Rocky Creek again

08-03-2019

Madie, Ethan, Dave@, Kylie, Shauna, Roy, Mark, Dick, Luke, Joel and meeeeeee

I’ve said it before I’ll say it again Rocky creek is my favouritest canyon ever. I’ve been through it many times and hearing the the little waterfall on entry never fails to give me goose bumps and remind me of the first time Scott dragged us through there to spark my canyon addiction.

The light is always magical, even at night

Anyhoo with people coming from all directions several meeting places were teed up, things got confused, no one had reception but eventually we all met up at the Rocky Creek car park. Late but keen.

A quick meet and greet and then down the hill and into Twister.

How excited do they look. ©Madie

We head on into Twister right on dusk and the light quickly fades and the glowworms begin to appear.

We found a way to stop Madie giggling… briefly

And just like that we drop out of Twister and make our way down to Rocky Creek

The glowworms are out and the crew spend some time just checking them out, but we are still on the walking track and I try to explain they are only going to get better.

I don’t care how many times I see glowworms I will always be stuck with a sense of awe. In a canyon setting that is amplified a thousand fold.

Most canyons around these parts have glowworms, especially at night but Rocky is next level

There are 7(possibly 8) species of glowworm found throughout the world. 5 of those are found only in Australia and New Zealand and are the larvae of a fungus gnat, most live of fungus and their glow is redundant . The ones endemic to NSW are Arachnocampa richardsae and they are still predatory. Their light attracts small insects that get trapped in silk snares they trail down off the roof which they then consume.

For the most part if they are hungry they glow brighter and just after a feed they dim.

They are sensitive to noise and light and will turn off to hide

The pupae also glows but the males dim and stop glowing altogether just before they emerge as adults, while the female’s glow gets more intense to ensure they have a choice of males waiting as she emerges.

The adult flies can’t do much but reproduce, they can’t eat, they can barely fly but they do flash little lights to attract their mate.

Anyhoo, Glowworms are freakin cool ok.

But on we go
 

Dave@ Ethan and Madie under a ceiling of glowworms
Ethan under the glow ©Madie

Head torches, glowworms and stars
And we are back to the start and climb out to change into semi dry clothes for the slog up the hill

Broad tailed gecko, AKA Southern leaf tailed gecko AKA Sydney leaf tailed gecko AKA phyllurus platurus. What ever you call him he was a cool little dude Kylie spotted on the walk out

Back at the cars we revel in the night but some have long drives home and some have an early morning for their next adventure.

Party Size: 11

Time: 3hrs 40

Surround yourself with exceptional people, experience exceptional things

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Disclaimer: While canyoning at night poses pretty much the same risks as doing it in the daylight the consequences of things going wrong is much greater. Without the beams of sunlight to warm you between darker swim sections Hypothermia is a heightened danger. Limited peripheral vision may mask hazards that would otherwise be easily identified.

Navigation can also be much harder. You should be very familiar the canyon and it’s entry/exit tracks before attempting it.t.

It’s also worth noting the creatures out and about at this time of day are creatures of darkness. They don’t want thousands of lumins shone on them and massive groups disturbing their peace. We kept our beams set on low and trod as lightly as possible. As you always should in these pristine environments.

*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

Twilight Canyon

06/01/2019

Madie, Mark, Jen, Gibbo, Steve, Sterlo and meeeee

We’d just finished an epic day canyoning at Glen Davis. It had been a big day in scorching heat, we were driving home exhausted.

Oh course we started planning our next trip.

I wouldn’t mind doing Twilight some time this season says I.

Wanna do it next weekend replied Madie

Wheels were set in motion…

Anyhoo a ragtag group of adventurous folk meet up in the camp ground, the plan is to ride our bikes down the Wolgan river maintenance trail then stash the bikes and find a way up the hill. A bit of asking around had us confident our pass was viable and the bikes, in theory would make the haul down and back up the river faster, if not easier.

The ride down was fairly non-eventful and we were soon stashing bikes. The heat had already kicked in and Mark took a slight detour to lay in the river to cool off.

We follow a steep ridge littered with loose scree to the base of the mighty Wolgan cliffline. Breaching the cliff was surprisingly easy. Our original plan had been to scramble out onto the tops, across a ridge to descend into the top of the canyon. With the sun blazing overhead we opted to stay in a shady gully and found this gave us a relatively easy way onto the halfway ledge that runs above the canyon all the way up to the start.

