David-Stephen, Jess, Ev, Madie, David, Tim and meeee
The only way to back up a fairly late night in Rocky would be a reasonably early start for another canyon
And so, blearied eyes and muddle-headed I find myself driving up to join Madie and Ev waiting for the others for a quick trip through Arethusa canyon.
I was suffering sleep deprivation and the trip is a bit of a blur so I’ll let the photos tell the things
Butterbox gets all the glory for being an adventurous canyon with climbing exit but for me Arethusa is hands down a better all round canyon and the climb out excellent.
Ev asked if she could lead and we happily let her. Wow she handled the climbs like a bomb and set belays like seasoned pro. So cool to watch
Sure my climbing style sucked the big fat one too but people were kind enough not to capture that in too many photos..
Party Size: 7
Time: 7hrs car to car
The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly without fear for newer experiences: Elenor Roosevelt
Joel, Amber, Jen, Madie, Matthew, Gabby, Andrew, Sonya, Mark, Bernie and meee. Oh, and Geoff as the devil taking photos at the bottom
One day Joel (the sweet, innocent, shy fella he is) had an idea to do something wild.
Let’s have a dress up canyon party, says he.
And so we had to ask ourselves. What would Ginger Jesus do?
Um, He just suggested a dress up canyon…. Well der, dress up canyon party it is
The theme went from Anti-Valentine to Porn to Slotty to hot and wet to anything goes and eventually a mixed bag of fun loving freaks turned up to, um , have fun and, ah, be freaky in one of the most popular canyons in the Mountains.
If only someone had taken a camera…..
Note: there were more cameras than people
We gathered out the front of the Conservation hut for some snaps
By the time we were all down the abseil there was a large ensemble of tourists/walkers cheering, jeering and leering at us. Well I say “us” but it was mostly at Joel.
and the looks we got as we hiked back up the tourist track for a bite to eat at the hut were priceless.
Party Size: 11 but we split into 11 groups of 1 because, like, who’d want to associate with those other weirdos.
Time: Time has no meaning when you are having that much fun
If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be: Maya Angelou
*March 2019 I am once again participating in the Wests Cycle Classic to raise money for the Westpac rescue helicopter. If you enjoy my blog or just want to help this great cause think about making a small donation
Access: A nice walk along a gentle ridge. Tar to parking area
Navigation: Navigation is fairly straight forward though the trail can be a little vague further out
Time: 30min out. 30min back
Date walked: 31-03-18
Jinki ridge is another spur off the Bells Line of road that gives nice views over the Grose Valley. A trail runs from the Bells Line of road out between Jinki and Dalpura creeks and the Pagodas out the end are reminiscent of the Lost city.
Getting there: From the weigh station at Bell follow the Bells line of road toward Sydney for approximately 4km and just after the concrete lane dividers end there is an old fire trail which goes right just as the road swings around to the left. Turn off into this fire trail and park at the locked gate (Obviously try not to obstruct the gate)
The fire trail goes South and then veers East to start and is easy to follow (note: there is another fire trail just back a bit at a more open park spot, but it goes West then swings North) . Jinki ridge offers great views over the upper Grose over towards Mt Victoria.
The fire trail eventually deteriorates to single track. It can be a little vague but just stay on the top of the ridge
Views change to your left side with some vantage points looking down the Grose. Towards the end of the ridge you get views over to Valhala Head and Thors Head from high pagodas. Be careful near the cliff edges as they are all over hung and brittle.
Also care is needed on the pagodas. The plate pagodas are fairly unique to our area and iron stone bands that make them so unique break off very easily. These awesome rock formations take thousands of years to form, the last thing we want is for them to be damage by a careless footstep.
Return: The way you came in
Tal, Ben and me
With an early Easter combining with a few family birthdays I wasn’t able to organise the usual Easter Epic Ride this year so instead conspired with Tal to do a quick early morning trip to Dalpura canyon.
Ben posted that he was down from Qld and keen to check out a canyon or two and I messaged to say if he didn’t get a better offer he’s be welcome to come with us. He accepted the offer and we met nice and early in some typical mountain mist. AKA, fog.
Last time we had done Dalpura we dropped into the western tributary, which had some nice bits high up but also involved some thick cutty scrub. This time around we followed Toms track notes and found a reasonable track into the Eastern tributary which also had acouple of short and shallow but nice canyon sections.
Anyhoo it doesn’t take long to get to the abseil. It’s a short drop into a very nice chamber. Last visit I was still using and iPhone4 for photos so I was hoping for some nice light to see how the TG4 would go.
We waist no time rigging up and drop on in.
It’s a nice little abseil into a deep green pool. Luckily you land on a ledge just below the water and can work your way around the side.
While Ben was setting up his tripod I remember I have the glass ball thingy my sister bought me. It’s been in the top pocket of my pack for about 3 months, I keep forgetting it is there but decide to have a play with it.
