Fools, Pools and Prison Islands

19-9-2020

Dicky, Izy, Libby and meeey

Many years ago I helped carry a girl with a broken leg out of a little known canyon in the Newnes state forest. For the life of me I can’t remember how I got involved in that but I remember asking her party what the canyon was like.

The pools were really pretty, says they. But not worth the scrub bash

Certainly the scrub hiking back up the hill was not pleasant that day.

Figuring that may not be such an issue just now I thought I’d go for a look and the above named legends decided to join me.

Beforehand I asked my mate/guru, Bob if he knew the creek, he mentioned there was an old 4wd track right down into the creek and he use to take his kids down there to teach them to abseil and go yabbying in a pool in an erosion cave but he hadn’t followed the creek further down.

Now I may or may not have misinterpreted the track notes I made from the aforementioned party’s description and so we may have taken far more rope than we needed. Where I wrote Second abseil 50m down creek. I should have wrote 50m further down creek to 2nd abseil… Carrying 100m worth of ropes where the longest abseil was less then 10m may have been overkill…

Anyhoo

Despite some dire weather predictions it was a glorious spring day, mostly, and after Dick and Libby met at my place we swung over to pick up Izy at the crack of d̶a̶w̶n̶, I mean 11am

I chose not to take the 4wd track that goes all the way into the creek as one on the opposite ridge should give us a sorter walk out while still getting us within a few hundred meters of the start of the canyon.

It also gave us great views

Bungleboori Pagodascapes
Libertybell zenning out as the creek starts to look promising
‘Tis just a downclimb
Dick on another down climb. It would be a fun slide into a crystal clear pool except the pool has silted up with sand

So far it’s a pleasant, canyonish creek. Unfortunately it’s about now my camera battery died and I realised I left my spares at home. Everyone else had left their stuff at the car as it was going to be a short one….. Thus we’ve no photos of the best bit, 3 abseils in a very short but very pretty canyonette.

The fires had taken out any decent anchor trees so the fiddle stick came in handy on the first two. 1 off a big log over hanging the drop and the other off a rock wedged low down for a short abseil to a ledge and then a jump into a stunning pool

The third drop proved a bit harder to find an anchor. I was searching in the creek for a suitable rock or some where to wedge a log when Libby says What about that!

She is pointing to a stone pillar in a small overhang up on a ledge just down stream of the waterfall.

We slip up to check it out. Some delicate traversing along the narrow ledge gives me access to the pillar that is in an alcove above a wider ,dirter end section of the ledge, It is about 30cm in diameter and looks and feels nice and solid. I give it a test and drop on in then dig out phone to grab a few final photos.

The little section on top of this was quite stunning. Pity it wasn’t 3 or 4 or 5 times longer. Again this pool was full of sand, that you sank waste deep into. I remember a lot of pools silting up like this after a big fire in the 90s. took a couple of years an some big rain events to clean them back out
The girls were happy with it thou

A final bit of canyon like creek

And then it’s up the hill, across a narrow saddle and back to the car

Did I mention the pogodas out here are awesome

So it’s still early and we decide to leave the wetsuits on and drive across to drop into Alcatraz

all the alcatraz photos are copywrite to Izy

Party Size:4

Timings: First one 2hrs car to car

Alcatraz: ~1.5hrs car to car

You can’t please everyone, unless you’re an avocado: Maddy G

BACK

Bridge canyon

AKA Steep Creek

Beauties and the Beast in the Bungleboori boondocks

12/01/2019

Me, Madie and Gabby

I’ve never given Steep Creek much thought but Kent talked up Bridge canyon as a great trip. Took me a bit to realise they were the same thing.

Anyhoo another trip out to this part of the world was high on my wish list for this year and me and Madie had started talking about doing it even before we had finished last weekends trip in Twilight Canyon.

I wasn’t sure when I’d be able to fit it in but then my weekend freed up and Mandy granted me a leave pass…

You want to do it this weekend? It was like Wednesday morning.

Hell yes!

Some last minute invites were sent out. We weren’t sure we’d get any takers with so late notice but Gabby jumped at the chance.

Some off the cuff planning was done.

