CLAUSTRAL WITH SOME OF THE BEST

23/04/2022

Stirlo, Madie, Leo, Kylie, Jason, Aimee, Mark and meeeee

I was hankering to get out. Some options were discussed then Leo says BMNP is set to re-open.

Claustral it is than.

It seems impossible to me but I’ve never done Claustral with the above mentioned folk before. It’s one of my favourite canyons and they are some of my favourite people.

Time to fix that.

I’m a bit early so I make a quick stop to check in with the ancestors,

And on to Claustral. Whether you think it Claustrophobic inducing or Cloister like or a combination of the two is irrelevant right now. We meet up, gear up and shut up….

Wait, that’s not right.

We meet up, gear up and set off, chattering like magpies with lots to chatter about.

That’s more like us.

Once again photo credits go to a mix of the crew

Rightously Ferntacious
I’ve never abseiled this one before but Madie had the rope set up and threatened to cut me if I didn’t use it. Kylie follows me down

And we work our way down to where the real show starts

Stirlo on the first drop into the Black Hole of Calcutta

Click the photos to make the magic

Compulsory “Hulks Fist” photos and shenanigans ensue

Get fisted ©Aimee

Click to enbiggen

Then there’s not much left to do but make our way down the gorgeous canyon and in the gorgeous company of gorgeous souls.

Oh, The “National Geographic” shot is also compulsory ©Jason

We are too early and it’s too misty for Sunbeams but the muted misty light is nice too

There was a little bit of pump in spots
Top bunch of humans and me. ©Madie

A bit of team work never goes astray

The tunnel swim

and all to soon it’s over.

We have a quick bite to eat on Tash’s rock of Shame and then it’s up Rainbow Ravine and onward

I have a fear of heights and I’m claustrophobic: Kunal Nayyar

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Yileen

04-04-2022

The Mad One and meeeee

Something weird was happening.

It wasn’t raining..

An after work run through Yileen seemed like just the thing for a Monday afternoon

Probably should have invited the others.

We were pulling into the carpark.

If you run you’ll catch us. Madie messages the group implying I’m slow or sumfink

Blue bird day

We make our way in and nearly step on a Red Belly Black no-bop-noddle just as it canyons up.

Yilleen isn’t that deep as far as canyons go but it always seems to surprise me at how pretty it is. ©Madie
©Madie
©Madie
I’ve still only ever done 2 abseils in Yileen. I know some people abseil this and that’s fair enough but I still don’t know where they get the 4th…. ©Madie
©Madie
©Madie

And then we get to the end with it’s awesome views into the Grose and a 55m abseil to finish.

The anchor looked a little M. E. H. Meh. so we spend time to back it up and then Madie goes.

I jump on rope, work my way down the boulder and do a final check before going over the lip.

Hmmm

That’s my bag up there next to the anchor with the pull cord in it…

I go back up and grab my bag. Then instead of feeding the rope out of the bag on the way down like a normal person I decide to feed it all out now…

What happens next we shall never speak of again but some time slightly longer than it should have taken me I’m down.

©Madie

“If happiness is the goal – and it should be, then adventures should be top priority.” – Richard Branson

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BILLABONG

Mandy Beth and Meeee

03/01/2022

Mandy hasn’t abseiled for a few years, she lost the passion so when she asked if I’d take her out I got a so excited that I didn’t explain the 2 options she proposed, while short trips were actually 2 of the more awkward abseils…

Anhoo after a week that involved Danae, Rocky, and a quick afternoon running throu Empress 3 times squeezing another little canyon in sounded like just the ticket

Beth decided to join us and off we went to a pretty but short little canyon near Clarence

Off through the flannel flowers we go
It’s tight, twisty and very slippery
But very pretty and a nice spot for a dip on a hot day

and what better way to finish it off with

I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night― Sarah Williams

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Another Night in Rocky Crk

Ed Ethan Dick Russ Aimee and Tash

01/01/2022

So for some years (with a break in 2020 due to bush fires) I’ve been joining Ed and Ethan for a New Years Day recovery canyon.

