Mayhem and Madness. Exotic Joel: the Tiger Snake King


When Joel invites you out for a themed trip you know there’s going to be laughs and craziness aplenty

I swing past the ZigZag to pick up Kylie and Russ and we head on out to meet the others.

Amid hellos and banter costumes are donned, make up applied and the first of 10 gazillion photos are snapped and whips cracked

And then we split into groups and head off

Joel Exotic and an assortment of big cats
F**&^ing Carole Baskin has stolen the cats and Don seems to have gone missing

Along the way several scenes from the show were recreated thanks to ©Gabby for the snaps

And we even done some canyoning

The Nanny was hot but baby was creepy
You never know where the infamous Blue Mountains Leopard is going to show up. Russ didn’t know what he was abseiling toward
Keeping Joel Exotic under wraps. Playing spaghetti is wot I do the bestest or sumfink. ©Hywaida

I’ve done tigersnake canyon um, lets say a few times and the bottom of this section has always been pitch black so I’m up here telling people they’ll need torches….

Some piss taking of my warning ensued… No idea if it was the time of day or the fact there is no tree canopy post fires or just the glow of awesome folk but no torches needed.

Mons, Gab, Joel , Russ and me. ©Kylie

Regrouping at the end of the canyon we’re met by Jen who was unable to abseil due to injury so ducked around and got a little camp fire going. We enjoy some more banter and a bit of Kristos birthday cake that Hywaida had some how carted through the canyon without so much as smearing the icing.

And then it was time to climb out

Another great day in the bush with a seriously unserious bunch of awesome people

(Their) thoughts inhabit a different plane from those of ordinary (people); the simplest interpretation of that is to call (them) crazy.”
― Juliet Marillier,


Tiger Snake Canyon


Ed Tal and me

Tiger snake is a cool little canyon. The two canyon sections are very short but the top one is tight with some interesting climb downs/absiels and the bottom section is magnificantly deep and narrow making it very cave like. One of the few “dry” canyons where you need a head torch in the midde of the day.

It’s a hard subject to photograph well but we had a goal in mind for sun set shots at a spot close by and thought this would be a good way to fill in the day.

-7.5° is almost a record low over night temp for the ‘Go, lucky its a short day and we weren’t planning to leave until 10am. By then most of the frost had melted and while cold, the sun was shining nicely.

The walk in was fairly uneventful and we reach the cleft where the small creek drops into the upper section without incident

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It’s an awe inspiring fissure, Narrow and dark

In all our previous trips we have absieled directly down here. It is an awkward absiel, as you have to bridge out over the narrow section to a bit that gives a bit more room, then you are pretty much down climbing on rope, if you slip you are going to swing in and get grated into the narrow bit… This time we deside to check out the alternate anchor point from higher up on the pagodas next to the slot.


The views fromthe top are amazeballz

Tal and Ed checking the view and enjoying the sun shine

It also gives you a great perspective over the top section of canyon. It really is narrow and short

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That dark slot drops 15-20meters down before openning up just around the corner

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The abseil from the higher anchor point is still narrow and awkward but you don’t feel you are goign to get pulled back into the narrow slot, plus you miss a little pool so keep your feet dry for a bit longer

Ed dropping in

Once in there is a slipery down climb, another advantage of the high anchor and long ropes is you can leave them set to assist you dont this bit and along the log to keep your feet dry again


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And then it’s the infamous bundle of sticks anchor. Where some one has placed a surperfluous fixed line.


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Hmmm that water looks cold, might take a few balancey moves to keep our feet dry

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Tal descends as Ed watches on

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Ed unclipping on a tiny ledge as he contemplates how to keep his feet dry

With the advantage of a bit of hieght I managed to bridge across easily. Tal had a bit of a go but decided the risk of slipping in outweighed the thought of getting his socks wet so just stepped in. Ed took a bit of time and all but done a Van Dam like set of splits but made it across the small, wet, slippery, sloping ledge.

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The top section finishes with this 17m absiel next to a small water fall


It is possible, with some good scrambling and down climbing skills to do the entire top section, including this bit, without abseiling but it is risky and why would you miss this one? It’s a very nice abseil

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Ed on rope Tal on firemans belay


It’s a short walk down the gully, the creek is dry again with the wtare from the canyon soaking into the sandy soil, to the lower constriction

There are acouple of ways in. Entering straight down the creek is nice but it is an awkaward drop and you do get wet at the bottom. This is the way I have been on all previous trips except the last one.

