A pleasant little Nightmare

02-06-2018

Marchelle Anna Pete and meeeeee.

With the worst of the scrub still recovering the effects of last years hazard reduction burn this is a pleasant trip at the moment.

I pull into the meeting spot and note someone is missing. Ev broke down on the highway, Marchelle informs us. She wont be coming.

Buggar.

But we load ropes and packs into my ute and off we go, weaving our way down into the mighty Wolgan valley in between green pastures, towering cliff lines and Kamikaze kangaroos.

We park at the start of the Ruins walk for Newnes shale works and make our way down river to everyones favorite little pass, The pipeline track

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Some carefull tip toes to keep our feet dry on a cold morning
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Why you’d need to carve an arrow here is beyond me. Its a clear track and there is no other way to go…..

Well that’s a good way to warm up. We gain the top and make a quick side trip to the lookout.

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Looking back up the Wolgan towards Mistry Mountain
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Last months hazard burn on the otherside seems to have added some colour to the cliffscapes. Marchelle looking down the valley towards Big Glassy
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©Marchelle

After a brief stop we continued up the Pipeline trail spearing off just before it heads down green gully towards Glen Davis.

The trail out along the ridge between the Wolgan and the Capertee is reasonably clear indicating the canyons up this way are getting more visitation than they use to. The views out over the Capertee towards Tayan Pic are superb but soon we veer off trail and make our own way along a side ridge.

In the trackless terrain it is easy to veer off on the wrong ridge and end up in the much wetter Devils Pinch canyon but with the scrub mostly clear after the Haz burn following the right ridge is much more obvious.

Before long we begin descending into the gully that will soon drop into th etop of the canyon. We scramble around the first abseil described in the Jamison guide and find a big tree with an bright yellow tape anchor right at the start of the main constriction.

There has been much talk about using Single Rope Techniques (SRTs) on the ozcanyons group over the last few years and they seems to be gaining more momentuem, especially in the newer generation of canyoners. It’s the norm in most other countries. Thou other countries also tend to have either much higher water flows or much less prevelent anchor options.

Though I trained in their use and used SRT way back in my brief stint as a guide and it made sence to me in thate situation for private groups I’ve always preferred the throw and go, loop the rope through the anchor and every one abseil on double ropes.

When heading out with Tim’s group I’m happy to fit in with their SRT method of isolating the stands with a butterfly knot and people abseiling on alternate stands.

Last weekend I attended a training day with the Upper Blue Mountains Club where we practiced setting SRT with a releasable anchor. IE isolating the abseil strand with the Munter/mule.

The advantage of this is if someone gets stuck on rope for whatever reason you can undo the mule under load and use the munter hitch as a belay to lower them to the ground.

Now in mumblecoughmumble years of canyoning I’ve never come across a situation where I needed to do that but it got me thinking (must be getting old or the weekday job of Safety Cordinator is rubbing off on my weekend self) What if that 1 in 100000 case came along. Sure there are other methods to preform a rescue but are they as safe and as quick and if they didn’t work would I be kicking myself for not using the “Rigging for Rescue” technique?

Anyhoo Anna is pretty keen to put this technique to use in every canyon trip she leads and I thought it might be a good idea to run this trip that way for practice (Ev had done the training day too, so it’s a shame she missed it.)

So I rig the first drop. I really had to think about it as it was a long abseil requiring 2 ropes working out where to put the munter so the knott would not impede it took more thought than it should have, It’s pretty bloody obvious but I guess thats why you practice these thing is relativel benign situations so these it become second nature.

All sorted I head down first.

Hey Chardie,  Calls up I from a ledge halfway down. This isn’t where we normally drop in.

It’s a very nice abseil down over 2 big ledges and around a corner.

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Marachelle on single rope

If it wasn’t for the very dry conditions this would land in a pool that looks like it might get over waist deep, probably the reason we don’t normally drop in there but today was dry enough to get around.

Was a bit worried about the pull down around the corner and over the ledges but a test pull indicated it should come fine and Anna stopped on the last ledge to pull the knot down to her so it owuld be less likely to catch.

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Anna. Last person comes double rope as usual.

