Does the pope shit in the woods… I mean, Is a bear catholic… I mean… ah fuggit, yeah sure
It’s mid afternoon when we roll into the car park. It and every other car park on the Mt Hay road is jam packed. Oddly no one else is in the canyon though.
We start gearing up.
Did anyone bring quick draws……
Karabiners will have to do but that’s future us problems. We set off down the trail.
It’s a cracking day and a relief when we drop into the shade of the gully
We had trundled through the canyon itself fairly quick, the water was chilly but the day outside was baking (well baking in the sense that we haven’t acclimatised to summer yet) so we spread out on the rocks below the final abseil for a snooze to allow the gear to dries out and the afternoon to cool down.
I’m not good at sitting still so eventually I gather my gear and begin the trek out, knowing the others will catch me soon enough. It was still a hot march up to the climb
Once there I grab Russ’ spare Biners and free up a couple of mine and lead on up.
Another quality afternoon in a quality canyon with quality people.
I often browse websites, blogs, trip reports and photos looking for inspiration and in doing so years ago I stumbled across a name of a canyon I’d not heard of before. My interest was pipped. More research revealed nothing but another name of a second canyon close by.
After some assumptions, deductions, guess-work and staring at satellite imagery I mark 2 points on the map with question marks. But at the time I didn’t have a group I thought would be willing to go in search of a probably low quality canyon through thick scrub just for the hell off it. And, well life got in the road And that was the end of that.
But the other week I pulled out my old map and those 2 question marks burned into me. I put out a call to see who’d be keen on an exploration trip that would probably involve a wet canyon but probably not stunning or wow material.
To my surprise the above mentioned folk said yes and so we found ourselves parked on a seemingly random bit of otherwise highly trafficked firetrail and we headed off into the untracked scrub.
Only then we stumbled over an old vehicle track that was heading right where I’d marked would be the most likely easy way to enter the creek.
The track stopped at a rock outcrop and while there was no obvious path down it was an easy scramble into the creek. Surprisingly there was a footpad of sorts along the creek edge. OK this must get more visitors than I thought.
I was pretty sure I was looking at a small Wollemi Pine. But this isn’t where they were suppose to be. I fire off a few photos to compare images later on but I convince myself it was something else.
What going on? says they
I thought that was a Wollemi pine. say I
The plaque says it is a wollemi pine.
OK I missed that. It seems it was planted in 2008 as a memorial to two people who enjoyed the area. OK that explains that.
From here the faint track disappears and is replaced by not so faint scrub.
At some point the conversation turns to buggery and bestiality. WTF? the weird conversations you have in the bush. Those who recognise where we are may get the reference.
Anyhoo Chardi, who missed the memo that it was going to be a wet trip until Tim picked him up and asked if he had his wetsuit packed, is not impressed with the scrub so far. He makes comment on our 6 dope trip and threatens to wipe me off his list if things don’t improve dramatically
Luckily we round a bend and are greeted by a drop into a heavenly looking pool. Well it would be heavenly looking if it was 28° summer day instead of at 14° mid spring day…
How’s the water?
Bathy and only knee deep, or sumfink…
What follows is a delightful little Sheep Dip style of canyon with lots of slides
Chardi forgives me for the scrub on the way in.
And in-between were some surprisingly nice bits of canyon. Not mind=blowing wow but nice
And after another little drop we find a spot in the sun to warm up and have a bit of morning tea. There are signs that this spot is more visited. I point out there is a popular walk in the area and this bit could be visited from the bottom up before the waterfall stopped you.
We continue down a track of sorts but now I’m looking for a pass out to try to link up with the other possible canyon. I’m starting to think there wont be one when a steep gully appears that looks like it might go.
Tim and Gabby follow Madie up a steep bit of scrub out of the creek. Chardi and Marchelle follow me a few meters down stream where I think looks to be an easier ramp.
I scramble up a steep rock using a small sapling as a hold and reach out with my other hand to grab a reasonable size tree root.
That’s not a tree root. Tigersnake! Big one. Now I’m generally pretty good around snakes so I slowly stand and be as non-threatening as I can be. Old mate has flattened out but on a cool spring day I doubt he is going to waste energy on me if I don’t threaten him. I slowly reach for my camera. The bugger stands up and comes straight at me. I jump back off the rock.