The other way is to scramble along the top of the canyon on a dodgy ledge to a anchor high up on a chock stone bridge. You do miss a bit of very pretty canyon but with a bit of scrambling/climbing skill you can make you way all the way up to the bottom of the awkward drop.

On the plus side the high entry is a great absiel down a dark hole and you keep your feet dry

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Ed Disappearing down the rabit hole

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It’s 20-25m straight downinto the darkness between walls so narrow that half way down you turn around to put your feet on the oposite wall

We spend some time in the dark depths snapping photos. Hopefully Ed gets some shots he can work with. My little TG struggled a bit in the darkness with my small head light trying to light paint the walls. My bike lights might have been better able ot illuminate the scenes.

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Ed sitting high up on a delicate arch within the darkness of the canyon

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Ed on a narrow bridge getting ready to defend 13 dwarves and a hobbit against a Balrog!

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Ed at the exit portal

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Tal and ed making their way downthe boulder scramble below the canyon

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What goes down must go up. Climbing out

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Climbing out

After doing all the “extreme” stuff I go arse over tit on the flattest part of the trail back to the car. I slipped on a slimey log, thought I’d caught my slef only for the momentum of the haeave pack to tip me over and drive my head into the ground. Mush laughter was had at my expense..

Driving back along the Coach rd we are stopped by a car coming the other way. How much further is the camp ground? says he

Which camp ground ar you looking for? say I

The one at New-nes, is it New-ness? says she

Newnes. You wont get there going this way.

We lost GPS when we turned off the highway.

Yep but you turned off the highway 20km to early and have gone 30km out of your way. 45years ago you could drive down from here…

they ask if there were any spots to camp up here and decide on a rough camp rather than trying to drive all the way back around in the fading light. Did I mention -7.5°? The night promised to be just as cold and they don’t really look like the outdoors type.

We point the way to a bit of a area where they might set up camp and wish them well then head off to capture a sun set from the cliff lines above the Wolgan



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Sun set over Donkey Mt. People might pay thousands of dollars per night to stay atthe resort below us but they wont hae views like this.

Tiger Snake canyon

Party Size 3 all experienced

Time: about 5hrs car to car with a lot of photo phaffing


‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”” — J.R.R. Tolkien




Tiger snake Canyon

It’s been fun slowly getting back into this canyoning caper.

I never completely stopped, we’ve always managed to get down 1 or 2 of the smaller ones each year with the kids, but last season was the first in a while we took on a couple of the more adventurous ones. However with free weekends few and far between it seemed like the season just started when it was already over.

We should do some drier ones through winter. It was a good sentiment but, again, weekends just didn’t align.

As the weather warmed up the keeness grew. A date was set. lets do Tiger Snake. It’s a relatively short trip but if memory served me correctly the abseils were interesting and the slot very tight and deep. The crew were available. Anticipation grew.

As usual the warmth of early spring gave way and in the week leading up the rain set in. Constant drizzle interspersed with heavy storms. Um weekend forecasts predicted an easing of the wild weather. I was looking forward to seeing the slot with water in it. The call was to suck it and see. If it was still raining we’d walk in and if there too much water we’d abort.

Saturday came with perfect weather. The sun was out, birds were singing… Sunday early morning drizzle was back.

Nothing but a groan greeted me as I woke Tal, but he rolled out of bed and we got ready to go. Rain jackets were packed but we we confident it would burn off.

Gaz and Bryson arrived looking keen. We called in to collect Meggs and Ben and then convoyed up to the ZigZag to meet up with Edwin.

Despite, or maybe because of, the rain and logging operations the road out was smoother than usual and in no time we at the car park.

Of the group only myself and Meggs had done Tiger Snake before. Me 20 years ago, Meggs some what longer.

Last time I had done it a bit of careful navigation was needed to find the start from the end of the old fire road. Now a clear trail continued on and we blindly followed it down into a low saddle before deciding to have a quick check on the map. Yep we’d taken a wrong turn and were a little too far east. We retraced our steps slightly, realising that the reason this bit of trail was so well trodden was quiet a few groups must have done the same, walked down then turned around and walked back, doubling the trail wear.

Just a little back up the hill we found our error and an obvious cairne and bit of tape around a tree clearly marking the spot where we should have veered left instead of continuing straight.

Back on track it was clear that a lot of water had flowed down the gully over the last week or so but now it was mostly dry, the catchment area was relatively small and the sandy soil drains easily, and soon enough we found the slot we were looking for.

