Hole in the Wall.

11-03-2023

Russ, Aimee and me

Anyone want to go canyoning?

Sure!

And thus we find ourselves navigating our way around the chemical weapons clean up and start walking out the fire break along Waratah ridge amid banter and laughing.

And before too long we are suiting up and entering the canyon
It’s quiet nice.
I always forget just how spectacular the top section is

And I also forget the length of the walk betwix it and the bottom section …

Aimee entering the bottom section. The log has moved so now it’s a much easier start. That log had been there as long as I can remember. It’s now further down the chamber. Testament to the power of the recent floods
Wrong time of year for a massive glowworm display but still… glowworms!
and if I’m ever not awed by glowworms slap me hard

The cave has silted up again meaning it’s a walk through to the squeeze out again.

It’s pretty choked up. Says Russ. I’m not sure we’ll get through.

Ah, that old chestnut.

Wait. I can see a bit of light. and up he squeezes.

I’m not sure of the sense of leaving the fat guy until last but Aimee follows him and I push my pack through to her and think skinny thoughts as I wiggle my self up and out

Then the hole abseil is awkward and holey again
Hole in the Wall, the sun really does shines out it’s arse
I don’t want to get into the whole bolt debate but for me the problem solving aspect has alway been a big part of the appeal of Blue Mountains canyoning. So needing to think about and improvise anchors was a pleasant change to what has become the norm in the more popular “trade routes”
And far too soon we are swimming up the Bungleboori North branch/*hackspit* Dingo creek.
Excuse me, I’ve been trying to reach you about your cars extended warranty…..

Chase your stars, fool. Life is short

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Watta Canyon

18-02-2023

Jason Kylie and me.

So Watta canyon on the Southern Highlands has been on my list for a while but dig one reason or another I hadn’t got there.

Time to rectify that.

It starts with a bit of promise
There’s lots of scrambling down, up, and over boulders but the creek is surprisingly pretty
And there are arches. Beautiful, mossy arches
And long swims
Swims that end abruptly in waterfalls
Jason on the first fun little drop
Kylie having a shower

And then the canyon ends as the arse end falls out of the world.

From the top it looks massive.

Kylie is setting up the short rope. Um, it looks massive…

A 20m abseil brings us to a big ledge. That was hidden at the top.

And now it’s time for the long ropes.

A stunning full length abseil into space.
Kylie giving the falls some perspective
Me and Jas adding some buff, or sumfink. 📸©️Kylie

and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you’ve never actually known what the question is. D Adams

And about 3.5hrs after we started we are back at the cars.

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Crystal Slot

29/01/2023

Russ and meeeee

So when Neil Miller posted some photos of a little canyon on Australian Canyoners it spark some interest. It was one I hadn’t done before and I thought I’d been down most of the gullies in that area.

Other more notable Canyoners were equally surprised. A bit of asking around by David Noble revealed Andrew V and Karen M had visited it years ago and called it sleeper.

Anyhoo I finally managed to go for a look with Russ to see what the fuss was about.

We may have removed some tape and ghosted so the next party can feel the sense of exploration
It’s a pleasant start.
And it kept the pleasantries going
The Crystal slot

It’s a nice afternoon outing. I rate it more interesting than some of the better known canyons in the area.

Nice one Neil.

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Jerrara Falls

28/01/2023

Kylie, Hywaida, Kris, Jason and meeeeee

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

Kris heading in as Jas sets the next abseil.
There a some nice creek walking interspaced with jumps and swims.

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

Kylie and Hywaida waiting on me to descend.

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

Once through the boulders there was some nice sections of gorge lined with stunningly colours cliffs. The water was skinky from the string algae but it was hot, damn hot, so we threw ourselves in each pool to cool off along the way.

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

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Ranon Brook

14-01-2023

It occurred to me I hadn’t done anything biggish for a bit. Nor had I lead anything I’d not done before for a while. Nor had I done the top of Ranon Brook ever.

Time to amend that.

The track notes said to follow the ridge so of course I headed straight down into the creek, joining it just below the feeder swap.

I don’t think Kylie was that impressed but the walking in the creek was mostly pleasant with occasional bits of cutty scrub

There were some nice bits of crystal clear water.
And soon the creek dropped into a stunning little canyon
Happy smiles
Abseil into a pool, swim across and abseil out is a bit of a theme in Ranon

But it’s only short and a bit more creek walking gets us the the junction with Mistake Ravine and into familiar territory

It was a busy day in The main canyon sections.
These tip top Canberrians let us go throu on their rope and caught back up a couple of times through out the day. oddly were the only other group we saw once we got to Claustral
Kylie in the slot above the Claustral junction
And into Claustral.
Just in time for sunbeams
Mandatory hulks fist
And National Geographic shot
And more sun beams
And standard Claustral gorgeousness

Another great day out with great company, somehow missing the crowds.

