A sigh in the Wolgan

1/08/2020

Russ and meeeee

I’d been a bit crook and carrying another minor but annoying injury so amid offers of epic adventure stuff I opted for the easier one.

I meet Russ in the Wolgan and we set off for a fantastical slot not too far yet not too close to the camp ground

After dodging the stinging nettle (mostly) a quick march up the steep slopes brings us to a breach in the lower cliff line with a little tunnel like arch for an entry way

Like a lot of the Wollemi the Gospers Mt fire has ripped through here. You see more and the walking is somewhat easier but it’s still a bit depressing.

I struggled to keep up on the ascent but am keen to push on

In normal times the gully between the lower and upper constriction is a glorious lost world. Now it’s black and charred, yet still somehow grand

Further up the Mother of Slots awaits us and I’m pleased to see the confines have been spared the wrath of the inferno

Mater Suspiriorum, The Mother of Sighs. With a room fit for a witches covern or an altar or sumfink

We phaff about with some photos and then make our way up

Toward the top there is a boulder choke. There are a couple of ways to get over. The easiest way up is to crawl into a little cave and twist your way up a short chimney to get on top of the first boulder.

I squeeze in and worm my way up. I have my foot on a chock stone as I propel myself up and out. The chock stone moves.

Then dislodges altogether.

There is a rumble and a tumble I hear the rock bounce down in a shower of smaller stuff. I hear Russ grunt and flee.

Two things go through my head.

First Russ’s safety. It was a large rock and there wasn’t much space plus I wasn’t sure if he had already followed me into the cave.

Mate are you Ok?

Yeeep.

You sure?

Um, Yeah.

Second thought. Was that wedging up the massive bit of rock above me? I claw may way out from between the two boulders as fast as possible.

Looking down Russ is fine. I can not see sign of the rock I dislodged. How did it miss him and how did he not take a tumble fleeing out of it’s potential path I don’t know.

We are both a bit lucky. I’ve been up that way a few times and that chock stone has always been solid. The extremes of wet and dry had loosened something

Russ wondering if one of those rocks was the one I kicked at him and happy that it missed.On return we found one that would be a good 40-50kg was wedged in the mouth of the cave,
Up top the landscape is surreal. Mater Tenebrarum, The mother of Darkness, the Inferno. The youngest, most cruel Mother

Our plan was to try and make our way around and down another slot I knew of.

We traverse around the base of the upper cliff line, only to find ourselves stuck on a tier bisected by slots and mini canyons all with tricky drops. We double back looking for a walk down, we had a short rope but weren’t sure if we descended we would just be stuck on another tier with 100m of cliff line below us

Mater Lachrymarum, The Mother of Tears.

We pick a spot to enjoy lunch with stunning views.

Should we push on or go back the way we came?

Most people who know me would assume me to say push on. I’m happy being lost in head high scrub and exploring ways forward. But today was not my usual day. I was feeling drained.

For probably the second time ever I concede my goal and we head back the way we came.

Party size 2

Time: a couple of hours

If you are feeling down remember that weird Beatles song. The sun is up. The sky is Blue. It’s Beautiful and so are You. Dear Prudence

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Another Nightmare

03/08/2019

Tim, Ev, Allie, Roy. Chardi, Peter, Richard and meeeee

It’s been awhile since I’ve managed to head out with Tim and his crew but thankfully they let me jump in on this one at the last minute.

We sort gear at the NP gate and amidst much banter waste no time heading off, down toward the ruins, across the river and, up everyone fav access trail, The Pipeline track.

A quick drinks break at the top of the Pipeline trail with some in depth discussions where we sort out the woes of the modern world. ©Roy

It was a glorious winters day and the rest of the walk in was uneventful. Before long we find ourselves scrambling down through the small, broken cliffline immediately above the start of the canyon.

The day was so nice even Ev was in a T-shirt

We opt to traverse to the right along the top of the canyon to the wall abseil. This avoids the two stage drop we did last time. It’s nice but often has a pool at the bottom and a difficult pull down. Going right gets you a long abseil directly above the narrow crack abseil and keeps your feet dry

Chardi on abseil 1

From there it’s into the fun… or horror… or sumfink

What menace awaits Ev in the abyss below? Usually for me some scrapped skin… Big shoulders or sunfink
Oh the horror of it all
There is often a shallow pool at the bottom off this one. Careful use of the log can help avoid wet feet. No such worries for Richard today, it was dry as a Nuns nasty.

Next up is a short drop with a diabolical start. Not really, it’s fairly simple…

And then we come to the log.

There’s an anchor here. Says Allie

Na I couldn’t be bothered, reply I. I’m just going to hump the log.

