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.

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It’s the Little Things in Life

Sunday 11/07/2020

Russ and meeeee. With a late inclusion of Leo and Madie

A few options were thrown about for weekend adventures but in the end it was cold and damp… Perfect weather for descending a couple of pretty little slots on the Sunnyside plateau

First stop Zorro

The road out is surprisingly clear. Of course I took the first fire trail, belatedly remembering the rough hill down the rocks. I pull up and explain my error. Madie doesn’t look too keen on testing the 4WD capabilities of her ute. Leo, in the drivers seat, looks like a kid on the way to a lolly shop but I decide to turn back and do the detour. Lucky, as looking back up the hill at the junction the link trail hadn’t been cleared for fallen trees

We find our car park and in no time we are descending between the parallel walls of the entrance hall.

And it’s not long until we get to the first abseil

Bottom of first abseil

Last year the canyon was as dry as I’ve ever seen it. Today more normal conditions saw a couple of pools, some of which required some tricky bridging to keep feet dry.

Leo contemplating the first of the little pools
Checking out the second drop. Russ pointing out the dodgy anchor some people abseil off.

I’ve always just down climbed this one. With some careful bridging you can stay dry. I missed a step and right leg went in up to my knee. That leg was too warm anyway

Have I ever mentioned how pretty the central chamber is

The soft light and mist really adding to the beauty

The exit hall was also very atmospheric today with the mist rolling in

Then it opens out for the final abseil.

Not mentioning any names but somebody <Coughitwasrusscough>may or may not have left the safety draw attached to the pull cord and had to prusik back up to retrieve it. Fun times

Then it’s a short stroll back up the hill to the car and we drive back up around the head of the main gully to some cool little features on the other side. The Cracks of DOOM!!

Finally, a quick stop at Bardens lookout where Madie and Leo romp up a pumpy little climb to finish the day off

Saturday 12/07/2020

Mandy and me

We’d had a lazy morning but decide to head out of a lunch date.

I’ve always thought this one a pretty little canyon so I was a little apprehensive as to the state it would be in post fires.

Turns out the canyon itself was fairly untouched. Some of the ferns in the main chamber were brown but that looks more a result of drought

Some people like to cause commotion. Others like to be the commotion.

I prefer just to be in motion

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Coinslots and Bull Ants

16/06/2019

Russ, Stu, Ethan and meeeeeee

Despite (or possibly because) starting the year doing some amazingly awesome and epic trips I’ve been struggling to get out lately. Trying to find that balance between family, canyoning, the mountain bike club, work and all the other crap I do has needed a bit of tending.

Anyhooo I had a weekend free and the guys were keen. Our plans to do something in the Wolgan took a dive when I remembered the glowworm tunnel marathon was on and the valley would be packed.

Shall we go one valley over and do Coinslot.

Yep

It’s really short shall we follow up with Doomsday (AKA Bull Ant)

Yep

They are an argumentative bunch…

Anyhooo, We converge at my place, load gear in ute and head off.

Reaching the car park the fog was that thick we couldn’t see the clifflines but we were soon well above that and the views on the way up to Coinslot never fail to impress

I’d considered doing the climbing route as I know all the guys are competent but then thought if we wanted to do another canyon none of us had done before it might be best to take the quicker way up thus we take the not quiet climbing route.

Previously with different groups, some of whom needed roping up, the climb up to Coinslot always seemed a longer expedition but in no time we were up and into it.

In the absence of the Mad One Russ volunteered to go all Madie on the heart shaped rock

Russ Enjoying the Coinslot abseil
Stu at the top of the 29m Coinslot abseil
It’s a stunning drop
Then we avoid the pool with one of the easiest games of “the water is lava” ever, making use of some very convenient finger pockets
Stu in silhouette against the Capertee valley

And then it’s back down to the hill to the car, it’s barely lunch time.

I’ve got some vague track notes to get us to the start of Doomsday and after a bite to eat we head off up the other side of the valley. The climb up starts steep and gets steeper. Some dodgy not-quiet-rock-climbing sees us standing on a summit over looking the valley.

It’d be a nice spot for a morning tea break or sumfink.

Down into a gap and up the other side then steadily up a ridge.

The canyon must start fairly high up in the system….

Nope.

We reach the point were the notes say to turn towards the creek and need to drop back down through a fair portion of the elevation we just ascended.

