I’m not sure I’m keen enough to drive down, says Kylie. But I haven’t caught up with them in ages.
The others were already at Bungonia canyoning away.
How about we meet up somewhere and share the bulk of the drive? Say I
Deal says she.
We enact the plan.
The others look a little wrecked from the previous day.
It was hot, say they, and the creek water was horrid. We almost ran out of water.
I throw in an extra water bottle.
And we are off.
We reach the creek without too much effort but the day is already heating up. I’m glad I left the wetsuit in the car.
The pool below looks so inviting
Then we get to a larger drop. The notes say bolts on the right but they look a bit sketchy to get to ( thou belatedly we spit a traverse bolt)
We opt for a sling on a tree up to the left. This gives us about a 42m abseil into the pool below.
The pool is full of string algae and pulling the ropes throu is like fishing for slime monsters..
Some more cool pools and a 12m abseil follow
Which Jason opts to jump
And then we get to Jerrara falls themselves
At this stage I’m a little confused with the notes. They say the full thing is 85m. But it can be split in 2 doing 60m (bypassing a small semi hanging rebelay) and 35m or in 3 doing 30m, 35m, 30m…. Or sumfink
I don’t know if maths has changed since I was a boy but when Brother John taught me my sums those numbers did not add up.
Still Bro John also said, quiet frequently, You’re strong in the legs but weak in the heads boys. So maybe the calculation issue was on my end.
So the notes indicated a 5m scramble to the first bolts. It looked bigger than 5 and exposed AF so I opted to abseil off slings on a tree. As I’m abseiling down Kris walks over a knob and scrambled down to meet me on a big sloping ledge. We can see anchor bolts just over the edge where it starts to get steeper.
There are also bolts at the back of the ledge which I urge the others to use. it’s a reasonably grippy surface but sloping and a big drop below so we want to opt for caution.
I go down to the anchor and set the 70m rope thinking we are going to bypass the first rebelay and do pitch 1 and 2 as one.
In hindsight I think I’ve just come down pitch 1 and the little ledge I’m standing on is the semi hanging rebelay at the start of pitch 2. But there’s no way it was 30m from the top. I’d say it was well less than 15 and I couldn’t see and bolts further up that would match the description for the pitch 1 anchor
Anyhoo we needed to swap out ropes as I’d come down on the short rope and we are thinking we’ll need to keep the 2nd long rope as a pull chord and send the short rope down to set the last pitch.
As they sort ropes I’m on a baking hot ledge in full sun in short sleeves. I’m roasting. Eventually I remember I have sunscreen in the top of my pack. I lather it on to my face shoulders and legs. did I mention it’s hot? It’s baking freaking hot. Soooooo hot. Oven hot
Eventually the ropes are swapped and Jason heads down. And signals to take rope up. I had about 65m out and pull up about 10m before he signals stop. That doesn’t make sense.
Things are a little confused, there’s a large group in line of sight with us in bungonia canyon and so whistle signals are getting a little crossed.
Kylie heads down. And signals rope up. I take up another 15m or so.
This is not making any sense with our plan.
The rest of us head down. We get to a big sloping ledge, there’s anchor bolts, Jason’s is on a ledge about 20m below and out to the left. None of it matches the small rebelay ledge we bought the long ropes to bypass but we haven’t gone down enough to be on top of pitch 3. Have we?
There’s some discussion on whether there’s 1 or 2 pitches left.
There is no way that is 65m to the pool says I. But we rig the 70m so it can be lowered with the 60 just in case.
Kylie goes down and signals rope up
I’m sitting the the spray of the waterfall longing to get into the pool below but I’m anchor bitch a going last.
Eventually we all get down.
It seems we have done the 3 pitches as described but the heights are off, especially for the first pitch.
Anyhoo, slightly older and not very much wiser we continue down
There had been some discussion about taking one of the short cut exits. But given the choice between scrambling up an exposed, loose knife edge in the baking sun or boulder hoping down and walking up the tourist track at a slightly cooler time of day everyone opted tourist track
And then we reach the junction with the red track.
Ok National Parks down here have a much more liberal idea on what constitutes a “tourist track” than those softly graded , full of stairs and boardwalks tourist tracks found in the bluies.
The start was a hell of a lot more scrambley than I had expected.
Nothing overly difficult or exposed but different to what I was thinking.
But the start was in a shady gully which was nice.
Coming out of the gully onto the open ridge was like hitting a wall of heat. But it snaked it’s way the ridge easy enough and I hightailed back to the campground and grabbed the ute thinking I’d do the gentlemanly thing and save the others another 2km walk
But they got to the top of the hill and took a sharp right., following the green trail back. So I missed them and the bastards beat me into the showers 🤣🤣
All in all another great day with awesome people.
“Let a man walk ten miles steadily on a hot summer’s day along a dusty English road, and he will soon discover why beer was invented.” — Gilbert K. Chesterton
Hywaida, Kristo, Ethan, Kylie, Rus, Madie and meeeeeeeeeeeeee
Who wants to do Butterbox this weekend, said I
Me, said them.
As they say in Canada (probably) Well alrighty then
A cold wind blew on the morning of our gathering.
Wait! That’s an understatement and a half
It was an icey gale that ripped through us as we met at the car park.
And it seemed like it would be whipping up through the canyon
Are we sure we want to do this?
And so it went.
We layered up and headed in.
Excitement on faces and interesting places.
Butterbox is, for the most part, more open and has less swimming than the trip we did through North Bowen 2 weeks ago. But there are more abseils which could lead to more standing around waiting. we had enough ropes to keep moving. My only concern was the small stance on the chockstone pitch might mean we have a line up of people waiting in ice wind.
Good news for us, once we dropped off the ridge there was hardly any wind at all. I had a set of sharkskin T2 chillproof underneath my 5mm seland wetsuit (* this is not a paid endorsement. but if seland or sharkskin are reading this….. 🙂 ) I had put them on at the first abseil. I’d packed a windcheater jacket but left it in my pack.
By the time we got to the first swim I was keen to cool off
A couple of short swims, a slide and we get to the bit we are here for
So at the bottom of that you go over the edge and pop out to a large rock wedged between the canyon wall, The chockstone. Well I say large, there’s room for 2 people to set up the next abseil, 3 if you don’t mind getting up close and personal. 4 if you want a group hug with little room to do anything else much less try to set rope or maneuverer to abseil.
And I just noticed Madie creeping in the background of the above photo as Kristo descends. What is she doing up there? How did she get there? How will she get down? The answers to all this and more will not be forthcoming in the next instalment of “What’s Madie up to now”
Another short swim, some boulder hoping and a final abseil and we reach the lunch spot and spread out in the sunlight. Pulling on dry clothes Rus reminisces about the time it was so stinking hot when we got here that we found some shade and snoozed for a couple of hours waiting for it to cool down enough to climb out.
Of course the Butterbox adventure isn’t over yet. There still the steep walk out to the clmb.
I put my windcheater on expecting to be in the full force of the icy zepher. Soon I stash that back in the pack and strip down to a tee shirt. It was pleasant in the valley
Up top it wasn’t until we were cross the saddle from Butterbox point back to the car park that the full force of the wind hit us. At one point I think I was leaning 45° to the right trying to resist it blowing me off the hill.
You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t loose it: R Williams