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!
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
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.
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
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.
And then it’s into the show stopper section. a dark cave like tunnel filled with glowworms
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
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.
Then it’s one last abseil/slippery hand over hand
And then we are into the magestic North Bungleboori… AKA Nine Mile, AKA *hackspit* Dingo Creek.
Now its a 500m wade, swim, scramble, walk up stream to our exit.
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
*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
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.
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
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.
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)
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.
Party Size: 4 (3 experienced I beginner)
Time: About5 hr car to car with some photo phaffing
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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
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.
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
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.
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.
Hole In the Wall, Dingo Crk/Bungleboori (part there of), North West and Banks Canyons. Trip report
Party: Edwin, Tal, Meggs, Ben and me
The last time I had done Hole In the Wall canyon Alicia Silverstone was Clueless, Tas Pappas was king of vert skateboarding, Michael Jackson was weird but not yet totally creepy, hypacolour Tee shirts and hammer pants were cool, clear cola was a not so distant disappointing memory and the internet 2.0 was so fresh people still didn’t really know how to do interactive (any git with a website was considered an expert in their field, cough cough mummble)
Oh, and you could drive all the way to the faint foot pad that lead the way in.
I had done the canyon a few times. First time was with Mandy, Scott and Gav(?). I remember needing to shimmey into the tunnel section and then it being a tight squeeze up and over the rock jam to get out. Next time was a few years later with Mandy and Della. This time we we able to walk into the tunnel section and there was a narrow but relatively easy squeeze down to the left through the water under the rock jam. 3rd time was seconding a commercial party. We didn’t make it to the tunnel section. A massive storm hit us in between the 2 canyon sections and we beat a hasty retreat in rapidly rising water. I had a couple of bad experiences guiding that year and that topped it off, no more commercial guiding for me.
Anyhoo, time to revisit the Canyon. Gaz and Bryson couldn’t make it but the rest of the crew were keen. Since the last time I had been through the Wollemi Wilderness area had been declared which meant it was going to be an extra 30min walking either way. With HITW being a relatively short canyon I hatched a plan to link it up with Banks Canyon to make the walk more worth while.
Neither I nor any of the others had done Banks Canyon before but I had memories of people discussing doing them as a double back in the day.
As the weekend neared we started gathering some more info. of course I consulted both Dave’s and Tom’s pages and both indicated that, while a big day it was comfortably doable. Of course they aren’t your average joe canyoner
Other info trickled in
AD couldn’t come but said he remembered doing Banks on it’s own years before and remembered it being a massive day. I was stuffed afterwards, says he
Edwins mate did the trip a week or two before. 8hrs car to car with a party of 2.
Someone else said they did Banks on it’s own, no faffing about 10hrs car to car…
I started to think we might be biting off more than we could chew. As usual we decided to bite anyway and chew like hell.
Well not exactly, we decided to get an earlish start and set a cut off time. If we weren’t at the exit point on Dingo crk, AKA Bungleboori North, by 12 we’d give up on Banks and set it aside for another day.
A guy from work, Dave asked if he could come along, he use to be in Ramblers and wanted to get back into canyoning. I gave him the run down. We’d be leaving my place at 7 at the latest and needed to be efficient on the raps.
6:40 I get a text Dave was just leaving home he’d be 20min late. Now I’m normally accommodating but we didn’t know how long Banks was going to take. I had stressed we didn’t want delays… Sorry Dave, we left without him.
I know the plateau reasonably well but I hadn’t been out to the end of Waratah ridge for a long time and with the pine forest heading out now logged it all looks a bit different so I printed out Toms turn by turn, km by km, guide and promptly left it on the breakfast bar. I took the right at the fork knowing that they both go to the same place but thinking for some reason R was quicker if you had a vehicle with a bit of ground clearance… Needless to say a little bit of consultation over the map was needed before we reached the car park at around 8am. Meggs did point out that was twice I’ve gone wrong on fire trail recently.
