3 little canyons on a Saturday afternoon, just because

19/12/2020

Izy, Ed, Dick, Madie, Leo and meeeeeeee

‘Twas the Friday before Christmas with zero plans for the Weekend

And it just kinda hit me, I must make amend

So I sent out a late invite, with little remorse

And 5 Friends replied “hell yes”, as a matter of course

We started earlier then planned ’cause Madie was bored

They piled in my ute and the accelerator was floored.

Leo tried his best to wet not even his feet

We jumped, slid and abseiled and had lots of fun

Then Madie threw mud at me, it was the end of canyon 1

Canyon 2 is a cracker, an absolute blast

but the best was to come, we saved it ’til last

The next is my favourite, I whispered to Iz

The thing is I meant it, it absolutely is

Dick left us early, he was coming back the next day

He shook hands, he hugged and went on his way

The rest of us pushed on and our excitement it grew

And we got to the slot and made our way through

We slid and we jumped, we spashed and had fun

And looked around in awe at this place where we’d come

To soon we reached the end and had to turn around

but we smiled as we cherished the joy that we found

this might be a bad poem but I bet you wish you had been us

and doubt all you want but rhyming “Iz” with “is” well… that’s just fucking genius

Party Size: 6

Times

Sheepdip: ~ 2 and a bit hrs car to car

Twister and Rocky Creek: About 3hr car to car

The best friends force you to lever yourself up

BACK

Journey to Dick Rock

AKA: There and Back Again: Just!

14 and 15/11/2020

Leo, Madie and meeeeeeeee

Who wants to visit the Totem Pole? Asks Leo

I’m in. Dad has photos of it from Jeep trips in the late 60s early 70s, though they knew it as the Wolgan Earth Pillar, a name they got from the Luchetti’s who had the farm down Valley. They got it off Carne’s map from his early 1900s mineral survey where he recorded it in his journal as “Earth Pillar, the Pinnacle, Wolgan Valley”. Anyway it’s been on my list of things to visit for a long time.

©Pete

Of course Madie was in too.

Hey, do you want to go in from the top and check out a few canyons while we are down that way?

Some times I wonder what it would be like to have friends who hear out my hair brained ideas and say things like, That sounds ridiculous, Flynny. No way we should to that….

But noooooo. Despite several epic scrub bashes my friends keep saying things like, hell yeah lets do it.

Lucky, otherwise this blog would be rather boring.

Besides no one is going to be telling there grandkids about the epic weekend they had playing golf, right?

Well unless they win a major or sumfink.

Anyhooo

We were planning to walk out to a base camp Friday night. 3pm and it’s pissing down. None of us want to start walking in the rain but the rain parts, the radar is clear and it looks like it’s going to be a perfect night for a stroll.

Leo and Madie swing past my place to drop off Pippa the Wonderdog.

Should we take 2 cars?

There’s only 3 of us….

Maybe we should have taken 2

Driving up on dusk and the sky to the north looks like something out of an Armageddon movie.

©Madie

Rolling storm clouds and blasts of lightning heading right to where we are going. That wasn’t on the radar!

We get to an intersection. Swing right. says I. Left has a 4wd creek crossing.

When was the last time you looked? Says Leo. I got a 2wd through there last year.

While I thought they had done a bit of work to the crossing I hadn’t tried going that way since getting rid of my old FJ45 Cruiser.

We go left, much to Madie’s trepidation.

The creek crossing is up but it’s much easier than the deep rocky drop off of years gone past. We get through easy enough. Except the hill up the other side is a soft rutted mess. 1 quick go at getting up and the ute sinks to the diffs. Lucky it is very wet and Leo is able to reverse out with help of the steep terrain.

We are going back the other way! Madie puts her foot down. And I’m driving from here!!!

We take the by-pass. But halfway down a sharp log hidden on the inside of a corner rips the side wall out of her rear tyre. Pssssssssssssssss.

We get out to change the wheel. Armageddon skies open and the rain belts down. There is an issue with the jack handle which also doubles as a thingie to wind the spare tyre down. Nothing that a quick adjustment with a shifter or screwdriver to open up the slots wont fix.

Where’s your tool box.

I don’t have one….

Apparently Madie cops one of my infamous eye rolls . My kids take the piss out of me about them all the time but surprisingly this is the first one thrown Madie’s way.

Anyway, a bit of dicking around with a small multitool and a blood sacrifice and Leo has the handle working.

Tyre changed we rock into the car park and decide it’s way too late to start our walk so we set camp for the night .