A short down climb and we round a slight corner to see the cliff face we usually come down directly above the next short drop.

This one is shortish, maybe 10m but its a tad narrow, and I’m not. Big shoulders and stomache bones or sumfink

This results in some gentle exfoliation as I squeeze on down.

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Chardie about to get to the narrow bit. There is some balancing on sticks to avoid more than wet toes at the bottom

From here there is short tunnel like bit and some careful bridging

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Marchelle staying high to avoid wet feet

The canyon opens out for a bit with some short abseils and tricky down climbs. We are blown away at how dry it is. Little holes that usually involve contorionistic moves to stay dry are now little more than damp sand and sometimes not even that.

Then there is 3 long abseils in a row. All of them can be done as shorter ones using intrim anchors on ledges and chock stones but they are nice to do as long ones and the rope pull seems fine on all of them.

The first of these involves a tricky start then some delicate moves to stay above some chock stones (going under would make the pull down difficult) then round the corner and down down down.

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Chardie towards the bottom
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Marchelle about 2/3rds down

The next one use to be rigged off the log but pull down was very dificult. An eye bolt has been installed backed up by 2 very old climbing nuts whose wires seem very rusted… IF you are going to use that anchor I’d take nuts to replace the ones there.

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A tricky start onto a ledge, around a corner, over a boulder and another tricky start and a narrow slot . Seems to be a theme in nightmare.

 

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Looking out the dark final chamber over the Wolgan

The final abseil is awesome but lands in nut deep water. We opt to have lunch in the chamber at the top figuring it would be better to eat up here while we are dry than to get wet and then stop to eat down there in the wind.

It was a nice spot for a bit to eat.

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©Marchelle
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©Marchelle

3/4 of the way down the last abseil I run into the spot of bother and think maybe I’ll need Anna to put the lowering me down method into practice. There is a knot in the rope below me. Usually no big deal. Just stop pull the rope up and undo it (tip for young players. Stop early and pull the knot up to you. The closer you get to the knot the harder it can be to get slack and if you abseil down onto the knot you’ve got buckleys of getting it undone)

Usually when the rope knots itself it just a few loops caught on themselves and a bit of a shake get is clear. This had somehow done a proper job on itself and I had trouble getting it undone while hanging in space. I was nearly ready to call out for Anna to pull the mule and lower me when I got it sorted and continued down.

Now what if I hadn’t been able to undo the knot or hadn’t been on a lowerable system?

I hadn’t yet locked off properly and was trying to undo the knot left handed so I could lock off  to get both hands free as my first option. Second option would be to prusik back up to the ledge or top and sort it out there so I’m confindent I could get myself out of that situation. But what if it happened to someone less experienced or without those skill sets? (Other than the obvious everyone on a private group should get themselves those skills sets. Good point but we were all beginners once.)

Those at the top could deploy the spare rope, someone could even abseil down to me to help out. That all takes time and hang syndrome becomes a factor. Abseiling down to help out puts the rescuer at risk too. So much to consider.

Anyhoo I clear the knot and continue down

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Looking up from the bottom of the last abseil

I land in the pool. It’s cold. My outie becomes and innie and I make my way to the side to belay the others

 

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Chardie

 

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Anna on the last drop ©Marchelle

With a bit of team work the first person down can pull the others across to the dry bosun chair style. if all works well. Chardie had rigged a bit too much friction and struggled to pull him self across and ended up in the drink. Anna and Marchelle managed to stay dry.

From here we follow the base of the cliffs around and back down to the car.

All up another great day in the bush with great company.

Party size: 4 all experienced

Time: 6hrs 50min car to car.

I wish I was a glowworm. Glowworms are never glum. How could you possibly be sad when the sun shines out your bum : Anon

How much did the rigging for rescue slow us down? Last year with a slightly bigger group the trip took us 6hrs 23min car to car. Today practicing what’s still fairly new to us took us 6hrs 49min. Though there is probably a bunch of other factors in there as well

 

So what are my thoughts? I’m still undecided.

Anna was keen to only lock off one side of the rope and keep the other stand at the top to avoid confusion.

