Dione Dell and Margaret Falls

07-09-2019

Before setting off Libby dubbed us the Six Pack.

Half a Coopers, Bottle of St Rieul, Pint of Stella, Glass of Chardonnay, a Wild Yak and a Tooghey’s Old or sumfink

The weather was shite, windy as all get up and a grass fire was raging across the Wolgan road.

Our plans had changed and changed again before settling on a quick trip out to Kanangra-Boyd to do Dione Dell. Well sort of

The wind was still raging. There was snow on Oberon Hill and Mt Trickett, but Madie declared, We’re not Pussies! and Leo confirmed, We press on.

I’m not scared.

No really, I’ve done Dione Dell in snow before.

Still, I got slightly concerned when all the others pulled out wetsuits and put them on… At the car. Um are we setting up wet?

Don’t you get wet?

You can but I’ll be staying dry.

Before leaving the car park a familiar car pulled up. Hi Flynny. Ah Phil Clegg and co had the same idea, he’d actually invited me on the trip weeks ago but at that stage we had other unformed plans. We have a chat before we set off.

Dione Dell has some very pretty waterfalls but in between there is a bit of walking across loose Kanangra scree.

At the top of the first abseil we run into Dylan Jones and co. Popular little spot today.

Dione Falls
Madie and Leo at the base of the first abseil between Dione Falls and the Larger but AFAIK unnamed falls where Christy’s creek meets Dione Dell Brook

As expected it was fairly sheltered in the gully and warm in the sunshine

At the base of the second Waterfall, Also unnamed

After a bit of a walk we reach the top of Wallarra falls. We consider doing the big abseil starting on the left, crossing the fall and finishing on the right but opt to stay dry, So scramble the first pitch, where Dylan graciously offers to let us leap frog his group and we drop in beside the falls. I still think this is one of the prettiest waterfalls going

Russ filming Lara Crof…. I mean the Mad One
The 4th abseil, Suns out guns out or sumfink

And then there’s more scrambling and boulder hopping down to the top of Margaret Falls. This is what we are here for. Abseiling beside the 110m waterfall has become a popular option lately. Previously it involved silly long ropes and/or passing knots so not many people contemplated it. New rebelay options make it more appealing but please note it’s not simple and you need to be familiar with hanging belays and advanced techniques. Just getting to the anchors is not straight forward.

It is goddamn spectacular thou

Madie 3/4 of the way down the stunning free hanging 2nd pitch

The guys at the hanging belay at the start of pitch 2. Leo and Madie’s experience in Europe definitely came into play in getting us all down here nice and efficiently

And then we were down.

It took the 6 of us about an 1hr to do the pitch, that’s almost as long as it took us to do the rest of the canyon. We used single rope techniques to string out all 3 pitches with Leo aiding every one on the first rebelay and Madie looking after us on the second.

I got to the bottom first but now the issue, a slippery traverse to stay dry. I sidle my way around… I’m doing ok but there is 6m of blankness between me and keeping my socks dry… It’s slippery as snot. In the end I decide choosing wet feet is probably better then falling in and having wet everything…

Then its back up the hill where the wind nearly blows us off the tops…

Party size: 6

Time: 5hr 50min car to car

Don’t try to understand life. Live it

BACK

Deep Pass

1/09/2019

Mandy and Meeeee

We thought we’d make the most of the pleasant first day of spring weather with a little jaunt down to Deep Pass AKA Gawaymbanha Ngurambenggu

Working your way up from the bottom this is the first pool you encounter.

Mandy at the base of the water fall. Its a great place to hang out on a hot summers day. WOuld the allure drag me in? I’ve been coming here since the 80s and that’s the least amount of water I’ve seen trickling over the falls. It doesn’t bode well for summer
The narrow bit. For as long as people can remember log have been tied across this narrow section to allow you to get across without getting wet.
It’s not exactly the prettiest and considering the water is only waist deep…

More rope to help stay dry. Where it crosses around the corner is the only spot where you have to get your feet wet
One the way back down I couldn’t help myself. Even in the height of summer I reckon the water at deep pass is some f the coldest I’ve swum in. Today was no different.