The rest of the week saw afternoon storms roll through including a big one Friday that just seemed to keep coming. It made me a little nervous about the camp but the worse Fridays storm got the better the revised weather forecast for Saturday became. In the end the weather and water levels were near on perfect

Keen as beans for an awesome weekend in nature

It’s amazing how quick a long walk in can go with good company, a bit of banter and high expectations of what you are going to find. With just a small hickup in navigation that was easily corrected we arrived at the bag drop where we decided to stash the camp gear before spending the rest of the day exploring Bridge and Bjelkes Mind Canyons.

We make our way down to the start of the canyon don our wetsuits and scramble down.

The chamber that waits below is spectacular.

Up there with Dalpura for one of the prettiest starts to a canyon
©Madie

©Gabby
Madie enjoying the cool water

But then it opens out and it’s a long creek walk, scrambling over boulders with a few interesting abseils

It was pretty but not canyoning Wow

Madie in the “Steep creek”

It seemed like we we getting very close to the junction with the Bungleboori and I was starting to wonder what Kent saw in this trip and then the creek dropped into this

©Gabby
And things took a turn towards amazing

Madie checking to see if a tunnel like cave might go and provide me with an easier way down ©Gabby
Darlene dubbed this photo The Dragons Eye
The girls in the Dragons Eye tunnel

Abseiling. Are we doing it right
Do you reckon Gabby is enjoying herself? ©Madie

Orgasmic
Madie under the pump
Gabby into the hole

And then it opens out and we have one more abseil before we reach the bungleboori. We spend a bit of time backing up the anchor which was a large rotten tree that felt like crumbling paper.

We find a sunny rock in the bungleboori for a bit of lunch. I think we need to go down stream a bit but the going is difficult and Madie finds a way to scramble out onto the bank, stumbling across a faint exit track by chance.

We follow it up through the first cliff line and then make our way around for the second canyon of the day

Continued on  Bjelkes Mind

*March 2019 I am once again participating in the Wests Cycle Classic to raise money for the Westpac rescue helicopter. If you enjoy my blog or just want to help this great cause think about making a small donation

Bjelke’s Mind Canyon

12/01/2019

Gabby, Madie and me

Continued from Bridge Canyon

Former Qld premier Joe Bjelke-Peterson was renown for being narrow minded, whether that was straight and narrow or narrow and twisted is neither here nor there but his name sake canyon is one I’ve had on my radar for years.

Anyhoo, armed with some tips from Kent it was surprisingly quick and easy to follow the contour around from the pass out of the Bungleboori and before we knew it we had entered the creek smack bang on where it dropped into the canyon

Gabby in a fabulously narrow section of canyon
Madie
It looked like it opened up just down stream and I remarked to the girls that I hoped there wasn’t sections up stream that we’d missed

But the canyon dropped and twisted and dropped again

I’m a dainty little rope twirler ©Madie
Each drop seemed to get narrower, this one had me wandering if I’d fit
and the canyon was just stunning

And then Madie found a cave full of glow worms

We sat in complete darkness, even Madie was silent… Without a tripod I wasn’t sure how the camera would go picking them up but had a try. Bloody flash went off.

Your flash will turn them off! Madie swings a playfull elbow at me in the dark. It connects with my Crittr, driving it into my crittrs…. Some deep breaths were needed…

©Madie

Back at the Bungleboori and we fight our way upstream to the exit

The river had a bit of flow after Fridays storms

And then it was up hill to some stunning views over the Wollangambe Wilderness

Gabby admiring the view

Madie escaping from her cave


Ecstatic after a great day of canyoning

and then it was an easy but longish walk up the ridge and back down to collect the camp gear. We opted to exchange it for the canyon gear, hanging wetsuits, ropes and harness in a tree to dry. this saved us carting it all into the camp cave only to carry it back out tomorrow.

At camp we change into dry clothes and settle in for an evening of relaxation and banter. Gabby had carted in a feast, no idea how she managed to fit it all into her pack but it was awesome.

I wonder if there are glowworms in the end of Bubblebath, asked someone after the sun had set. Let’s go for a look.

Again we sat there in silence but this time we had no need to push on. Never have I ever sat for so long with nothing but a constellation of glowworms to break the darkness.

Madie declared a rule: no torches, no flashes. and we sat there admiring the worms in all our glory.

A magical experience.

Sometime later the torches came back on and we made our way out to get some sleep and prepare for the next day

Continued with Bubble Bath Canyon

*March 2019 I am once again participating in the Wests Cycle Classic to raise money for the Westpac rescue helicopter. If you enjoy my blog or just want to help this great cause think about making a small donation

6 dopes go to 4 Dope Canyon

05-05-18

Chardie, Autal, Al, Madie, Maarten and me

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

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.

