A Whingee Whungee Wheengee

27-10-2019

The Angles, the Demons and meeee

I had a busy weekend lined up and didn’t think I’d get out bush at all but when The Mad One lined up a trip with the awesome Canyoning/Climbing fam I was keen as a bean for a catch up so I rearranged some stuff to free up my Sunday. They really are a great bunch of like minded folk and a ball to hang out with

Anyhoo we meet at Mt Wilson at a very lazy 10am and dither about before setting off along the fire trail. Laziest start to a canyon day for ages.

The walk in would soon address that….

The shade of the overhang below the first abseil proves an enticing place to have lunch so more lazing about before we slip down the creek. I scramble into the start of the canyon and try to entice the others down with my best Pennywise impersonation, Do you want a balloon too, Georgie? but they go over the top to the next climb down.

The first little bit was as dry as a nuns nasty

Madie and Aleasha making their way in

The swim into the first “Duck under” was little more than a deep wade. There followed an impromptu chorus of Ooooh shit it’s cold. Which had Libby dubbing the trip the Whingee Whungee trip.

Russ and Libby Liability enjoying a coolish dip

Whungee is usually such a high quality canyon but the low water and lack of glowworms took a bit of the shine off

io! Wanna fight? Caaarn, I’ll fight the lot of yas
Leo and the Wizard
It does have some beautiful bits thou
Dualing photographers dual

Barely a duck under
Russ, Libby, Aleasha and Jez

Ok the top section was a little down on it’s usual high standard but the final hallway is still bloody stunning

We briefly check out a rumoured short cut exit but decide the climb is too dicey today so it’s into the ‘Gambe for a float down to the usual exit.

Surround yourself with exceptional people, experience exceptional things

Party Size: 8

Time: I didn’t really pay much attention but I think it was 7-8hrs with plenty of stops along the way

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Upper Wollangambe

23/24-02-19

This section of the ‘Gambe is harder to get to than the more common “tourist sections” but is renown for having some of the best canyon bits on the river.

In hindsight that’s a bit like saying Wang Dam has the best bits of beach in Lithgow….

Or sumfink

Anyhoo, it’s a bit of the ‘Gambe I hadn’t visited before and I had wanted to do it for a while. I knew Madie was keen to check it out too so we semi organised a crew and then half made plans.

Then the weather turned to shite and we ummed and ahhed about going. Even an hour before we were due to head off the rain came in and we discussed doing something else. Then the sky cleared and we thought “Fugg it!” and off we went

I’d planned to do the car shuffle to the end of the Dumbano/Wollangambe fire trail as it should be a shorter walk and I’m not overly familiar with the maze of trails in from Bell.

In high spirits we skipped out to the end of the fire trail and had no difficulty finding a pass down through the cliff.

From there it all turned a bit shit.

My intel said there would be a track.

Reality said there was scrub.

Now I’m not adverse to a bit of a scrub-bash but this scrub was heinous. Razor grass and dead fall and despondency.

Out of the scrubby side-creek and into the scrubby Gambe our efforts to stay dry before the camp were in vain

An hour later we’d barely gone 600m and light was fading. I wasn’t 100% sure where the famed camp cave was so we made the decision to bunk down in the next viable overhang to shelter from the predicted overnight moisture.

Finding a small but sheltered and some what cozy overhang we opted to make camp rather than push on in the dark

We snacked on Madie’s infamous butter chicken and settled in for a reasonably comfortable if slightly cramped and sleepless night.

Of course the actual camp cave with large, flat sandy floor was just 100m or so down stream…

Morning comes and we pack up for a not so early start. Our advice was it was going to be a long/hard day. After yesterdays experience in the scrub we decided to avoid the banks and stay in the river as much as possible.

This was faster. Mostly. But full of energy sapping sand with pockets of quicksand ready to swallow your leg without warning.

The three images above summarise the tip for me. Stunning cliff lines, dead fall galore and complex boulder scrambling. Oh and sand. Lots of sand….

