Dione Dell and Margaret Falls

07-09-2019

Before setting off Libby dubbed us the Six Pack.

Half a Coopers, Bottle of St Rieul, Pint of Stella, Glass of Chardonnay, a Wild Yak and a Tooghey’s Old or sumfink

The weather was shite, windy as all get up and a grass fire was raging across the Wolgan road.

Our plans had changed and changed again before settling on a quick trip out to Kanangra-Boyd to do Dione Dell. Well sort of

The wind was still raging. There was snow on Oberon Hill and Mt Trickett, but Madie declared, We’re not Pussies! and Leo confirmed, We press on.

I’m not scared.

No really, I’ve done Dione Dell in snow before.

Still, I got slightly concerned when all the others pulled out wetsuits and put them on… At the car. Um are we setting up wet?

Don’t you get wet?

You can but I’ll be staying dry.

Before leaving the car park a familiar car pulled up. Hi Flynny. Ah Phil Clegg and co had the same idea, he’d actually invited me on the trip weeks ago but at that stage we had other unformed plans. We have a chat before we set off.

Dione Dell has some very pretty waterfalls but in between there is a bit of walking across loose Kanangra scree.

At the top of the first abseil we run into Dylan Jones and co. Popular little spot today.

Dione Falls
Madie and Leo at the base of the first abseil between Dione Falls and the Larger but AFAIK unnamed falls where Christy’s creek meets Dione Dell Brook

As expected it was fairly sheltered in the gully and warm in the sunshine

At the base of the second Waterfall, Also unnamed

After a bit of a walk we reach the top of Wallarra falls. We consider doing the big abseil starting on the left, crossing the fall and finishing on the right but opt to stay dry, So scramble the first pitch, where Dylan graciously offers to let us leap frog his group and we drop in beside the falls. I still think this is one of the prettiest waterfalls going

Russ filming Lara Crof…. I mean the Mad One
The 4th abseil, Suns out guns out or sumfink

And then there’s more scrambling and boulder hopping down to the top of Margaret Falls. This is what we are here for. Abseiling beside the 110m waterfall has become a popular option lately. Previously it involved silly long ropes and/or passing knots so not many people contemplated it. New rebelay options make it more appealing but please note it’s not simple and you need to be familiar with hanging belays and advanced techniques. Just getting to the anchors is not straight forward.

It is goddamn spectacular thou

Madie 3/4 of the way down the stunning free hanging 2nd pitch

The guys at the hanging belay at the start of pitch 2. Leo and Madie’s experience in Europe definitely came into play in getting us all down here nice and efficiently

And then we were down.

It took the 6 of us about an 1hr to do the pitch, that’s almost as long as it took us to do the rest of the canyon. We used single rope techniques to string out all 3 pitches with Leo aiding every one on the first rebelay and Madie looking after us on the second.

I got to the bottom first but now the issue, a slippery traverse to stay dry. I sidle my way around… I’m doing ok but there is 6m of blankness between me and keeping my socks dry… It’s slippery as snot. In the end I decide choosing wet feet is probably better then falling in and having wet everything…

Then its back up the hill where the wind nearly blows us off the tops…

Party size: 6

Time: 5hr 50min car to car

Don’t try to understand life. Live it

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Danae Brook

24/11/2018

Madie Jeremy and meeeee

Wanna do Danae?

I’ve said before the Kanangra style canyons of abseiling beside waterfalls for the sake of abseiling beside waterfalls never had a great appeal to me, but Danae was different. It was the most slot like of the Kanangra canyons so the short answer was yes. The long answer was I wasn’t sure I was up to it at the moment.

Danae is steeped in tales of benighted groups, 16 hour slogfests and epic challenges.

I also had other commitments so originally said, No. Well not yet but lets do it later in the season

But the idea began to germinate….

Ah Fugg it! lets do it!

In the week leading up an antarctic blast gave us plummeting temps, a good dump of rain and stupidly high winds so it was with a little trepidation I drove out to to the Boyd river camp late Friday afternoon. The rain had cleared but wind gusts up to 90kph ripped through the tree tops.

We’d be joined for the trip by Madies friend Jeremy, who it turns out I knew from my bike shop days. Also joining us for the night was Matt and Madie’s Dad and step mum.

After much banter and a feast of butter-chicken we seek the warmth of our beds. The plan was to break camp at 5am and be on our way soon after.

Morning came and the wind had calmed considerably but the temperature was still winterish. We sorted packs and ropes and by the time we dropped a car at the pick up point 3 of us set out on the Thurat fire trail just after 6am.