  • Before you read on; Part of the joy of visiting lessor known canyon areas is not knowing what you’ll find. Sometimes its a disappointing creek bash and sometimes you get a good one. If you ever plan on exploring this area do yourself a favour and leave the rest of this post until after you come back.

Anyhoo

Saturday:

We are up before the sun and after a quick breakfast we are on the trail a little after 5.30am.

After being closed to vehicle traffic 20 years ago this trail devolved into a nightmare scrub bash, like the type of scrub even I avoid, and that’s saying something. Post fires it’s easy walking and we pick our way along the ridge line the old road use to follow for about 8km before spearing off into untracked territory.

We reach our chosen base camp around 8.30am, dump the camp gear and head off for our first canyon in good spirits.

Despite a series of complex cliff lines we find easy passes until we are directly above our drop in point

To be honest we weren’t expecting great things from canyons out this way but this one had a nice start

We hump some logs
We walk some logs
And we find a surprisingly nice bit of canyon
© Madie

After a bit the canyon opens up somewhat and then begins to drop steeply. We abseil the first drop and then I scramble down the next few to see it it’s likely to drop into a lower section. It’s pretty but the walls are getting wider and more impenetrable so we make the call to ascend back up the line and try to force a pass to the ridge and drop into another creek.

We somehow jag a straight forward pass up through multiple cliff lines. Winning!
Views over the Wolgan. You can just make out the conical peak of Tayan Pic, AKA Nipple hill, rising way out in the distance, 30km away
Again we managed to find passes down through all but the final cliff
Children of the Corn…. I mean cabbage bush or whatever the hell this is. It was easier than tea tree, hakea, and Acacia but I would be well and truly over pushing through this by the end of the weekend
But soon this creek, too, drops into a nice section of canyon.
This one had a bit of flow to it. Mostly due to the rain but partly from a dam at the end of a pool on that gave way as we passed it.
Madie
And then the water dropped down a narrow dark hole and 20m later it ran out this funky tunnel
©Madie

At about the same point we decided to scramble out of the last canyon we had a quick bit to eat. Despite covering a lot of ground so far we are still full of enthusiasm and even talk about trekking down to Dick Rock today. We must have been delusional

Cute little Boop Noodle. The only one we saw all trip

Heading down to our 3rd canyon of the day and we drop into a tributary thinking it will be an easy pass down

Turns out is had a short but nice canyon section, though we needed some creative anchor options to get us down. No slings were left behind on this trip
Into the main canyon and straight way we’re impressed. ©Madie
This bit reminded us of the River Caves
And we find ourselves in the most impressive canyon of the trip
©Madie
A nice dark, tunnel like section was well worth the effort to get here
And below that, more nice canyon

We spent longer in this one than we thought we would, definitely longer than the previous two so squeezing in Dick Rock today was out the window. Time to beat a pass up to the tops again

We get out of the canyon and through most of the cliffs easily except for one little bit that Leo scrambled up with a couple of little boosts from me at the bottom and balls the size of a medium sized car at the top.

©Madie

He dropped a rope for me and Madie to ascend. I go up to to the ledge and haul Leo’s bag then drop the rope back to Madie. She begins to ascend as I go up the ramp and begin to chimney up the last bit.

Rock! Rock! Rock! Fugg!

I’ve knocked a large rock loose and it tumbles down the chute. Luckily it misses the rope and gains enough momentum to sail out into space. Madie was 5m up the rope with nowhere to hide. The adrenaline rush was real.

But we are up and encounter our first unburnt ridge of the trip. Thick, scratchy, cutting scrub. It was a relief to finally get to a burnt bit.

It’s getting late. We have a couple of deep saddles to get past on the way to camp but Madie navigates us there easily. I have to say I was well and truly slowing down.

Night descends but we are back to the ridge we walked down on our way to the first canyon.

Then Madie lets out a whoop at the sight of the reflective stripes on my Overboard dry bag I had hung up in a tree above camp.

35km and 3 canyons in 14hrs.

We roll out the sleep mats, have a quick diner, a few laughs and then we’re in bed engulfed with satisfaction and a glorious star filled night

Sunday:

Camp Granada

A slightly more sedate wake up time, a casual breakfast and we are off a bit after 8.