It started as a family thing but kinda morphed and pretty much has had different people joining each yea . This year we decided to do a trip to Rocky Creek New Years Day Night and the above mentioned legend joined us

Anyhoo I first visited Rocky cr nearly 30 years ago. It blew my mind and have made a visit to it at least once a year ever since. I have waxed lyric about it both in day and at night heaps before so I wont bang on to much this time around

I was surprised to learn Aims hadn’t done Twister or Rocky before. It was Also Tash’s first time
I think people dismiss it as it’s a bit of a drive and no abseils but bang for buck fun and beauty I reckon you can’t beat it
Entering the beast
©Dick
The water temps were as warm, or I should say least cold, as I can ever remember so we spent a lot of time laying about with lights off soaking in the ambiance ©Dick
©Dick

and of course the Glowworms.

I honestly think the displays in Rocky are just consistently awesome
Getting a shot of glowworms in a canyon with a night sky above has been a bit of a goal of mine. 1 day I’ll manage glow worms and star trails
But for now light sabres will do
Iddy biddy Giant Water Spider Megadolomedes australianus. This things can have a leg span up to 18cm. I always thought they were fairly harmless but Caro tell us she once got a bite and it took ages to heal
©Dick

We went in earlier than usual for doing a night trip but had enjoyed the serenity so much it was the 2nd before we were were out of the canyon

People are just like worms. The best ones glow.

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Hole in the Wall with Elly

Kylie Madie Leo and me

Every now and then people come into your life that lift your soul or make you laugh or both or sumfink so when the chance came up to skive off work and do such an awesome canyon with 3 of those people I thought why the hell not

Kylie told me she had a licence to get out of dodge. She also mentioned she’d never been through Hole in the Wall so we concocted a plan and I took a day off. It just so happens Madie and Leo also had the day off so we met up at the ZigZag railway and set off to test out the bypass that would get us around some clean up work that currently had Waratah ridge rd blocked.

In the end the bypass was pretty straight forward and we were shouldering packs and heading off into the glorious sunshine, spirits high and smiles wide.

The usual banter and catchup chatter had extra depth and post lockdown feels that ate up the walk in and before we knew it we where suited up and heading into the confines of the upper section.

But first we needed to get past the gate keeper

and then we were into it

And because the day was early we then head to the Dam cliffs to hang off more cliffs for fun

Surround yourself with awesome people. Experience Awesome things

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Into the Slot

17-04-2021

Kylie, Kristo, Hywaida, Jason, Jen, Ethan and Meeeee

When Gadget asked me if I had any plans for the 17th I was like you know I don’t plan that far ahead.

Well would you be interested in doing the Kanangra Main trip that we changed plans for earlier? Says she

Does the Pope shit in the woods? Wait, that’s not the saying. Does a bear poop catholics? Still not it….

Anyhoo, I rocked out to Kanangra Boyd on the Friday night to met up with Kylie and we set up camp in the fading light.

We were soon joined by Jen for diner and banter around the camp fire

Jason rocked in a little later and as the temperature dropped we retired for the night with nervous excitement for what the next day would bring.

The day brought an early start.

A quick breaky around the camp fire and then off to meet Ethan, Hywaida and Kris at the carpark.

Are we doing the wall or the slot?

The Slot. Let’s plan on that and we can reassess if we have to once we see the water levels

Hi Ho it’s off adventuring we go ©Jen

Getting to the start of the slot involves traversing across a loose narrow ledge. Jason was leading the way.

hey, did you see that? Calls I

See what?

Highland Copperhead snake (Austrelaps ramsayi) tucking his head into his hidey hole

Of course now the rest of us need to get past. I’m pretty comfortable around snakes and I’m hoping no one else freaks out. I point out the unexpected hazard and step over.

Kylie steps up but the rock she steps on moves. The tail quickly disappears.

OK be careful and don’t step on those 2 rocks….

To my relief everyone comes across without hesitation and snakey stays safe in his hole.

One of our members had a little trouble with a redirect that I probably didn’t properly explain the process for passing. Jen and Jason set up a little 3:1 haul to help out ©Jen
Kris dropping down P1.