I’m already thinking of Chardie and Autal’s comments on my complex bush bashes to visit not so awesome canyons…

Not sure if Madie told you guys but I have a reputation for this shit, say I

Canyon better be good, says they. And I have to agree

Ethan regales them with the tale of our scrub bash to nowhere

If there is ever a next time I think I’d try and traverse the base of the upper cliffs. Climbing up them just to abseil back down wasn’t that fun

I’d promised swims but we did our best to avoid the black manky water for as long as possible
Stu showing us how to get down without getting wet. I must have missed an important tip and went for a swim instead. Mmmmmm smelly and cold. Cold and smelly
Interestingly this wasn’t the only anchor to feature cheap paramatta rope, nor was it the most bizarre set up we came across all day
And then we come to the Doomsday pool

This involves an abseil into a pool and then a duck under a low arch. The bottom of the arch is only a couple of inches above the top of the water. As I was already wet I strip off my shirt and volunteer to go first. It was freaking cold

By throwing the ropes over the arch I was then able to help Stu, and subsequently the others to stay dry by coming over the top. Their dryness would last for long
What the hell is Russel doing to that tree???

And then we boulder hop, abseil and stumble back down the hill to the maintenance trail and thus back to the car.

It’s not often I finish a canyon wondering whether it was worth it but I doubt I’d rush back to do Doomsday. I know other friends enjoy it and to be fair on a warmer, wetter day it might be more appealing but today it didn’t grab me as anything special.

Anyhooo

Everyone wants to experience the view at the top of the mountain. Very few realise the magic, wonder and growth happens while you are climbing it 

Party Size: 4 all experienced

Time: Coinslot 2.5 hours car to car. Doomsday 4.5hrs car to car

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Fiddle Stick in the wilderness part 3

Continues from Part 2

The next canyon does not appear in any guide and I haven’t seen it marked on any map I’ve come across but unlike the two previous canyons that none of us had done Ryan had visited this one, stumbling across it on a trip a few years ago.

It will be more aquatic than the last 2, says he….

Anyhoo, it turned out to be a great little canyon

The hyper kids give the fiddle sticks a spit and polish and in we go again
I love this shit
Another fabulously narrow slot
Mmmmmm if this water was lava we’d all be burnt to a crisp no avoiding the swims in this one but the water is warmer than typically found in the blue mt canyons and the swims are relatively short
Stu heading down into and another splendid section
The Mad One in a dark section
The our last abseil for the day…. Or is it

So our intel and Ryan’s memory said there were four drops in the canyon, and this is true, but just down the creek we come to a substantial cliff line which looks borderline to big for our rope.

The general consensus from those who have explored this particular slice of the wilderness before is there are no large drops of any significance.

This one looks significant

Well that’s a bit of a buggar.

Anyhoo

We join two ropes and anchor the top one just above the knot on a munter hitch. I get on the bottom rope and head over the edge but due to over hanging ledges I can’t see if the ropes on the ground. The plan is once I get a visual, if it is not touching the ground Ryan will lower me on the munter.

As it was when I finally get a look the rope is close enough to the ground to make it down safe.

It’s getting late and we are a long way down the main creek from our camp site so we discuss options of trying to break a pass up through the cliffline while we still have light or trudge a few kilometres up the main creek to a pass Phil has used previously and climb that in the dark.

We opt for the former, Madie has a pass marked on her map we think we can link up with.

Unfortunately we get on to a ledge too early that doesn’t go and are forced to abseil off as light fades where the decision is made to retreat to the main creek and take Phils pass out.

It’s longer and more complicated than I expect but we eventually get to the top and onto the fire trail. We have a couple of kilometres to get back to camp.

The others are staying an extra night, a wise choice, myself and Russ break camp and trek a further several kilometres back to the cars for the long drive back to civilisation

All in all a great experience

Group Size: 6

Time: Car to Camp. 1 and a bit hours. Camp to camp 14 hours. All up just shy of 25 hours and 36km in the wilderness

So what did I think of the Fiddle Stick?

Well… It’s a lot slower than throw and go and has none of the advantages of lowerable anchor systems. There is also a lot more to be mindful of when setting up so will need constant practice but for wilderness canyons where the aim is not to leave anything behind, including slings, rope burns on trees or grooves in rock, it makes a lot of sense.

Another handy tool in the quiver, but as I said one you’d want to practice a bit to stay familiar with it’s use.