Another Ridge top, another view

I’m feeling a little dehydrated from yesterday so I’m determined to drink more today. The plan is to descend a canyon, punch down to Dick Rock and then up another canyon. We knew of a couple of easy passes up ridge lines but it’s going to be a hot day so ascending up a canyon that is supposedly reversible is more appealing

But first we work our way down through the cliff lines once more. This time we manage to scramble right down into the creek

It’s pretty but never really canyons up

Ironstone Stalactites. Like the ballerina dancing on the old termite ridden stage, when the mites go up the tights come down. or sumfink
And then we have 3 or 4km of this and worse to make out way down to the main objective of our trip
Finally we made it to Dick Rock. @Madie

It’s hot in the valley we have lunch then take a higher route back which avoids some of the the scrub and short cuts the corner and we work our way up to our intended creek.

Where this morning’s “Canyon” was a pretty creek walk this wasn’t even that. The heat is oppressive and despite drinking a shit load I’m starting to struggle.

But we boulder hop and scrub bash our way high enough up to starting thinking of forcing a pass to the tops.

Thoughts of squeezing in another short canyon are out the window.

By the time we reach camp it’s around 5pm and I’m suffering camps. I’ve drank about 8l of water already today but haven’t pissed since breakfast.

We pack camp, I mix some extra electrolytes into my hydrapac bladder and we start up the hill.

I’m really struggling and a few times have to call for a rest. Much to my equal parts chagrin and relief halfway up the ridge Madie and Leo split my gear between them leaving me with minimal weight. I’m still slow but finally we reach the ridge with the old trail. We still have 8km to go but it’s going to be easier walking.

I’m making OK pace now but my stomach is dehydrated and refusing to take much in. I’m taking small sips out of my hydrapack trying to get through. The cramps are bad, the slightest miss step and something locks up. I get service on the phone and text Mandy to let her know we’re going to be late. My finger camps bad. That’s a new sensation for me.

About 4km along the fire trail we stop for a rest. I try and take a slightly bigger drink. 3 steps later I spew that up. We march on.

It’s dark.

I tune out and walk on.

200m to go calls Madie, you can do it Flynny.

All that’s between us and the car is Natural bridge. I stumble my way down. I normally wouldn’t bat an eyelid at the climb up the other side. I stop for a rest. I spew again. There is nothing in my stomach. My whole abdominals cramp and lock tight.

If that’s what period cramps feels like , girls you get even more respect from me.

Finally we get to the car.

68km walking for the weekend, mostly off track, 3 nice canyons, two disappointing creeks, and one big a tick on the bucket list.

Home at last, I spill out of the car and spew again.

He’s alive, Madie tells Mandy, but he’s got a bit of heat stroke. You may want to get him checked

A quick shower and I think I’m good for bed but Mandy suggests a trip to hospital to get checked out.

At hospital they whack me on the scales, I’m 10kg lighter than I was Friday!

They take some blood and put me on a drip. 3 bags in they send Mandy home and book me in for the night.

6 litres of fluid later, do you think you can pee now? we need to see it before we can let you out.

I feel I want to but it’s not coming out.

Well, we can always put a catheter in.

I pee.

Apparently that threat works every time.

They release me lunch time Monday.

It’s the adversity as much as the victories that makes the lasting memories.

This trip has a big dash of both.

BACK

East Creek Fall

1/11/2020

Rus and me

I’ve been meaning to check this waterfall out for a while now. There’s been a couple of rainy days over recent years where me and Mandy thought about heading up for a look but each time we opted for something different.

Then on Saturday afternoon we found ourselves with nothing to do and decided to go check them out.

I had a rough grid reference but was pretty confident on the nav would be a simple matter of following the lay of the land and so didn’t bother taking a map or compass. Bush fires have denuded the landscape of the scrub the guards and hides it’s secrets. How hard could it be?

We hit the cliff line above the main creek but we are slightly downstream of the falls. A side gully forms a little canyonette and looked offer a way down.

Halfway down it tumbled over a 10m drop… I hadn’t brought ropes. We back track and slip over the ridge, where we catch our first glimps of the falls, and peer down into the next gully

The Falls are pumping nicely after a week of drizzly rain. From out limited view it looked like there might be a canyonette above them. That’s par for the course in this area, a short pagoda style canyons leading to interesting waterfall abseil.

Anyhoo my interest is pipped. I slip down this gully to check if it goes. The ledge the other gully drops over is a steep slippery ramp here. I’m confident I’ll get to the bottom of the falls.

A clap of thunder shakes the hills.

Many moons ago me, Mandy and our old mate Della were caught in a monsterous hail storm exiting coachwood canyon. Lightning crashed down on the ridge top all about us and we were smashed with hail. Mandy has hated being outside in storms ever since.

I retreat up the hill and we make our way back to the car.