After a hot haul in this pool was so welcome

Mark cooling off, Sterlo dropping in with Steve on belay while Madie checks out the cave
the top section reminds me a bit of sheepdip canyon
But then the walls close in

and it drops into a stunning slot

The jump through the arch was a definite highlight

And then the canyon opens up. A short bit of boulder hopping and we scramble out onto the ridge for an easy walk back to the bikes and hence back to the cars

Wanna sit in the river and drink beer? Oh shit yeah!
All canyon trips should finish like this

Party size: 7: 6 experienced 1 semi experienced

Time: I did 7hrs car to car relaxed pace with a bit of laying in the river prior to the ride out but Steve busted a deraileur so Gibbo had to do some bush mechanics to convert it to single speed and I rode back down to assist with carting packs once they had it going so the group did 8hrs total

Live your life governed by a compass, not a clock:- -Stephen Covey

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*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

Breakfast Creek

12-12-18

Jen, Mark, David-Stephen and meeee

Jen put out the call to see who wanted to do a canyon on her birthday. Much banter ensued. Problem was it was it was going to be mid week. 

Then after a couple of big weeks the boss suggested I take a day in liue. Woohoo. How’s Wednesday suit he said? More Woo. Longer Hooo.

The organisational banter continued online and before we knew it it was a dress up party.

Not your usual canyoning attire

Anyhoo,  Breakfast creek is a short trip with a couple of nice sections in it


Dropping in
Portal into the strangeness and charm
Latest styles for the fashion conscious canyoner

One of the nicer bits

You may be cool but you will never be Zoot Suit canyoning Baboon cool

Unless you are a penis headed canyoning morman cool


Environmentally friendly anchors to maintain the wilderness experience


A quick look up another canyon (Quick Dip?) on the opposite side of Rocky creek, I’m sure there was a deep pool at the bottom of this when I last visited it 

All little girls want a dress up party
New album drops March 5th. Or sumfink 
I’ve done this climb twice previously. Once I disturbed a venomous snake on one of the ledges and the other we got stuck in a massive hail storm


Mandy and Della climbing out in the hail some time around the mid-late 90s

Another fun day in the bush with great people

Party size 4: All experienced

Time: 6hr car to car with some photo phaffing and hi jinx

“and I am convinced that the only people worthy of consideration in this world are the unusual ones. For the common folks are like the leaves of a tree, and live and die unnoticed.”  The Scarecrow

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Starlight canyon and a quick look at Devils Pinch exit chamber

20/10/2018

Gaz, Jodie, Mckenzie and meeee

The forecast was for rain, lots of it topped by severe storms…

Gaz had been keen to do Starlight canyon and I suggested the MTB/canyon combo rather than the full loop. If the tunnel was dry we’d get all the way up to the waterfall. And if it was not abseiling in from the top is not the best idea anyway.

Anyhoo. Dawn came sunny and warm and we crossed the Wolgan and pedalled our way down the management trail.

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Even with a detour through the ruins the bikes turned an hour long walk into a 20min ride.

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There always seems to be a handy tree to help crossing the Wolgan

Almost immediately we ran into this little beauty

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She was a bit of a poser and almost seemed disappointed when we took the cameras away

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Entering the Amazing Wallaby Tunnel

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The light was pretty special today

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There was a big colony of bats above us, as evident by the poo floating on the water

This use to be our go to winter trip before realising the impact to the Bats. The tunnel is an important hibernation cave for bent wing bats so the canyon is now officially off limits over the winter months.

I’ve done this one quite a few times and while I’ve heard tales of people be caught out by high water levels  personally I’ve never had water over ankle deep before

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The layer of batshit wasn’t the most pleasant part of the trip

Just before the little climb up/down in the tunnel the water became too deep/cold for us to continue today so we turned back early

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Sitting on the halfway ledge enjoying the sun and a bite to eat when around that corner deep down the valley came a plane flying right at us…

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Banking hard left to make the turn up the valley.

These guys did a few laps, some of the were so low it seemed we we looking down on them.

And then as it was only early and the predicted storm was still a few hours away we followed the cliff line around for a look up Devils Pinch

 

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The better way to do this combo would be to abseil down Devils Pinch and then reverse up Starlight.

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You can only get a few hundred meters up the bottom before you a blocked by a waterfall but it is a spectacular section.

Once again more water in here than usual and after a coupe of cold wades and tight canyon sections we were startled by a gawdaweful rachet and something dashing past us into the next pool.

A young lyrebird… Not sure if it fell in or was nested here and got trapped by the rising waters after a wet couple of weeks but it was was panicked and trying to swim and not doing very well.

Producing a small hand towel Mckenzie and Jodie caught it as genitally as they could and carried it back out past the deeper pools to release it at the lower end of the canyon.

For a bird renown for mimicking the best sounds they sure produce horrible pitches when they are scared.