It’s still magic even if you know how it’s done: Terry Pratchett

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Buttering Boxes with Crazy foxes

06/08/2022

Hywaida, Kristo, Ethan, Kylie, Rus, Madie and meeeeeeeeeeeeee

Who wants to do Butterbox this weekend, said I

Me, said them.

As they say in Canada (probably) Well alrighty then

A cold wind blew on the morning of our gathering.

Wait! That’s an understatement and a half

It was an icey gale that ripped through us as we met at the car park.

And it seemed like it would be whipping up through the canyon

Are we sure we want to do this?

Of course.

And so it went.

We layered up and headed in.

Couldn’t quite get the Beetles abby road shot… It may have been cold but patches of blue sky and sunshine lighted our spirits.

Excitement on faces and interesting places.

And it’s about to get real

Butterbox is, for the most part, more open and has less swimming than the trip we did through North Bowen 2 weeks ago. But there are more abseils which could lead to more standing around waiting. we had enough ropes to keep moving. My only concern was the small stance on the chockstone pitch might mean we have a line up of people waiting in ice wind.

Good news for us, once we dropped off the ridge there was hardly any wind at all. I had a set of sharkskin T2 chillproof underneath my 5mm seland wetsuit (* this is not a paid endorsement. but if seland or sharkskin are reading this….. 🙂 ) I had put them on at the first abseil. I’d packed a windcheater jacket but left it in my pack.

By the time we got to the first swim I was keen to cool off

Ah the ol’ hump the log technique. I’ve given up going that way since the logs deteriorated a bit but H isn’t scared

A couple of short swims, a slide and we get to the bit we are here for

Butterbox is a fun, adventurous trip but lets face it. The next 2 abseils is what it is all about
Kristo on rope heading to the chockstone as Madie bleeds rope. There may have been comment made about how the official sign up top shows photos of old school technique and terrible rope management, having a massive pile of twisted spaghetti at the bottom. Something I was guilty of for many years. I’m thankful at how far my knowledge and skills have progressed in the last few years thanks to knowledgeable people sharing their, um, knowledge

So at the bottom of that you go over the edge and pop out to a large rock wedged between the canyon wall, The chockstone. Well I say large, there’s room for 2 people to set up the next abseil, 3 if you don’t mind getting up close and personal. 4 if you want a group hug with little room to do anything else much less try to set rope or maneuverer to abseil.

And 3 or 4 meters below the Chockstone the canyon takes a sharp right and you swing out under the roar of the falls and into the chamber of awesomeness
After the extended wet, and going of other canyons visited recently I was expecting water levels to up. Oddly they were fairly normal or even a bit down on the last trip but sliding directly off the end of the rope as you touch down here is so much nicer and safer than trying to disconnect with a bunch of rope still on the ground, or worse, twisting up in the water ©Hywaida

And I just noticed Madie creeping in the background of the above photo as Kristo descends. What is she doing up there? How did she get there? How will she get down? The answers to all this and more will not be forthcoming in the next instalment of “What’s Madie up to now”

Another short swim, some boulder hoping and a final abseil and we reach the lunch spot and spread out in the sunlight. Pulling on dry clothes Rus reminisces about the time it was so stinking hot when we got here that we found some shade and snoozed for a couple of hours waiting for it to cool down enough to climb out.

Of course the Butterbox adventure isn’t over yet. There still the steep walk out to the clmb.

I put my windcheater on expecting to be in the full force of the icy zepher. Soon I stash that back in the pack and strip down to a tee shirt. It was pleasant in the valley

Up top it wasn’t until we were cross the saddle from Butterbox point back to the car park that the full force of the wind hit us. At one point I think I was leaning 45° to the right trying to resist it blowing me off the hill.

You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t loose it: R Williams

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Goin’ to Bowen

23/07/22

Dick, Kylie, Russ Aimee and meeeeeeeeeeeeee

It’s July.

It’s wet.

It’s cold.

Anybody want to be be Gobsmacked in North Bowen this weekend?

The above mentioned crazy folk said yes.

Schaaaaaaaweeeeeet!

A trip through Lower North Bowen with Thing 2 and the boys was one of the things that got me back into canyoning in 2015. It’s a great little canyon but for some reason I hadn’t done it since.

Before that the last time I did it The Osbournes were on the telly. Time to get back me thinks.

