I’m not sure I’m keen enough to drive down, says Kylie. But I haven’t caught up with them in ages.
The others were already at Bungonia canyoning away.
How about we meet up somewhere and share the bulk of the drive? Say I
Deal says she.
We enact the plan.
The others look a little wrecked from the previous day.
It was hot, say they, and the creek water was horrid. We almost ran out of water.
I throw in an extra water bottle.
And we are off.
We reach the creek without too much effort but the day is already heating up. I’m glad I left the wetsuit in the car.
The pool below looks so inviting
Then we get to a larger drop. The notes say bolts on the right but they look a bit sketchy to get to ( thou belatedly we spit a traverse bolt)
We opt for a sling on a tree up to the left. This gives us about a 42m abseil into the pool below.
The pool is full of string algae and pulling the ropes throu is like fishing for slime monsters..
Some more cool pools and a 12m abseil follow
Which Jason opts to jump
And then we get to Jerrara falls themselves
At this stage I’m a little confused with the notes. They say the full thing is 85m. But it can be split in 2 doing 60m (bypassing a small semi hanging rebelay) and 35m or in 3 doing 30m, 35m, 30m…. Or sumfink
I don’t know if maths has changed since I was a boy but when Brother John taught me my sums those numbers did not add up.
Still Bro John also said, quiet frequently, You’re strong in the legs but weak in the heads boys. So maybe the calculation issue was on my end.
So the notes indicated a 5m scramble to the first bolts. It looked bigger than 5 and exposed AF so I opted to abseil off slings on a tree. As I’m abseiling down Kris walks over a knob and scrambled down to meet me on a big sloping ledge. We can see anchor bolts just over the edge where it starts to get steeper.
There are also bolts at the back of the ledge which I urge the others to use. it’s a reasonably grippy surface but sloping and a big drop below so we want to opt for caution.
I go down to the anchor and set the 70m rope thinking we are going to bypass the first rebelay and do pitch 1 and 2 as one.
In hindsight I think I’ve just come down pitch 1 and the little ledge I’m standing on is the semi hanging rebelay at the start of pitch 2. But there’s no way it was 30m from the top. I’d say it was well less than 15 and I couldn’t see and bolts further up that would match the description for the pitch 1 anchor
Anyhoo we needed to swap out ropes as I’d come down on the short rope and we are thinking we’ll need to keep the 2nd long rope as a pull chord and send the short rope down to set the last pitch.
As they sort ropes I’m on a baking hot ledge in full sun in short sleeves. I’m roasting. Eventually I remember I have sunscreen in the top of my pack. I lather it on to my face shoulders and legs. did I mention it’s hot? It’s baking freaking hot. Soooooo hot. Oven hot
Eventually the ropes are swapped and Jason heads down. And signals to take rope up. I had about 65m out and pull up about 10m before he signals stop. That doesn’t make sense.
Things are a little confused, there’s a large group in line of sight with us in bungonia canyon and so whistle signals are getting a little crossed.
Kylie heads down. And signals rope up. I take up another 15m or so.
This is not making any sense with our plan.
The rest of us head down. We get to a big sloping ledge, there’s anchor bolts, Jason’s is on a ledge about 20m below and out to the left. None of it matches the small rebelay ledge we bought the long ropes to bypass but we haven’t gone down enough to be on top of pitch 3. Have we?
There’s some discussion on whether there’s 1 or 2 pitches left.
There is no way that is 65m to the pool says I. But we rig the 70m so it can be lowered with the 60 just in case.
Kylie goes down and signals rope up
I’m sitting the the spray of the waterfall longing to get into the pool below but I’m anchor bitch a going last.
Eventually we all get down.
It seems we have done the 3 pitches as described but the heights are off, especially for the first pitch.
Anyhoo, slightly older and not very much wiser we continue down
There had been some discussion about taking one of the short cut exits. But given the choice between scrambling up an exposed, loose knife edge in the baking sun or boulder hoping down and walking up the tourist track at a slightly cooler time of day everyone opted tourist track
And then we reach the junction with the red track.
Ok National Parks down here have a much more liberal idea on what constitutes a “tourist track” than those softly graded , full of stairs and boardwalks tourist tracks found in the bluies.
The start was a hell of a lot more scrambley than I had expected.
Nothing overly difficult or exposed but different to what I was thinking.
But the start was in a shady gully which was nice.
Coming out of the gully onto the open ridge was like hitting a wall of heat. But it snaked it’s way the ridge easy enough and I hightailed back to the campground and grabbed the ute thinking I’d do the gentlemanly thing and save the others another 2km walk
But they got to the top of the hill and took a sharp right., following the green trail back. So I missed them and the bastards beat me into the showers 🤣🤣
All in all another great day with awesome people.
“Let a man walk ten miles steadily on a hot summer’s day along a dusty English road, and he will soon discover why beer was invented.” — Gilbert K. Chesterton
Sure I’d done a heap of other cool stuff in mean time but I was itching to get back out.
Wanna do Arethusa?
Does the pope shit in the woods…. wait, um, that’s not it. I mean, hell yeah
Anyhoo we meet up. Head in and gear up.
It’s a big call but Imma call it anyway, Arethusa is the best bang for buck micro adventure in the Blue Mountains.
All thrilla no filla. Beautiful canyon sections with minimum creek walking. Pretty waterfall and cascades. Abseils that can be techie unless it’s supper low water levels. Interesting down climbs with optional jumps. Stunning views at the end. And some easy but adventurous climbing to get out.
Some extra bolts have appeared recently and I would caution people to assess the landingzones. We scrambled/walked past most (all) of them simply because it was quicker and easier (even in the slipperiest-shoes-known-to-man(tm). OK I had a few moments but none of them near the optional abseil bolts) but one anchor in particular looked like it would drop you into recirculating water at the flow level we did it in. At lower levels (and maybe higher levels) it mightn’t be an issue but today we looked and said nope to that.
So make sure you assess things yourself rather than just blindly follow. And that goes for all canyons. We got use to the low water levels during 10years of drought, now they are flowing again reassess things.
Whadda ya doing this arv? Wanna Canyon after work? Says Madie
This is becoming a habit. I kinda like it.
Should we invite others? say I
Yeah, I miss people
A flurry of last minute invites were sent out. Sadly no one was available for an early Tuesday afternoon adventure with zero notice. Go figure
Madie and Leo arrive at the car park and after I field some work calls it’s about 4pm as we make a dash down into the canyon.
We were traveling lightish and fastish (For me) and my camera is playing up so not many photos were taken.
Some giggles, banter and poking fun later we are through the canyon and me and Mads start up the hill while Leo pulls the rope on the last abseil. He still well and truly beats us to the climb and ascends up ready to belay us
Up I go and start up the next bit while he belays Madie up.
I get almost to where it starts flattening out when he jogs past, Come on Flynny.
I have a bit of a jog. Legs are cramping. I walk for a bit. Looking back Madie is jogging and gaining on me fast. Leo is heading up the last little hill to the car park. I try to jog again. Stubborn or determined or sumfink
Back at the cars we laugh as we change into dry clothes.
Hey, Russ and Libby are going to do Juggler!
We should join them…
We drive around to meet them and then head off into Juggler at a slightly more relaxed pace.
And we reach the end and walk out in the darkening twilight
Party size: Butterbox, 3 Juggler, 5
Time: Is irrelevant when you are hanging out with awesome friends or Butterbox 1hr 45 Juggler 1hr 35
Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving: Terry Pratchett