Did I mention the rock was steep. so now it’s on top of the rock where I was just standing and I’m at the bottom of the rock which pretty much puts us eye to eye about a foot and a half away from each other.
It comes at me again. Shit!
Ok so snakey people know that Tigersnakes put on pretty good threat displays but unless you try and pick one up or step on it they’ll often do a bit of bluff where they launch a closed mouth headbutt to scare you off. This one had it’s mouth closed. I highly doubt it was looking to bite but when it’s coming at your face all that goes out the window. I launch myself backwards down the hill.
Chardi is wondering what the hell is going on, surely I didn’t fall of that bit of rock, did I break and handhold or…. Oh Snake.
I stumble in the loose rocks and fallen branches, I’ve put a good couple of meters between us but I look up and it’s still coming at me. I’m all tangled up on the ground and have nowhere to go. Shit Shit! Shit! I’m f#$ked.
It gets to within about a meter and veers off. Shit!
Marchelle cottons on to whats happening. The Snake coils around. Takes another good look at us, sees there is now 3 big things not just 1 and takes off into the undergrowth directly towards the other group.
Watch out! Angry Tigersnake coming across towards you.
They all take it nice and calmly and continue up the hill. I compose myself and do likewise.
Later, back at the cars Chardi brings up the snake encounter.
What? Where? Oh wow we thought you called out you couldn’t continue up where you were and were coming across toward us. Then we wondered why you didn’t
No wonder they were so calm about it.
But we get ahead of ourselves. For now we continue up and reach the top of the gully only to be blocked by a small overhang and the last little bit of the cliff. Using Chardi as a ladder a scramble up the overhang and the dirty, not quiet vertical scree and set a rope. I call,Rope below .
Don’t bother there is an easy pass up to the side.
Now they tell me.
Once through the cliffs it was an easy stroll through fairly open scrub down into the next gully along until we are stopped by a reasonable sized cliffline. We had plenty of ropes but as they say in the Bluies “The nose always goes! Sometimes.” Just up-stream on a bend I see a steep nose that looks like it would indeed go.
The scrub to get there was horrid but it gave us a way down. It was steep and slippery and at one stage Gabby slipped bounced into me and like a snooker ball I shot off down the next bit. Then again she slipped and landed on me…. Well she says she slipped but I’m taking it as a compliment or sumfink.
Anyhoo we reach the creek. The dry, dirty creek filled with razor grass and dead fern fonds and choss and disappointment.
We fight our way down stream. Chardi revokes his forgiveness and when we are sure this isn’t going to be a canyon suggested the creek be renamed Flynny’s Folly.
And then a trickle of water. Then a rocky bottom. And then, out of nowhere
I didn’t think the previous creek was as cold as I expected. This one seemed to make up for it.
At one point we drop into a pot hole to find the other side to be rimmed with a 2 meter high wall (Water must flow underneath but the passage was silted up with sand. I scramble up. The wall is about a foot wide and drops straight back down into a pool on the other side. I help Gabby up and then use her pack to lower her down until her feet touch the water and drop her.
I must admit I didn’t really pay attention to her landing. I help Tim up. Just slide down the wall and land soft it’s only about waist deep. says I.
Tim slides and disappears under the water. OK chin deep….
But just around the corner it opens up into a glorious amphitheatre and we warm ourselves in the sun thinking that’s it. But just just down stream
One more short swim through the darkest and prettiest bit of canyon so far on the trip
And then the gully opens out.
Near by was far more popular canyon and while we were in the area we thought why not
And then it’s up the hill and back to the car.
Party size: 6 all experienced
Timing: 6hrs car to car
Life is more enjoyable and less oppressive with some mountain air, a little adventure and just the right company
Ok I wanted to get my young nephew out to do Tiger Snake canyon and invited the others along for the trip. But 2 things happened
a. Nathan broke a couple of fingers, so he wouldn’t be able to abseil and
b. an alert cames through saying the area would be closed due to Hazard reduction burns
That also ruled out my back up plans and after a bit of thought I threw up the idea of Four Dope canyon.
It was going to be a big walk for a shortish canyon but I had enjoyed the neighboring Dead Tree Canyon last year and it was meant to be a similar sort of trip. Plus it’s one I’d not done before and I’m always keen on checking out new adventures.