The slot has a bit of a reputation for projectiles. The top of P1 and the stance in between P1 and P2 are littered with loose rocks, anything from pebble size to large slabs. If you are heading in you need to make sure your group is extremely careful. It’s Kylies trip and I didn’t want to take over but I did stress no one was to move above P2 while people were on rope and we didn’t have an issue.

Kylie coming to set up the next anchor
Kristo and me in the slot ©Kylie
Looking down P2 to where things get interesting ©Kylie
Jen descending into the abyss @Kylie
Hywaida? @Kylie
It’s a cold pitch to be anchor bitch. The wind and spray whistles viciously through here ©Kylie
Hywaida enjoying the experience ©Ethan
We set up a guided rap just for the practice and then we are on to the main route.

And then we are back onto the Main route


Kris on p5 With the main falls above us @Jason
©jen

The rest of the photos are in no particular order as there are so many waterfalls and I enjoy the experience so much that looking back I struggle to remember what order they came in.

Photo credits to the various people mentioned above

It’s getting late by the time we reach our exit. When doing awesome stuff with awesome people time has no meaning for me and for various reasons the descent had taken longer than expected.

With the days getting shorter it was going to be touch and go for us to get up the scrambles before dark.

I’ve done the exit up the ridge several times now but each time I seem to go a slightly different way and experience a different number of scrambles with varying degrees of dodginess.

There’s a bit of a track starting to form now but that’s not to say it takes the best path and a coupe of branches definitely takes you on more difficult routes. This time up we miss all the trickiest scrambles except 1. It was shitscary but we all got up it with just a little swearing and encouragement and we reach the tourist track just as the light is fading.

All in all another excellent day out with truly amazing people

Group size: 7

Time: 11hr car to car

Deep calls to deep: Psalms 42:7

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3 little canyons on a Saturday afternoon, just because

19/12/2020

Izy, Ed, Dick, Madie, Leo and meeeeeeee

‘Twas the Friday before Christmas with zero plans for the Weekend

And it just kinda hit me, I must make amend

So I sent out a late invite, with little remorse

And 5 Friends replied “hell yes”, as a matter of course

We started earlier then planned ’cause Madie was bored

They piled in my ute and the accelerator was floored.

Leo tried his best to wet not even his feet

We jumped, slid and abseiled and had lots of fun

Then Madie threw mud at me, it was the end of canyon 1

Canyon 2 is a cracker, an absolute blast

but the best was to come, we saved it ’til last

The next is my favourite, I whispered to Iz

The thing is I meant it, it absolutely is

Dick left us early, he was coming back the next day

He shook hands, he hugged and went on his way

The rest of us pushed on and our excitement it grew

And we got to the slot and made our way through

We slid and we jumped, we spashed and had fun

And looked around in awe at this place where we’d come

To soon we reached the end and had to turn around

but we smiled as we cherished the joy that we found

this might be a bad poem but I bet you wish you had been us

and doubt all you want but rhyming “Iz” with “is” well… that’s just fucking genius

Party Size: 6

Times

Sheepdip: ~ 2 and a bit hrs car to car

Twister and Rocky Creek: About 3hr car to car

The best friends force you to lever yourself up

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Journey to Dick Rock

AKA: There and Back Again: Just!

14 and 15/11/2020

Leo, Madie and meeeeeeeee

Who wants to visit the Totem Pole? Asks Leo

I’m in. Dad has photos of it from Jeep trips in the late 60s early 70s, though they knew it as the Wolgan Earth Pillar, a name they got from the Luchetti’s who had the farm down Valley. They got it off Carne’s map from his early 1900s mineral survey where he recorded it in his journal as “Earth Pillar, the Pinnacle, Wolgan Valley”. Anyway it’s been on my list of things to visit for a long time.

©Pete

Of course Madie was in too.

Hey, do you want to go in from the top and check out a few canyons while we are down that way?

Some times I wonder what it would be like to have friends who hear out my hair brained ideas and say things like, That sounds ridiculous, Flynny. No way we should to that….

