Dargan Creek Photo trip

10-02-2018

Albert, David and me.

 

So I found myself with a spare Saturday and my usual crew busy elsewhere so I sent a request through the airways to see if anyone was out who wouldn’t mind a tag along.

Dave responded with an invite on a photo trip to my local canyon, Dargan creek.

Dave’s photos have always been an inspiration to me (if you haven’t checked out his pages have a gander here) and it had been nearly 16 years since our only other trip together so I jumped at the chance.

Dave and Albert busied themselves with the DSLRs while I felt a bit out gunned with my Olympus TG4. I managed some reasonable shots but I can’t wait to see theirs.

In the mean time

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Albert setting up the tripod at the start of the constriction

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Looking down the canyon

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I was expecting them to march out 10 paces, turn and shoot.

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Even when I wasn’t canyoning full on we’d do this canyon once a year or so. Being 20min from home I’ve been through it a lot but I haven’t really spent time in there taking photos. It’s a sure way to see things you normally miss.

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Dave on the down climb. Fixed hand lines seem to be a relatively new phenomena in Blue mountains canyons. Was certainly always able to get down, and back up here with out a fixed line in the 90s.

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Dargan creek has some lovely canyon formation

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Dave setting up for a long exposure.

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This bit gets so dark it is almost cave like. You sometime see glowworms here in the day and big brown eels in the water. Neither today

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In the dappled light of the canyon I couldn’t make out the marking on this little fellow. I was 99% sure I knew what it was but that 1% meant I was careful to stay out of strike range

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While it looks snakelike a bit of post editing to lighten things up brings out the classic patterns, external ear holes and limb vestages of a legless lizard. The common scaly-foot (Pygopus lepidopodus)

As well as the external ear holes (which snakes lack) legless lizards have a broad fleshy tongue, rather than the forked tongue of a snake, and eye lids so if it blinks or sticks out a wide tongue you know it’s a lizard.

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The arrow on the left points to the external ear holes which snakes lack. On the right you can make out the tiny flap which is a remnant of the rear leg.

They also have a long tail. Snakes are all body with a short tail, these guys are 2/3rds tail. That might sound silly and it’s certainly hard to see where this ones tail starts but they can and do drop their tails as a last ditch means to avoid being someones lunch, a bit like a garden skink, and the tail often grows back a slightly different colour. So you get a coppery body and a grey tail.

 

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This is the classic patterning but they come in a range of colour from smooth coppery brown with hardly any pattern to an almost purplish colour  with gold  highlights in between the black dots which is absolutely stunning.

 

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Sun beams

You’ve probably noticed I shot a lot more in landscape orientation which is unusual for me in canyon settings, but it seemed to work today

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And then it’s up the tree and out

Dave asked if I knew the history of the spikes in the tree which are used as a ladder for exiting. I’d always assumed they were placed by Col Oloman who was a bit of a Blue Mountains Canyoning pioneer and Lithgow local but Dave says Col’s notes speak about the spikes already being there.

They look to be railway spikes so perhaps the builders of the 10 tunnels diviation in the early 1900s, or perhaps the original railway prior, were the first white folk to visit this canyon? Seems odd they would be scrambling down here as you can walk in up stream and you can also follow the creek down into Hartley Vale without too much trouble. Maybe surveyors looking at another dam wall lower down?

What we get from this adventure is pure joy.” George Mallory

*Slight detour* in March I am again taking part in the West Cycles Classic to raise money for the Westpac rescue helicopter service. Whether preforming bush rescue, emergency patient transfers, and all the rest no one has ever had to pay to use the helicopter due to public donations. If, like me, you believe this is an invaluable service or if you just enjoy reading my blog think about pitching in with a donation. Large or small every bit counts. follow this link for details 2018 West Cycles

Anyhoo

BACK

Clarence Dams 11-01-17

With all the people who visit the Railway dams on Dargan crk at Clarence now days I wonder how many have ventured up into the backwater. It had been ages since I’ve done it.

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As well as leaps of faith the main wall is also great for deep water soloing

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There are lots of climbable lines on the wall, however most involve a blank section 3/4 the way up that require a long stretch or balancey moves on tiny climps while trying to smear with bare feet.

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If you have a bit of reach the green route is by far the easiest. For someone around the 180cm mark it’s only about a grade 16. Where the higher climber’s elbow is in the pic is a sneaky under cling. By stepping down and to the left  you can then come back up right, use your right hand to pull you into the wall with the under cling, this allows you to push up off your right foot while stretching your left hand straight up. A seemingly small hold just within reach is in fact a very nice jug. The black line is the hardest I have managed to do, way back when I was climbing lots. It involves a cool move to get over the shelf and a big dyno further up where the wall gets blank. I only managed it once. the Blue and purple traverse lines would be around 17. The red and Yellow lines were always a bit beyond me.

Dargan Arch

 

Access: An easy to moderate walk on a reasonable trail. Steep sections and exposed cliff lines. Some rock scrambling if you want to view it from below or down from the cliffs opposite

Navigation: Navigation is fairly straight forward

Map: Wollangambe 

Time: 2hrs with a bit of time to look around

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There are quiet a few sandstone arches scattered around our area. Dargan Arch is one of the most accessible and photogenic. It is situated just inside the Blue Mts NP boundary

A remnant of an erosion cave whose roof has collapsed the area was popular with rock climbers but climbing on the arch has since been banned and the bolts have been chopped.

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The arch is maybe 8m high from the cave floor and spans a gap of around 15m. Adjoining wind caves and nearby pagodas and ravines are also worth exploring.

   Getting there: Turn off the highway at Bell onto Sandham Rd and follow this back towards Dargan for approximately 3.5km (The last bit is dirt and can be fairly corrugated at times). Look for the turn off marking power pole 384 (There is usually a small sign nailed to a tree marking the pole numbers at each intersection). Turn right and follow this under the power lines. You will need to park hear as the road gets rough and is normally blocked as it continues into the scrub on the other side.

Walk down the old 4WD track for approximately 500m to it’s end and then continue on the foot track that heads off slightly to the left.

This will bring you down to a bend in the ravine and a view over the top of the arch

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With a bit of care you can continue down to the left and scramble down into the gully upstream of the arch, then follow it back around to the underside of the arch with access to the adjoining caves.

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From the right angle the arch gives this cool bird silhouette

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Return back the way you came in

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