Is that a thing?

Oh course it is. Reluctantly she decides to give it a go

Wow lot’s of people must do this, it’s so smooth. No splinters…. Yas! Converted

Of course Roy has to out do every one by walking down the log instead of humping it. He’s only broken his neck twice, but never while canyoning….

Richard on the chock-stone abseil. If you go underneath the 2 chock-stones it’s a real nightmare of a pulldown, thou like seeming all the longer drops in nightmare there are options to rebelay to break it into 2 shorter drops ©Roy
The stuff of sleep horrors. Classically dodgey blue mountain anchor, loose bolt backed up by 2 rusting climbing nuts. At least the tape and nuts have been renewed..
Final abseil. 30m into a waist deep pool. Being the gentlemanly chap I am I offered to go first, sacrifice my dryness then set up a guided abseil to get the rest across ©Roy
Orange rope is tied off just tight enough to keep the Abseiler up out of the water. Abseiler comes down the purple with an extended biner clipped to the orange rope. It’s kinda a cross between an asbeil and a flying fox
Then it’s a simple matter of following the base of the cliffs back around to the Pipeline trail and down to the cars from there

Another magnificent day out in the bush with wonderful people.

Party Size: 8

Time 6hr 14min car to car relaxed pace.

Being normal is the ultimate goal of the boring

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Greek Myths and pirate ships

06/07/2019

Mark, Ed, Ethan, Rob, Russ, Mick, David and meeeeeeee

I’d first visited the Minotaurs lair (AKA Bell Minor canyon) with Ed in 2016. It was a hot dry winters day and too be honest I didn’t think much off it.

But on the way out we spotted a tight slot that’s looked like it may be interesting. Being short on rope and time we didn’t descend it that day so I guess it was time to go back for another look.

Also Geoff Fox had told me about a slot up above the lair that he said was worth visiting so after a cold wet week we set off for a bit of an explore.

First up is a series of towers detached from the main cliff line by some interesting slots. I know Yuri has a name for them but I can’t remember what it is

Then we head around the corner and into the gully. We cross over and avoid the worst of the scrub by traversing the base of the cliff.

The North eastern cliffs are riddled with undercuts and sand caves. The most impressive of which is this beauty with its ribbons of colour and delicate iron stone plates. Animal tracks abound in the fine sand all along the cliff line
Into the Lair we go. Not sure how the minotaur will react to 8 burly blokes instead of 7 Athenian youths and 7 maidens fair but anyhoo we’re not scared….
Not the legendary beast but a legendary beast.
Ok so with a bit of moisture and greenery Minotaur’s lair is a nice walk through slot, not as long as I remember and the walls are quiet shallow, but nice

And then we scramble out to look for the slot Yuri ad Geoff labelled Ariadne slot. Just when we thought we’d have to be too high another set of clifflines rise above us and we follow them around.

Ariadne tended the labyrinth, She was the Daughter of Minos, King of Crete, and a bit of a spunk. Mick is hoping to find her. That may be the Minotaur in the back ground
New album, Lust for Ariadne by Mark and the Descentionists drops April 2020… or sumfink

Its a pretty slot and would make a great abseil in from the top but no Athenian princesses were found so we make our way back down to the junction with Minotaur’s lair and fight our way through tree fall up the other side.

Ed and I spotted this slot in 2016 but were short on ropes (shorter than we knew it would turn out) so we opted not to descend it at that time. Checking it out is probably the only reason I bothered to do Minotaur’s Lair again
So we probably should have stuck with the Ancient Crete theme but we’re splitters and went with Walk the Plank canyon, AKA Ed’s Plank
Russ volunteering to be first to check it out

Non remanebit ex eis ungula et circulo fundae : No sling shall be left behind. Or sumfink

It was about now we hear the dreaded whoosh, crack, kaboom.

Everyone OK.

With the exception of possibly soiled pants every one was fine. Russ had looked up in time to see a baby head size rock tumbling in slow motion down the canyon. It hit the wall then exploded on the ground where he had been standing moments before….

Russ in the short but nice middle section happy none of those rocks had hit him

More squeezey fun ensued
And then it opens out in to a pleasant exit chamber
Ed admiring the end of his plank. Or sumfink

One more little abseil and we reach the junction with the main gully

Some dense scrub

Some complex boulder hopping….Sliding

And then an easy walk down the nose to the road.

All up a good day in the bush with great people. It was a fairly long complex walk with plenty of scrub and elevation for 3 fairly short slots but I love this shit and heading out with others likewise inclined sooth the soul and clears the mind.