But noooooo. Despite several epic scrub bashes my friends keep saying things like, hell yeah lets do it.

Lucky, otherwise this blog would be rather boring.

Besides no one is going to be telling there grandkids about the epic weekend they had playing golf, right?

Well unless they win a major or sumfink.

Anyhooo

We were planning to walk out to a base camp Friday night. 3pm and it’s pissing down. None of us want to start walking in the rain but the rain parts, the radar is clear and it looks like it’s going to be a perfect night for a stroll.

Leo and Madie swing past my place to drop off Pippa the Wonderdog.

Should we take 2 cars?

There’s only 3 of us….

Maybe we should have taken 2

Driving up on dusk and the sky to the north looks like something out of an Armageddon movie.

©Madie

Rolling storm clouds and blasts of lightning heading right to where we are going. That wasn’t on the radar!

We get to an intersection. Swing right. says I. Left has a 4wd creek crossing.

When was the last time you looked? Says Leo. I got a 2wd through there last year.

While I thought they had done a bit of work to the crossing I hadn’t tried going that way since getting rid of my old FJ45 Cruiser.

We go left, much to Madie’s trepidation.

The creek crossing is up but it’s much easier than the deep rocky drop off of years gone past. We get through easy enough. Except the hill up the other side is a soft rutted mess. 1 quick go at getting up and the ute sinks to the diffs. Lucky it is very wet and Leo is able to reverse out with help of the steep terrain.

We are going back the other way! Madie puts her foot down. And I’m driving from here!!!

We take the by-pass. But halfway down a sharp log hidden on the inside of a corner rips the side wall out of her rear tyre. Pssssssssssssssss.

We get out to change the wheel. Armageddon skies open and the rain belts down. There is an issue with the jack handle which also doubles as a thingie to wind the spare tyre down. Nothing that a quick adjustment with a shifter or screwdriver to open up the slots wont fix.

Where’s your tool box.

I don’t have one….

Apparently Madie cops one of my infamous eye rolls . My kids take the piss out of me about them all the time but surprisingly this is the first one thrown Madie’s way.

Anyway, a bit of dicking around with a small multitool and a blood sacrifice and Leo has the handle working.

Tyre changed we rock into the car park and decide it’s way too late to start our walk so we set camp for the night .

  • Before you read on; Part of the joy of visiting lessor known canyon areas is not knowing what you’ll find. Sometimes its a disappointing creek bash and sometimes you get a good one. If you ever plan on exploring this area do yourself a favour and leave the rest of this post until after you come back.

Anyhoo

Saturday:

We are up before the sun and after a quick breakfast we are on the trail a little after 5.30am.

After being closed to vehicle traffic 20 years ago this trail devolved into a nightmare scrub bash, like the type of scrub even I avoid, and that’s saying something. Post fires it’s easy walking and we pick our way along the ridge line the old road use to follow for about 8km before spearing off into untracked territory.

We reach our chosen base camp around 8.30am, dump the camp gear and head off for our first canyon in good spirits.

Despite a series of complex cliff lines we find easy passes until we are directly above our drop in point

To be honest we weren’t expecting great things from canyons out this way but this one had a nice start

We hump some logs
We walk some logs
And we find a surprisingly nice bit of canyon
© Madie

After a bit the canyon opens up somewhat and then begins to drop steeply. We abseil the first drop and then I scramble down the next few to see it it’s likely to drop into a lower section. It’s pretty but the walls are getting wider and more impenetrable so we make the call to ascend back up the line and try to force a pass to the ridge and drop into another creek.