You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself: Alan Alda

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Fiddle Stick in the Wilderness part 2

Continued from Part 1

Despite the complex looking multiple cliff lines we find an easy pass and up we go
Madie finds a cool little rock arch
Looking down towards the Nile in the Caperty valley through a gap in the Numeitta lines
We drop down into the top of our gully beside this grand old tree
Fiddle sticks at the ready and into the next spectacularly narrow canyon
The water is definitely lava in this one
Rus at an awkwardly flared section . And yes we stayed dry here
Ryan showing his bridging skill

Other than a dipping her boots Madie joins the boys in making it across, once again showing Pleather pants are better than a leather face. This is where my upper body strength failed and I took a plunge. The water is lava and I’m scorched to my neck or sumfink
The canyon continues it’s tremendously narrow twisting and turning, even having a nice glowworm tunnel at the bottom of one of the drops
Eventually even Stu is forced into a shallow wade

And then as the canyon opens out we explore a pass up to the side that proves to be surprisingly easy and make our way over to our next goal

Continued

Fiddle Sticking in the Wilderness

11/05/2019

Soggy Bottom, Balls Deep, All in, Just a Bobble, Dragged a Toe and Ah Stuff it I’m in, AKA meeee

It’s 9pm, it’s the middle of May and I’m following Madie down a fire trail on another wild adventure.

The snow clouds that swirled around all day had hampered the drive out with constant rain and a smattering of sleet yet as we pull into the car park to meet the others they miraculously clear and we have a crisp stary night for our walk out to where we will camp above the canyons.

We’re not the only obsessive compulsive canyoning weirdos this time around, joining us are Rus, Ryan, Stu and Phil.

Madie had been recently converted to fiddle stick ghosting/Leave-no-trace techniques and I’m keen to check it out but first we pitch tents and enjoy a night of banter around the camp fire.

We’re up before sun rise and set off at first light amid one of the most spectacular pretty dawns I have witnessed.

After a few kilometres walk further along the fire trail we spear off into the bush looking for our first canyon. There are no track notes for the canyons out this way and the un-tracked terrain makes the whole area something special.

After a bit of navigation deliberation, something that would become somewhat of a theme for this trip, we find the entry point of our first canyon and after some tips from Madie, Ryan and Stu on the finer points of fiddle sticks we drop in
A game of “The water is lava” ensued. Pleather pants for canyoning is a thing now.

Another notch for our Bow or sumfink
Fiddle sticking is all well a good but for true leave no trace techniques some of us down climbed this one, but the bottom has a bit awkward and Phil was not comfortable so Madie set a rope for him and followed him down
Tolkien use to write about places like this, we all thought it was fantasy

And then the canyon opens out and we make our way down to the main creek aiming for a pass up to our next canyon

Continued

Shhhh, Don’t mention the names

06-04-2019

With a bunch of bike and family commitments throughout March it’s had been nearly 4 weeks since I managed to get a canyon in. Or is that get in a canyon?

Anyhoo, I was tonguing to get out and I had missed some good trips with some good people so when the mad one said she wanted to do a canyon out in the Northern Wollemi on a weekend I finally had free I begged a leave pass and we started to plan.

Invitations were sent and a few people were keen but in the end most were unable to make it.

Briefly we discussed doing it as a day trip but decided that if we camped at the increasingly popular Dunns Swamp we’d have time to squeeze in another little canyon while we were out there.

Let’s go down one and up the other.

Doesn’t the guide say the other has some abseils?

Pffft, It says 1 abseil or a down climb, how hard could it be.

I first visited Dunns Swamp back around 1992 for wild party, now it’s all families and quiet time, lights out at 10pm and stuff. Camp sites were filling up fast and continued to do so well into the night,

I can see why Shrek liked his swamp. What’s that? You want a trip report based on Shrek quotes? Challenge accepted

We set up camp. This is gonna be fun. We can stay up late, swappin’ manly stories and in the morning, I’m making WAFFLES!

In the morning no waffles were made but we make our way out to the forestry gate. For which I have the combination as it’s part of the bicentennial trail, ‘cept they have changed the locks. This would mean a 10km fire trail slog.


Who are you trying to keep out? Just tell me that, Shrek. Who? ©Madie

Luckily we bought bikes to eat up the first bit of fire trail. Now we are getting somewhere!

Before people get their knickers in a knot about mountain biking in a Wilderness area the trail is part of the Bicentennial National trail on which cycling is approved
https://www.bicentennialnationaltrail.com.au/discover-the-bnt/ section 10

Sometime later we ditch the bikes and do the last bit on foot. I’d driven across this fire trail in dads jeep in about 86, it’s a stunning bit of the world.

We had next to zero info on the first canyon but it looked like we needed to get through some complicated clifflines to reach it. In the end with some less than attentive navigation it was fairly simplez, we just walked around until we found it


I just know, before this is over, I’m gonna need a whole lot of serious therapy. Look at my eye twitchin
©Madie
You can’t tell me you’re afraid of heights!

I wasn’t expecting much of a canyon but it had some really nice bits.
Go over there and see if you can find some stairs.