Party Size: 8

Time: 6hr 15min car to car with a bit of a car shuffle

The hardest thing is to find a black cat in a dark room. Especially if there is no cat:- Confucius

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Scrub, Slots and knots

22/06/2019

Little Miss Sunshine, The Russian Gangster, The Dare Devil, Badass Barbie, Archie, White Water Wizard and Meeeeeee (the eeejiot)

When Kylie said her crew were keen on a trip to this area and invited me along I jumped at the chance and then pretty much rearranged the trip… But they were cool with it.

Anyhoo

There has been a lot of good discussion on the Australian Canyoners group about rigging releasable contingency anchors and with Mark’s guidance we took the opportunity to practice setting up with a figure 8 block. A method I’ve not used before but one I’ll make use of in the future.

I’ve always like the idea of releasable anchors and have used munter-mule knots in the past but found them too much of a pain in the arse to bother with on most recreational trips, however there are a bunch of devices out now that take the hassle out of the equation. And for those not into buying more gear (weirdos) most people would have a spare figure 8 in the gear bag somewhere. I was surprised at how simple and quick the figure 8 block was to rig.

But I get ahead of myself.

It’s -4 when Little Miss Sunshine arrives at my place, minus the sunshine, and we head off to meet Mark and the others. I know the others only from online interactions so it’s cool to finally meet them in person.

After a gentle stroll up the hill, wait. No, that’s not right. After slogging up the hill we dump bags and set off for a side trip to our first canyon of the day, slipping up the usual pass and short cutting through the scrub to the top of the slot

Badass Barbie, AKA Aimee, dropping into Crooked Crevice with Kylie on belay down below
Badass Barbie, Little Miss Sunshine, The Dare Devil and the Russian Gangster contemplating the squeeze abseil off a classically ridiculous Blue Mts anchor consisting of a sling hero looped around a nub of rock.
Archie, AKA #adventure_matt squeezing on down. Someone may or may not have got a little wedged in here. and before you lot point your fingers at me guts are apparently more conforming than other parts of anatomy. “I’m stuck by my lady lumps.” I believe was the call.
It’s a great little slot

An hour or so later we are back at the bags and make our way around to visit the next slot/micro canyon

Kenobi
It’s short but the light is always impressive
It was bad enough they were twinning…. 🙂

And then it is up my pass and onto the tops for some views followed by more scrub

Kylie checking out the views up the Wolgan towards Donkey Mountain

Aimee getting her squeeze on and having one of her #lil_blondes_adventures, ©Mark
Kristo getting thrown through the moon door
Matt in the cave/ tunnel
The water is lava and not even the Dare Devil, AKA, Hywaida, wants to get burnt
The hole we just emerged from
The second last abseil see us descend out of the hidden slot into the open

1 abseil to go and as I was pulling rope across for Mark to feed it through the anchor there was an almighty rumble, the world shook and a car sized boulder broke off the cliff above and went sailing past about 10m to the right of us….. It was impressive to witness but scary AF when it happened

Mark racing down the final abseil
Little Miss Sunshine, AKA Kylie aka #wild_elly, high above the Wolgan

And then its a combination of walking, stumbling and dirt skiing back down to the cars

Another great day in the bush with great people visiting 3 short but very different canyons

Party Size: 7

Time: 7hr 15 car to car

There’s no excuse to be bored. Sad, yes. Angry, yes. Depressed, yes. Crazy, yes. But there’s no excuse for boredom. Ever!: Viggo Mortensen

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Bluestains and Timber Chutes

25-05-2019

The Clegganator, The Wonder Woman and the Flynnstien aka Meeeeeee

Unpublished canyons are like a box of chocolates.

I know at the end I’ll be left with half a dozen little cheery ripes that I wont eat…. Wait. No, that’s not right. Unpublished canyons aren’t like a box of chocolates at all….

Anyhoo

This is one I’ve had in mind to check out for a couple of years now but I wasn’t expecting it to be high quality and with other stuff to visit I never got around to having a look.

Then Phil said he wanted to check it out so I thought why not. I still had low expectations but as they say in the classics you never know if you never go.

Rounding out our nice little party was Jen, who I hadn’t caught up with for a while so was good to be on a trip together again

A little frost made for a chilly morning but it wasn’t long before we were stripping off layers and stuffing jackets into packs.

Wolgan views never fail to amaze

There were two branches to the possible canyon and we wanted to check out both. The first branch didn’t show much hope and when we came to a abseil point we decided to slip over the ridge to check the other branch first.

