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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
Time: 2hrs with a bit of time to look around
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.
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
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.
Return back the way you came in
Note: The great outdoors is an ever changing place. Bush fires, changing weather, vegetation growth and forestry activities can all effect the trail conditions and thus the difficulty of the walk. These are a rough guide only and are by no means meant to be a definitive guide . They do not replace the need adequate map reading and navigational skills
Note 1: Taking care While reasonably well known these spots are still wild places and care needs to be taken around cliff edges and on the steep trails. Carrying the right gear as well as having adequate food, water and clothing is important. Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to get back.
Emergency beckons (PLBs) can be hired from Katoomba Police for very little.
Note 2:First aid A basic first aid kit is essential bit of kit whenever heading into the Aussie bush. A basic first aid is highly recommended
Note 3: Maps and Navigation Having the right map, a compass and knowing how to read them is very important when heading into the bush. If you are new to bush walking joining a club or accompanying more experienced walker for you first few outing is a very good idea. I found practicing map reading on well defined trails was helpful when I started out.
The Maps mentioned are the 1:25000 series. They can be purchase at Lithgow tourism information center, from outdoors shops or online for around $10 each.
Note 4: These are wild and beautiful places, respect them. If you are able to carry something in you can carry it out. Don’ be a tosser. Leaving your rubbish behind is a sure way to ruin it for every one else.