After a quick bite to eat in the warm sun at the camp ground we poke around some of our other hidden gems

There are various pieces of rock art around the site. A lot of it is genuine

There are little nooks and crannies and dry slots scattered around the cliffs
Split rock is pretty amazing. This narrow hall branches off at right angles from another hall that is only slightly less narrow
Mandy at the bottom of Split Rock

“If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story.” 
― Terry Pratchett,

BACK

Another Nightmare

03/08/2019

Tim, Ev, Allie, Roy. Chardi, Peter, Richard and meeeee

It’s been awhile since I’ve managed to head out with Tim and his crew but thankfully they let me jump in on this one at the last minute.

We sort gear at the NP gate and amidst much banter waste no time heading off, down toward the ruins, across the river and, up everyone fav access trail, The Pipeline track.

A quick drinks break at the top of the Pipeline trail with some in depth discussions where we sort out the woes of the modern world. ©Roy

It was a glorious winters day and the rest of the walk in was uneventful. Before long we find ourselves scrambling down through the small, broken cliffline immediately above the start of the canyon.

The day was so nice even Ev was in a T-shirt

We opt to traverse to the right along the top of the canyon to the wall abseil. This avoids the two stage drop we did last time. It’s nice but often has a pool at the bottom and a difficult pull down. Going right gets you a long abseil directly above the narrow crack abseil and keeps your feet dry

Chardi on abseil 1

From there it’s into the fun… or horror… or sumfink

What menace awaits Ev in the abyss below? Usually for me some scrapped skin… Big shoulders or sunfink
Oh the horror of it all
There is often a shallow pool at the bottom off this one. Careful use of the log can help avoid wet feet. No such worries for Richard today, it was dry as a Nuns nasty.

Next up is a short drop with a diabolical start. Not really, it’s fairly simple…

And then we come to the log.

There’s an anchor here. Says Allie

Na I couldn’t be bothered, reply I. I’m just going to hump the log.

Is that a thing?

Oh course it is. Reluctantly she decides to give it a go

Wow lot’s of people must do this, it’s so smooth. No splinters…. Yas! Converted

Of course Roy has to out do every one by walking down the log instead of humping it. He’s only broken his neck twice, but never while canyoning….

Richard on the chock-stone abseil. If you go underneath the 2 chock-stones it’s a real nightmare of a pulldown, thou like seeming all the longer drops in nightmare there are options to rebelay to break it into 2 shorter drops ©Roy
The stuff of sleep horrors. Classically dodgey blue mountain anchor, loose bolt backed up by 2 rusting climbing nuts. At least the tape and nuts have been renewed..
Final abseil. 30m into a waist deep pool. Being the gentlemanly chap I am I offered to go first, sacrifice my dryness then set up a guided abseil to get the rest across ©Roy
Orange rope is tied off just tight enough to keep the Abseiler up out of the water. Abseiler comes down the purple with an extended biner clipped to the orange rope. It’s kinda a cross between an asbeil and a flying fox
Then it’s a simple matter of following the base of the cliffs back around to the Pipeline trail and down to the cars from there

Another magnificent day out in the bush with wonderful people.

Party Size: 8

Time 6hr 14min car to car relaxed pace.

Being normal is the ultimate goal of the boring

BACK

Xmas in July canyoning challenge

20/07/2019

Jen, Jodie, Diana, Joel, Ed, Russ, Chewy and meeeeeeee

In an effort keeping positive vibes flowing on the Australian Canyoners FB group through the “Off season” (And to break up the flood of stunning photos Madie’s been posting about European Canyoning. Not that we are jealous. Not us. No…) I put out a Xmas in July canyoning challenge, So far Kylie and Colin had lead trips resulting in awesome photos.. Now it was our turn.

Ed as Scary Santa
A splash of colour in the Aussie bush
Me and Jen. And yes they are my own boobs. Legs together because the at the first down climb I took a big step and tore the crutch out of the candy cane stockings. Um I’ll be going first on the way down. MmmmKay..

