6 dopes go to 4 Dope Canyon

05-05-18

Chardie, Autal, Al, Madie, Maarten and me

Ok I wanted to get my young nephew out to do Tiger Snake canyon and invited the others along for the trip. But 2 things happened

a. Nathan broke a couple of fingers, so he wouldn’t be able to abseil and

b. an alert cames through saying the area would be closed due to Hazard reduction burns

That also ruled out my back up plans and after a bit of thought I threw up the idea of Four Dope canyon.

It was going to be a big walk for a shortish canyon but  I had enjoyed the neighboring Dead Tree Canyon last year and it was meant to be a similar sort of trip. Plus it’s one I’d not done before and I’m always keen on checking out new adventures.

The others were a little dubious. They had asked around and got reports back saying it was a very ordinary canyon and not worth doing. Oh well I’m going anyway. In the end they came too.

Madie had been introduced to Maarten somehow and asked if he could tag along. He was a backpacker out from the Netherlands and keen to do some canyoning, he had already done solo trips to Claustral and Kanangra and so Autal picked him up from Paramatta station and now we were a group of 6.

Slight hickup early on as Al rang. Where are you guys at? Asked he

My place. says I

I’m looking for it and there is no 33 Shaft st….

Wow I’d moved out of shaft street 3 years ago. My tired brain must have malfunctioned (it often does)when I texted the meeting place through to him… That doesn’t bode well.

Anyhoo. We eventually all meet up at the Waratah ridge car park and start the walk out.

It’s a long walk along an old fire trail and then onto a foot pad, but it’s fairly flat and the company is good so time passes quickly

The foot pad comes and goes towards the end. I’ve always found it odd, you’ll be on a very clear obvious trail and 20m later it disappears. Then, if you are lucky, you pick up a faint trail, step over a log and it disappears, then you stumble over a clear trail again. And so on and so forth. Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera…

Anyhoo we get to the spot where the track notes say we need to veer off. I may have come a fraction far and we need to skirt back around the head of the gully which would lead into arch canyon and we pick up a faint ridge which begins to drop down early.

The track notes are a bit vague, saying to follow the ridge until it starts to descend then drop into the creek. Well we’ve only just got onto the ridge but it sure is descending. The Canyon is still 1km down stream but we drop into the creek.

Big mistake. It’s scrubby as all get up. We do come across these cool over hangs and erosion caves thou

It takes us a stupid long time to push through 100m of scrub and we make the call to scramble back out onto the side ridge to traverse above the worst of it.

Some interesting scrambles along the halfway ledge bewteen clifflines and we  finally drop back down and suit up.

Are you sure this isn’t 6 dopes? Chardie asks

The slot would want to be special or it’s making my first entry on the never to be repeted list. says I

All kitted up we enter the creek and wade on down stream. Just as it was getting uncomfortably warm in the wetsuits we make our way through a horid mess of tree fall and the canyon drops away below us.

We waist no time roping up. Not even half way down the abseil the walk in is forgotten. Wow.

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Autal belaying Chardie
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Madie locks off to take some photos
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Ahead the canyon looks quality
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Charlie’s angel or sumfink

After a short section of narrow, dark canyon it opens out slightly

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And then it drops again and there is a couple of abseils in quick succession

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Chardie on rope
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The last one is the most awkward drop of the trip but not too difficult

And some nice canyon follows

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Now we hadn’t seen any sun in the canyon, it felt like late afternoon twilight the whole time and there was a bit of a cool breeze flowing down between the walls. I was just starting ot feel a bit chilly when we get to the 1 compulsary swim of the trip.

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Chardie braving the cold, clear waters

But is is such a nice spot

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Maarten asking Madie if he can jump it
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And then it opened out and we were at the junction with the Bungleboori.

We now needed to make our way about 40min upstream to Arch canyon and a convenient pass out.

I’d used this pass before but approached from the upstream side where we made use of the current to carry us down the deep pools of the Bungleboori. I was thus expecting some cold swims as we made our way upstream but other than a few wades we made good time along the banks and sand drifts in a stunningly wild section of the river

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We soon found ourselves at the juncton with Arch canyon and I was super keen to slip up the canyon a little to have a better look at the arch.

It’s well worth the effort of climbing up the bottom drops and steep creek to reach the arch just as the canyon proper starts (or is that ends…)

Madie admiring the arch from below and giving it a bit of scale
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It’s a stunning bit of landscape
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Looking up Arch canyon

We make our way back down to find Chardie and Al have made a head start on the exit track. Maarten and Autal follow. I’m getting out of my wet suit. I hate walking uphill in a wettie.

Me and Madie get into dry gear and give chase up the hill.

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A shot of the arch from the exit track.

Autal is waiting at the base of the upper cliffs and we set off after the others. We can hear them ahead which is a good sign as we scramble up the first viable option and find every one waiting to regroup on the ridge

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Looking over the gully that hides Arch canyon and out into the Bungleboori wilderness from the top of the pass out

And now for the long slog back to the car.

Was it worth the 20km of walking and nearly 800m of elevation gain for a short canyon?

Well, whenever you are out in the bush with a great bunch of people it’s worthwhile and to be honest I was impressed by the canyon itself. It had a beauty to it and the first abseil was stunning. It also has a less traveled feel to it, like you are one of the privledged few to experience it’s wonders.

I wouldn’t rush back next week and I’m glad we didn’t do it in the height of summer but would definately consider doing it again in the future if the company was right.

Party size. 6 All experienced, all a little loopy

Time: 8.5hrs car to car with some stuffing around finding our way in.

BACK

Dargan Arch

 

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

Navigation: Navigation is fairly straight forward

Map: Wollangambe 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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From the right angle the arch gives this cool bird silhouette

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Return back the way you came in

dargan arch

 

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