I wish I had a step right here, I could step here and here and here and step all over it. ©Madie

Layers. Onions have layers! ©Madie



What’s that? It’s hideous?
Well, that’s not very nice! It’s just a d̶o̶n̶k̶e̶y̶ …. I mean broad tailed gecko. I called him Clingey McClingcling

Oh man. I can’t feel my toes.

Parfait’s gotta be the tastiest thing on the whole damn planet
Squeezey squeezes was a theme for the day. Just through here the first canyon opened up ©Madie

Then it was down to the main creek for lunch in the dappled sunlight. Now to reverse the next one. Some of you may die, but its a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

We follow the creek up. It may have been easier to head up the nose for a bit. @Madie


Don’t die… And if you see any long tunnels, stay away from the light.

Man, you gotta warn somebody before you crack one like that. ©Madie
Got my stoke on. That’ll do, Donkey. That’ll do ©Madie
This one reminded me of Starlight a bit




Look at that. Who’d wanna live in a place like that?


this isn’t right. You’re meant to charge in, sword drawn, banner flying

Wait a minute, I know what’s going on. You’re afraid of the dark.

And then we are at the top looking back down and it’s time to head home


Please. I don’t wanna go back there. You don’t know what it’s like to be considered a freak… Well, maybe you do, but that’s why we gotta stick together. You gotta let me stay!
Female and male golden Orb weavers with plenty of tucker to keep them going, I never realised they spun yellow silk until Madie pointed it out

Party Size: 2

Time: 7hr (and 2 minutes) car to car being fairly quick on the fire trail with few stops but lots of faffing in the canyons themselves

I’m not allowed the mention the canyons by name for fear of the canyon illuminati kid-napping me and beating me senseless. 1 source of info said we wouldn’t need wetsuits but I’m glad we took them as the second canyon was fairly cold and sustained. Good thing we didn’t wait until mid(dle of) winter to do it.

All in all it was another good day in the bush in a beautiful part of the world. After some late summer rain it sure was green up there on the hills

Collect experiences not things

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Bjelke’s Mind Canyon

12/01/2019

Gabby, Madie and me

Continued from Bridge Canyon

Former Qld premier Joe Bjelke-Peterson was renown for being narrow minded, whether that was straight and narrow or narrow and twisted is neither here nor there but his name sake canyon is one I’ve had on my radar for years.

Anyhoo, armed with some tips from Kent it was surprisingly quick and easy to follow the contour around from the pass out of the Bungleboori and before we knew it we had entered the creek smack bang on where it dropped into the canyon

Gabby in a fabulously narrow section of canyon
Madie
It looked like it opened up just down stream and I remarked to the girls that I hoped there wasn’t sections up stream that we’d missed

But the canyon dropped and twisted and dropped again

I’m a dainty little rope twirler ©Madie
Each drop seemed to get narrower, this one had me wandering if I’d fit
and the canyon was just stunning

And then Madie found a cave full of glow worms

We sat in complete darkness, even Madie was silent… Without a tripod I wasn’t sure how the camera would go picking them up but had a try. Bloody flash went off.

Your flash will turn them off! Madie swings a playfull elbow at me in the dark. It connects with my Crittr, driving it into my crittrs…. Some deep breaths were needed…

©Madie

Back at the Bungleboori and we fight our way upstream to the exit

The river had a bit of flow after Fridays storms

And then it was up hill to some stunning views over the Wollangambe Wilderness

Gabby admiring the view

Madie escaping from her cave


Ecstatic after a great day of canyoning

and then it was an easy but longish walk up the ridge and back down to collect the camp gear. We opted to exchange it for the canyon gear, hanging wetsuits, ropes and harness in a tree to dry. this saved us carting it all into the camp cave only to carry it back out tomorrow.

At camp we change into dry clothes and settle in for an evening of relaxation and banter. Gabby had carted in a feast, no idea how she managed to fit it all into her pack but it was awesome.

I wonder if there are glowworms in the end of Bubblebath, asked someone after the sun had set. Let’s go for a look.

Again we sat there in silence but this time we had no need to push on. Never have I ever sat for so long with nothing but a constellation of glowworms to break the darkness.

Madie declared a rule: no torches, no flashes. and we sat there admiring the worms in all our glory.

A magical experience.

Sometime later the torches came back on and we made our way out to get some sleep and prepare for the next day

Continued with Bubble Bath Canyon

*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

6 dopes go to 4 Dope Canyon

05-05-18

Chardie, Autal, Al, Madie, Maarten and me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My place. says I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And some nice canyon follows

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

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Chardie braving the cold, clear waters

But is is such a nice spot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A shot of the arch from the exit track.

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

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

And now for the long slog back to the car.

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

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

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

Party size. 6 All experienced, all a little loopy

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

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