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Autal belaying Chardie
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Madie locks off to take some photos
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Ahead the canyon looks quality
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Charlie’s angel or sumfink

After a short section of narrow, dark canyon it opens out slightly

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And then it drops again and there is a couple of abseils in quick succession

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Chardie on rope
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The last one is the most awkward drop of the trip but not too difficult

And some nice canyon follows

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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.

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Chardie braving the cold, clear waters

But is is such a nice spot

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Maarten asking Madie if he can jump it
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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

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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…)

Madie admiring the arch from below and giving it a bit of scale
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It’s a stunning bit of landscape
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Looking up Arch canyon

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.

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A shot of the arch from the exit track.

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

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Looking over the gully that hides Arch canyon and out into the Bungleboori wilderness from the top of the pass out

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.

BACK

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

BACK

 

 

 

Bobs Canyon, AKA Broadhead canyon

24-06-2017

Tal and I

Bob told me about this one a while ago but I hadn’t managed to go for a look for it yet.

Apparently some time in the distant past they explored it, looking  in from the top, then finding their way to the bottom. They thought it was 2 abseils and dragged logs in for anchors. Only just past the second drop where they expected it to open out was a 3rd drop… with no anchor point. Lucky they had some kids with them and they lowered one down to drag some more logs up to jam between the canyon walls.

 

Anyhoo me and Tal had nothing on so we decided to go for a walk to see if we could find it. Bob had given me some good directions but I still managed to swerve a little to far right trying to avoid the worst of the scrub, still thinking I was on top of the ridge so not checking the compass we ended up on a little spur.

Back tracking we regain the main ridge. Thinking Tal would be hating me for the scrub I asked if he just wanted to head back to the car or continue on.

Continue on says he.

We work our way down into the little depression that would eventually become the canyon but skirt around the side of it to get a look in from the top.

The veiws from the end of the ridge were outstanding.

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Photos do not do this landscape justice, these pagoda cliff lines were 30-40m tall

We enjoyed a bit of lunch on top of a fantastic pagoda. Bob tells me there is a colony of Broad-Headed snakes that frequent this area and we spend some time peering into crevices but have no luck in seeing any.

With a little look around we spie a likely route back up from the valley below then head off to check out the canyon.

We hadn’t really planned to drop in today, just a scouting mission but we had thrown the ropes in at the last minute just in chase.

The short canyon looked as awesome as Bob had described, an arcing slot that dropped steeply through the cliff line. But it sounded like there was a bit of flow over the falls.

we make our way back along the tops and find a way to scramble down just as the canyon begines to slot up. A short way in there’s a down climb to a short pool. Crystal clear, deep enough to jump into but freezing cold. We back track slightly to see if we could get past on leadges and drop in on the other side.

We make our way along a serries of thin ledges but the further we go the less options to set up an abseil. We do, however spy the top of the first drop. The trickle of water in the creek srpays out from the wall. We’d definately be getting wet. We hadn’t planned on that so we deside to stick with plan A and back track out.

Know I know the way in and what to expect it will be on the list to do at a later date.

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A slot I thought may give access back up but nope.

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Looking back up to the start of the canyon

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Looking down on the exit portal

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Hmmm to deep to wade, too wide to straddle

BACK

“You don’t have to sit outside in the dark. If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness is necessary. But the stars neither require nor demand it.” –Annie Dillard

Dead Tree canyon

1/04/2017

Julie, Ed, me

Julie invited me and Ed out on a trip out to one of the less raved about canyons on the Southern Bungleboori, accessed off Waratah ridge and we weren’t about to say no.

The original plan was to do 4 Dope but after all the rain the Julie suggested Dead Tree (AKA “Dead Log” in the Jameison guide) instead as 4 Dope required 1km of wading, swimming and, scrambling upstream to exit the Bunglebooori which may well be pumping.

I had previously read on Dave Nobles blog that he hadn’t thought much of the canyon on his first trip through (thou that was at a time when canyons like Rocky Crk, Crikey, Steep crk… were still being discovered) and while on a much later trip he was more impressed with it, of the 2 he still preferred 4 Dope. So even though Julie assured me she liked Dead Tree better I didn’t have high expectations for a spectacular constriction.