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On a big trip like this I’m always a tad nervous until we we start walking and then everything calms and I enjoy the simple pleasure of being in the bush with like minded people

Track notes are deliberately vague but sometime later we veer off into the scrub, cross a couple of minor gullies and then drop down into a tributary to avoid the horrendous scrub on the ridge top. We reach the first abseil point at 7.30.

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From there it’s into the stunning slot and abseil after abseil after abseil.

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Madie stops on the chock stone to grab a photo and retrieve a stuck rope a previous party had lost.

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Madie and Jeremy enter the slot

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Danae swallows and humbles you. Madie on rope

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The waterfall abseil. Danae can be dry, or it can be dangerously pumping

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get the balance right and it is awesome. Jeremy in the fall

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Jeremy at the bottom of the “Waterfall abseil”

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Looking down to Madie at the bottom of “Danae Direct”

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It is even more stunning in real life

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And still the abseils come in the tight confines of Danae

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©Madie

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©Madie

©Madie

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On gritty Blue Mtns sandstone this would be a simple down climb. The quartzite of Kanangra  however is slippery as ice covered snot when wet so we rope up for safety

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Madie watching Jeremy descend

And then comes the boulder field. A steep chute littered with house sized boulders. A massive 3D puzzle that takes about an 1hr to negotiate.

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©Madie

And a final abseil or two then the creek levels out and it’s another 1.5hrs of smaller boulder hoping down to the Junction with Kanangra creek.

From the Junction the haul up to the Kilpatrick causeway is like climbing a ladder for 1.5hrs, only the rungs are uneven, at odd angles, made out of loose dirt and covered in pickle bush, stinging trees and biting ants…

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Not even the prickly pea and stinging trees could wipe the smile from my face.

A final scramble up a small cliffline and we top out to amazing views south towards Mittagong and east to the Blue Mts where the classic shape and colour of the Hydro Majestic can clearly be seen nestled on the cliff tops.

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and of course the views down over the terrain we’ve just come through is amazeballs. The gully in the Centre is Kanangra main, Danae is behind the spired ridge in the middle distance to the right

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Another hour of walking and one more cliffline to get through and we reach the car exhausted but fulfilled

What an Awesomely epic day with awesomely epic people.

Group size: 3 all experienced

Timing: 10.5 car to car.

Note this is reasonably quick, especially as none of us had done it before. We were expecting 13hrs.

To do it we had to be efficient on the abseils so we had 3 ropes. A 30m, which was kept with the last person on the bigger drops as the emergency back up, and 2x 60m. The first 60 would be set and as soon as the second person reached the bottom of the abseil the second 60 would be set for the next one. As soon as the last person was down the first would go again.

Rope management was also key with efficient coiling and uncoiling needed, though I confess to ending up with a tangled mess at least once as fatigue began to kick in.

GPS tells me we covered 19km with a bit over 1300m elevation gain.

Remember your comfort zone is the most dangerous place to be. In it your senses get dulled, your muscles lax, and your brain turned to mush. Flynny

Madies Time log:

3 ppl
5.55 start
7.45 first abseil
7.55 2nd abseil off 2 trees difficult start
8.26 4th abseil off boulder
8.36 5th abseil 10 m off boulder swing under
8.40 6th abseil down waterfall lots of water
8.52, 7th abseil through hole dark slot under boulder
9.03 8th abseil w traverse line
9.30 9th  abseil 5m onto log
A few scrambles
9.40 10th abseil 5m off shitty sling without malion on rhs
9.50 11th abseil 7 ml in sun off rope on rhs
10.03 down sketch 5 m climb and 12th abseil start off 2 bolts and wires on lhs
10.30 scramble over centre of null
10.40 13th abseil off tree onto boulder field
11.34 14th 15m abseil in to pool awkward
11.45 15th abseil 10 m into pool of pitons on rhs
11.55 lunch rock after abseils
12.20 lunch over
1.22 Kanangra Creek junction
1.40 leaving change spot
3.15 track -killpatrick
3.30 hill
4.20 murdering gully
4.27 main lookout track
4.31 car

BACK

Kalang Falls

13-10-2018

Tim, Al, Gabby, Ev, Geoff, Roy, James and me

I’ve said before that for me the abseils are just a means to get to the next bit of canyon.

I’m far more excited by exploring the dark confines of a slot canyon. I’m captivated by the play of light as the sun arcs over head. I get fascinated by the way water and time have sculptured the rock, and I’m dazzled by the ferntacious greenery…

Ayhoo with that in mind the Kanangra canyons have never held a massive appeal to me but when Tim invited me on a trip down Kalang Falls I thought I may as well check it out to see what the fuss is all about.

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With the east coast experiencing some much needed rain it was moody in the forest waiting for the others to arrive.

