Empress, Again?

6/11/20

I’ve said in the past I don’t like repeating a canyon too many times a season as it takes the sense of exploration away from it for me.

Well 2020 has changed a lot of things. With bush fires and COVID and park closures I think I’ve done Empress Falls more this year than I have since my short stint as a guide in the 90s but I’ve been reminded that as much as the conditions on the day it’s people you go in with make each and every experience unique

So when I get a text saying, We’re heading to Empress, Wanna come.

I think why the hell not

Rolling into the car park late. I hastily gear up, hug some old friends, meet some new friends and off we go.

Some hadn’t done Empress before so there is that buzz of new excitement that I find infectious

It helps when they are all just a little bit nuts

The Crazies ©Madie

Signing the log book we note Lib and Justine are not far in front of us

©Madie
©Madie
©Madie

We meet Libby and Justine at the bottom of the final abseil and make our way back to the car park all smiles and banter

Deep down I’m just a kids having fun

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Munmorah Sea Caves

9-01-2020

Laurence, Chris, Tal, Della, Gabby, Ev, Matt, Adrian and meee

The bushfires that raged across much of Australia threw a spanner in the work of a family holiday to the south coast so some last minute phone calls were made to me old mate Della who generously offered us a couple of beds on the central coast, I threw the ropes in just in case

Laurence had been promoting some abseil trips to sea caves that looked quite alright and while under normal circumstances I probably wouldn’t have driven up just to visit them while I was in the area I thought why not drag Tal out of a mini adventure.

A quick message to Laurence to get some info and tips and he offered to meet us there and show us around.

Hey Dell, can you get Thursday off work?

It’d been about 20years since he’d done any abseiling but he was keen. A few other invites were sent out and before we knew it we had met up with the above mentioned folk and were setting up ropes above our first cave. The Nudie cave

We set ropes, and exit ladder and Matt even jumps in at the exit to test the water, then after a few quick tips and reminders me and Dell get on rope and drop on in

Looking up my snoz…
Me and Della dropping in, or “dangling for great whites.” as it was later described ©Laurence
©Gabby

.

Dropping off the end of the rope we swim into the cave and wait for the others

Inside was surprisingly large and the pebbly beach gave an awesome underfoot massage
Gabby and Ev dropping in to join us

As he was finding his feet on the beach the only wave we saw all week swept up to smash Adrian face first into the pebbles. We shouldn’t have laughed… but we did

What foul creatures lurk in the Nudie cave? Oh, those idiots…. ©Gabby

And then we swim out and make use of Laurences cave ladder to climb out of the water

Exiting without placing a ladder first would be difficult at best

Be a cool jump. Say I. Looking back up to the arch

Oh Coop jumps from that platform there, Says Laurence

I don’t take much convincing. Nor does Della

And then we make our way around to the next one, Pinney Cave. This is just a dunk in the ocean with a bit of a scramble out. By all reports the scramble out is much harder in normal conditions and out right dangerous if the swell is much over a foot. We must have got very lucky with not much swell at all as I found it much easier

But with Laurence’s warning only myself, Matt and Della decided to give it a crack, with Gabby and Ev opting for a dry landing on the exit route and the rest waiting for us up top.

Matt descending Pinney ©Gabby
Me scrambling out on favourable seas while Laurence descends the exit ©Gabby
Ev opting for the dry landing

And then we make our way a bit further along the coast to the Shark Hole. An ominous name for us country bunkins.

Actually this is the snake hole, explains Chris. The Shark hole is where u swim out.

Oh, well then. In we go.

So almost like a canyon I got a tear in my eye… or sumfink
What a top mob of fellow adventurers to spend a relaxing day with
Making our way our of the Snake Hole

And to finish things off we head to the Catho Bay hotel for a cooling beverage or two

Did I mention what a awesome mob this lot are? ©Gabby via Adrain

Group Size: 9

Time: I have no idea

Caution: You need low tide and a swell of under 2 feet to run this trip the way we did it. Also the rock is sharp as a finely honed cutty thing so rope protectors and good start technique are a must.

Adventure pushes your limits and lifts your soul or sumfink

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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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