Did I mention stunning cliff lines?
There were fun bits in between the slogs
thou I think Gabby would be smiling no matter what
The canyon sections, when they came were spectacular. Just very short compared to the effort to get to them

Even thou the canyon is impressive here I’d class the trip more a creek walking than canyoning trip

Eventually we make it to a part of the ‘Gambe we are all familiar with.

Reaching the exit point is usually a bitter-sweet moment as you are glad to have finally made it but know the adventure is nearly over. This was no different. We were exhausted (We’ll maybe not Madie, she seems to gain engery the longer she goes) but smiling. It was a hard trip, even tougher than I had expected, but as always the company and laughter made it great.

Now just the 1hr uphill stroll to the car.

Your comfort zone is a very dangerous place to be

Times: 

Mt Wilson fire-shed to Dumbano fire trail locked gate: 30min (drive)

Locked gate to camp: 1.5hrs

Camp to Exit: 7hr

Exit to Fire Shed: 1hr

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Upper, Upper, um… Upper Wollangambe

27-01-2018

Upper Blue Mountains Bushwalking club trip lead by Kate.

*Slight detour* in March I am again taking part in the West Cycles Classic to raise money for the Westpac rescue helicopter service. Whether preforming bush rescue, emergency patient transfers, and all the rest no one has ever had to pay to use the helicopter due to public donations. If, like me, you believe this is an invaluable service or if you just enjoy reading my blog think about pitching in with a donation. Large or small every bit counts. follow this link for details 2018 West Cycles

Anyhoo

So this year I set a bit of a goal to do a couple of the sections of the ‘Gambe I hadn’t done before, I  am super keen to do the section between the crater and Mt Wilson, so when I saw a trip to the Upper, Upper section on the program of UBMBC I signed up for the walk.

Turns out the walk would be to a section further up but that was OK it was on the list too.

So after a meet and greet we headed off along a suprisingly good track. I was kind of expecting to be zero tracking. No idea why I thought that, just one of the preconceved ideas you sometimes get completely wrong…

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Heading out toward pagoda country

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After a warmish walk in along the ridge we we looking forward to hitting the water

Water levels in the ‘Gambe are fairly low at the moment. This coupled with the hot conditions has lead to a bit of an algae bloom. And when I say “a bit” this section was full of algae. It was a bit of a shock being use to the usual crystal clear waters but it was ok just a bit harder to see where you were putting your feet in the shallow sections.

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Some pleasant canyon sections were interspaced with more open sections

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Typical stunning Wollangambe cliff lines

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Hawk Moth, possibly Coequosa australasiae?

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This section reminded me of a similar bit on October Creek

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Or Fortress canyon

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Interesting vertical slabs in a side creek put me in mind of shark gills

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Side creek

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More canyony bits

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John proving some boys dont grow up. click images to enlarge

After the monster yabbie we saw in Whungee last week this little nipper was a bit cute

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“Giant” Spiney Crayfish, Euastacus spinifer

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Final swim

Then it was onto the ridge where the wild flowers are still in bloom despite the hot dry spell

 

 

Group size: 12

Time: 8hrs car to car relaxed pace

 

The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper
Eden Phillpotts

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https://www.relive.cc/view/1377011076

 

Whungee Wheengee woohoo

20-01-2018

Ed, Tal, Gaz, Jodie and me

*Slight detour* in March I am again taking part in the West Cycles Classic to raise money for the Westpac rescue helicopter service. Whether preforming bush rescue, emergency patient transfers, and all the rest no one has ever had to pay to use the helicopter due to public donations. If, like me, you believe this is an invaluable service or if you just enjoy reading my blog think about pitching in with a donation. Large or small every bit counts. follow this link for details 2018 West Cycles

 

Anyhoo…

I explained the naming of Whungee Wheengee on the write up of our previous visit there. It’s a great canyon with lots of different challenges, or “Activities” as Ed described them, things of interest and wow moments. It’s very technical in places and the water is much colder than that of the wider Wollangambe. It’s also reasonable sustained.