Dalpura is more a series of short canyonish section but it has some nice bits
All too soon the canyon opens out and a final optional abseil snakes it’s way down a cleft.
We can walk around it if you don’t want to abseil.
We’re here to experience the canyon….
Party size: 3
Time: 3.5 hrs car to car with some photo Phaffing
Some people are so obsessed with reaching the top they forget it’s the side of the mountain that sustains life.
Julie, Dick, Lewis, Ben and me
THEY DON’T PULL BODIES OUT UNTIL MORNING.
The voice of god boomed out as we stood beneath the NP information sign at the Mt Wilson fireshed.
OK, so the weather forecast was not the best. I’d been watching it closely for a few days, feeling Geronimo was becoming my castle in the air. The unattainable goal forever out of arms reach.
Each trip I had tried to organise had been called off for one reason or another but all was looking good this time around.
Then Lewis messages me. What’s your thoughts on the Weather forecast?
Hmmm. 20mm Saturday and 40mm Sunday with a Storm warning.
Ah, yep let’s keep and eye on it.
I text the same question to Julie as I knew she had been through both canyons a few times.
I wouldn’t like to be in Horseshoe in a down poor. Says She. But Geronimo should be fine.
A few hours later another text from Julie. Fark! I just looked at the forecast.
Let’s keep an eye on it.
Saturdays rain did not eventuate and while Sunday dawned gloomy it didn’t look too bad. I’d been watching the radar and it looked as though the bulk of the rain had thus far swung to the south. Weatherzones 48hr forecast had showers throughout the day but the heavy rain wasn’t due until late afternoon.
Julie and Dick arrive we discuss alternate plans as we head up to meet Lewis and Ben at Mt Wilson. The views from the high points gave us confidence in the 48hr forcast.
Ben and Lewis message to say they are running 10 min late. At the fireshed we wonder over to the NP sign to discuss plans further. A note on the board from another group “Sorry guys no canyon today. 90% chance of rain. David.”
The eerie voice booms out from behind some bushes.
THEY DON’T PULL BODIES OUT UNTIL MORNING.
All those people died in there in weather like this a few years ago! An old dude in a camper van up by the road gives us a not so friendly warning.
OK the Wollangambe does rise rapidly in heavy rain. It has a massive catchment. Being known as an easy canyon can give people a false sense of security. There have been numerous rescues but mostly from injuries or lost parties. That said, a young man did die in the Gambe after being dragged under high water in 1999.
It’s not something we take lightly. Members of the Mt Wilson fire and rescue team have photos of the usually placid Gambe with a raging torrent 3 or 4m above the usual levels. Ed’s done a trip in high water where on of his mates got pinned under water and was lucky to escape. We are not taking this lightly and I wouldn’t have entered a long section of the Wollangambe in this weather
It’s no good looking at the Penrith forecast. You should be checking Lithgow!!
Yep, we cross referenced Lithgow, Katoomba and Richmond plus the 512km composite Sydney radar loop
Well it’s your choice. He gets in his van and drives off.
OK, let me make this clear we were not being flippant about heading out canyoning on a day like today. Here are a few things that went into making our choice.
- A close look at the forecast. Not just the morning we were heading out but we’d watched the forecast, synoptic chart and rain radar in the days prior to get an idea of the prevailing weather patterns.
- The lead up. With a long dry spell the background water levels are low. This can be a two edge sword. It will take a bit of rain to get water levels back up to normal but with the ground being so dry and hard any rain that does fall is likely to sheet straight off and into the canyon rather than soak in to the ground.
- The catchments and length of constriction. The canyons we had planned had relatively small catchments and relatively short constrictions
- Knowledge. Julie was familiar with both canyons
- The group. I’ve canyoned with Julie a bit now, she has a wealth of experience and I trust her skills and judgement. I’d hope she thinks the same of me. I’ve done a couple of trips with Lewis and again have confidence in his abilities and his level head. While Ben and Dick are relative beginners as far as canyoning goes they have rope experience and are capable in the bush. Not one of the group would I consider a liability if things went wrong.
- Back up plans. At no point were we so determined to do the trip that we weren’t prepared to abandon it or change plans if things looked dicey.
So with the predicted heavy shower at 9am not arriving and the radar showing the bulk of the rain still passing to the south we gather gear and head on down to cross the ‘Gambe and up the other side.
Dropping off the ridge a fraction early we traversed through scrub below the upper-cliff lines for quite a ways. In hindsight it looked as though a track came down off the ridge further along.
Anyoo. All part of the adventure or sumfink.
We find the first abseil and look down on a nice dark slot. Just as Lewis ropes up the drizzle starts.