I suggest to the awesome canyon fam that it would be worth checking out someday and the gully I scoped would make a good exit. Russ says he is keen.

Come morning. I had a bunch of stuff I needed to get done yet somehow it all got done much quicker than expected. Then it dawned on me, today is someday!

I message Russ to see if he had plans for the afternoon. He didn’t. He did now.

Again I didn’t have a map or compass but felt I had a good feel for the terrain.

Heading off into the not so dense scrub I picked a line along the ridge I was sure ran between the exit gully I scoped yesterday and that creek containing the falls. I was half expecting a little canyonette and maybe a small cliffline to negotiate. We found neither and before we knew it we were standing in a pretty gully on top of the falls.

There were a few options for anchors so we picked the one that offered the best chance of putting us through the waterfall. Now to see if the ropes would reach.

Peering over the edge ©Russ

I proceed down to the large ledge. Unfortunately this anchor puts me beside the impact zone… For a bit. The further down I go the wetter I get.

Landing on the ledge there are several options to rebelay but they all look a bit boring with questionable pull-downs. I signal up to Russ to payout more rope

I bridge across a small slot then drop into the full brunt of the fall for the final 12m. It’s a fun abseil.

Exhilerated and refreshed we slip up the exit gully and back to the car. It was still super early so we topped it off with a quick dash through Alcatraz.

Party size: 2

Time: East Creek 1hr 20 Alcatraz 1hr 15

If there were no obstacles in the way to disrupt and divert their flow waterfalls would never be so pretty which just goes to show with the right attitude obstacles don’t break you, they make you

BACK

Wolgan Falls

22/10/2020

Laurence, Kylie, Heni, Peter, Richard, Kent and meeeeeee

A while ago Laurie asked me if I’d ever been down Wolgan Falls. He’d been trying to find away into the top and bottom for years but had not long taken up abseiling.

I hadn’t. A few of us discussed running a trip. Then life happened.

Laurie and others pioneered a route in and out. And began to run the trip regularly. I usually got an invite but it was mostly midweek trips and I never made it, until today.

As I head up to meet Kylie, she messaged saying she was running 10min late because there was a Koala crossing the road.

Best excuse EVER!

I was a little worried about the meet up as the others were coming in from the other side of the plateau.

In the end we all arrived at the car park at pretty much the same time and head off into the untracked wilds of the upper Wolgan river.

Anyhoo

It’s an impressive landscape
Heni dropping in ©Kylie
Laurie is a local legend
A nice spot for morning tea ©Kylie
A lump sat alone on a rock in a park, my name is Flynny was his casual remark.. or sumfink ©Kylie
Not a bad spot. not a bad chick
And that’s just the falls before the falls

And all too soon it’s over. As we were preparing to hike out Richard tripped on a rock and pulled his calf muscle. A quick bit of bandaging and a make shift walking stick and he soldiered his way up the steep exit track

Kylie taking in the views on the way out

Group size: 7

Time: 4hrs very relaxed pace

Back at the cars it was still reasonably early so me and Kylie decide to do a quick dash through Alcatraz on the way back to her car

All in all another excellent day in the great outdoors with great outdoors people

Someone, somewhere thinks you are awesome. Hopefully you do too

BACK

Kanangra Main

19/10/2019

Jamie, Aimee, Mamie, Gamie and shamie…. I mean Jamie, Aimee, Matt, Mark and Meeeeee

Confession time: I’d not done Kanangra main before.

Abseiling for the sake of abseiling doesn’t really float my boat so it wasn’t a trip that ever featured high on my priority list but with anchor options that put you into more of the waterfalls rather than beside them it sounded fun and when Mark invited me on a trip I thought it high time I pop my K-Main cherry

After an early meet up we set off into the Kanangra wilds amidst banter and bravo. Before long we arrive at the start of the epicness and gear up

Epic is a word used a lot with the Kanangra wilderness and I have to admit it humbles you as you get dwarfed in the terrain.