I prefer to do a munter/mule in both strands to allow people to rig up alternate strands and quicken things up. If you then need to lower then the person on the spare strand gets off and  it’s quick to undo that one altogether and lower the other. Which is fine until you have 2 ropes joined with a knot at the top and then it’s not posible.

So here what I see as the pros and cons. Feel free to comment if you have other ideas.

Pros of releasable SRT using Munter/mule

  • Simple to set up and fairly quick to tie once you practice a bit
  • Ability to quickly and safely lower a stuck abseiler down to the ground.
  • Ability set the end of the abseil strand just on ground/water level to make getting off the rope at the bottom quick and easy

Cons of releasable SRT using Munter/mule

  • It does take longer to tie and untie (not to mention it’s a ugly looking knot)
  • Rope wear and tear. A single strand taking full weight obviously is under more strain than if you were abseiling on double strand.
  • Chardie pointed out abseiling on double rope with an isolating knot at the top gives you some back up if you cut one strand on a sharp edge. Not an advantage if you use throw and go with out isolating.
  • Only possible to use one strand if the abseil involves joining ropes.
  • Can be tricky if the anchor is close to/below the edge but not too much more than normal.

So I’m still tossing this one up.  the ability to quickly and safely lower a stuck abseiler down to the ground is a big consideration though if you have a competent person at the top with a spare rope is it that much quicker and safer?

If the stuck person is unconcious I’d say yes.

What is the liklihood of that happening though? And does that likelihood justify the slightly longer more complicated set up of each and every abseil?

Also when lowering do you increase the risk of having the rope fail while rubbing over unprotected edges fully wieghted?

I don’t know.

Is it appropriate for all situations? Maybe not.

I’m leaning towards it  being a valuable tool that is appropriate for certain applications but should be backed up by various other skills and knoweldge.

Being able to set the end of the rope just to water height is a big advantage in highwater but we don’t tend to have that in Australia.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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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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Hole in the Wall Canyon

10/03/2018

Shaha, Frankie, Kristy and me

Hole in the Wall consists of 2 canyon sections interspaced with a more open creek walk. It’s a reasonable walk in and out, mostly along a flat to undulating ridge. It is a bit of a Show Case canyon thou, being dark and twisty with glowworm caves, fun little water jumps and interesting abseils so well worth the walk.

It also empties into a very pretty section of the North Bungleboori crk, AKA Nine Mile crk, AKA Dingo Crk (though that name was originally appplied to a just small but interesting tributary)

It starts with a bang. You are in a pleasant sort of creek that looks like it might canyon up but is other wise unremarkable, you duck under a chock stone, round a corner and BAM!

Anyhoo

I was half keen on the  Banks double again but decided after a couple of big weekends I’d be better to take it a bit eaiser. Shaha, Frankie and Kristy joined me for the trip.

Setting off from the car park it was a coolish day that made walking pleasant and an hour and a bit of relatively flat ridge top walking later we descended into the little creek that would soon canyon up.

Normally I wouldnt bother with wetsuits yet, the top section has a few short wades but no swims, but with the day a bit of the cool side I made the call to put them on and in we went

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Kristy entrying the canyon

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It’s nice but just around the corner…..

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It drops into this amzing, deep, dark  slot

I’ve done this canyon a few times now and it blows me away every time. For the others it was their first time so I encouraged them to take the lead and find the wonder for themselves.

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The tops section is fairly short but it packs in some wow moments

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I once got flooded out of here seconding a comercial group. This was a deep swim as we came up it against the flow. I had to swim up, kicking off the walls pulling my self along the rocks. I then set a rope to pull the others through,..

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Dark, narrow, twisting halls open out to wider chambers which in turn lead to Dark, narrow, twisting halls

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And after a tricky climb down or two the canyon opens out to a pleasant walk down the creek interspaced with boulder hopping and quick sand

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Just when it was starting to get uncomfortably warm in the wetties the creek begins to drop again and the walls close in.

We harness up above a small drop. The water down below looks so inviting.

What are you guys like with water jumps?

Shaha and Frankie were up for it. Kristy, not so much.

Ok we can rope you up here or it’s a fairly easy down climb. She opted for the down climb.