We dropped in via a side chute, in hindsight a little too far down the canyon. Up stream was a tight slot which would have made a good abseil and the hint of more slot up top.
I started chimneying up but it was tight and my ankle is still a tad stuffed from where I rolled it 2 weeks ago so gave it up as a bad plan
Jen checking out the slot
A short but tricky abseil just below where we scrambled in

So we get to the junction of the other branch hoping to reverse up it only to be blocked by a dry waterfall. A bit of traversing and we begin to scramble up the nose in between the two branches. Phil decided the scramble is not for him.

We get up above the fall only to find another immediately above it. I continue up the nose in what is the closest to proper rock climb I’ve done in a few years and manage to get above the next fall.

There isn’t much of a slot above this so I rig the rope and abseil back down to Jen and then we both abseil down to rejoin Phil

they were two nice abseils into to deep stagnant pools, luckily we were able to stay out of the water

When looking at the satellite image my suspicion was the best bit of canyon would be below the junction and while the stuff in the north branch was tip top below the junction was a nice, if short slot.

Ummm I think we are going to get wet, say I looking down into a deepish looking pool far to wide to play water is lava over.

I stuff my shirt into my overboardau dry bag and drop on in while the others put wetsuits on.

The first drop lands in a pool waist deep. With some guidance Jen manages to stop on a ledge and carefully stem around to the shallower bit. Phil is not so lucky and plunges in

There’s another 2 stage drop straight away with the stages separated by a 5m diameter pool. In I go…

The water was ice, not lava
The last abseil was nice

Then it was down to find a bit of sunshine and some lunch.

A short way down the main creek and we spear off track back up towards the cliff line

There’s a little grotto like canyon up here I want to show the others. It’s short but pretty in it’s own right and while it’s not very adventurous what makes it worth a visit is the old timber chute that once ramped it’s way up through it’s narrow confines

Phil and Jen (and Flynny) in awe of the history and the effort behind this engineering mystery

So the theory is it was built to slide logs down to the valley for pit props or fuel for coke ovens or for building poppett heads and bridges and stuff. Problem is there is no evidence up above it of any cut timber. Not a single sawn stump can be seen. It’s a mystery
Dad says back in his day the decking was still there in places and the timbers ran long ways suggesting something was slid down or up it. I’m starting to wonder if it was used to cart stuff out of Newnes and across to Glen Davis as the refinery was moved?

Seek experiences not things. Live large and light up the darkness with a laugh

Party size: 3

Time: 7.5hr car to car relaxed pace with a bit of back and forth exploration

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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

Windows again

15-09-2018

With Tim’s crew

So I wouldn’t normally repeat this one so soon as there are other trips nearby I prefer but Tim was back and his trips are always awesome, plus  I was keen to see if it was possible to descend the side slot we visited from the bottom last time, also Ed still hadn’t done Windows and was free, and, well, what the hell

Anyhoo, Ed arrives at my place and we head off to meet the others. With a couple of extras the group was going to be over the max group size recommended by NPs so we decided to break into 2 smaller groups.

I’d head off with the first group and Tim would follow with the second group 15min later. Well I say Tim but we all know Chardie is the real leader, or so he says or sumfink.

We planned to take my pass up for something different. It adds about 30min-1hr to the trip depending on how long to spend soaking in the ambience as the route takes in an impressive bit cliff line that is riddled with slots and niches.

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Marchelle in a mirco canyon on the way up

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After a fairly hot muggy climb up the breeze coming up this natrural chimney was like standing under and airconditioner on a hot day

We spend a bit of time enjoying this and the second group breifly catches back up as I’m leading my group out.

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The plan is to meet up again at the top and stay reasonably close until we find the top of the side slot but first we need to get up my pass

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Laurie squeezing up the narrow pass

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morning tea with a view while we wait for the second group.

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Not a bad view either

Now we had a breif bit of scrub to get through then we should drop down right on top of the slot I wanted to look down and, sure enough I come to the top of a slot except I turned off the ridge slightly too early and living up to the reason I orginally dubbed this spot Kenobi point, this was not the slot I was looking for.

I should have used the GPS….

Anyhoo. It was a tad scrub-bashy but the slot lead us down into the valley easy enough and while it did threaten to canyon up at one point it was nothing on the other slot

Click to enbiggen

And then we split up again. My group would push forward with the bulk of the ropes and set the first couple of abseils. Tim’s group (Chardie’s group) would follow collecting the ropes which would then be exchanged again at the lunch ledge.

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Marchelle on abseil 1

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Ev Abseil 2

 

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The best shot I’ve ever managed to get of the arch that has the window

Actually, I don’t mind this one either

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I set the rope just to have it out of my pack and headed to the lunch ledge. Pointing the way to the ledge to those behind. Laurie missed the memo and as I was eating lunch I hear him call, On rope is any one on Belay?