Pitch 2

While water levels are down after a long dry spell, and even at normal level it’s not considered anywhere near hi-flow there is something about being swallowed into a waterfall halfway down a rope

Jamie on rope
Waterfallbow
Aimee looking tinier than usual
She took control of this anchor and look at her go with feeding the rope out of the bag. Nice work

Below is a typical “Ethical and safe” blue mountains anchor…. sling crumbled with 1 sharp tug

At least there is not far to fall…

I’m glad Mark converted me to releasable systems and flaking ropes into/out of bags. Constantly coiling and uncoiling ropes on this trip would be a PITA. We got the others into it too

Rope stuffing beside waterfalls, it’s a thing we are into…. Or sumfink
Looks like a jump, feels like a jump, smells like a jump… Well half a jump. Woot woot

And then we rock hop down the the Kalang junction and begin the “gentle stroll” back up manslaughter ridge… Helps if you stop to smell the orchids every now and then

Another great day with great people

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face : Eleanor Roosevelt

Party Size: 5

Time: 8.5hr car to car taking it steady

BACK

Aimee’s take on the day

Kalang Falls

13-10-2018

Tim, Al, Gabby, Ev, Geoff, Roy, James and me

I’ve said before that for me the abseils are just a means to get to the next bit of canyon.

I’m far more excited by exploring the dark confines of a slot canyon. I’m captivated by the play of light as the sun arcs over head. I get fascinated by the way water and time have sculptured the rock, and I’m dazzled by the ferntacious greenery…

Ayhoo with that in mind the Kanangra canyons have never held a massive appeal to me but when Tim invited me on a trip down Kalang Falls I thought I may as well check it out to see what the fuss is all about.

aa-1.jpg
With the east coast experiencing some much needed rain it was moody in the forest waiting for the others to arrive.

 

After a week of drizzle mixed with rain we’d check the water levels and if it was too high we’d abort and do Dione Dell instead.

As it was it was pretty much prefect

And so our group of merry adventurers set off from the car park with a buzz of excitement and a swagger in our steps.

Despite a few of the others having done the trip before myself and Al got nominated leaders so the real leader, Tim could follow along at the back of the group as safety man with the spare rope. So we set  off to rig the first drop.

aa-2.jpg
Making our way down towards the first abseil conditions were very slippery making it slow and steady going

There is a bit of scrambling to get down to the first anchor and Tom’s notes warned the final drop before the anchor could be dangerous so in the wet slippery conditions we rigged the abseil from above it.

aa-5.jpg
I have to admit the waterfalls are stunning

As with all of Tim’s trips we had multiple ropes and walkie-talkie communi-doonies so the group could spread out. Me and Al would set rope, the next person would arrive, we’d take their rope and descend to the next one. And so on and so forth etc etc etc. So even with a largish group taking their time on slick rock we made good time down the ravine.

aa-7.jpg
Al, Fingers crossed I’ve tied the knot right Bro.

aa-8.jpg
It’s technically a dry trip but I got soaked in the spray off this one. If doing it in winter with this much water you’d want some good waterproof clothing

 

Rope management was the theme of the day. Lots of vegetation and ledges for ropes to get tangled on. I can see where flaking it out of a rope bag would be handy on a trip like this.

aa-10.jpg
You can just make out Ev about to come over the edge

 

aa-11.jpg
Tim at the 3rd anchor, this one is a little hard to locate.

aa-13.jpg
Not the best silky smooth waterfall photography today but not bad for hand-held shots with the TG4

aa-14.jpg
Epic Kanangra country

aa-17.jpg
Al below the 3rd abseil. You can see Ev on belay where the ropes come down to the right

 

aa-18.jpg

I found the scrambles between the falls took a lot of concentration. The quartzite is a lot slipperier than the standard Bluies sandstone and also tends to have a lot more loose rocks ready to roll your ankle.

aa-20.jpg
Ev at the bottom of the big drop with Gabby way up high on rope to the right at the top of the falls

aa-22.jpg
Despite the cool day Gabby felt the need for a bit of a swim. Ev is trying to dissuade her.

aa-23.jpg
Geoff handling it with ease

But….

aa-24.jpg
Then he went for a swing and only good team belaying by Ev and Gabby kept him dry

aa-25.jpg
Always time for a selfie

aa-26.jpg
Geoff’s enthusiasm for the bush is infectious

aa-27.jpg
And then it was up Manslaughter ridge and out

 

 Probably really common, but can anyone tell me the species?

aa-33.jpg
Thuratt Spires and Kanangra wilderness

How did I find it? Well the waterfalls were stunning, the company was awesome, the abseils were abseils and the walk out wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be.

Another great day in the bush with great people.

The mind is like water: capable of going anywhere but once hemmed in by walls of it’s own making it takes a powerfull flood to burst it’s banks and change its course: me

 

 

Group size: 8 all experienced

Time: 9hr 20min car to car, not rushing in the slippery conditions and taking it easy up the exit ridge.