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Party size: 4 (3 experienced I beginner)

Time: 6.5hrs relaxed pace bit of photophaffing

“There is a hidden message in every waterfall. It says, if you are flexible, falling will not hurt you!”
― Mehmet Murat ildan

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A pleasant little Nightmare

02-06-2018

Marchelle Anna Pete and meeeeee.

With the worst of the scrub still recovering the effects of last years hazard reduction burn this is a pleasant trip at the moment.

I pull into the meeting spot and note someone is missing. Ev broke down on the highway, Marchelle informs us. She wont be coming.

Buggar.

But we load ropes and packs into my ute and off we go, weaving our way down into the mighty Wolgan valley in between green pastures, towering cliff lines and Kamikaze kangaroos.

We park at the start of the Ruins walk for Newnes shale works and make our way down river to everyones favorite little pass, The pipeline track

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Some carefull tip toes to keep our feet dry on a cold morning

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Why you’d need to carve an arrow here is beyond me. Its a clear track and there is no other way to go…..

Well that’s a good way to warm up. We gain the top and make a quick side trip to the lookout.

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Looking back up the Wolgan towards Mistry Mountain

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Last months hazard burn on the otherside seems to have added some colour to the cliffscapes. Marchelle looking down the valley towards Big Glassy

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©Marchelle

After a brief stop we continued up the Pipeline trail spearing off just before it heads down green gully towards Glen Davis.

The trail out along the ridge between the Wolgan and the Capertee is reasonably clear indicating the canyons up this way are getting more visitation than they use to. The views out over the Capertee towards Tayan Pic are superb but soon we veer off trail and make our own way along a side ridge.

In the trackless terrain it is easy to veer off on the wrong ridge and end up in the much wetter Devils Pinch canyon but with the scrub mostly clear after the Haz burn following the right ridge is much more obvious.

Before long we begin descending into the gully that will soon drop into th etop of the canyon. We scramble around the first abseil described in the Jamison guide and find a big tree with an bright yellow tape anchor right at the start of the main constriction.

There has been much talk about using Single Rope Techniques (SRTs) on the ozcanyons group over the last few years and they seems to be gaining more momentuem, especially in the newer generation of canyoners. It’s the norm in most other countries. Thou other countries also tend to have either much higher water flows or much less prevelent anchor options.

Though I trained in their use and used SRT way back in my brief stint as a guide and it made sence to me in thate situation for private groups I’ve always preferred the throw and go, loop the rope through the anchor and every one abseil on double ropes.

When heading out with Tim’s group I’m happy to fit in with their SRT method of isolating the stands with a butterfly knot and people abseiling on alternate stands.

Last weekend I attended a training day with the Upper Blue Mountains Club where we practiced setting SRT with a releasable anchor. IE isolating the abseil strand with the Munter/mule.

The advantage of this is if someone gets stuck on rope for whatever reason you can undo the mule under load and use the munter hitch as a belay to lower them to the ground.

Now in mumblecoughmumble years of canyoning I’ve never come across a situation where I needed to do that but it got me thinking (must be getting old or the weekday job of Safety Cordinator is rubbing off on my weekend self) What if that 1 in 100000 case came along. Sure there are other methods to preform a rescue but are they as safe and as quick and if they didn’t work would I be kicking myself for not using the “Rigging for Rescue” technique?

Anyhoo Anna is pretty keen to put this technique to use in every canyon trip she leads and I thought it might be a good idea to run this trip that way for practice (Ev had done the training day too, so it’s a shame she missed it.)

So I rig the first drop. I really had to think about it as it was a long abseil requiring 2 ropes working out where to put the munter so the knott would not impede it took more thought than it should have, It’s pretty bloody obvious but I guess thats why you practice these thing is relativel benign situations so these it become second nature.

All sorted I head down first.

Hey Chardie,  Calls up I from a ledge halfway down. This isn’t where we normally drop in.

It’s a very nice abseil down over 2 big ledges and around a corner.

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Marachelle on single rope

If it wasn’t for the very dry conditions this would land in a pool that looks like it might get over waist deep, probably the reason we don’t normally drop in there but today was dry enough to get around.

Was a bit worried about the pull down around the corner and over the ledges but a test pull indicated it should come fine and Anna stopped on the last ledge to pull the knot down to her so it owuld be less likely to catch.

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Anna. Last person comes double rope as usual.

A short down climb and we round a slight corner to see the cliff face we usually come down directly above the next short drop.

This one is shortish, maybe 10m but its a tad narrow, and I’m not. Big shoulders and stomache bones or sumfink

This results in some gentle exfoliation as I squeeze on down.