After a round of photos it was into our first canyon, Zorro

How cool does the red look against the Aussie Bush in Winter
Jen belaying the guys
Zorro is an amazing little canyon with entrance and exit chambers that are consistently narrow and straight
It has some little challenges along the way too. Most groups abseil this drop which is a worry because when Chewy tested the anchor the sling fell out in his hand…. The sling was basically around a bit of mudstone that was more mud than stone
Ed embracing a game of the water is lava. With a bit of encouragement everyone managed to keep their feet dry
The Z chamber, which separates the entrance and exit chamber with a grand, perpendicular hallway
Joel and Diana heading towards the exit
Jodie, Jen, Chewy and Russ bridging their way down the exit
Jen, Diana and Meeeee. With the gang in the back ground ©Joel
Jen and her magical polar bear slippers on the final abseil

And then it was back up to the tops for a lovely Xmas lunch over looking the One and Only Emerites Wolgan resort

As John Lennon sang, The sun is out, the sky is blue, it’s beautiful and so are….. Um the gang?
All the cool Blue Mts Canyoners where besta…. I mean polar bear ugg boots? While they lost an ear Jen managed to keep them crispy white.

Then it’s back to the cars for a short drive around to our next destination. Not so much a canyon as a crack.

Of Dooooom.

Those following along back home may remember me not finding it, not fitting through it and opting to go around it. Well 10kg down and this time through I went

looking back up as Jodie enters the Crack of Doom
Russ at the point the crack turns from Narrow to Squeezey
Jodie getting her squeeze on
Ed almost to the bit where it allows you to breathe again
Looking back at the impressive crack that descends the cliff line

And then it was around to have a look at a bigger crack/micro canyon. Catherdral Canyon. AKA The diamond cavern

All up it’s only about 50m long but it’s kinda nice

From there we make our way back to our exit slot, The Crack of Doom 2.

A slightly more sensible width it’s still narrow and parallels the cliff with just a slight bend as it ramps it’s way up
It ends in an easy 3m chimney climb out.
Me giving Jen a little hand. Now my climbing style has never been described as graceful and Jen’s legs might be a little shorter than mine but humping the rock was never in my bag of tricks. You learn something new each day or sumfink… ©Ed

All in all a great day in the bush decking the halls, prancing about, jingling bells and generally having a laugh with seriously awesome people.

Group Size: 8

Time: Is meaningless on Xmas

Tomorrow owes you the sum of your yesterday. Nothing more than that.:-Robin Hobb

BACK

Greek Myths and pirate ships

06/07/2019

Mark, Ed, Ethan, Rob, Russ, Mick, David and meeeeeeee

I’d first visited the Minotaurs lair (AKA Bell Minor canyon) with Ed in 2016. It was a hot dry winters day and too be honest I didn’t think much off it.

But on the way out we spotted a tight slot that’s looked like it may be interesting. Being short on rope and time we didn’t descend it that day so I guess it was time to go back for another look.

Also Geoff Fox had told me about a slot up above the lair that he said was worth visiting so after a cold wet week we set off for a bit of an explore.

First up is a series of towers detached from the main cliff line by some interesting slots. I know Yuri has a name for them but I can’t remember what it is

Then we head around the corner and into the gully. We cross over and avoid the worst of the scrub by traversing the base of the cliff.

The North eastern cliffs are riddled with undercuts and sand caves. The most impressive of which is this beauty with its ribbons of colour and delicate iron stone plates. Animal tracks abound in the fine sand all along the cliff line
Into the Lair we go. Not sure how the minotaur will react to 8 burly blokes instead of 7 Athenian youths and 7 maidens fair but anyhoo we’re not scared….
Not the legendary beast but a legendary beast.
Ok so with a bit of moisture and greenery Minotaur’s lair is a nice walk through slot, not as long as I remember and the walls are quiet shallow, but nice

And then we scramble out to look for the slot Yuri ad Geoff labelled Ariadne slot. Just when we thought we’d have to be too high another set of clifflines rise above us and we follow them around.

Ariadne tended the labyrinth, She was the Daughter of Minos, King of Crete, and a bit of a spunk. Mick is hoping to find her. That may be the Minotaur in the back ground
New album, Lust for Ariadne by Mark and the Descentionists drops April 2020… or sumfink

Its a pretty slot and would make a great abseil in from the top but no Athenian princesses were found so we make our way back down to the junction with Minotaur’s lair and fight our way through tree fall up the other side.

Ed and I spotted this slot in 2016 but were short on ropes (shorter than we knew it would turn out) so we opted not to descend it at that time. Checking it out is probably the only reason I bothered to do Minotaur’s Lair again
So we probably should have stuck with the Ancient Crete theme but we’re splitters and went with Walk the Plank canyon, AKA Ed’s Plank
Russ volunteering to be first to check it out

Non remanebit ex eis ungula et circulo fundae : No sling shall be left behind. Or sumfink

It was about now we hear the dreaded whoosh, crack, kaboom.

