garry

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Me just after my unintended swim

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Party Size: 4 (3 experienced I beginner)

Time: About5 hr car to car with some photo phaffing

 

Miners, Birds, Bells and, Labyrnths

14-08-16

Edwin and me

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The harsh mid day sun made it difficult to get nice shots. This one is almost there

I’ve been meaning to get to this one for a while and it was a bigger day than I expected. Nice to have visited it but I don’t think I’d rush back real soon.

Anyhoo Ed met at my place not too early and after Mandy decided to pyke it was just the 2 of us heading down into the Wolgan.

Packing the ropes we had a couple of options.

Option 1 was either my 11mm 58m or Ed’s 9mm 60m

We choose option 2. Meggsie’s 9mm 40m because it was lighter. This would come into play later.

We soon found our car park and starting marching up the hill, after a bit of steep stuff we found and old road and traversed around a bit on it. So far all good. Then the road took a turn back down towards the main road. We left it behind and traversed our way across and up to the base of the cliff.

Drink breaks. Just above us looks to be an interesting slot around a detached block of cliff. It was more interesting than that as behind it was another slot around a second detached block. Very Noice!

 

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We stuff around here a fair while investigating little nooks and slots and disturb an owl (Possibly a Powerful Owl) before continuing around the corner to the dry creek we are looking for.

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Ed investigating a slot

Following this up we cross from one side to the other finding some cool sandy caves and side canyons on our way up to the main canyon.

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Side canyon

The Bellbirds are in full voice as we make our way up towards The gully.

It doesn’t give much indication it is going to close in any time soon and we start to think maybe we were suppose to head up one of the side canyons. But then, with little warning the canyon appears.

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The gully eventually closes in

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It’s not deep or dark but it is relatively sustained

It’s a nice, dry canyon but I think after the beauty of last weekends canyon and with the midday sun belting directly in to create harsh contrasts I was a little underwhelmed.

Never very deep or dark, the canyon threatened to open out on a couple of occasions but kept going further than we through it would. When it finally did open up we had 2 options.

Option 1 is to  Reverse down

We go option 2. With Great views over the Wolgan promised we choose to climb out.

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Up we go

After several pagodas offered false high points we reach the ridge top and again have 2 options. We’ve come across a slot  that is not running in the direction of out track notes.

Option 1 is to explore a way down through the slot. I have vague memories of trip reports that suggest that it will lead down with a couple of abseils but I’m unsure how big the drops are and we have the short rope.

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This option was very tempting

We choose Option 2. Head down a ridge spur and have a look off the end.

We reach the cliff edge and the grand views typical of the Wolgan greet us. Good spot for lunch.

 

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Across the Wolgan

Now we need to find away down. We wander out to the end of the ridge. Lots of Options all bigger than we are expecting. It’s now I choose to read the track notes a little closer.

“Follow the ridge until the slot…” We didn’t see a slot so make our way back up the ridge a bit.

A steep crack might be our slot but it was hard to say. A bit further around a weakness in the cliff appears to give us access to the lower cliffline where a convenient tree provides great anchor. We toss the ropes.

Sounded like it hit the ground, Says I. Sounded like not much if any hit the ground, Retorts Ed.

I had used my safety rope to tie into while I set the ropes. I pack this up and now I am on rope I have 2 options.

Option 1. Take my pack back off and put it back where I normally keep it.

I choose option 2. I give it to Ed to Store in his pack while I abseil down.

I still can’t see the ground but over I go. There is a second ledge about 15m below me. I can’t see ropes on the ground. I rap to the lower ledge and peer over.

Now either of my 50m+ ropes would have reached. Ed’s 60m would have reached. But the lighter 40m rope ends aren’t on the ground. It doesn’t help we have chosen to rap directly into a small Vee gully. If the tree up top had been 20m either side and the ropes would be on the deck.

Now I have 2 options.

Option 1. Prusik back up and look for another spot to get down.

I choose option 2.  I make myself safe by hero looping  a “chicken head” a little nub of rock I can hitch a sling around and clip into. It was a reasonable ledge. Then get Ed to re set the rope to full length single strand. This gets me to the bottom fine but the halfway mark is about 7-8m above me.

Now to get Ed down.

Easy I’ll tie my 10m safety line… Um Ed has my 10m safety line. He tosses it down and some how manages to miss the ledge, the trees and the snags and I catch it just fine.

So the solution. Tie my line to the end I have on the ground. Anchor that to a tree just a bit back with a long sling. Ed can now haul the slack back up, lower the other end and rap down on that strand. It’s still head height off the ground but as he weights it the  give in the system has him reaching the ground all safe.

Now it was just a stroll back down the hill to the car.

 

Party Size: 2 both experienced

Elevation gain: 640m

Time: Bit under 7hrs car to car with lots of stuffing about with photos and exploring and rigging up impromptu abseil solutions.

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Ed in the canyon

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Ed in a squeeze

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The Hollow pagoda.

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Pagoda country

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Yep magic

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Return to The Cracks of Doom

31-07-16

Mandy Tal and I

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Tal descending the first Crack

Those following along at home may recall my recent misadventures, firstly not finding the Cracks of Doom and then not fitting through the Cracks of Doom well after a ” it should only take 1 hour” rail trail meeting went all morning we thought we’d at least get out for an afternoon walk and head back for another folly.

This time we took the abseiling gear and the plan was for a quick look at the Crack of Doom 1 then traverse the cliffline and abseil into the exit crack, Crack of Doom 2.

Plowing straight across the scrub was much better then traversing though it and we found the first crack no dramas.