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Chardie about to get to the narrow bit. There is some balancing on sticks to avoid more than wet toes at the bottom

From here there is short tunnel like bit and some careful bridging

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Marchelle staying high to avoid wet feet

The canyon opens out for a bit with some short abseils and tricky down climbs. We are blown away at how dry it is. Little holes that usually involve contorionistic moves to stay dry are now little more than damp sand and sometimes not even that.

Then there is 3 long abseils in a row. All of them can be done as shorter ones using intrim anchors on ledges and chock stones but they are nice to do as long ones and the rope pull seems fine on all of them.

The first of these involves a tricky start then some delicate moves to stay above some chock stones (going under would make the pull down difficult) then round the corner and down down down.

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Chardie towards the bottom

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Marchelle about 2/3rds down

The next one use to be rigged off the log but pull down was very dificult. An eye bolt has been installed backed up by 2 very old climbing nuts whose wires seem very rusted… IF you are going to use that anchor I’d take nuts to replace the ones there.

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A tricky start onto a ledge, around a corner, over a boulder and another tricky start and a narrow slot . Seems to be a theme in nightmare.

 

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Looking out the dark final chamber over the Wolgan

The final abseil is awesome but lands in nut deep water. We opt to have lunch in the chamber at the top figuring it would be better to eat up here while we are dry than to get wet and then stop to eat down there in the wind.

It was a nice spot for a bit to eat.

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©Marchelle

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©Marchelle

3/4 of the way down the last abseil I run into the spot of bother and think maybe I’ll need Anna to put the lowering me down method into practice. There is a knot in the rope below me. Usually no big deal. Just stop pull the rope up and undo it (tip for young players. Stop early and pull the knot up to you. The closer you get to the knot the harder it can be to get slack and if you abseil down onto the knot you’ve got buckleys of getting it undone)

Usually when the rope knots itself it just a few loops caught on themselves and a bit of a shake get is clear. This had somehow done a proper job on itself and I had trouble getting it undone while hanging in space. I was nearly ready to call out for Anna to pull the mule and lower me when I got it sorted and continued down.

Now what if I hadn’t been able to undo the knot or hadn’t been on a lowerable system?

I hadn’t yet locked off properly and was trying to undo the knot left handed so I could lock off  to get both hands free as my first option. Second option would be to prusik back up to the ledge or top and sort it out there so I’m confindent I could get myself out of that situation. But what if it happened to someone less experienced or without those skill sets? (Other than the obvious everyone on a private group should get themselves those skills sets. Good point but we were all beginners once.)

Those at the top could deploy the spare rope, someone could even abseil down to me to help out. That all takes time and hang syndrome becomes a factor. Abseiling down to help out puts the rescuer at risk too. So much to consider.

Anyhoo I clear the knot and continue down

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Looking up from the bottom of the last abseil

I land in the pool. It’s cold. My outie becomes and innie and I make my way to the side to belay the others

 

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Chardie

 

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Anna on the last drop ©Marchelle

With a bit of team work the first person down can pull the others across to the dry bosun chair style. if all works well. Chardie had rigged a bit too much friction and struggled to pull him self across and ended up in the drink. Anna and Marchelle managed to stay dry.

From here we follow the base of the cliffs around and back down to the car.

All up another great day in the bush with great company.

Party size: 4 all experienced

Time: 6hrs 50min car to car.

I wish I was a glowworm. Glowworms are never glum. How could you possibly be sad when the sun shines out your bum : Anon

How much did the rigging for rescue slow us down? Last year with a slightly bigger group the trip took us 6hrs 23min car to car. Today practicing what’s still fairly new to us took us 6hrs 49min. Though there is probably a bunch of other factors in there as well

 

So what are my thoughts? I’m still undecided.

Anna was keen to only lock off one side of the rope and keep the other stand at the top to avoid confusion.

I prefer to do a munter/mule in both strands to allow people to rig up alternate strands and quicken things up. If you then need to lower then the person on the spare strand gets off and  it’s quick to undo that one altogether and lower the other. Which is fine until you have 2 ropes joined with a knot at the top and then it’s not posible.

So here what I see as the pros and cons. Feel free to comment if you have other ideas.

Pros of releasable SRT using Munter/mule

  • Simple to set up and fairly quick to tie once you practice a bit
  • Ability to quickly and safely lower a stuck abseiler down to the ground.
  • Ability set the end of the abseil strand just on ground/water level to make getting off the rope at the bottom quick and easy

Cons of releasable SRT using Munter/mule

  • It does take longer to tie and untie (not to mention it’s a ugly looking knot)
  • Rope wear and tear. A single strand taking full weight obviously is under more strain than if you were abseiling on double strand.
  • Chardie pointed out abseiling on double rope with an isolating knot at the top gives you some back up if you cut one strand on a sharp edge. Not an advantage if you use throw and go with out isolating.
  • Only possible to use one strand if the abseil involves joining ropes.
  • Can be tricky if the anchor is close to/below the edge but not too much more than normal.