Everyone OK.

With the exception of possibly soiled pants every one was fine. Russ had looked up in time to see a baby head size rock tumbling in slow motion down the canyon. It hit the wall then exploded on the ground where he had been standing moments before….

Russ in the short but nice middle section happy none of those rocks had hit him

More squeezey fun ensued
And then it opens out in to a pleasant exit chamber
Ed admiring the end of his plank. Or sumfink

One more little abseil and we reach the junction with the main gully

Some dense scrub

Some complex boulder hopping….Sliding

And then an easy walk down the nose to the road.

All up a good day in the bush with great people. It was a fairly long complex walk with plenty of scrub and elevation for 3 fairly short slots but I love this shit and heading out with others likewise inclined sooth the soul and clears the mind.

Party Size: 8

Time: 6hr 15min car to car with a bit of a car shuffle

The hardest thing is to find a black cat in a dark room. Especially if there is no cat:- Confucius

BACK

Scrub, Slots and knots

22/06/2019

Little Miss Sunshine, The Russian Gangster, The Dare Devil, Badass Barbie, Archie, White Water Wizard and Meeeeeee (the eeejiot)

When Kylie said her crew were keen on a trip to this area and invited me along I jumped at the chance and then pretty much rearranged the trip… But they were cool with it.

Anyhoo

There has been a lot of good discussion on the Australian Canyoners group about rigging releasable contingency anchors and with Mark’s guidance we took the opportunity to practice setting up with a figure 8 block. A method I’ve not used before but one I’ll make use of in the future.

I’ve always like the idea of releasable anchors and have used munter-mule knots in the past but found them too much of a pain in the arse to bother with on most recreational trips, however there are a bunch of devices out now that take the hassle out of the equation. And for those not into buying more gear (weirdos) most people would have a spare figure 8 in the gear bag somewhere. I was surprised at how simple and quick the figure 8 block was to rig.

But I get ahead of myself.

It’s -4 when Little Miss Sunshine arrives at my place, minus the sunshine, and we head off to meet Mark and the others. I know the others only from online interactions so it’s cool to finally meet them in person.

After a gentle stroll up the hill, wait. No, that’s not right. After slogging up the hill we dump bags and set off for a side trip to our first canyon of the day, slipping up the usual pass and short cutting through the scrub to the top of the slot

Badass Barbie, AKA Aimee, dropping into Crooked Crevice with Kylie on belay down below
Badass Barbie, Little Miss Sunshine, The Dare Devil and the Russian Gangster contemplating the squeeze abseil off a classically ridiculous Blue Mts anchor consisting of a sling hero looped around a nub of rock.
Archie, AKA #adventure_matt squeezing on down. Someone may or may not have got a little wedged in here. and before you lot point your fingers at me guts are apparently more conforming than other parts of anatomy. “I’m stuck by my lady lumps.” I believe was the call.
It’s a great little slot

An hour or so later we are back at the bags and make our way around to visit the next slot/micro canyon

Kenobi
It’s short but the light is always impressive
It was bad enough they were twinning…. 🙂

And then it is up my pass and onto the tops for some views followed by more scrub

Kylie checking out the views up the Wolgan towards Donkey Mountain

Aimee getting her squeeze on and having one of her #lil_blondes_adventures, ©Mark
Kristo getting thrown through the moon door
Matt in the cave/ tunnel
The water is lava and not even the Dare Devil, AKA, Hywaida, wants to get burnt
The hole we just emerged from
The second last abseil see us descend out of the hidden slot into the open

1 abseil to go and as I was pulling rope across for Mark to feed it through the anchor there was an almighty rumble, the world shook and a car sized boulder broke off the cliff above and went sailing past about 10m to the right of us….. It was impressive to witness but scary AF when it happened

Mark racing down the final abseil
Little Miss Sunshine, AKA Kylie aka #wild_elly, high above the Wolgan

And then its a combination of walking, stumbling and dirt skiing back down to the cars

Another great day in the bush with great people visiting 3 short but very different canyons

Party Size: 7

Time: 7hr 15 car to car

There’s no excuse to be bored. Sad, yes. Angry, yes. Depressed, yes. Crazy, yes. But there’s no excuse for boredom. Ever!: Viggo Mortensen

BACK

Coinslots and Bull Ants

16/06/2019

Russ, Stu, Ethan and meeeeeee

Despite (or possibly because) starting the year doing some amazingly awesome and epic trips I’ve been struggling to get out lately. Trying to find that balance between family, canyoning, the mountain bike club, work and all the other crap I do has needed a bit of tending.