Not to the Osbournes, like, they are entertaining and all but yeah na, back to Gobsmacker canyon

Some land slips on the walk in were a reminder of the effects of the extended wet weather but they don’t dampen our enthusiasm. (See what I did there?) and the track was in far better condition than in 2015 so top work there (though I’m not convince we took the same gully)

Fernalicious

The water was up

Wasn’t it cold? People ask. Of course it was but with the right gear it wasn’t unbearable or even that uncomfortable

It is pretty but

Kylie and Dick embracing the bracingness
He is smooth, he is funny, he is Russell!!!
Kylie’s not scared
Russ and Kylie keep it real… I mean keeping us safe… I mean doing the things with the things
It took a bit of care to stay out of the churn
If you haven’t met Dick I feel sorry for you. I really do.
A few years ago I had an epiphany with modern canyoning techniques. Could you imagine dropping into that with a tangle of rope in the water you needed to disconnect from? After carefully considering the flow with the group Russ set the rope in just the right spot at just the right length. So satisfying
Dick having his twice weekly cold shower
Warning: Photo bomber on the loose
Aimee is unafraid
Dick hasn’t got a fear gland
the flow was a but pushy in spots so a bit of extra care was needed
Some spots you could just go with the flow
That log usually keeps your feet dry

a quick bite to eat and some interesting methods used to warm hands and we head up the exit gully. The handover hand climb was a small waterfall. Sux for those who choose to put dry clothes on.

To be honest it was nicer doing the exit in this temperature…..

It takes more than 1 idiot to get this stupid. Krispy

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Xmass in July 2022

Oh, the weather outside is frightful
And the canyons look delightful
But they closed the park where we want to go
Let us go, let us go, let us go

It doesn’t show signs of stoppin’
But we’ve been costume shoppin’
The light is gentle and low
Let us go, let us go, let us go

It’s Kylies birthday
And Christo’s just gone by
It’s time to get crazy
With another Xmas in July

The rain is barley drizzlin’
But the dirt roads copped a prizzlin”
So we pick a canyon we all know
Let us go, let us go, let us go

We don’t care if it’s ten below
Red costumes setting the drizzle a glow
We don’t care about the cold and the winds that blow
We gear up and say, let us go, let us go let us go

Ooh-wee, goes the storm
Why should we worry when the wetsuit is warm?
Great friends by our side and the lights pretty and low
Let us go, let us go, let us go (I don’t care!)

The weather outside is frightful
But we’re back at the pub and the food is delightful
Since we’ve no place to go
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Or sumfink

Embrace your weird

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Strange Beds and Sleepy canyons

21-05-22

Loz, Kylie, Madie and meeeeeeeee!

I believe all canyons are worth doing once and actually get some satisfaction of checking out those rarely visited ones. They are normally low quality scrub bashes but in this day and age the feeling of being one of the few who have been somewhere is rare.

I felt Whores Bed canyon would be one of those.

And too be honest I’m glad I didn’t do it mid drought. On a cold misty day after 6months of wet weather it was a pleasant little trip.

The company made it better.

It was Loz’s first canyon so to give her the true Flynny/Madie experience we changed plans last minute, hadn’t done any research, parked in the wrong spot and started down the wrong trail.

Classic

Anyhoo we eventually deduced we weren’t heading into the correct gully and reversed out. Some of us scoffed a quick hot chocolate. And then we corrected previous mistakes and dropped in right at the anchor

Looks dodgy and wet.. Aweome ©Kylie
Madie giving her mum a final pep talk… or threatening vengeance. One of the two
Demons disguised as cherubs
©Kylie

And then it was over ©Madie

There are bolts here but they are oddly placed and looked like they would give a difficult pull down so after a bit of deliberation we opted for a traditional anchor ©Madie

And that pretty much it. Shorter and a bit easier than the near by Boars Head trip (for which this one is a play on words) but in these conditions it’s a prettier trip.

And the walk back up the Devils Hole isn’t too bad either

Of course some of those worth doing once canyons are actually worth doing again with the right company or weather conditions. Thus back at the cars the day was young and still had adventure written on it so we slipped across the Darling Causeway and dropped into Karamah.

Somewhat fittingly Karamah is a first nations word meaning “Sleep”.

Like a most of the canyons in that area it has some nice bits and 1 very pretty chamber.

This one has the crappiest single bolt anchor that I take the sling off every time and switch to a natural anchor. This is last time I was single roping with a fiddlestick this time I double roped. That water is deep enough for a good dunk and cold….. The double rope made for some tricky bridging action
Lucky I somehow manage to stay dry and no video was taken ©Kylie

The main chamber is a bit of a pothole. Pretty in good light but I’m glad it wasn’t flooded today.

and a short section of canyon follows

they are all worth doing once: Shit Flynny says.

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