We somehow jag a straight forward pass up through multiple cliff lines. Winning!
Views over the Wolgan. You can just make out the conical peak of Tayan Pic, AKA Nipple hill, rising way out in the distance, 30km away
Again we managed to find passes down through all but the final cliff
Children of the Corn…. I mean cabbage bush or whatever the hell this is. It was easier than tea tree, hakea, and Acacia but I would be well and truly over pushing through this by the end of the weekend
But soon this creek, too, drops into a nice section of canyon.
This one had a bit of flow to it. Mostly due to the rain but partly from a dam at the end of a pool on that gave way as we passed it.
Madie
And then the water dropped down a narrow dark hole and 20m later it ran out this funky tunnel
©Madie

At about the same point we decided to scramble out of the last canyon we had a quick bit to eat. Despite covering a lot of ground so far we are still full of enthusiasm and even talk about trekking down to Dick Rock today. We must have been delusional

Cute little Boop Noodle. The only one we saw all trip

Heading down to our 3rd canyon of the day and we drop into a tributary thinking it will be an easy pass down

Turns out is had a short but nice canyon section, though we needed some creative anchor options to get us down. No slings were left behind on this trip
Into the main canyon and straight way we’re impressed. ©Madie
This bit reminded us of the River Caves
And we find ourselves in the most impressive canyon of the trip
©Madie
A nice dark, tunnel like section was well worth the effort to get here
And below that, more nice canyon

We spent longer in this one than we thought we would, definitely longer than the previous two so squeezing in Dick Rock today was out the window. Time to beat a pass up to the tops again

We get out of the canyon and through most of the cliffs easily except for one little bit that Leo scrambled up with a couple of little boosts from me at the bottom and balls the size of a medium sized car at the top.

©Madie

He dropped a rope for me and Madie to ascend. I go up to to the ledge and haul Leo’s bag then drop the rope back to Madie. She begins to ascend as I go up the ramp and begin to chimney up the last bit.

Rock! Rock! Rock! Fugg!

I’ve knocked a large rock loose and it tumbles down the chute. Luckily it misses the rope and gains enough momentum to sail out into space. Madie was 5m up the rope with nowhere to hide. The adrenaline rush was real.

But we are up and encounter our first unburnt ridge of the trip. Thick, scratchy, cutting scrub. It was a relief to finally get to a burnt bit.

It’s getting late. We have a couple of deep saddles to get past on the way to camp but Madie navigates us there easily. I have to say I was well and truly slowing down.

Night descends but we are back to the ridge we walked down on our way to the first canyon.

Then Madie lets out a whoop at the sight of the reflective stripes on my Overboard dry bag I had hung up in a tree above camp.

35km and 3 canyons in 14hrs.

We roll out the sleep mats, have a quick diner, a few laughs and then we’re in bed engulfed with satisfaction and a glorious star filled night

Sunday:

Camp Granada

A slightly more sedate wake up time, a casual breakfast and we are off a bit after 8.

Another Ridge top, another view

I’m feeling a little dehydrated from yesterday so I’m determined to drink more today. The plan is to descend a canyon, punch down to Dick Rock and then up another canyon. We knew of a couple of easy passes up ridge lines but it’s going to be a hot day so ascending up a canyon that is supposedly reversible is more appealing

But first we work our way down through the cliff lines once more. This time we manage to scramble right down into the creek

It’s pretty but never really canyons up

Ironstone Stalactites. Like the ballerina dancing on the old termite ridden stage, when the mites go up the tights come down. or sumfink
And then we have 3 or 4km of this and worse to make out way down to the main objective of our trip
Finally we made it to Dick Rock. @Madie

It’s hot in the valley we have lunch then take a higher route back which avoids some of the the scrub and short cuts the corner and we work our way up to our intended creek.

Where this morning’s “Canyon” was a pretty creek walk this wasn’t even that. The heat is oppressive and despite drinking a shit load I’m starting to struggle.

But we boulder hop and scrub bash our way high enough up to starting thinking of forcing a pass to the tops.

Thoughts of squeezing in another short canyon are out the window.

By the time we reach camp it’s around 5pm and I’m suffering camps. I’ve drank about 8l of water already today but haven’t pissed since breakfast.

We pack camp, I mix some extra electrolytes into my hydrapac bladder and we start up the hill.

I’m really struggling and a few times have to call for a rest. Much to my equal parts chagrin and relief halfway up the ridge Madie and Leo split my gear between them leaving me with minimal weight. I’m still slow but finally we reach the ridge with the old trail. We still have 8km to go but it’s going to be easier walking.