So I’m still tossing this one up.  the ability to quickly and safely lower a stuck abseiler down to the ground is a big consideration though if you have a competent person at the top with a spare rope is it that much quicker and safer?

If the stuck person is unconcious I’d say yes.

What is the liklihood of that happening though? And does that likelihood justify the slightly longer more complicated set up of each and every abseil?

Also when lowering do you increase the risk of having the rope fail while rubbing over unprotected edges fully wieghted?

I don’t know.

Is it appropriate for all situations? Maybe not.

I’m leaning towards it  being a valuable tool that is appropriate for certain applications but should be backed up by various other skills and knoweldge.

Being able to set the end of the rope just to water height is a big advantage in highwater but we don’t tend to have that in Australia.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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Afternoon trip to Alcatraz

08-02-2018

Catherine, Chris, Dick, Joe and me

Making the most of Daylights saving we did a quick after work trip through Alcatraz

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Chris

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Catherine

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Joe

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Dick

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Party Size: 5. 2 experiences 3 noobs (all had abseil and outdoor experience.)

Time: 2 hrs car to car

The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.

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*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

Surefire Canyon

31-12-2017

Julie, Madie and me.

Despite doing the nearby Heart Attack canyon a couple of times for some reason I’d never done Surefire.

Meggsie always said it was his favourite canyon, mind you that was back in the days when you could drop a car on top of the exit ridge and then drive pretty much to the start.

Now there is about a 7km walk in and a 10km walk out.

This is one road closure that frustrates me a bit. I understand closing trails that were becoming rutted out messes but this is a flat ridge top trail with little chance of rutting out. The “End of the World” Lookout at the very end of the trail where Deans Creek Merges with Rocky Creek and they flow into the Wolgan is jaw droppingly awesome. Oh well if you want to see it now it’s a 12km walk each way along a flat dull fire trail so plenty of time to enjoy your wilderness experience i suppose.

 

Anyhoo.

When Julie asked if I wanted to do Surefire I thought it would be a great way to finish off a big year of canyoning and I jumped at the chance. We met Madie at the Zig Zag, pile gear into her ute and head off for a big day of adventure.

The walk out along the original fire trail is as straight forward as it gets. The 1970 mineral exploration trail that branches off that and leads out to the end of the ridge overlooking the canyon is very overgrown and the start is hard to spot unless you know where to look. We lost the trail a couple of times but the ridge is easy to follow and we’d regain the trail with out too much drama.

At the end of the trail we spend a bit of time looking for the borehole put in by Coalex to confirm mineral reserves in the 70’s. I had driven out here 20+years ago and the stand- pipe at the end of the road was obvious but for some reason we couldn’t find it today.

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We did find what I believe is a surveyor’s “Lock Spit” Which would have marked the corner of gridlines on the old map

We scramble down to the cliff line and needed to traverse back and forward a bit to find a ramp that would get us all the way down to the creek. Once down it was a easy stroll down a nice gully until the creek dropped into the dark canyon below.

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Looks innocuous enough

We suit up, Madie and I opting to go wetsuits, Julie perhaps smarter in just a shark skin thermal top. It was a tad warm.

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Madie on the first abseil

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Julie happy to be in the canyon

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There are 3 or 4 abseils in close succession. Hey Craig get a photo of this. Calls Madie as she turns herself upside down.

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I tried a new anti fog cleaner on my camera before I came. Unfortunately it seems to have caused some issues with the focus.

Despite the focusing issues the light in the canyon was superb. I can see why Meggsie liked it so much.

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Julie at the top of drop 3

There follows a short walk inter-spaced with some scrambles along a stunning section of canyon.

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I guess with the road being closed the long walk in and out has meant the canyon has retained an almost untouched feel to it

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And then we came to a section where stick jams create a false floor and there is an anchor set up on a large log wedged across the canyon walls.

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Julie on the serene 4th abseil

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Julie on rope descending into the dark chamber

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Madie at the top of the 4th abseil

This chamber was dark enough that Madie chose to put her head torch on but just as she began her descent a shaft of light beamed down to illuminate her. It was kinda magical

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it had been almost pitch black when me and Julie descended

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Fluking the light

More glorious canyon continued

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Julie in a deep narrow section of canyon

We came to another drop we needed to abseil. Tom’s track notes say it may be able to be downclimbed but we found it very slippery and perhaps the log jammed in the drop had moved… either way we thought it best to rope up.

A short, cold swim through the narrowest bit of canyon followed, the only real swim of the trip.