Anyhooo I had a weekend free and the guys were keen. Our plans to do something in the Wolgan took a dive when I remembered the glowworm tunnel marathon was on and the valley would be packed.

Shall we go one valley over and do Coinslot.

Yep

It’s really short shall we follow up with Doomsday (AKA Bull Ant)

Yep

They are an argumentative bunch…

Anyhooo, We converge at my place, load gear in ute and head off.

Reaching the car park the fog was that thick we couldn’t see the clifflines but we were soon well above that and the views on the way up to Coinslot never fail to impress

I’d considered doing the climbing route as I know all the guys are competent but then thought if we wanted to do another canyon none of us had done before it might be best to take the quicker way up thus we take the not quiet climbing route.

Previously with different groups, some of whom needed roping up, the climb up to Coinslot always seemed a longer expedition but in no time we were up and into it.

In the absence of the Mad One Russ volunteered to go all Madie on the heart shaped rock

Russ Enjoying the Coinslot abseil
Stu at the top of the 29m Coinslot abseil
It’s a stunning drop
Then we avoid the pool with one of the easiest games of “the water is lava” ever, making use of some very convenient finger pockets
Stu in silhouette against the Capertee valley

And then it’s back down to the hill to the car, it’s barely lunch time.

I’ve got some vague track notes to get us to the start of Doomsday and after a bite to eat we head off up the other side of the valley. The climb up starts steep and gets steeper. Some dodgy not-quiet-rock-climbing sees us standing on a summit over looking the valley.

It’d be a nice spot for a morning tea break or sumfink.

Down into a gap and up the other side then steadily up a ridge.

The canyon must start fairly high up in the system….

Nope.

We reach the point were the notes say to turn towards the creek and need to drop back down through a fair portion of the elevation we just ascended.

I’m already thinking of Chardie and Autal’s comments on my complex bush bashes to visit not so awesome canyons…

Not sure if Madie told you guys but I have a reputation for this shit, say I

Canyon better be good, says they. And I have to agree

Ethan regales them with the tale of our scrub bash to nowhere

If there is ever a next time I think I’d try and traverse the base of the upper cliffs. Climbing up them just to abseil back down wasn’t that fun

I’d promised swims but we did our best to avoid the black manky water for as long as possible
Stu showing us how to get down without getting wet. I must have missed an important tip and went for a swim instead. Mmmmmm smelly and cold. Cold and smelly
Interestingly this wasn’t the only anchor to feature cheap paramatta rope, nor was it the most bizarre set up we came across all day
And then we come to the Doomsday pool

This involves an abseil into a pool and then a duck under a low arch. The bottom of the arch is only a couple of inches above the top of the water. As I was already wet I strip off my shirt and volunteer to go first. It was freaking cold

By throwing the ropes over the arch I was then able to help Stu, and subsequently the others to stay dry by coming over the top. Their dryness would last for long
What the hell is Russel doing to that tree???

And then we boulder hop, abseil and stumble back down the hill to the maintenance trail and thus back to the car.

It’s not often I finish a canyon wondering whether it was worth it but I doubt I’d rush back to do Doomsday. I know other friends enjoy it and to be fair on a warmer, wetter day it might be more appealing but today it didn’t grab me as anything special.

Anyhooo

Everyone wants to experience the view at the top of the mountain. Very few realise the magic, wonder and growth happens while you are climbing it 

Party Size: 4 all experienced

Time: Coinslot 2.5 hours car to car. Doomsday 4.5hrs car to car

BACK

Bluestains and Timber Chutes

25-05-2019

The Clegganator, The Wonder Woman and the Flynnstien aka Meeeeeee

Unpublished canyons are like a box of chocolates.

I know at the end I’ll be left with half a dozen little cheery ripes that I wont eat…. Wait. No, that’s not right. Unpublished canyons aren’t like a box of chocolates at all….