Frankie takes the leap first and then Kristy follows using the sling to hand over hand.

Me and Shaha jump.

Another nice canyon section follows before we get to the first abseil.

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Kristy tackling the awkward start over the log

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Shaha makes the whole thing look easy. Check out the moss on the log to get a bit of an idea of the high water mark/throw of the falls when the canyon  floods

And then it’s into the show stopper section. a dark cave like tunnel filled with glowworms

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“I see Oriens belt but say nothing”:-Ani Difranco

The cave seems to periodically silt  up and flush out. Last time this was a deep swim and a difficult climb up out of the water over a mid way shelf. this time it was barely ankle deep at the shelf and and easy step up.

Over the shelf and back into a deep pool then a tricky climb out and up a cave like squeeze

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Regrouping after the squeeze

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Some more very nice canyon follows

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Log choke. I can’t fathom the power in the flood waters that caused this

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And then the longest abseil, down through a hole. When we first visited this I remember it being a sandy floor with a log spanning a hole a bit back from the edge. you had to rope up around the log and it was a very awkward to get on rope and then you swung in and down you went. At the time we joked that “Hole in the floor” would be a better name. Now the floor is bouldery and it’s obvious you are on chock stones. The hole is right at the edge, the log all but decayed. A handy anchor is found on the wall.

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a 12-15m drop with a nice bit of free space at the end

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Some more narrow, dark canyon follows

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A tricky down climb or awkwardish jump into shallowish water

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Then it’s one last abseil/slippery hand over hand

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Shaha, looking out through the Hole in the Wall

And then we are into the magestic North Bungleboori… AKA Nine Mile, AKA *hackspit* Dingo Creek.

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The hole in the otherwise towering walls of the North Bungleboori that inspired the canyon’s name

Now its a 500m wade, swim, scramble, walk up stream to our exit.

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Don’t get me wrong, I like Dingos but they have nothing on the Bungleboori

All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible. T E Lawerence

Party size: 4

Time: 6.5hrs car to car

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Stunning light in Rocky Crk Canyon

23/12/17

Gaz, Lauren, Renee, Jodie, McKennzie, Rob, Sav, Dick, Luke, Swav and me

I think I have mentioned before that Rocky creek canyon is my all time favourite. I’ve no idea how many times I’ve been through but I still get goose bumps every time we get to the spot on the entry track where you start to hear the little waterfall at the start.

Anyhoo

We leave town at sparrows fart and make our way up to the carpark. We are early but there is one other car already there. It looks vaguely familiar but I don’t take a lot of notice as we gear up and swing down the entry track towards Twister (not Sheep dip).

I’m a bit excited.

Wet suits get donned. stuff gets crammed into dry bags. For some reason I always seem to get a lot of go pro footage but not many photos in Twister and the opposite in Rocky but I digress.

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Rob double checking where to aim. Yep that big wet bit.

For quiet a few of the group this is their first canyon and despite a few nerves on the jumps the smiles are big

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Curro getting into the swing of it.

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Macca taking the leap with out hesitation

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Soon she is styling it up

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Lauren was probably the most nervous on the jumps but she didn’t let the nerves get the better of her

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Jump. Slide. Jump. Slide. Repeat. Twister is a hell of a lot of fun

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But all too soon it’s over and we have a 30min walk down to the Junction where the little stream that the entrance track follows meets with Rocky

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The soft morning light on the way in promised some thing special once we hit the canyon

Up ahead the waterfall can be heard. My pace quickens. And then Rocky creek comes in on the right and where our little stream meets it  it plunges into an inviting slot

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I realy can’t describe the feeling I get looking in here. Must be a bit like a coffee addict catching the aroma of the best coffee they have ever smelled

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In we go

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Rocky creek never disappoints me

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If they thought the water in twister was chilly they are in for a surprise. I feel a bit sorry for curro who was toughing it out in a rash shirt.

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One of the small drops in the canyon

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The swims start short but get longer towards the end

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After a fun constriction the canyon opens up breifly and offers a fun slide or small jump in a sunny pool

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The walls soon close in again and up ahead the sun beams look magical

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And they keep getting better

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And better

It was about here I walked around the corner and see the light of a camera ahead. Think I might have walkedinto someones carefully composed long exposure shot.