Whether it was these low expectations, the extra water flow or a combination of both I thought it was a great trip through a very pretty constriction with plenty of challenges to keep you thinking.

Anyhoo I get ahead of myself.

Oddly the Jameison guide suggests 1 day for 4 Dope but, even though it has a shorter walk in and out, suggests a “long day” for Dead ‘Log’ I’m figuring it must be slow going in the canyon so was a little surprised with reasonable starting time and we roll out of my place a little after 8.30am.

The Waratah Ridge car park was empty when we arrived (though had another 3 cars by the time we returned) and the walk out was fairly uneventful with a clear trail for fair way before we veer off the main ridge and head into trackless scrub. Julie is navigating and I enjoy just tagging along.

We wander out to the end of our ridge to a big pagoda complex that offers views out over the trackless wilderness of the Southern Bungleboori.

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then we back track slightly and drop into our creek

Straight away we are greeted with a very pretty pool at the base of a small cascade. I set the little camera up in live comp mode and leave it recording as we don wetsuits and harness’s

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This pool was crystal clear and looked fairly still but Olympus live comp mode compiles images in a basic histogram type thing that keeps adding the bright sections to the background image and them blends it all together in camera. The guide says it’s for getting good fireworks photos but it is great for waterfalls and foam/leaf swirls too. Here foam bubbles are captured in a slow swirl

Next up we are straight into a cool little tunnel.

Cool in more ways than one. brrrr. fresh

What follows is a bit of a slog down the gully. It wasn’t too bad but lots of dead fall, peeled bark and washed down stick jams to negotiate between some slippery boulder scrambles.

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And then the canyon closed in and we were met with a lot of tricky little down climbs and abseils that looked higher than they were. You’d be squeezing down a hole, trying work out how to get your foot over the next ledge by feel as you couldn’t see then you realise that ledge was the floor…

With the water levels up a little the waterfalls were all very pretty and a few of the abseils had you swinging under them. it was all very enjoyable.

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Julie and Ed at the drop into the constriction, we ended up down climbing rather than roping up

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Julie making her way down a very slippery, dead tree/log with an old sling at the bottom

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Another drop down a Dead Tree/log follows, this time it stops 2 meters or so from the water level so a rope is needed.

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The constriction was narrow, deep and dark in places

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Ed squeezes down an tight hole on one of the many awkward abseils.

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Canyon formation

click images to enlarge

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Ed on rope with Julie looking on from below

click to enlarge images

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Ed on rope, Julie on photo duties below.

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Ed watching Julie disappear down into one of the darker chambers

Click to enbiggen

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Julie on the final abseil

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Ed on the final abseil

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Just above the junction with the ‘Boori

After the coolness in the canyon we scrambled up into a patch of sunlight to thaw out and grab a bite to eat and then it was back into the water and down stream on the Boori.

Type 1 fun*, says Julie as for the most part we lie back on our packs and let the extra current take us. Some short, shallow rapids were shot. Sure the video makes it look tame but it felt fast and fun at the time and sure beat wading up stream.

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Julie letting the current do the work

We forgo the exit suggested in the guide and continue down to the one next to Arch canyon. This is a fairly easy pass with a bit of route finding but with slight side trips offers nice views over the arch, only slightly obscured by trees.

click images to expanderise

Back on the ridge top it’s fairly easy going. The trail comes and goes from clear as clear, well trodden and defined to nothing but the scrub is sparce and we know we just need to follow the tops. Eventually we find the trail proper and it’s an easy march back to the car park.

A most enjoyable day

Party size: 3 all experienced

Time: 8.5hrs car to car

After all the rain there was a lot of fungi out and about and we spotted some nice looking ones. If you can identify any of them I’d love to see it in the comments below

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*Julies types of fun goes something like this

Tpye 1. Good old plain fun. Its fun planning, it’s fun doing and it’s fun looking back on. You really wish you were doing it now

Type 2. It was fun after the fact. You know once you’ve forgotten the 3km of scrub the scratched the crap out of you on the way to the fun and you have also forgotten also the 5000m of vertical you climbed to get out of the fun. You’d definitely do it again

Type 3. You claim it was fun. You tell your mates it was fun. But you’d  would never do it again.

Type 4. It wasn’t fun.

Hole in the Wall and Banks Canyons

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.

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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

DCIM166GOPRO
DCIM166GOPRO

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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

10hrs car to car. Plenty of day light left.