I’m making OK pace now but my stomach is dehydrated and refusing to take much in. I’m taking small sips out of my hydrapack trying to get through. The cramps are bad, the slightest miss step and something locks up. I get service on the phone and text Mandy to let her know we’re going to be late. My finger camps bad. That’s a new sensation for me.

About 4km along the fire trail we stop for a rest. I try and take a slightly bigger drink. 3 steps later I spew that up. We march on.

It’s dark.

I tune out and walk on.

200m to go calls Madie, you can do it Flynny.

All that’s between us and the car is Natural bridge. I stumble my way down. I normally wouldn’t bat an eyelid at the climb up the other side. I stop for a rest. I spew again. There is nothing in my stomach. My whole abdominals cramp and lock tight.

If that’s what period cramps feels like , girls you get even more respect from me.

Finally we get to the car.

68km walking for the weekend, mostly off track, 3 nice canyons, two disappointing creeks, and one big a tick on the bucket list.

Home at last, I spill out of the car and spew again.

He’s alive, Madie tells Mandy, but he’s got a bit of heat stroke. You may want to get him checked

A quick shower and I think I’m good for bed but Mandy suggests a trip to hospital to get checked out.

At hospital they whack me on the scales, I’m 10kg lighter than I was Friday!

They take some blood and put me on a drip. 3 bags in they send Mandy home and book me in for the night.

6 litres of fluid later, do you think you can pee now? we need to see it before we can let you out.

I feel I want to but it’s not coming out.

Well, we can always put a catheter in.

I pee.

Apparently that threat works every time.

They release me lunch time Monday.

It’s the adversity as much as the victories that makes the lasting memories.

This trip has a big dash of both.

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Hole in the Wall

11/10/2020

Russ, Dick, Izy and meeeee

So for her first and second trips I’d taken Izy through a couple of obscure “canyons” and while she enjoyed it and thought they were pretty they were more creek walks with abseils so I wanted to get her through something decent.

Next stop Hole in the Wall

Dick hadn’t done this one either and Russ is always keen.

The walkout was fairly uneventful though the usual clear trail disappears towards the end and we double check the map just to confirm we hadn’t gone to far left and missed the turn to the entrance.

A one stage we disturbed a reasonable size copperhead (well I think it was a copperhead based on its behaviour but couldn’t get close enough to see for sure or to get a good photo) and before long we were at the start of the upper section.

I’m always in two minds whether to suit up for this bit or not but it was a coolish day so far so we decide to don the wetties.

She is impressed by the first bit of canyon. I share a bit of a smile with Russ. This is just the warm up

We round the corner and enter the canyon proper

Hole in the Wall is definitely a stunning example of a Blue Mountains style slot canyon

Emerging back into the light, but only temporarily
I purposely forget how deep, dark and pretty the upper section of HITW is. So like a goldfish it’s a surprise every time

And then we are back into the light.

The wetties are starting to get hot as we make our way down the creek to the lower section and by the time we get there we are looking forward to the cold water.

We reach the plunge. It’s a relatively simple down climb. There is anchor set up, I guess for a hand line. I normally jump but it looks shallow today. I remember this happening after the big fire in the early 90s, with the soil loosened and not vegetation to hold it back a lot of canyons and swimming holes silted up with sand…

I assess it and take a leap

©Russ
I suggest the others down climb it…. ©Russ
And into the glowworm cave we descend ©Isy

I tend to find glowworm displays are better late November through December but they still put on a good show for us today. Like previous pools the cave has silted up quite a bit. It makes the climb out on to the ledge a bit easier though how it will clean out with the lower exit now blocked I don’t know

Russ exiting the cave

Other than the glowworm cave, where we sat still for a bit, I hadn’t found it that cold but then we stepped out into the ‘Bungleboori/*hackspit*Dingo crk. It was a good deal colder so we waste little time make our way upstream to the exit.

Group size: 4

Time: around about 6 and a bit hours car to car

The higher we soar the smaller we look to those who cannot fly: Friedrich Nietzsche

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