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looking through to Julie on the other end of the swim

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Madie in the swim

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Madie emerging from the swim, head torch blazing

from here the canyon opens up slightly but is still high quality

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And green

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And awesome

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And grand

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And breath taking

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And stuff

We eventually reach the lunch cave and stop for a well earned bite to eat.

the usual exit is to head back up stream 300m and take and side creek up a gully, perform some dodgy acrobatics to climb out, then wander up through pleasant coachwood forest to regain the ridge top and old fire trail.

I know an easier exit, Julie informs us. 400m downstream is a short steep gully that gives easy access to the top then it’s a short distance up the ridge to the firetrail. We took it 8years ago, much easier.

OK, we make our way down with some boulder hopping and route finding then head up the chosen gully.

The gully wasn’t as quite as simple as promised… Looks like the 8 years since her last visit has filled it with deadfall. Clambering over, through and up it zapped a bit of energy.

Well for me and Julie it did. Madie seems to have an endless supply of energy and positivity  so long as there is regular supply of chips and chocolate. That’s pretty… This is fun….Wow, that’s cute….

We come to a  short, “interesting” climb up through a hole. I slip up with a little bit of grunting and groaning (It’s been a long time since I considered myself a rock climber) and then drop a rope for the ladies, because that’s the kind of gentleman I am, or sumfink.

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Your truly hauling his arse up the dodgy climb in the gully that avoids the usual dodgy climb photo ©Madie Paige

Eventually we find ourselves on a wide ledge and Julie leads us back toward the canyon, rather than continuing up the gully.

There’s a old bushwalkers saying around these parts “The Nose always goes… Sometimes.”

We follow Julie back to around the corner to the nose of the ridge past a narrow, steep ramp that might be doable, to a wide ramp with easy walk up access to the top. Works everytime. Occasionally.

The view from the top, down Surefire gully to where it empties into Rocky Creek is top notch and we take a moment to grab a drink and soak in the views.

 

Now it’s just up this open ridge to the top of the knoll and the old fire trail is just over the other side. Julie explains.

Up we go in high spirits.

Except the knoll has a false summit, and then another, and another…. The higher we go the thicker the scrub gets. I’ve got scratches all over me, Julie is cut to bits, Madie is still smiling and having a great time….

We finally get to the top of the not so grassy knoll and give a sigh of relief at finding the old firetrail.

Now it’s just a 10km boring fire trail slog back to the car.

Let me know when you see the gate. Says Madie at some stage. Oh don’t worry I’ll be whoo-hooing says i

Sometime later, it may have been 1.5hrs it might have been 40 days and 40 nights I kinda lost track of time but eventually I let out a whoohoo.

Madie pushes past me. Race youes to the car. Call she as she breaks into a sprint.

Seriously too much energy… We “let” her win

all in all a big day and a great, if somewhat short, canyon. I’m sure in another week or so I’ll admit the walk in and out was worth it 🙂

 

Party Size: 3 all experienced

Time:9.5hrs car to car

Doing what you want is freedom. Liking what you do is happiness.

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Pipeline Canyon

21-10-2017

Tim, Allan, Sheila, Marchelle, Ev, John, Peter and me

I jumped in on this trip last minute but, as always, Tim runs well organised and welcoming trips.

A lot of rain on Friday and a drizzlely morning had the Wolgan river up a little but the fog lifted and the sun broke through on our way up the pipeline track.

The views from the to were as stunning as always but we wasted no time in continuing on.

The short cut in is new to me. It misses the top section of canyon but takes you in via a small side canyon that meets Pipeline canyon just after the lower section closes in.

We arrive at our first abseil point. Do we put wetsuits on here? someone asks

You can if you want, says Tim. But we can do without

Will we know the spot to put them on down further?

Sure, just before you experience a sudden drop in temperature and an increase in wetness…

Tim should have taken his own advice, He and Al went through sans wetsuits. There was some cold bits…

 

Anyhoo

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First abseil drops us at the pretty little pool in the side creek

I go forward and set the rope for the next drop which is done two stages. I descend the first then realise the rope isn’t lone enough for the second so I can up for the second rope to be tied on before continuing down

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Al on rope

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Now, I chose to go left and abseil beside the waterfall. Al gets to the over hang and has no choice but straight down and not only gets wet but gets a slap in the face from the moss and slime growing down the centre of the falls. Good times

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a different angle of Ev on the same drop

The spare ropes are thrown down and while the others make their way down I head down to set the next abseil.

I encounter a small drop just before the junction with the main canyon. It would be possible to down climb on tree roots but it’s slippery so I set the rope and drop in.

While waiting I decide it would be a good place to put my wetty on.