Anyway, on a hot day it was a great place to be.

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Crossing the Wollangambe. Water levels have dropped at least 3″ since our New Years day trip 3 weeks ago

On the walk in we had caught up to a larger party at the climb down the tree roots, They were doing Whungee too and  graciously waved us throu. They caught us on the climb up the other side and again at the abseil point. but were happy for us to go in first.

Through the week a couple of groups had posted to Ozcanyons about a brown snake inbetween two of the abseils. I let our lot know to be careful and let the other group know as well, offering to point it out to them if we saw it.

We saw it, waited for a while but it was getting a bit cold and while we couldn’t think of a way to notify them we figured it had been really obvious so they’d have no trouble spotting it. We meet up again at the exit beach.

Did you guys see it? asks Ed

Yeah, laughs one of their guys, wasn’t quiet the size they made out.

Ah it was a good meter long, Says Gaz

Really? The one we saw was tiny… Holds up his hand 15cm apart.

Ok there are a few snakes in Whungee Wheengee at the moment.

 

Anyway on with the show

Abseiling down the cliffline into the creek I was molested by a dead tree… It grabbed me right on the arse…. Well it caught my shorts that I wear over the wet suit to protect it a bit. Um I’m kinda stuck.

There was a little fork in the top and it wasn’t letting me go. I was nearly ready to crack the prusiks out. Before I did I tried a final pull up with the top hand and reef on my leg. Rippppppp!

OK thats the 3rd set of shorts I’ve torn the arse out of in 3 canyons…. Bugger

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Jodie dropping into the first “optional” bit of canyon

Optional? yep you can bypass this bit by staying on ledges above… No idea why you would though, unless it was in high water or you are in a big hurry.

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Why you you bypass these cool little tunnels

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Jodie squeezing down a hole

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The first dark tunnel swim

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Canyon formation

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Gaz in a more open bit

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Gaz

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Entering the next constriction

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When the water levesl are up a bit you have to swim under water to pass this “Duck under”

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The top section alternates between the dark tunnels and these grand passageways

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Another duck under

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Tal

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Tal emerging from another tunnel swim

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Another “Duck under”

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Crap photo pf a leaf tailed gecko getting fat on the massive cave crickets. Gaz got some cool footage of it swimming in the video linked below.

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Gaz and Ed coming out of the cave

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Check out this grand old dame. The big yabbies are typically the females they carry their young and eggs, or berries as they are called, under their tail. I double checked this one had none before lifting her out of the water for some photos. It’s the biggest one I have seen in ages.

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Eastern Water Dragon

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Tal doing his ABCs.

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And all is good

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Canyon formation

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Another tunnel section

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Tal following Ed downthe canyon

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The final hallway

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After a few hours in the cold confines of Whunee Wheengee the more open Wollangambe feels almost bathy warm

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And as always with the ‘Gambe there are options for water jumps

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A room just for Ed.

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And a final float down to the exit point.

Another great day out in the great outdoors with great people. Whungee throws a little bit of everything at you  and never has a dull moment. I’d have to put it in my top 5 favourate canyons

Group Size:5 all experienced

Time. 8hrs car to car

This edit is slightly longer then normal but Whungee is such an action packed canyon and gaz got so much good footage I thought it worth it.

Human beings make life so interesting. Do you know that in a universe so full of wonders, that they have managed to invent boredom.-  (Terry Practett)

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Wallangambe 2

01-01-2018

Ed, Ethan, Caius, David, Shaz, Tom, Claire, Tillie, Skinny, Dyso and I

For the 3rd year in a row we’ve decided to spend new years day floating down a canyon rather than nursing a hang over (Why can’t we have both? Maybe we do)

Anyhoo this year Tal and Beth both ditched us but Shaz and her kids were back and Skinny and Emily joined us as well.

We opted for the section of the Wollangambe commonly reffered to as the Lower Tourist Section or Wollangambe 2. That’s a little misleading as there are many canyon sections (Including some of the best bits) up stream. It is also reffered to as the Greg section by some of the older bushwalking club stalwarts.