NO, we’re up here.

I can here them down there but I cant see them. Is some one on belay?

We’re up here. No one is down there.

Oh, laughter

Crisis avoided…

Click to largify

We finish lunch and have a bit of time to soak in the ambience before we hear the second group behind us so we meet them at the base of the abseil, exchange ropes and continue on

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The second group coming down

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Ev ready to continue through the Window

click to size up

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Emerging to confront the paparazzi

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Abseil 4

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Ev about 3/4 of the way down the 5th and final and most impressive and fun abseil

Once down we wait for the second group to catch up before all stringing out for the short walk back to the cars.

Another great day out with awesome people

Most of us are pretending to awesome while struggling to be normal. But what’s the point of normal? Normal never left it’s mark on anyone.

 

Time: A tad over 6hrs car to car

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Views over the wolgan

19-05-2018

Madie, Autal, Catherine, Chris and meeeeee

With the weather turning cold it’s time to focus on dry trips. Depite popular opinion there are a number of dry(ish) canyons not to far from the usual summer trips that are worth a look. This one is a short day in the Wolgan.

The canyon itself isn’t that great in regards to length and depth of the constriction but it has a couple of standout features and great views.

We met at the servo bright and early and sorted car pools to drive down to the car park. Mick was joining us for the haul up through the cliff lines but then leaving as he had afternoon plans in the bigsmoke

Madie was running 5min late but, hey she had a 4hr drive to get here so no one blamed her. Oh, in a previous blog I stated she needed a constant supply of chips and chocolate. that was just a bit of fun after she brought a large pack of chips on the trip I didn’t mean it to sound like she was a snack scoffing fatty. She usually eats nothing but kale washed down with a cup of steam, or sumfink. I’m the fat guy on our trips.

Anyhoo.

The frost was lifting off the tops and down in the valley it was a glorious morning so we wasted little time in setting out up the hill.

Our path up is typically steep but relatively easy for the Wolgan.

Some Pretty section of creek and grand overhangs break up the climb

 

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©Madie

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Ignore me, I’m an idiot… ©Madie

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Autal reaching up for that last hand hold….

and soon we are bathing in sunshine on top of the stunning clifflines that seem so impenetrable from the valley below.

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Chris stretches out in the warm sunshine

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Nice spot of a morning tea break

This is where Mick leaves us and heads back the way we came up. For the rest of us it’s a relatively easy stroll up through the scrub to intersect a faint trail along the ridge.

There is a pleasant bit along the ridge before we drop back down through the scrub to our first anchor point above a 30m abseil down through one of the  highlights

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©Autal

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Me in my happy place ©Autal

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Autal filming Cat as she starts her descent into the unknown. ©Madie

Over the millenia water running down a sloping face have carved a deep groove into the rock befre hitting a band of iron stone that created a small pool halfway up the cliff line. Evenually this pool eroded deeper and deeper  until it bored a hole staright through the cliff

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Abseiling down through that hole is an amzing experience and somewhat scarey as at first it looks and feels like you wont fit ©Madie


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Madie preparing to drop into the hole ©Autal

From below the hole is stunningly circular

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And once through there is still a long abseil to the gully below

A short, dark cave section follows

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Then there is some bounder hoping and scambling down beside the creek before it tries to canyon up

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Autal at the start of the short canyon section ©Madie

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Autal dropping in ©Madie

On our trip last year we were greeted with a deep, very cold pool here that soaked every up to their necks. Today we didn’t even get our feet wet.

click to enbiggen

 

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Cat and Chris in the canyon ©Madie

And then the next highlight is a drop down through this stunning hole through the rock

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©Madie

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The light in this section is just magical but hard to capture with a little point and click camera

At the bottom is usually a deep plunge pool that takes some manoeuvring to get across without falling in. Today it was nearly dry but I made them do the bridge anyway 🙂

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Madie demonstraighting the technique

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Autal emerging from the hole

The hole opens into a chamber with an amzing window out over the Wolgan

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Autal in a hidden slot int he wolgan cliff line

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Yours truly heading back out into the sunlight ©Madie

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Autal emerging from the upper cliff line

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Chris

We have lunch in the sun light on the halfway ledge and then there is one more long abseil before the quick march down the hill to the cars

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It doesn’t get much better than this on a warm Autumn day ©Autal Farkas

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Autal high above the Wolgan ©Madie

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A day in the bush with a fun bunch of people is the perfect chatharsis for the stress of the modern world

 

Party Size: 5 all experienced

Time: 6hr car to car

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