The others were a little dubious. They had asked around and got reports back saying it was a very ordinary canyon and not worth doing. Oh well I’m going anyway. In the end they came too.
Madie had been introduced to Maarten somehow and asked if he could tag along. He was a backpacker out from the Netherlands and keen to do some canyoning, he had already done solo trips to Claustral and Kanangra and so Autal picked him up from Paramatta station and now we were a group of 6.
Slight hickup early on as Al rang. Where are you guys at? Asked he
My place. says I
I’m looking for it and there is no 33 Shaft st….
Wow I’d moved out of shaft street 3 years ago. My tired brain must have malfunctioned (it often does)when I texted the meeting place through to him… That doesn’t bode well.
Anyhoo. We eventually all meet up at the Waratah ridge car park and start the walk out.
It’s a long walk along an old fire trail and then onto a foot pad, but it’s fairly flat and the company is good so time passes quickly
The foot pad comes and goes towards the end. I’ve always found it odd, you’ll be on a very clear obvious trail and 20m later it disappears. Then, if you are lucky, you pick up a faint trail, step over a log and it disappears, then you stumble over a clear trail again. And so on and so forth. Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera…
Anyhoo we get to the spot where the track notes say we need to veer off. I may have come a fraction far and we need to skirt back around the head of the gully which would lead into arch canyon and we pick up a faint ridge which begins to drop down early.
The track notes are a bit vague, saying to follow the ridge until it starts to descend then drop into the creek. Well we’ve only just got onto the ridge but it sure is descending. The Canyon is still 1km down stream but we drop into the creek.
Big mistake. It’s scrubby as all get up. We do come across these cool over hangs and erosion caves thou
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It takes us a stupid long time to push through 100m of scrub and we make the call to scramble back out onto the side ridge to traverse above the worst of it.
Some interesting scrambles along the halfway ledge bewteen clifflines and we finally drop back down and suit up.
Are you sure this isn’t 6 dopes? Chardie asks
The slot would want to be special or it’s making my first entry on the never to be repeted list. says I
All kitted up we enter the creek and wade on down stream. Just as it was getting uncomfortably warm in the wetsuits we make our way through a horid mess of tree fall and the canyon drops away below us.
We waist no time roping up. Not even half way down the abseil the walk in is forgotten. Wow.
After a short section of narrow, dark canyon it opens out slightly
And then it drops again and there is a couple of abseils in quick succession
And some nice canyon follows
Now we hadn’t seen any sun in the canyon, it felt like late afternoon twilight the whole time and there was a bit of a cool breeze flowing down between the walls. I was just starting ot feel a bit chilly when we get to the 1 compulsary swim of the trip.
But is is such a nice spot
And then it opened out and we were at the junction with the Bungleboori.
We now needed to make our way about 40min upstream to Arch canyon and a convenient pass out.
I’d used this pass before but approached from the upstream side where we made use of the current to carry us down the deep pools of the Bungleboori. I was thus expecting some cold swims as we made our way upstream but other than a few wades we made good time along the banks and sand drifts in a stunningly wild section of the river
We soon found ourselves at the juncton with Arch canyon and I was super keen to slip up the canyon a little to have a better look at the arch.
It’s well worth the effort of climbing up the bottom drops and steep creek to reach the arch just as the canyon proper starts (or is that ends…)
We make our way back down to find Chardie and Al have made a head start on the exit track. Maarten and Autal follow. I’m getting out of my wet suit. I hate walking uphill in a wettie.
Me and Madie get into dry gear and give chase up the hill.
Autal is waiting at the base of the upper cliffs and we set off after the others. We can hear them ahead which is a good sign as we scramble up the first viable option and find every one waiting to regroup on the ridge
And now for the long slog back to the car.
Was it worth the 20km of walking and nearly 800m of elevation gain for a short canyon?
Well, whenever you are out in the bush with a great bunch of people it’s worthwhile and to be honest I was impressed by the canyon itself. It had a beauty to it and the first abseil was stunning. It also has a less traveled feel to it, like you are one of the privledged few to experience it’s wonders.
I wouldn’t rush back next week and I’m glad we didn’t do it in the height of summer but would definately consider doing it again in the future if the company was right.
Party size. 6 All experienced, all a little loopy
Time: 8.5hrs car to car with some stuffing around finding our way in.
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.