Anyway. It’s along walk in but the track is now very well defined and it’s not hard walking out along the ridge line.
Edwin saves energy by levitating down the entry trail
About 1 hr later we reach the junction with the exit track, swing right and make our way down to the start of Hole in the Wall. We decide not to suit up yet and enter the dark confines of the upper constriction.
The first section is narrow and twisty but doesn’t drop all that much. We get wet up to our wastes and manage the few little drops without difficulty
We make good time and it’s only 10am as the gorge opens back out and we make our way down to the lower constriction
The walls close back in and we get to the first abseil. Ed declares it can be jumped. We suit up and have a quick bite too eat. The plan is for a few little stops for food rather than 1 long lunch
I’m looking at the pool at the bottom of the drop. The clarity of the water makes it look shallower than it is. I can see a bit of a rock ledge poking out at the right and a big log on the left but the glare of the sun makes it hard to see how far they stick out. The bottom looks rock. I normally don’t balk at jumps but…
It’s deeper than it looks just aim for the center, says Ed. I’m still dubious and decide to down climb. It’s an easy scramble and I check the depths, it’s over 6foot. From the top it looked like 3… Ed and Tal jump. Ben and Meggs decide to rope up and hand over hand.
It’s jumpable, says Ed
The bottom section of HITW is spectacular. An abseil or two later Meggsie calls back up. Does anyone have a torch? This next bit is really dark. Didn’t you bring torches? No. I said you’d need water proof torches. No you didn’t. It was in the text message. I didn’t read that… you’ve done this before. I can’t remember what I did yesterday.
Oh well 2 head torches between 5 people was going to make the cave section interesting. And didn’t it what.
I have never seen so many glowworms in a such a small space. It was, like, totes amazeballs. I’m hoping the go pro is sensitive enough to pick them up as with torches off it really was stunning.
The duck under down to the left is silted up again so it’s up and through a tight squeeze. Either it’s getting smaller or…. It takes us a bit of time to get every one through
1 last abseil and we’re out of HITW and into the wider Dingo crk (Ok, so it’s been marked as Dingo crk since atleast the 74 edition maps but its still hard not to refer to it as the “Boori”).
As the guys wade up the gorge I decide it would make a great foto so I take the go pro off the chest strap, switch over to photo mode and click away, then as I go to put it back on the chesty I promptly fumble it and drop it in the dark waters…
Now when I needed a new case I thought the “stealth” case looked cool. I’m now regretting the decision to go the black case that hides the flashing red light. Duck diving in I can’t see jack. Char from the fires two years back still pools in black clumps in the depths. It was dark in the gorge with dappled sun light reflecting off the water. I fish the head torch out, still no good. Damn. I wonder if another party will find it some time in the future.
Giving up I continue up stream, and kick the bloody thing in a wide section 10m up stream of where I dropped it. The Go Pro gods are smiling on me.
I worry we haven’t made as good a time in the lower constriction as I was hoping but as we reach the exit point up stream I check the time and it’s 11:55. we make cut off with 5min to spare. Sorry again, Dave but at this stage I’m glad we didn’t wait for you.
A quick lunch and we consult the track notes for accessing Banks. Cross the river head up on ledges and around right to a gully 50m down stream. We’d spied the gully on the way up and wondered if it would be easier just to wade down stream and access it. The notes hinted at a need to traverse around a bit higher up so we cross over and there are signs others have done the same. Then the faint trail goes no where and turns back down toward the water, 10m down stream of where we’d just crossed.
We wade down and climb up to the right of the gully. There doesn’t seem to be any easy, safe paths up to the base of the upper cliff line but we skirt up the side of the gully regaining it just above the “impassable waterfall” The pass up to the start of North West canyon is a razor grass shrewn scrub bash. Once in NW is easier going. it’s a reasonable little canyon but nothing to write home about. It does how ever give us access up through the cliff lines. The heat up top was oppressive after the cool of the Canyons
I’m getting tired, says Tal, can I wait here instead of doing Banks?