The first abseil is straightforward and probably the easiest of the day. The next involved an anchor strung around a boulder pearched right on the edge. Clipping it required a long reach while on a sloping ledge. Julie set a safety, threaded the rope and set some off cut anchor rope up as a retrieval so the rest of us could pull the ropes around to clip on in a safer location.
the drizzle was still light but constant. It gave the canyon an eerely soft light
This is the infamous Geronimo drop where legend has it Glen Robinson jumped into the shallow pool below on the first descent. It’s normally a swim through here the combination of a long dry spell and siltation meant it was barley a deep wade today.
after a narrow hall and stunning chamber the canyon opens out a bit before the walls close back in. Busy taking photos I fall behind slightly and as I round a bend I’m greeted by the site of the rest of the crew leaning over intently studying something…
Shall we go down the hole? Will we fit? Sure we will. Are you sure? Yeah Sure. Can we use that log for and anchor? ……
All OK for the skinny folk but it was a bit of a squeeze for me and for a moment my pack snagged and I thought I was wedged in but a bit of wiggling and contorting got me through. I’d blame big shoulders or some thing but, um. yeah…
And just like that we are back to the Wollangambe. We swim, wade and otherswise make our way down stream through some grand sections of canyon. Rounding a corner we are confronted with a large boulder choke. Typical of the Gambe but in this instance it looks as though a fresh collapse has added to the obstical
We reach the bit where we had first crossed a couple of hours before and spread out on a bit of a grass to eat lunch. The 2pm heavy showers hit right on cue. Well perhaps more rain than showers but it was pleasant sitting there in the rain reflecting on our day so far.
The rain eases and we make the call to head back up the opposite side to the start of horseshoe. The haul up the hill seemed much easier this time around, maybe because we didn’t have to route find so much to get through the clifflines, and before we knew it we were dropping off the ridge again, gaining the creek right on the massive chock stone that marks the start of the canyon without the need to abseil the top cliff line nor bash down the scrubby creek from higher up.
over head the ominous boom of thunder.
That doesn’t sound good.
Looking about the sky was still light and the clouds looking misty rather than stormy. Knowing we have a short constriction ahead of us and a small catchment above we opt to drop in. The biggest worry is the Wollangambe and we are on the wrong side of it now anyway.
It might be short but it sure is nice
The weather has turned a bit cooler now Lewis, Ben and Julie opt to leave their wetsuits on for the walk up. Julie changes at the big pagoda where we rejoin the main track.
All in all another great day in a truly beautiful part of the world
The finest workers in stone are not copper or steel tools, but the gentle touches of air and water working at their leisure with a liberal allowance of time. – Henry David Thoreau
Party Size: 5
Time: 7hrs car to car, not rushing but not dawdling either
*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
Ed, Etham, Ciaus, Jake and me.
Another trip to this short but pretty dryish canyon out the back of Clarence, and a stop at Goochs Crater on the way back
Then it was over the ridge and out to Goochs Crater
All in all a pleasant winters day in the bush
“Life must be lived as play.” – Plato.
Access: Getting to the carpark involves a dirt road with a few rough bits. Nothing extreme but a 4WD is handy just for the ground clearance and traction
Navigation: Navigation is fairly straight forward.
Map: Wollangambe 1:25000 These can be purchased at Lithgow Tourist information center or online for around $10
Time: Less than 2hrs with a bit of time for lunch on the clifflines at the end
Depending on which map you look at or who you talk to this is either the Wollangambe or Dumbano fire trail. Open source and google maps seem to show it as Dumbano fire trail. Wollangambe fire trail is what I always knew it as and makes more sense to me as at the end you lookout over the ‘Gambe just upstream of Wollangambe crater.
Anyhoo, whatever you want to call it, it’s a pleasant stroll with some stunning backdrops.
Turn off the Bells Line of road at the ZigZag Railway onto the Newnes Forest rd. Follow this along for around 4.8km and turn off to the right at the bottom of a hill below Bald Trig.
Unfortunitely the start of the fire trail looks a bit like a rubish tip where grubs seem to dump there soft drink bottles and coffee cups… But it gets better.
Set your odeometer here, you want to stay on the main fire trail but there are a couple of intersections where it is easy to take the wrong fork.
At Approximately 1km keep left (right follows the old Wolgan Railway easment around Bald trig to the sand quarry.)
At Approximately 2.5km stay right then at approximately 6.4km stay left. After a little over 8km you will come to the locked gate (GR 499952).
Park up and follow the old road on foot past the gate. The first couple of hundered meters is steep then it is easy going along a flattish ridge for 2km.
Either side of the ridge are sheer sided gullies and at the end of the ridge is a rocky point (GR 505931) in between where these two tributaries meet the Wollangambe.
This is a nice spot of a bit of lunch (or as we did today cheese on smith chips…) there are some great views with Mt Banks straight ahead, Mt wilson slightly off to the left and Bell out to the right. And the wild Wollangambe can be heard gurgling below.
For the more adventurous this route, with some off track navigation at the end is the shorter way to access the Wollangambe crater which is usually done as a over night bushwalk from Bell. (its not a real crater but a circular depension holding a hanging swamp. I think it is the reminants of a large billabong type feature made in a sweep of the wollangambe. It sure looks craterish from aerial photos and satelite images though.)
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. First aid training 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.