BACK 

 

Claustral

11/12/2016

Edwin, Lewis and myself

Claustral is the quintessential Blue Mountains canyon. A deep, dark, sustained slot accessed by a series of abseils down a dark hole known as the Black Hole of Calcutta. Once in you are committed, the slot can be as fearsome as it is beautiful. Flash floods do happen and the exit is hours away. It has claimed the lives of some very experienced canyoners and been the scene of various rescue operations over the years.

It’s part of the big three. Thunder, Ranon and, Claustral canyons and their tributaries, carve the saddle in between Mt Tomah and Mountain Banks into a deep maze that has come to be known as the Carmathan labyrinth.

In 1804 the botanist and  explorer, George Caley, gazed up at the Blue Mountains and confidently declared “There is not a single peak which would take more than half a day to scale!”

He was right, but it wasn’t the peaks that would thwart him in his attempt to cross the mountains. His party reached the top of Mt Tomah with little difficulty then set about crossing the short distance to the next peak,  Mt Banks. He didn’t know about the labyrinth that awaited him below.

We were taught at school that the early explorers failed to find a way across the mountains because they tried to penetrate the river valleys when they needed to follow the ridges. But Caley’s plan was always to follow the ridges between the high peaks. Unfortunately the ridge he tried to follow didn’t exist

Scrambling down through lawyer vines and disjointed cliff lines they eventually came to a deep dark chasm they called Gaping Gill (while a chasm still bares this name it is probable they were looking into the lower reaches of Thunder gorge).

With no way to cross the chasm they beat a retreat back up to the ridge and tried another approach. This time into a gully Caley would name Dismal Dingle. Night descended and they made camp in a small overhang. Awestruck by the glow worms lighting up the wall over head, tormented by possums who ran like little demons through their camp stealing their food, eaten alive by mosquitoes and, terrorised by a wild fire that ripped up through the Grose Valley his men threatened revolt if he tried to push on they way they were going.

Come morning they beat another retreat up to the ridge line and opted to follow this in a wide arc around the labyrinth below. They were now on the very ridge that would one day carry the Bells Line of road. A native track way, had they stayed on this ridge they would have achieved their goal of crossing the Mountains in little over another days walk. But, of course, they didn’t know this.

Their plan was to follow the ridge line they mistakenly believed connected the major peaks they could see from the Richmond plains . And so they veered off to explore the peak of Mt Banks with Hat Hill, their next objective. Upon reaching the top of Mt Banks they looked down in dismay at the 300m cliff line that plummeted into the Grose Valley with Hat Hill unreachable on the other side. Dejected they turned tail and headed for home.

Later, or so I have read somewhere (but for the life of me I now can’t find the source) an early female bush explorer (Mary Biles?) ventured into the rim of the Labyrinth and upon peering down into a dark slot dropping into bowels of the earth wrote words to the effect of “One day the depths may be explored. Whether brave or fool hardy those who do surely will not suffer from claustrophobia.” Thus the slot was later christened Claustral canyon.

OK, maybe I spiced a bit or even all of that intro up. I’m not a historian, don’t take it as gospel. After all, I got my history of the world from Mel Brooks and all I know for certain is “It’s good to be the king.”….

Anyhoo. I’ve a confession to make. I’d never done Claustral Canyon. I’d been into  the system through Ranon and I’d wandered up the bottom section of Thunder canyon but back in the day Claustral was the most popular abseil canyon and I was put off by the thought of lining up to access the abseils. I was a bit of a canyon snob really and I come to realise I had cheated myself of a great experience.

Soooooo when Ed and his mate, Lewis, invited me along on a photophaffary trip I jumped at the chance. Now as you probably have worked out by now I have a little point a shoot camera (Olympus Tough TG4) and am not overly concerned at capturing amazing images of art, more documentaries of my travels so I had a sneaky suspicion that they needed a mule to carry the ropes so that they might lugg in more photomagraphary equipment needed to get their awesome shots but I was cool with that.

As it was everybody bought rope.

Anyhoo, I was running a bit early so stopped by the Emu Cave to get a few photos and explore the rock shelf a little more. then it was onto the car park

After a quick meet and greet, with the wrong party ( Are you Lewis, Says I. Nope, says he. Are you doing Claustral? We’re doing Ranon. Cool we’ll probably see you in there)

Lewis arrives and we introduce ourselves just as Ed turns up. We reconcile gear, stuff packs and we’re off. The traditional entry and exit point to Claustral was from the top of Mt Tomah, however in 2011 the land the access track crosses changed hands and the new owners built a house right where the track was. And who can blame them, they have some of the best views in the mountains.

