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.
After a round of photos it was into our first canyon, Zorro
And then it was back up to the tops for a lovely Xmas lunch over looking the One and Only Emerites Wolgan resort
Then it’s back to the cars for a short drive around to our next destination. Not so much a canyon as a crack.
I’ve been meaning to get to this one for a while and it was a bigger day than I expected. Nice to have visited it but I don’t think I’d rush back real soon.
Anyhoo Ed met at my place not too early and after Mandy decided to pyke it was just the 2 of us heading down into the Wolgan.
Packing the ropes we had a couple of options.
Option 1 was either my 11mm 58m or Ed’s 9mm 60m
We choose option 2. Meggsie’s 9mm 40m because it was lighter. This would come into play later.
We soon found our car park and starting marching up the hill, after a bit of steep stuff we found and old road and traversed around a bit on it. So far all good. Then the road took a turn back down towards the main road. We left it behind and traversed our way across and up to the base of the cliff.
Drink breaks. Just above us looks to be an interesting slot around a detached block of cliff. It was more interesting than that as behind it was another slot around a second detached block. Very Noice!
We stuff around here a fair while investigating little nooks and slots and disturb an owl (Possibly a Powerful Owl) before continuing around the corner to the dry creek we are looking for.
Following this up we cross from one side to the other finding some cool sandy caves and side canyons on our way up to the main canyon.
The Bellbirds are in full voice as we make our way up towards The gully.
It doesn’t give much indication it is going to close in any time soon and we start to think maybe we were suppose to head up one of the side canyons. But then, with little warning the canyon appears.
It’s a nice, dry canyon but I think after the beauty of last weekends canyon and with the midday sun belting directly in to create harsh contrasts I was a little underwhelmed.
Never very deep or dark, the canyon threatened to open out on a couple of occasions but kept going further than we through it would. When it finally did open up we had 2 options.
Option 1 is to Reverse down
We go option 2. With Great views over the Wolgan promised we choose to climb out.
After several pagodas offered false high points we reach the ridge top and again have 2 options. We’ve come across a slot that is not running in the direction of out track notes.
Option 1 is to explore a way down through the slot. I have vague memories of trip reports that suggest that it will lead down with a couple of abseils but I’m unsure how big the drops are and we have the short rope.
We choose Option 2. Head down a ridge spur and have a look off the end.
We reach the cliff edge and the grand views typical of the Wolgan greet us. Good spot for lunch.
Now we need to find away down. We wander out to the end of the ridge. Lots of Options all bigger than we are expecting. It’s now I choose to read the track notes a little closer.
“Follow the ridge until the slot…” We didn’t see a slot so make our way back up the ridge a bit.
A steep crack might be our slot but it was hard to say. A bit further around a weakness in the cliff appears to give us access to the lower cliffline where a convenient tree provides great anchor. We toss the ropes.
Sounded like it hit the ground, Says I. Sounded like not much if any hit the ground, Retorts Ed.
I had used my safety rope to tie into while I set the ropes. I pack this up and now I am on rope I have 2 options.
Option 1. Take my pack back off and put it back where I normally keep it.
I choose option 2. I give it to Ed to Store in his pack while I abseil down.
I still can’t see the ground but over I go. There is a second ledge about 15m below me. I can’t see ropes on the ground. I rap to the lower ledge and peer over.
Now either of my 50m+ ropes would have reached. Ed’s 60m would have reached. But the lighter 40m rope ends aren’t on the ground. It doesn’t help we have chosen to rap directly into a small Vee gully. If the tree up top had been 20m either side and the ropes would be on the deck.
Now I have 2 options.
Option 1. Prusik back up and look for another spot to get down.
I choose option 2. I make myself safe by hero looping a “chicken head” a little nub of rock I can hitch a sling around and clip into. It was a reasonable ledge. Then get Ed to re set the rope to full length single strand. This gets me to the bottom fine but the halfway mark is about 7-8m above me.
Now to get Ed down.
Easy I’ll tie my 10m safety line… Um Ed has my 10m safety line. He tosses it down and some how manages to miss the ledge, the trees and the snags and I catch it just fine.
So the solution. Tie my line to the end I have on the ground. Anchor that to a tree just a bit back with a long sling. Ed can now haul the slack back up, lower the other end and rap down on that strand. It’s still head height off the ground but as he weights it the give in the system has him reaching the ground all safe.
Now it was just a stroll back down the hill to the car.
Party Size: 2 both experienced
Elevation gain: 640m
Time: Bit under 7hrs car to car with lots of stuffing about with photos and exploring and rigging up impromptu abseil solutions.