I do that. More waiting. Fire off some photos. more waiting. Hmm

I hear voices from what sounds like above, sounds like someone is setting a rope. Shit maybe the rest of the group stayed out of the creek and are abseiling in to the main canyon from above. Not a problem except Tim likes to use single rope techniques in his group so my rope has a stopper knot at the top. I start thinking I’m going to have to climb back up to undo it…

The other thing Tim likes to use is walkytalkies. Two way communication in these situations is awesome. Crisis avoided, they are still making their way down the creek.

I still hear voices, not just in my head either.

Ducking around the corner I see another group coming in from the upper section.

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The rest of the gang get to the junction

The two groups arrive at the junction pretty much at the same time. How’s that for a slightly out of the way canyon early in the wet season?

Anyhoo they are a smaller group so we let them play through and then follow them down.

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Pipeline canyon just down stream of the junction with the side creek

Pipeline canyon is a value for money experience. Lots of smallish abseils, some with tricky starts in a very pretty creek.

Waterlevels are up a little after the rain on Friday but not that noticably

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Looking back up the canyon to Al on one of the longer drops

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Ev making her way down the canyon

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The infamous log abseil. I’m starting to think every canyoner should wear something blue, just for the photographers.

 

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John making his way through the canyon

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Pipeline Canyon formation

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Al as the canyon opens out a little

We catch back up to the other group at the top of the largest abseil and enjoy a bit of sunlight as we wait.

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There are a couple of options for this one, we choose true right for an easier rope pull

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the next drop is just a few meters down stream.

You can stay dry be traversing a ledge on the left. Calls Tim

I drop down and begin heading left and promptly fall in. It’s a little brisk.

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Multiple abseils happening at once

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Al had opted not to put his wet suit on. No option here but to get wet.

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This one is trickier than it looks and you swing back in under the waterfall, ensuring a good soaking before a deep swim with tricky climb out

We scramble out into the sun shine. 1 Abseil to go.

Al decides to take the spare rope and rig up the next one.

I wait for the other but after a short stay in the sun am not too keen on swimming back across to belay.

Sheila arrives.

Do you really want a belay?

Yes please.

Ohhh. OK….

I swim back across and climb up and wedge myself in above the water. It’s still cold..

I’m sure there was a bit of posing for photos as the rest of the crew come on down. Marchelle has a couple of ropes in her pack and as she swings under the water fall the extra weight has her go briefly upside down, giving her a bit of extra time in the cold embrace of the falls as she swings back and forth a few times.

Then every one is down and I pull and coil the rope, then have to jump in after it as my cold hand drop it into the pool…

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The top of the last drop is one of the more awkward abseil starts. It looks like it should be straight forward but all the angles are wrong or something. Marchelle going over the edge

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I could say I was going for an arty shot of Tim negotiating the start with the gang watching from below but…. lens fogged up

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Not a bad spot for lunch

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Last time with Ed and Tal I think we strayed onto the lower track, which is fine just a little exposed in places and misses this fine ledge

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And these amazballz cliffline features

All in all another greet day out in the bush with a greet bunch of people

Party size 8: all experienced

Time: 6hr 15min at a very relaxed pace.

I can’t go away with you on a rock climbing weekend. What if something’s on TV and it’s never shown again: Smudge- Outdoor type

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Newnes Canyon, AKA Starlight, AKA the Amazing Wallaby Tunnel

07-10-2017

Ed, TJ, Sav, Tina, Rob, Autal and me

Most people do Newnes ( or Starlight) Canyon as a round trip, climbing up the pipeline trail, working their way around the ridges and abseiling in. And don’t get me wrong that’s a great way of doing it but there is a lot to be said about doing it as an up and back from the bottom.

The canyon is off limits over winter as it is an important hybernation cave for bentwing bats and disturbing them during their sleepy time invariable leads to a percentage of them dying as there is no food around food them to replenish the energy it takes to come out of hybernation.

Anyhoo, I had planned to do this earlier in the year on the last weekend before the closure except in the week leading up NPs put out a notice that they were hazard reduction burning and all the canyons in the area were closed…….

Fast forward to the other end of hybernation season and we were good to go.

The plan was to ride down the maintenance trail from the locked gate, stash the bikes then make up way up to the cliffline and into the canyon.

I’ve done it this way several times and have always been able to get all the way up to the bottom of the abseil point (the top of the canyon) no dramas. However, last summer people were reporting deep swims in the tunnel and while that is normal after heavy rain the fact that the water hung around post rain had me thinking maybe something in the floor or blockage had changed.

Not tha I was too worried about long swims after the dry winter we’ve had but the thought of a deep wade through stagnant, bat shit filled water wasn’t that inviting. I needn’t have worried as the tunnel was as dry as a nun’s nasty.