Anyhoo

This is one I’ve had in mind to check out for a couple of years now but I wasn’t expecting it to be high quality and with other stuff to visit I never got around to having a look.

Then Phil said he wanted to check it out so I thought why not. I still had low expectations but as they say in the classics you never know if you never go.

Rounding out our nice little party was Jen, who I hadn’t caught up with for a while so was good to be on a trip together again

A little frost made for a chilly morning but it wasn’t long before we were stripping off layers and stuffing jackets into packs.

Wolgan views never fail to amaze

There were two branches to the possible canyon and we wanted to check out both. The first branch didn’t show much hope and when we came to a abseil point we decided to slip over the ridge to check the other branch first.

We dropped in via a side chute, in hindsight a little too far down the canyon. Up stream was a tight slot which would have made a good abseil and the hint of more slot up top.
I started chimneying up but it was tight and my ankle is still a tad stuffed from where I rolled it 2 weeks ago so gave it up as a bad plan
Jen checking out the slot
A short but tricky abseil just below where we scrambled in

So we get to the junction of the other branch hoping to reverse up it only to be blocked by a dry waterfall. A bit of traversing and we begin to scramble up the nose in between the two branches. Phil decided the scramble is not for him.

We get up above the fall only to find another immediately above it. I continue up the nose in what is the closest to proper rock climb I’ve done in a few years and manage to get above the next fall.

There isn’t much of a slot above this so I rig the rope and abseil back down to Jen and then we both abseil down to rejoin Phil

they were two nice abseils into to deep stagnant pools, luckily we were able to stay out of the water

When looking at the satellite image my suspicion was the best bit of canyon would be below the junction and while the stuff in the north branch was tip top below the junction was a nice, if short slot.

Ummm I think we are going to get wet, say I looking down into a deepish looking pool far to wide to play water is lava over.

I stuff my shirt into my overboardau dry bag and drop on in while the others put wetsuits on.

The first drop lands in a pool waist deep. With some guidance Jen manages to stop on a ledge and carefully stem around to the shallower bit. Phil is not so lucky and plunges in

There’s another 2 stage drop straight away with the stages separated by a 5m diameter pool. In I go…

The water was ice, not lava
The last abseil was nice

Then it was down to find a bit of sunshine and some lunch.

A short way down the main creek and we spear off track back up towards the cliff line

There’s a little grotto like canyon up here I want to show the others. It’s short but pretty in it’s own right and while it’s not very adventurous what makes it worth a visit is the old timber chute that once ramped it’s way up through it’s narrow confines

Phil and Jen (and Flynny) in awe of the history and the effort behind this engineering mystery

So the theory is it was built to slide logs down to the valley for pit props or fuel for coke ovens or for building poppett heads and bridges and stuff. Problem is there is no evidence up above it of any cut timber. Not a single sawn stump can be seen. It’s a mystery
Dad says back in his day the decking was still there in places and the timbers ran long ways suggesting something was slid down or up it. I’m starting to wonder if it was used to cart stuff out of Newnes and across to Glen Davis as the refinery was moved?

Seek experiences not things. Live large and light up the darkness with a laugh

Party size: 3

Time: 7.5hr car to car relaxed pace with a bit of back and forth exploration

BACK

Fiddle Stick in the Wilderness part 2

Continued from Part 1

Despite the complex looking multiple cliff lines we find an easy pass and up we go
Madie finds a cool little rock arch
Looking down towards the Nile in the Caperty valley through a gap in the Numeitta lines
We drop down into the top of our gully beside this grand old tree
Fiddle sticks at the ready and into the next spectacularly narrow canyon
The water is definitely lava in this one
Rus at an awkwardly flared section . And yes we stayed dry here
Ryan showing his bridging skill

Other than a dipping her boots Madie joins the boys in making it across, once again showing Pleather pants are better than a leather face. This is where my upper body strength failed and I took a plunge. The water is lava and I’m scorched to my neck or sumfink
The canyon continues it’s tremendously narrow twisting and turning, even having a nice glowworm tunnel at the bottom of one of the drops
Eventually even Stu is forced into a shallow wade

And then as the canyon opens out we explore a pass up to the side that proves to be surprisingly easy and make our way over to our next goal

Continued