While I’ve done bits and pieces of this section as part of trips to the steeper, narrower, more canyony side canyons I’d never done this bit in it’s entirity on it’s own so I was keen to check it out.

We met at the Fire Shed at the crack of 9:30am. chuck all the gear and most of the people out and then drop cars down at the camp ground in the spirit of being lazy.

The walk in was uneventful, we set a handline on the exposed down climb that had made the news 2 nights before after a seriously under prepared group on a bucks party required rescuing when several members were too worn out/freaked out and couldn’t climb it…. Do your research and go prepaired people

Every one made it down without incident before I told them that story. I reteived the rope and made my way down.

Did I mention the spirit of being lazy? We get to the water and it looks so inviting. People pull out lilos and start huffing and huffing. Me on the other hand had had a brillant idea before leaving that morning. I’d pulled out the soldering iron and rigged a little high volume pump to plug into my MTB light battary.

I had worried it might ruin the serenity of other groups but no one was around and it had most of the lilos up in no time (After some manipulating the cheap pool beds Shaz had got the kids who valves were plastic welded shut). It was certainly less disturbing than listening to a bunch of people hyperventilate trying to blow air into the air beds.

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And then we were off

Despite a number of cars at the fire shed and at the camp ground we didn’t see a single group in this section of canyon.

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The kids were obviously hating it

I was pleasantly surprised with this bit of the river. There was some nice long pools through some reasonable canyon sections and there seemed to be a bit less boulder scrambling than in the more popular “Upper tourist Section/Wollangambe 1”

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Jumping oportunities were propably a bit rarer and harder to get to but that’s OK

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The boulder scrambles that were there were generally short and relatively easy, though this one required a precision jump or short hand over hand down a rope

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The cliffs might not be as high but it’s still very nice

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It was a crackng day

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And smaller jumps were available

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A narrower canyon section

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The locals were freindly enough

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The water was divine

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The side trip up the bottom end of Whungee Wheengee is well worth braving the colder water for.

 

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Claire wasn’t about to let a bit of cold water deter her from exploring

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I have no idea why they call this section the “green room”

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You can make your way a fair way up Whungee Wheenge but even the first hundred meters or so is worth a look. Walking up it is impressive but when you turn around to come back down the bottom chamber is something else again

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Back in the relative warmth of the Wollangambe we sun ourselves a bit then continue down.

By now we’re starting to get a bit peckish but the exit isn’t far down and that’s probably the best lunch beach near here so we keep on going.

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Along the way are some fun little chutes

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and a bit of portage up the sand dune to the last, and probably most difficult boulder scramble of the trip

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The kids handled it with just a little help

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And a final grand section down past the exit of Waterfall of Moss Canyon

It’s time for a late lunch as we let the floaties deflate, wetsuits dry and bodies warm up

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All ready for the haul out

Then it’s a steep climp up through the cliff lines and a longish walk up the ridge, all up gaining about 400m elevation, and back to the camp ground

Party Size: 11 mixed experience

Time: Didn’t really pay attention but I’m guesing around 7hrs relaxed pace

 

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Waterfall of Moss

16-12-2017

Tim, Kent and their awesome crew.

Waterfall of Moss is a shortish canyon that flows into the Wollangambe just up stream of the usual exit for the Lower Tourist/Wollangambe 2/Greg section.

I visited it for the first time with Ed last year as an addition to a Whungee Wheengee trip. It made sence to us to do it that way as the canyon itself (minus the walk in and out)only takes acouple of hours . That said I was pretty trashed by the time we mae it back to the car park that trip.

When Tim put out the invite to do WoM on it’s own I had to convince myself the walk in and out would be worth it just for that. But it is a nice canyon and I was hell keen on trying to capture better photos of the Arch.

Anyhoo it was off to Mt Wilson for the usual meet and greet at the car park and we are off.