But I get ahead of myself

While bikes arn’t necessary they do turn an hour long fire trail walk either way into the 20min ride and the ride down was uneventful, almost. Tina had a small off at the bottom of a loose down hill on a sandy corner and hurt her elbow. As a mad trail runner that didn’t bother her. a sore elbow would not stop her from running so no worries. We hide the bikes in the thick scrub and head across the river which is about as low as I’ve ever seen it.

 

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A bridge over the wolgan

Up the hill we went taking a bit more of a meandering route than I usually take which made the climb up fairly simple, then we took in the views down the Wolgan from the base of the upper cliff  before working our way around into the canyon.

 

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Looking down the magnificant Wolgan Valley

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Entering into the lower canyon is like entering another world. The micro climate is completely different to the scrub out on the exposed hill side

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This is magical, Flynny, says Sav as we make our way up through ferns, coachwoods and vines so big that at first you think you are stepping over a fallen tree, only to realise its a living vine.

I smile to myself, this is just the appetiser and I think that is the reason I like doing the reverse trip of Newnes Canyon. The starlight section is so awesome that when you come through it from the top you are in such awe of the top section that you kind of over look how spectacular this bottom section is.

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There are a few scrambling sections but everytime you would otherwise be blocked tree roots and vines have grown into the perfect pass up.

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And then, just as you are thinking the walls are petering out and the canyon is about to open out the upper cliffs encroach and suddenly the canyon closes in

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A lovely narrow section of canyon follows and again people remark how awesome it is. But again I know it gets better

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Autal in the long section of deep, narrow canyon

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Tina with head torch on as the walls get higher and the canyon gets darker

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The canyon breifly opens out and what was dry, bare and sandy suddenly becomes damp, lush and green

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Tina in the green section

And then we reach the Amazing Wallaby tunnel, better known as the Starlight section, high up the walls close in so much, become so twisted, and are jammed with chock stones that it forms a high narrow tunnel.

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Autal and Rob entering the tunnel

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I feel on previous trips the glowworms were far more abundant, maybe that has to do with the dry winter, maybe it’s just the time of year as I think it’s around mating season for the flies, maybe it’s just modern headlights are so bright now you don’t notice the worms unless you tuen them off and give your eyes a few minutes to adjust, or maybe the bats had a wormy feast when they awoke

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After 300m or so of tight twisting tunnel the roof opens back up and just around the corner is the waterfall that is the normal absiel in point.

I have known people to absiel in here but be blocked by deep water in the tunnel so they had to prusik back out and abseil in further down. I also know of at least 1 group who pulled their ropes without checking the tunnel was passable and were forced to spend a couple of days huddled here waiting for rescue…. When absieling in the first person need check all the way through the tunnel before getting others to absiel or pulling ropes.

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And after taking time to enjoy just being there we leave Ed and TJ to get about photo phaffing with their good cameras and the rest of us make our way back down

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Autal in a narrow squeeze admiring the bats far above

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Autal in the green section

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We have a bit of lunch and then explore up a side canyon called Upside Down canyon.

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Bottom section of Upside Down Canyon.

The bottom section of Upside Down involves some tricky climbs up through small holes. I made the first look far harder than it was mainly as I forgot had the go pro on a chest mount and had to do some contortioning so as not to scracth the crap out of it.

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Rob squeezing up through one of the holes. It’s about 7foot straight down, if you squint you can make out Tina down below him

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Ron in Upside Down canyon

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Our path was blocked by this small waterfall

I remeber the water fall from previous visits and  started brisging up, the walls were a tad slippery, I had no doubt we could get everyone up, what I did doubt thou was getting people back down safely without ropes… I’m sure there use to be a log or something here to make the down climb simpler.

Anyhoo despite knowing the top section has some pretty bit I decide it’s not worth the risk today so we turned tail and headed back down.

Ed and TJ are still phaffing so we sit back and just take in the surrounds

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Honey comb walls. we sat and watched the bird dart in an out of pockets and holes

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Supurb Lyrebird on the wing

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Then it was time to head on out

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I’d noticed this massive vine knotted around the base of the tree on the way up and was hope to catch it in the right light on the way back down. The light did not disappoint. Another advantage of doing the canyon as an up and back the changing light can be magical

 

 

 

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And before long we are back at the Wolgan river

The ride back up the valley is a bit more difficult than the ride down but for a mountain biker it’s still better than trudging along a fire trail.

Party size: 7 mixed canyoning experience levels but all experienced outdoors

Timing: 6hr 20 with lots of photo phaffing and chilling out

 

People talk about their comfort zone as though it’s a place they want to stay don’t they realise your comfort zone is the most dangerous place to be

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