A new route was found from the other side Mt Bell. This made the exit a lot longer and more convoluted which I think may have reduced visitor numbers a bit.

Anyhoo. We quickly make our way down through a pleasant gully and soon reach the junction with Claustral Brook

A bit of creek walking and boulder scrambling brings us to the first swim and we suit up and plunge in as the canyon begins to get deeper

10
Ed scrambling down

11
The canyon is looking good already

A little more scrambling and we come to the abseils. 3 successive drops down into a dark abyss. Ed and Lewis scramble to get cameras out. Looks like I’m going first for want of a better model

12.jpg
The start of the abseils

13
Lewis on the first abseil

The drops are pretty cool. Abseil 10-15 meters, swim across a pool to a small stance and repeat

3
Lining up to take photos on the small stance between drops

The final abseil starts through a small hole and drops into darkness. Much awesomeness

5
Edwin dropping into the Black hole of Calcutta, nicely back lit by Lewis’ torch

From here its 50m through the darkest part of the slot until it widens slightly at the Junction with Ranon.

The moss covered boulders and fern strewn walls at the junction may well be the most photographed bit of canyon in the country but it is truly stunning.

17
We played around here for a while snapping photos from all angles

21.jpg
Lewis contemplating the light

22
It’s much greener than I remember. One of the most fern filled and moss covered canyons I’ve been in

23
Cameras at 10 paces… I’ve heard of people paying to do the guided trip just for a photo here

After lots of photo phaffing we head down. The boys need to be very careful with keeping their gear dry so it’s in and out of dry bags a lot. The advantage of my TG4 is I can keep it at the ready. The photos may not be the same quality but as it’s so handy I have about 600 to trawl through.

25
Canyon formation

29
Canyon Formation

Just as the big cameras get triple dry bagged to continue on Ed looks up to see one of the group coming in from Ranon has slid out along a fallen log that spans the canyon 40 or 50 meters up. There was a scramble to get cameras back out in the hope they were going to abseil down the middle of the canyon walls from this log but by the time cameras were out he had thought better of it and retreated to do the normal route through the waterfalls

35
The group coming in from Ranon catch us

37.jpg
Like the slot the greenery just keeps going

With all the standing about i had begun to get cold so I peeled down the wet suit and put a light thermal underneath which improved things greatly.

39
Looking for sun rays but the day was a little overcast so the few we got were very faint

46

44
Ed carefully wading with the camera out

45
Canyon formation

Light rays, canyons and photographers

51
Ed chasing Rays

We caught back up to the other group at the junction with Thunder Canyon, which is a great spot for lunch. They soon finished and continued on, we have a quick look up Thunder and then followed suit.

After this junction the canyon opens up a little and there is some tricky scrambling down some drops before it closes back in.

52
Lewis looking down a pot hole

Once it closes back in you encounter the infamous tunnel swim. Way back when I did Ranon the last time the water level was down and you could walk through here. Now it’s  a spectular 50m swim

53

A little more scrambling, a couple of pools and you reach the exit

There is a steep haul up Rainbow Ravine, which has some pretty canyon sections itself, then a long walk up the ridge to the top of the Camels Hump. I remember last time getting to this point and thinking we had come up the wrong hill.  From the top the hump it looks to be surrounded on all sides by chasms and the old exit point to top of Mt Tomah can be seen across a particularly deep chasm. You can see why, with no maps and no knowledge of the land Caley and his crew had so much trouble. I’m remember almost having my own muntiny on my hands as hungover and exstausted Della and Lurch were in no mood to drop down and climb out again.

Just when we thought we would have to descend all the way down and start again the trail crossed a narrow, bridge like rock saddle. It barely looks real. Something straight out of Tolkin. The old exit is now just up the hill. 10-15min up to the car park… The old exit.

The new exit is not so quick and does involved dropping all the way back down into Claustral Brook. We head steeply back down. There are some nice canyon sections and a swim or two before we reach the gully we came in on.

Yeah it’s a long walk out. Yeah I’m feeling it today but it’s not too bad, we’ve done worse.

Party Size: 3 All experienced

Time: 10hrs car to car. Lots of time spent striking poses and  snapping photos

Back

Dione Dell

25-09-2016

Jodie, Garry Edwin and me

26

Dione Dell is a good introduction to the Kanangra-Boyd style canyons. Unlike the dark, sandstone constrictions of Blue Mt canyons the ones out this way are more steep ravines that drop through a series of water falls as the streams cut down through the quartzite landscape.

Now at first glance quartzite looks a bit like sandstone, and once upon a time it was just that but then it got subjected to heat and pressure which melts down the granny structure and metamorphises it into and different beast.