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Wild flowers along the ridge added splashes of colour.

 

It was hot and humid and the walk down to the Gambe went without incident. Almost…

Al was walking along when all of a sudden the sole of his shoe decided it needed time alone. It didn’t start to separate and slowly peel off. One step it was fine the next it had come away from his shoe whollis bollis!

20 steps later the other one did the same thing. His shoes are now little more than protection for the top of his feet. He sets the now useless soles on the side of the trail for collection on the way back and soldiers on

By the time we get to the Gambe we were ready for a swim. Al scoffs at me as I take off my shirt as he dives straight in.

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Girls you may want to wait up there for a bit. Calls Kent.

I should point out he did declair his intention of a nudie swim back at the car park.

The girls were already here. Kent was not to be deterred, Oh well you don’t have to look if you dont want and I suggest you dont. he declares or sumfink….

Anyhoo. We cross the warm waters of the Gambe and soon begin the climb up the other side. Thankfully Kent has his clothes back on.

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Yuri and Chardy on the steep climb up the opposite side

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It’s a short haul up the ridge and before long we are ready to drop into the canyon

I had a very clumsey day and tripped, slipped and fell over just about everything, including the starts of one of the abseils but somehow stayed uninjured….

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One of the awkward overhanging starts made worse by the anchor being faily long and onto small tea tree bushes. Tim warned last tim they had worn through a rope from the anchor bouncing and so Joel and Al rig a bit of a rerouter to make the start easier and save a bit of rope wear

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And while they do that I busy myself snapping pitcures of the arch below me

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Last time we were here it was later afternoon and the phone photos were very washed out, a still from the go-pro was the best I got. Being here earlier I was hoping for better light but shooting up toward the sky from the small ledge below the arch was still very contrasty. Every now and then the sun would go behind a cloud and I’d click away and hope for the best

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Max rappling through the arch

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It took a bit of editting to knock out the harsh glare but not too shabby considering

Then it was straight into another abseil down a slope then over hung into a pool. Al’s new rope got a run. Coming down last I noticed the sheath damaged were it had been rubbing over a rock edge, the stretch in the rope allowing it to rub back and forth.

I’m not sure if using SRTs makes the rope more prone to this sort of damage, or it was just back luck, or poor rope management but either way Al now has two shorter ropes….

The bottom section of canyon is a very fine constriction. Straightish and narrowish all the way to the Gambe

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Looks like you are almost done but 3 or 4 abseils still await

There were a a couple of abseils in this final section I remember having very tricky starts. Sharp over hangs with anchors set low and a long way back.  I was looking forward to the challenge but someone has redone the anchors and replaced them with ones that take a fair bit of the challenge out.

Don’t get me wrong they are well thought out and placed and definately make the starts easier, the pull downs easier and probably the rope wear less but as I was looking forward to the challenge I almost felt dissappointed it had been removed.

Just me being a weirdo, thinks I, but then Kent voices the same thought. I always like taking people here to give thier skills a bit of a test. he says. The trip feels a bit deminished

so that’s two 2 weirdos.

And I suppose if you feel that way there is nothing stopping you rigging the old anchor points to reclaim the challenge.

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Chardy and Yuri below drop 6 with Tim disappearing down drop 7 in the back ground

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Yuri in the canyon

 

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Tim in the canyon

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Tim the the canyon

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Tim on the Waterfall of Moss

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Joel on the Waterfall of Moss with Al looking on

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Looking back up the canyon from the junction with the Wollangambe

A short float back down the Gambe to for lunch at the exit point and then the long hot walk up the hill to the car.

 

There are only two reasons people fail to reach their goals. 1. They didn’t really want it or 2. They haggled over the cost.

Group. All Experienced

Time:6hrs car to car

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A wander around some Wollangambe wilderness

08-07-2017

Ed, Etham, Ciaus, Jake and me.

Another trip to this short but pretty dryish canyon out the back of Clarence, and a stop at Goochs Crater on the way back

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This is an awesome sheltered cave. The creek, when it’s running flows through the back of it.