Have a look down Tal, says I. You might fit. I use to…

Are you sure you that goes? Calls Tal from the depths where the slot becomes nothing but a crack. Um, yep use to.

These types of crack are fairly common in this area, forming along fault lines (for want of better, more correcter terminology) known as joints. These tend to run parallel and perpendicular to each other.

The way they were explained to me, and this may well be completely wrong, was they were formed as the landscape pushed up and the former sea bed raised up to create the Blue Mt range. As it did so the bulge basically caused the sandstone to fracture in the parallel lines which can be seen clearly in aerial photos and satellite imaging, google earth etc..

Anyhoo we make out way back up and follow the cliffline around, making our way a little bit back up hill away from the edge. Ignoring the more obvious start to Cathedral canyon for now we head to Crack of Doom 2. This was our exit slot all those years ago and coming up the end needed a tricky bit of climbing to get up over an over hanging chockstone. Thus the ropes and harnesses for a descent this time around.

We rap in and leave the rope in place as an aid to get out later. I comment to Mandy that the rocks looks like they have seen a bit of traffic. I’m no tracker but it tends to be obvious when others have passed this way. A bit of rock with the moss worn off at on obvious foot hold, that sort of thing.

This crack has a bit more width about it, a tad wider than shoulder width for most of it’s length, and it descends steadily down through the cliff line in a nice ramp. The bottom exit is well hidden, the crack basically runs parallel with the main cliff line and looking up the little alcove it starts in you would not see it if you didn’t know where to look.

The original plan was traverse back along the bottom of the cliff line for a look up the bottom of Crack of Doom 1 but not far around the scrub encroaches right up to the cliff edge. With limited time we opted to forego bashing through this and instead head the other way to the base of Cathedral canyon.

I was surprised to see a number of foot prints in the fine sand along the base of the cliffs. Others must have visited here fairly recently, I’m thinking yesterday as they were quite clear and the fine powdery sand wouldn’t hold a print that clear for too long.

Anyhoo Cathedral canyon is as awesome as I remember. The Bush Explorers refer to it as the Diamond Cavern and describe it with much reverence in their Gardens of Stone books and I can see why but back in the day my guide introduced me to it as Cathedral  canyon and that’s the name I prefer as it does have a Cathedral feel to it.

The micro canyon is very short and gets thinner as it climbs up through the cliff line before your passage is blocked by a small overhang  chock stone 2 or 3 meters up in the narrow walls. Belatedly I figure it would probably be a much easier climb out here. Alas I’d left my pack at the bottom of the abseil.

Anyhoo we have a bit of a look around before head back the way we came.

Party size: 3. All experienced

Time: I really didn’t take much notice but it wouldn’t have been much more than a couple of hours car to car with a few snack breaks and a lot of phaffing about with photos

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Tal gets to the narrow bit of Crack of Doom1 and thinks yer aint fairdinkum
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Crack of Doom 1. Yep once upon a time I did fit through
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Crack of Doom 2. A more sensible width
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Tal heads down the crack
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Mandy Descending
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Mandy at the 90° exit
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Heading up Cathedral Canyon
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Tal in Cathedral Canyon
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Back at the hidden base of Crack of Doom 2
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Where’d she go?
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Knots 101 refresher course. My climbing skills are a little rusty so we used a prusik back up, just in case.
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Tal bridges up and out easy peasy
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Ignore me, I’m an idiot
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Another crack across the way
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Pagoda country
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Top of Cathedral Canyon

And of course I went back, stopped sooking and squeezed through

Ida Falls

Access: Easy walk, thanks to Ty N. and all his hard work fixing up the old track. There is some steep uneven dirt steps and a couple of spot where you are stepping over or along logs but no abseils or rock scrambles.

Navigation: Navigation is fairly straight forward.

Map:  Lithgow  1:25000 These can be purchased at Lithgow Tourist information center or online for around $10 each though not really needed here

Time: It takes about 30min to walk up to the falls.

Ida

Ida Falls is a nice little walk on the outskirts of Lithgow. There are hand stencils in the area suggesting it was important to the native peoples prior to white settlement. The lower gully was once a coal mine and relics from that era are easy to spot.

Familiar to generations of Oakey Park kids as a semi secret hidout and yabbie hunting spot.

Half way up the gully is over looked by Top Points on the ZigZag railway to the left and a forgotten look out (opposite PoW memorial on Scenic Hill) and old climbing crag to the right.

In recent years a young local took on the task of fixing up the trail so others less adventurous could visit it. Please respect not only all his hard work but the very nature of the location, a piece of pristine beauty right on the edge of town

Getting there:

Head down Inch st this becomes Bells St after the second rail over bridge. At end of Bell st cross a little bridge (Notice the tunnel this creek comes out of on the right) and there is a small parking area on the right. Walk back towards the last house, down toward the crk. You need to get to the other side of the railway line and you do this by passing through a cool old culvert.

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Mandy in the tunnel

Once through the tunnel look for Ty’s home made signs as the guide you across the creek then up to the right to avoid the boggy ground and hence up the gully towards the falls

 

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The Falls don’t always have a flow going over them so it’s best to do the walk after a bit of rain, or even while it’s raining. Return the same way

It’s possible scramble up through breaks in the cliff lines and visit the upper gully to but care and respect is needed

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.

 

ida falls

 

BACK

A Lazy Koombanda Day

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

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Sure it looks like the Scottish moors but, honestly, it’s the Aussie bush in high summer

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

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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.

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Hmmm pretty but chilly

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)

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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

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Tallis on rope

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Mandy in the depths

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Me on rope with Tal on Belay

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The chamber of Awesomeness

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.