Sorry, calls I, How awesome are these rays.

Is that you Flynny, comes the reply.

Oh Autal.  I couldn’t see who it was, how are you mate.

We have a quick chat. He has been in there for a while already and is keen to stay a while longer chasing the changing light. We leave him to his snaps, can’t wait to see them, and continue down.

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The soft morning light casts and etherial glow

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The lower constriction really is sublime

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And just before the junction with Budgary( originally Buggery) creek we emerge back into the light.

We do our best to catch a bit of sun to warm ourselves while having a quick snack.

Now it is posible to continue down the creek aways and then climb out via a break in the cliffs then follow the ridges back to the car. I prefer to reverse back up the canyon. In the little time it takes to turn around you can guarantee the light will have changed. Plus you see things you missed on the way down.

We grab packs and head back up the canyon

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As I said the light changes

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And you get to experience the canyon from different angles

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The sun ray were awesome on the way down but not half and hour later they were on a complete other level

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Rocky creek canyon dwarfs you, engulfs you and reminds you your troubles aren’t even a blip on the geological time scale

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And the beams progress from sun to tractor

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Beam me up, Scotty

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Step into the light

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Almost need UV protected sunglasses

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Light behaves both as a wave and a particle and sometimes like a solid bar of awesome

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Everytime I turned around I though I have to get a photo of those rays

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And still they got better

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I could have stayed here all day. I was wishing I’d set up the camera on a tripod in a time lapse and could just sit and watch it all unfold

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The little TG-4 was pushed to it’s limits with the contrast but did a reasonable job

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Ok the others are well ahead of me now I tear myself away and continue up the canyon

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Renee negotiating on of the little cascades on the way up

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Curro feeling a tad shivery in his rash shirt by now but not far to go

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I can see the exit up ahead. I assure him

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Lauren is keen for a swim under the falls

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Back where it all began.

All in all a great day out.

With the early start Autal was the only one we saw in the canyon itself. A few groups walking in as we were walking out and a few cars in the car park but much quieter than I thought i would be on such a nice weekend near christmas.

Party Size. 11. 4 experienced 7 beginners though most of them have experince in varying outdoor activities

Time: 4hrs 20min car to car

Rocky creek canyon dwarfs you, engulfs you. Your troubles fade in the face of it’s grandour. They aren’t even a blip on Rockys geological time scale

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Glen Davis Canyoning

02-12-2017

Kent, Tim, Ruth, Doug, Sue, Pete, Toby, Scott and Me

When Kent put out the invite for this one I was pretty keen.

The weather forecast improved slightly as the weekend approached and a final check of the radar and 48hr forecast and it looked like we might be missing the deluge that seemed to be about to strike the rest of the state but rain predicted for around 3pm so I headed off nice and early to meet the others who had camped down there.

The usual meet and greet, sorting of  ropes and then it was off to pick our way up through the cliff lines.

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A Glorious morning looking down the valley from Pearson lookout.

 

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We work our way up towards the base of the cliffs

A weakness in the towering cliff allows us to zigzag up between scrambles as the valley steadily drops away below us

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Not quite full on rock climbing, not far off it

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And the views keep getting better

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Tim on a very exposed step around

A series of ledges guide our way, some ledges wider than others

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Sue Negotiates one of the narrower and more exposed ledges

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Ruth follows

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Toby gets to more solid footing

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And then it’s another tricky  verticle scramble

And then we come to the most rock climbesque section. a Scramble up a chute that gets steeper the higher you climb.

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It’s easy going except for a couple of moves in the verticle section at the top.

It looks loose so I choose to wait for the others to clear the climb. Tim and Pete get up without issue. However Ruth has a bit of trouble so I scramble up to help her with the foot holds. Tim offers to drop a rope. With a little assistance Ruth gets through the hardest move to where she can sit on a ledge, wedged into a bit of a crack.

ROCK!!!

I look up to see a house brick size rock tumbling toward us. Shit. I tuck in as close to the rockface as I can.

Whack. FUCK! it slams into Ruth’s shoulder and I feel the breese as it tumbles passed.