12191854_10153106575681160_4852723574365829807_n  The was a few dubious looks shared as we considered the narrowness of the hole in front  of us. 20 years ago I was 15kg lighter and belatedly I recalled it being a tight squeeze even then.

Meggs wasted no time getting the rope out as we geared up. Tossing the ends into the crevice there was a definite splash. “You said this was dry!” “I said normally dryish”

Anyhoo I volunteered to be guinea pig and roped up. I didn’t get far before realising there was no way I was going to get down with my backpack on and the chest mounted go pro was in danger of being destoyedo so I wedged myself in and striped off the pack, handing it back up, readjusted the go pro then squeezed my way down.

Once past the start it opened out a little and it was more a roped down climb than an abseil.The spanner water in the pool at the bottom was about nut deep and full of the biggest tadpoles i’ve ever seen. No wonder tigersnakes sometimes made their way up into the coldness. Edwin bridged his way out and lowered the packs down to me and then the others made their way in.

The next drop was scrambled down pretty easily and then were were at the dodgy log anchor

11261030_10153106576276160_3168608634852814726_n I can’t remember if we used the logs last time but there had been a set of equally dodgy looking ring bolts installed. Of course this was back in the day when any permanent fixture in a NP was frowned upon and so they had been removed. Now the Logs wedged across the canyon walls and were the only thing to set the ropes on. About a dozen logs were in place but even a quick glace showed 1 would take the weight. 2 would act as back up and the rest were as useful as a hat full of dandruff.

Ed tested their strength and every one did their best to ignore the creaks and groans of the log as we descended


Another tight squeeze and the canyon opened out and an easy handover hand downclimb brought us to the big over hang abseil that ends the top section. Ropes were set and I was volunteered to go first. I descended the first easy few meters to a tiny ledge and looked out over the overhang. “Are the ends on the ground?” Called Meggs as he saw me pause. “Yep but there’s a big knot in the rope.” I think i’d been set up. Locking off on my balancey stance I hauled the ends of the rope up, cleared the knot and continued down.

This is a nice abseil beside a waterfall, which after all the rain was a picturesque drizzle of sparkling droplets.


From here the creek opened up a little and we wandered down to the next section.

A short time later the gully closed in again and clifflines began to hem us in. The drop into the next section looked very pretty. The green moss almost translucent on the walls but we decided to do the optional entry a little further along. Apparently it has become the more popular way in and after doing it I can see why. Taking Ed’s brand new 60m rope we left him to take some photos then back tracked a little until we could scramble up and along the top beside the canyon walls. Soon this brought us to a section where chock stones have formed a bridge across the top of the canyon.

Is it just me or do new ropes always tangle when you first try and unloop them? A little swearing and much untangling followed.

By the time we had the abseil rigged to go Edwin rejoined us and we graciously offered him first descent on his new rope. Not that we were scared of the drop that disappeared through a tight, cave like hole and into the darkness beyond. It was just the polite thing to do.

12187823_10153106577241160_5885931341013566767_nMeggs and Gaz followed so they could relieve Ed off belay and give him time for more photographolodating. I Helped the boys rope up and came down last. All I can say is “Wow!”

While short and dry the bottom chamber of Tiger Snake is spectacularly dark, deep and narrow anyway and this entry just adds to it. Almost 30m, mostly over hung and nearly completely dark. Very cave like.


The shortness of the trip gave us ample time to kick back and enjoy the experience. many iphone photos were snapped as Edwin set up his tripod and camera for some proper shots. We scrambled up stream to check out the short section we’d missed before making our way down

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Emerging back into the light Bryson decided it was time to eat lunch and set up on the rocks. By the time I told them there was nice sandy cave just a below bags were already open and the rocks seemed just as good a spot.

Bellies full the boys soon darted down the little glowworm caves just below our lunch spot. It was all fun and games until Ben let out a shreek and came bopping out of a tight squeeze as a mid sized bat ran up his back and used him as a launch pad, ducking into the next little hole.

The rock fall above the cave (really just a large low overhang) seemed fairly fresh and hemmed the cave in a little more.11220869_10153106577796160_60862263140824681_n

A quick scramble up through the cliff lines and then the exit trail meandered easily along the ridge, pretty much following the top of the canyon close enough that it was tempting to veer off and do the bottom section again. A quick climb up over a pagoda offered stunning views out over Deans crk and the cliff of the Wolgan and then an easy walk back to the car. all in all a pleasant little trip