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Venturing up the stuning side canyon. First recorded exploration of this slot by a bushwalking club was a group from Sydney Uni Bush Walking club in 1962, though I suspect Col Oloman would have visited previously either on one of his solo trips or with friends as they explored the areas through here across to the Bungleboori and beyond. Neither bothered to name it.

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I keep forgetting how short this slot is. You get caught up in the light and ambience and time ceases to have meaning

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the large cave in a 180 bend in the canyon.It’s like another world. Ciaus and Ed desided when society falls apart this might be a good place to live

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Ed in one of the more open twists and turns in the very narrow upper section of canyon

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tight and twisting canyon formation

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Ed on the peak, the canyon carves around either side of him. The cave at the bend can be seen in the cliff line, though the scale of it is hiddne by the trees

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We seem to be climbing out to look down on the top of canyons a lot lately

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Ciaus and Jake as the canyon opens out slightly near the cave

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Ed in the canyon

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On our way back out

Then it was over the ridge and out to Goochs Crater

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Ed looking down on the cliff lined swamp known as Gooches crater

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Looking down on Ed and Ethan through the Sky light in Goochs arch

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It’s an interesting feature

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Jake heading over to join Ethan and Ed under the arch

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It really is impressive

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Jake in the well used camp/party cave looking back towards the arch

All in all a pleasant winters day in the bush

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“Life must be lived as play.” – Plato.

Wollangambe Fire trail

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Access: Getting to the carpark involves a dirt road with a few rough bits. Nothing extreme but a 4WD is handy just for the ground clearance and traction

Navigation: Navigation is fairly straight forward.

Map:  Wollangambe  1:25000 These can be purchased at Lithgow Tourist information center or online for around $10

Time: Less than 2hrs with a bit of time for lunch on the clifflines at the end

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View from the end of the fire trail. Mt Banks in the centre distance, Mt Wilson to the left.

Depending on which map you look at or who you talk to this is either the Wollangambe or Dumbano fire trail. Open source and google maps seem to show it as Dumbano fire trail. Wollangambe fire trail is what I always knew it as and makes more sense to me as at the end you lookout over the ‘Gambe just upstream of Wollangambe crater.

Anyhoo, whatever you want to call it, it’s a pleasant stroll with some stunning backdrops.

 

Getting there:

Turn off the Bells Line of road at the ZigZag Railway onto the Newnes Forest rd. Follow this along for around 4.8km and turn off to the right at the bottom of a hill below Bald Trig.

Unfortunitely the start of the fire trail looks a bit like a rubish tip where grubs seem to dump there soft drink bottles and coffee cups… But it gets better.

Set your odeometer here, you want to stay on the main fire trail but there are a couple of intersections where it is easy to take the wrong fork.

At Approximately 1km keep left (right follows the old Wolgan Railway easment around Bald trig to the sand quarry.)

At Approximately 2.5km stay right then at approximately 6.4km stay left. After a little over 8km you will come to the locked gate (GR 499952).

Park up and follow the old road on foot past the gate. The first couple of hundered meters is steep then it is easy going along a flattish ridge for 2km.

Either side of the ridge are sheer sided gullies and at the end of the ridge is a rocky point (GR 505931)  in between where these two tributaries meet the Wollangambe.

This is a nice spot of a bit of lunch (or as we did today cheese on smith chips…) there are some great views with Mt Banks straight ahead, Mt wilson slightly off to the left and Bell out to the right. And the wild Wollangambe can be heard gurgling below.

For the more adventurous this route, with some off track navigation at the end is the shorter way to access the Wollangambe crater which is usually done as a over night bushwalk from Bell. (its not a real crater but a circular depension holding a hanging swamp.  I think it is the reminants of a large billabong type feature made in a sweep of the wollangambe. It sure looks craterish from aerial photos and satelite images though.)

 

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Easy walking along the old fire trail.

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. First aid training 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.

 

wollangambe fire trail

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