I’m OK, calls Ruth. My arm’s dead. I need a moment.

ROCK!!!

Fuck I’m on some ballancy footholds. Ruth is wedge into a ledge above. A smaller rock goes whizzing past, thankfully out in space.

No one move up there!!! I call. Just stay still until we are set.

Ruth takes a moment and signals she is fine. Tim drops the rope and she continues up. I scramble up.

Watch your footing, Tim instructs. and if there a loose rocks on the path pick them and put them some where safe.

Thankfully Ruth is OK. Everyone agrees helmets for the walk in are a good idea. The others come up without incident

We continue on. We are at the halfway ledge but from here up the climbing is easier.

Belatedly Toby suggests there is an easier gully just around the corner that bypasses the chute.

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Did I mention the views

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Making our way up the next cliff line

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Toby and Doug admire the View

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Kent does the same for slightly higher

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Kent says he puts a lot of stock into the quality of the lunch spot.

It’s taken us 2hrs to get through the main cliff line. One small line of cliffs to go then we can start to descend into the canyon

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Selfie time.

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Descending a side creek towards the main canyon

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1 little abseil and some creek walking brings us to the main slot

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Now that looks worth the effort

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Some large, dull coloured yabbies

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Tim coming into a very pretty tunnel section

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And still the long abseils keep coming

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Sue

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Tim setting up ropes

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Scott

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With a bit of a hand some people managed to stay reasonably dry here

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And still the drops come thick and fast

 

click to enlarge

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And right on cue the heavens openned

Slight drizzle turns is to proper rain and it pisses down. Within a minute what had been barely trickles turn into proper waterfalls.

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Geckos make for the safety of higher ground.

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Out of the constiction and with just one abseil to to go we enjoy the extra beauty the rain brings

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Tim on the second last abseil

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One more spectactular 30m abseil I didn’t manage photo then we make our way down the ridges.

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Back to the Capertee

 

Capertee pineapple

And after a 4km trudge up the maintenance trail we are back to camp

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Another great day with great people.

Group: All experienced

Timing: 9hrs car to car steady pace.

“Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.” – Frank Herbert

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Pagoda canyons

29-10-2017

Gaz, Jodie, Marchelle, Andrew and I

Some people like chasing the big epic canyons, and don’t get me wrong I enjoy the long, sustained canyons as much as anyone but I get just as much joy out of the shorter ones too. They all have their own uniqueness, beauty and share of challenges.

I suspose being surrounded by canyon country I don’t need to justify the long drive up from the cities so am happy exploring the smaller stuff too.

Today was one of those days where we’d combine a couple of the smaller pagoda canyons. The first one dry(ish) the seond one wetter.

I’ve done both before but I’ll have to admit I had completely blanked out the amount of tea tree needed to push through on our way up the ridge on the first one….. Shorts may not have been the best bet…

 

Anyhoo. We all meet up at the car park and head off.

Wild flowers were out in colour

And after a hot climb through some scrub we arrived at our first slot.

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Like a violent crumble bar without the chocolate

 

We wasted no time dropping in

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Gaz likes to wedge himself in and film people from above

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Our next obstacle was this very narrow cleft.

 

Last time we bridged out and then abseiled in at a slightly wider bit. The flaring nature of the slot meant the abseiler invariably swung in and cheese grated themselves.  I knew it was possible to walk the ledges high above the canyon floor. Tiny ledges, wet feet. It makes for an interesting traverse.

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Gaz bridging out on a section where the ledges all but disappear so the others could use him as a stepping stone if needed

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Marchelle clinging to the rock face while the others watch on in trepidation.

We all make it. Somehow.

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Gaz in the next section

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And it’s just one more abseil and the canyon opens out

Last time I did this canyon we followed the creek down a bit and then around for a short dirty abseil off a lower cliff line. But I had soem beta that a better option was on offer so we follow the clifflines around past some stunning views

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Then scrub bash a bit before dropping in to a lost world near a trouist destination

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A stunning 25m freefall abseil greeted us.