You could mate but you’ve done the hard work and you’re on the wrong side of the Valley. We have to go back down into ‘Boori and up the other side to get home.
Ooooh. OK, we don’t have to bash back up that gully again? Cool I’ll do Banks
We scramble down into the next gully and suit up again. Squeezing into his wetty Tals zipper lets loose… He’s going to have a cold back…
Banks is interesting. Cutting through the upper layer of Banks sandstone, the walls aren’t that deep but it is consistently narrow. There is a lot of sucking in stomachs, squeezing, dragging packs behind as there not enough room for both you and a pack. Even the go pro chest mount had to come off. The abseils in the constrictions are short but interesting. The one into the dark is technical and cool. Duck unders where you have to pass short under water tunnels to get through and one or two tricky down climbs that look like some parties rope up for… The water isn’t flowing as much here and after the crystal clear water of HITW it’s a little stagnant and pongy in places.
Then the creek opens out and it boulder hopping and route finding. 2 final abseils. Nice simple and longer than the others.
and again we’re at Dingo crk, AKA the ‘Boori. Wide and majestic, one report said. A disappointing boulder hopping scrub bash said another.
I’ll go with the former. Wide and majestic. The long swims are very reminiscent of floating down the Wollemgambie, ‘cept you’re going against the current, you’re not on a lilo and you’re pretty shagged from an already big day. Our passage was disturbed by a baby brown snake casually swimming down stream. I would have thought the coldness of the water would have it seeking the nearest rock, log or human to scramble out into the sun but it swam on looking for adventure down stream.
Meggs and Ben saw another sunning itself on a rock not far on… the rest of us missed it.
There wasn’t much boulder hopping in this section but it was becoming more strenuous. In about 40min we were back at the point where Hole in the Wall enters.
The crack in the towering canyon walls where Hole in the Wall flows into Dingo crk, AKA the Bungleboori North branch.
Another 10min up stream to the exit. It’s amazing how much harder this section was the second time around. Obviously after the big hike the legs were starting to get weary but the long swims also took their toll on arms and shoulders. Scrambles that had been simple the first time around seemed to be overly complicated and taxing this time.
I don’t think there is a single submerged rock or stick in this section of creek I didn’t bash my knees, shins, nuts or all 3 on.
We make the exit, hang suits, ropes and harnesses out to dry a bit and then stuff ourselves with chocolate and energy bars. After a bit of a rest make our way out. Its a steep haul to start then a gentle winding trail out along the ridge. Views over the cliff lines are stunning. It’s not a hard walk just a constant one foot in front of the other that seems far longer than the walk in.
So there you are. We managed to do it. I was impressed with Banks but don’t think I’d do it as a trip on it’s own. Going in through Hole in the Wall wouldn’t add much more than maybe 2 or 3hrs to the trip.
So the details are.
Groups size 5, all experienced and capable abseilers, thou we do still help Tal and Ben rope up. Ages 50something 40 something 20 something (or is that 30 somehting) and 2 teen somethings
None of us had done Banks before
Left car park around 8am. Got back around 6. We had a few more delays in HITW than planned and took a fair bit of time finding our path up through NorthWest canyon to the top of Banks Canyon. I then stuffed around a bit trying to fix Tals Zipper before heading in.
We weren’t rushing but didn’t faff with photos and looking about about either. We kept a reasonable steady pace. The trip was around about 20kms and contained around 1000m of elevation gain. It’s a big day but doable if you don’t have any major dramas along the way
We had a 20m rope and a 50m rope. The 20 was enough for all but 3 of the drops, the reason we took 2 was a) I like a back up spare and b) we had planned to stack the abseils in Banks sending the first person down with spare rope to set up the next drop to save time. We didn’t end up doing this as we weren’t that pushed for time.