Gone is the grittiness that offers some semblance of grip, and it’s harder too so tends to break off in lots of block sized chunks. Loose and slippery. It can make for hard going as you try to traverse it.

Anyhoo it had been ages since I’d been down Dione Dell (Almost 18 years) and I was keen to take Tal, he  and his mates had other ideas and went camping instead but I was still excited to show the others through it.

As I said earlier, it’s a good intro into Kanangra Walls canyons. One of the smaller trips out this way it consists of 4 major waterfalls, which are, for the most part, descended in single pitches, and a relatively easy walk out.

All that said it shouldn’t be taken lightly. The quartzite is slippy and loose and some of the abseils have quiet a bit of vegetation and in high water it would be a bit of a challenge.

In summer it is possible to take the direct route down through the falls. Today we opted to stay mostly dry (‘Cept for me who fell in. Pay back for the time I took Della down in the snow and he fell in multiple times)

But enough of my blabbering. here are some photos to wet your appetite.

1
Edwin testing out my new Canyonfire rope

4

5
Jodie and Gaz

7
Gaz on the second abseil

8
Jodie

12

13

17
The crew at the base of Wallara falls

18
Garry

28
Me just after my unintended swim

2022

23

25

 

27

29

Party Size: 4 (3 experienced I beginner)

Time: About5 hr car to car with some photo phaffing

 

Ida Falls

Access: Easy walk, thanks to Ty N. and all his hard work fixing up the old track. There is some steep uneven dirt steps and a couple of spot where you are stepping over or along logs but no abseils or rock scrambles.

Navigation: Navigation is fairly straight forward.

Map:  Lithgow  1:25000 These can be purchased at Lithgow Tourist information center or online for around $10 each though not really needed here

Time: It takes about 30min to walk up to the falls.

Ida

Ida Falls is a nice little walk on the outskirts of Lithgow. There are hand stencils in the area suggesting it was important to the native peoples prior to white settlement. The lower gully was once a coal mine and relics from that era are easy to spot.

Familiar to generations of Oakey Park kids as a semi secret hidout and yabbie hunting spot.

Half way up the gully is over looked by Top Points on the ZigZag railway to the left and a forgotten look out (opposite PoW memorial on Scenic Hill) and old climbing crag to the right.

In recent years a young local took on the task of fixing up the trail so others less adventurous could visit it. Please respect not only all his hard work but the very nature of the location, a piece of pristine beauty right on the edge of town

Getting there:

Head down Inch st this becomes Bells St after the second rail over bridge. At end of Bell st cross a little bridge (Notice the tunnel this creek comes out of on the right) and there is a small parking area on the right. Walk back towards the last house, down toward the crk. You need to get to the other side of the railway line and you do this by passing through a cool old culvert.

DCIM166GOPRO
Mandy in the tunnel

Once through the tunnel look for Ty’s home made signs as the guide you across the creek then up to the right to avoid the boggy ground and hence up the gully towards the falls

 

8

The Falls don’t always have a flow going over them so it’s best to do the walk after a bit of rain, or even while it’s raining. Return the same way

It’s possible scramble up through breaks in the cliff lines and visit the upper gully to but care and respect is needed

Note: The great outdoors is an ever changing place. Bush fires, changing weather, vegetation growth and forestry activities can all effect the trail conditions and thus the difficulty of the walk. These are a rough guide only and are by no means meant to be a definitive guide . They do not replace the need adequate map reading and navigational skills

Note 1: Taking care  While reasonably well known these spots are still wild places and care needs to be taken around cliff edges and on the steep trails.  Carrying the right gear as well as having adequate food, water and clothing is important. Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to get back.

Emergency beckons (PLBs) can be hired from Katoomba Police for very little.

Note 2: First aid A basic first aid kit is essential bit of kit whenever heading into the Aussie bush. A basic first aid is highly recommended

Note 3: Maps and Navigation Having the right map, a compass and knowing how to read them is very important when heading into the bush. If you are new to bush walking joining a club or accompanying more experienced walker for you first few outing is a very good idea. I found practicing map reading on well defined trails was helpful when I started out.

The Maps mentioned are the 1:25000 series. They can be purchase at Lithgow tourism information center, from outdoors shops or online for around $10 each.

Note 4: These are wild and beautiful places, respect them. If you are able to carry something in you can carry it out. Don’ be a tosser. Leaving your rubbish behind is a sure way to ruin it for every one else.

 

ida falls

 

BACK