Knowing how popular this spot is with tourist I was very careful dropping the ropes over, a carefull lower rather than a toss. Not a soul to be seen thou. It amused me a bit that on the way out we pass a steady stream of people heading in very all five of us abseiled down with only us as spectators 😉

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We even had the place to ourselves for a selfie

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It wasn’t just the tourists who on the exit track some of the locals were out too.

Anyhoo, after a spot of lunch it was back to the car and bike for a bit of a drive to our next destination.

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I really do enjoy this one

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It’s one abseil. but it’s a cracker of an abseil

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Into the inescapable chamber.

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Or sumfink

 

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oh there is a way out

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All in all an enjoyable day in the bush visiting two short but beautiful pagoda canyons

Party size: 5 all experienced

time: I have no concept of time….

 

 

Life is too short and the world too amazing to be bored

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Newnes Canyon, AKA Starlight, AKA the Amazing Wallaby Tunnel

07-10-2017

Ed, TJ, Sav, Tina, Rob, Autal and me

Most people do Newnes ( or Starlight) Canyon as a round trip, climbing up the pipeline trail, working their way around the ridges and abseiling in. And don’t get me wrong that’s a great way of doing it but there is a lot to be said about doing it as an up and back from the bottom.

The canyon is off limits over winter as it is an important hybernation cave for bentwing bats and disturbing them during their sleepy time invariable leads to a percentage of them dying as there is no food around food them to replenish the energy it takes to come out of hybernation.

Anyhoo, I had planned to do this earlier in the year on the last weekend before the closure except in the week leading up NPs put out a notice that they were hazard reduction burning and all the canyons in the area were closed…….

Fast forward to the other end of hybernation season and we were good to go.

The plan was to ride down the maintenance trail from the locked gate, stash the bikes then make up way up to the cliffline and into the canyon.

I’ve done it this way several times and have always been able to get all the way up to the bottom of the abseil point (the top of the canyon) no dramas. However, last summer people were reporting deep swims in the tunnel and while that is normal after heavy rain the fact that the water hung around post rain had me thinking maybe something in the floor or blockage had changed.

Not tha I was too worried about long swims after the dry winter we’ve had but the thought of a deep wade through stagnant, bat shit filled water wasn’t that inviting. I needn’t have worried as the tunnel was as dry as a nun’s nasty.

But I get ahead of myself

While bikes arn’t necessary they do turn an hour long fire trail walk either way into the 20min ride and the ride down was uneventful, almost. Tina had a small off at the bottom of a loose down hill on a sandy corner and hurt her elbow. As a mad trail runner that didn’t bother her. a sore elbow would not stop her from running so no worries. We hide the bikes in the thick scrub and head across the river which is about as low as I’ve ever seen it.

 

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A bridge over the wolgan

Up the hill we went taking a bit more of a meandering route than I usually take which made the climb up fairly simple, then we took in the views down the Wolgan from the base of the upper cliff  before working our way around into the canyon.

 

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Looking down the magnificant Wolgan Valley

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Entering into the lower canyon is like entering another world. The micro climate is completely different to the scrub out on the exposed hill side

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This is magical, Flynny, says Sav as we make our way up through ferns, coachwoods and vines so big that at first you think you are stepping over a fallen tree, only to realise its a living vine.

I smile to myself, this is just the appetiser and I think that is the reason I like doing the reverse trip of Newnes Canyon. The starlight section is so awesome that when you come through it from the top you are in such awe of the top section that you kind of over look how spectacular this bottom section is.

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There are a few scrambling sections but everytime you would otherwise be blocked tree roots and vines have grown into the perfect pass up.

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And then, just as you are thinking the walls are petering out and the canyon is about to open out the upper cliffs encroach and suddenly the canyon closes in

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A lovely narrow section of canyon follows and again people remark how awesome it is. But again I know it gets better

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Autal in the long section of deep, narrow canyon

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Tina with head torch on as the walls get higher and the canyon gets darker

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The canyon breifly opens out and what was dry, bare and sandy suddenly becomes damp, lush and green

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Tina in the green section

And then we reach the Amazing Wallaby tunnel, better known as the Starlight section, high up the walls close in so much, become so twisted, and are jammed with chock stones that it forms a high narrow tunnel.