 

After a week of drizzle mixed with rain we’d check the water levels and if it was too high we’d abort and do Dione Dell instead.

As it was it was pretty much prefect

And so our group of merry adventurers set off from the car park with a buzz of excitement and a swagger in our steps.

Despite a few of the others having done the trip before myself and Al got nominated leaders so the real leader, Tim could follow along at the back of the group as safety man with the spare rope. So we set  off to rig the first drop.

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Making our way down towards the first abseil conditions were very slippery making it slow and steady going

There is a bit of scrambling to get down to the first anchor and Tom’s notes warned the final drop before the anchor could be dangerous so in the wet slippery conditions we rigged the abseil from above it.

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I have to admit the waterfalls are stunning

As with all of Tim’s trips we had multiple ropes and walkie-talkie communi-doonies so the group could spread out. Me and Al would set rope, the next person would arrive, we’d take their rope and descend to the next one. And so on and so forth etc etc etc. So even with a largish group taking their time on slick rock we made good time down the ravine.

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Al, Fingers crossed I’ve tied the knot right Bro.

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It’s technically a dry trip but I got soaked in the spray off this one. If doing it in winter with this much water you’d want some good waterproof clothing

 

Rope management was the theme of the day. Lots of vegetation and ledges for ropes to get tangled on. I can see where flaking it out of a rope bag would be handy on a trip like this.

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You can just make out Ev about to come over the edge

 

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Tim at the 3rd anchor, this one is a little hard to locate.

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Not the best silky smooth waterfall photography today but not bad for hand-held shots with the TG4

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Epic Kanangra country

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Al below the 3rd abseil. You can see Ev on belay where the ropes come down to the right

 

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I found the scrambles between the falls took a lot of concentration. The quartzite is a lot slipperier than the standard Bluies sandstone and also tends to have a lot more loose rocks ready to roll your ankle.

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Ev at the bottom of the big drop with Gabby way up high on rope to the right at the top of the falls

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Despite the cool day Gabby felt the need for a bit of a swim. Ev is trying to dissuade her.

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Geoff handling it with ease

But….

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Then he went for a swing and only good team belaying by Ev and Gabby kept him dry

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Always time for a selfie

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Geoff’s enthusiasm for the bush is infectious

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And then it was up Manslaughter ridge and out

 

 Probably really common, but can anyone tell me the species?

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Thuratt Spires and Kanangra wilderness

How did I find it? Well the waterfalls were stunning, the company was awesome, the abseils were abseils and the walk out wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be.

Another great day in the bush with great people.

The mind is like water: capable of going anywhere but once hemmed in by walls of it’s own making it takes a powerfull flood to burst it’s banks and change its course: me

 

 

Group size: 8 all experienced

Time: 9hr 20min car to car, not rushing in the slippery conditions and taking it easy up the exit ridge.

BACK 

 

Dione Dell

25-09-2016

Jodie, Garry Edwin and me

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Dione Dell is a good introduction to the Kanangra-Boyd style canyons. Unlike the dark, sandstone constrictions of Blue Mt canyons the ones out this way are more steep ravines that drop through a series of water falls as the streams cut down through the quartzite landscape.

Now at first glance quartzite looks a bit like sandstone, and once upon a time it was just that but then it got subjected to heat and pressure which melts down the granny structure and metamorphises it into and different beast.

Gone is the grittiness that offers some semblance of grip, and it’s harder too so tends to break off in lots of block sized chunks. Loose and slippery. It can make for hard going as you try to traverse it.

Anyhoo it had been ages since I’d been down Dione Dell (Almost 18 years) and I was keen to take Tal, he  and his mates had other ideas and went camping instead but I was still excited to show the others through it.

As I said earlier, it’s a good intro into Kanangra Walls canyons. One of the smaller trips out this way it consists of 4 major waterfalls, which are, for the most part, descended in single pitches, and a relatively easy walk out.

All that said it shouldn’t be taken lightly. The quartzite is slippy and loose and some of the abseils have quiet a bit of vegetation and in high water it would be a bit of a challenge.

In summer it is possible to take the direct route down through the falls. Today we opted to stay mostly dry (‘Cept for me who fell in. Pay back for the time I took Della down in the snow and he fell in multiple times)

But enough of my blabbering. here are some photos to wet your appetite.

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Edwin testing out my new Canyonfire rope

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Jodie and Gaz

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Gaz on the second abseil

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Jodie

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The crew at the base of Wallara falls

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Garry

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Me just after my unintended swim

2022

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Party Size: 4 (3 experienced I beginner)

Time: About5 hr car to car with some photo phaffing