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Autal and Rob entering the tunnel

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I feel on previous trips the glowworms were far more abundant, maybe that has to do with the dry winter, maybe it’s just the time of year as I think it’s around mating season for the flies, maybe it’s just modern headlights are so bright now you don’t notice the worms unless you tuen them off and give your eyes a few minutes to adjust, or maybe the bats had a wormy feast when they awoke

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After 300m or so of tight twisting tunnel the roof opens back up and just around the corner is the waterfall that is the normal absiel in point.

I have known people to absiel in here but be blocked by deep water in the tunnel so they had to prusik back out and abseil in further down. I also know of at least 1 group who pulled their ropes without checking the tunnel was passable and were forced to spend a couple of days huddled here waiting for rescue…. When absieling in the first person need check all the way through the tunnel before getting others to absiel or pulling ropes.

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And after taking time to enjoy just being there we leave Ed and TJ to get about photo phaffing with their good cameras and the rest of us make our way back down

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Autal in a narrow squeeze admiring the bats far above

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Autal in the green section

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We have a bit of lunch and then explore up a side canyon called Upside Down canyon.

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Bottom section of Upside Down Canyon.

The bottom section of Upside Down involves some tricky climbs up through small holes. I made the first look far harder than it was mainly as I forgot had the go pro on a chest mount and had to do some contortioning so as not to scracth the crap out of it.

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Rob squeezing up through one of the holes. It’s about 7foot straight down, if you squint you can make out Tina down below him

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Ron in Upside Down canyon

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Our path was blocked by this small waterfall

I remeber the water fall from previous visits and  started brisging up, the walls were a tad slippery, I had no doubt we could get everyone up, what I did doubt thou was getting people back down safely without ropes… I’m sure there use to be a log or something here to make the down climb simpler.

Anyhoo despite knowing the top section has some pretty bit I decide it’s not worth the risk today so we turned tail and headed back down.

Ed and TJ are still phaffing so we sit back and just take in the surrounds

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Honey comb walls. we sat and watched the bird dart in an out of pockets and holes

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Supurb Lyrebird on the wing

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Then it was time to head on out

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I’d noticed this massive vine knotted around the base of the tree on the way up and was hope to catch it in the right light on the way back down. The light did not disappoint. Another advantage of doing the canyon as an up and back the changing light can be magical

 

 

 

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And before long we are back at the Wolgan river

The ride back up the valley is a bit more difficult than the ride down but for a mountain biker it’s still better than trudging along a fire trail.

Party size: 7 mixed canyoning experience levels but all experienced outdoors

Timing: 6hr 20 with lots of photo phaffing and chilling out

 

People talk about their comfort zone as though it’s a place they want to stay don’t they realise your comfort zone is the most dangerous place to be

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Coachwood and Rocky Creek Canyons

27-09-2017

Julie, Michael, me

Last time I did Coachwood canyon was about ’97. I couldn’t remember much about the trip other than the Coachwood forest made for nice photos and  as I abseiled out the end I could hear what I first thought was airforce jets zooming over the gully. Turned out it was a wall of hail that was just about it hit. It struck with avengence just as Della and Mandy joined me at the bottom. Gathering the rope as Rocky creek began to rise we made a dash down stream to the big bend where we cimbed up to a little cave to wait out the fury. An hour or so later we climbed up a hail covered ridge. Photos below (Click to enlarge)

 

 

Anyhoo, I had a week off work and I know Julie is always looking for people to go canyoning mid week so I hit her up.

Yep I’m off Wednesday, says She. Want to do Coachwood?

Sure do, says I

I was keen to get back, it’s reasonably dry but I had no recolection of the canyon itself.

Want to reverse up Rocky creek to exit? says she.

Are you freaking kidding how freaking cold is that going to be… I think but instead my brain replies with, Yeah, sure.

Anyhoo We drive up to the Bungleboori picnic spot to meet Michael. Instead we meet Geoff, Anna, Peter, Ruth and other assorted UBMW members heading off to do a rarely visited canyon not so far from ours. Anna looks confused as she does a head count. Oh we arn’t with you guys we’re meeting someone else.

all good they pile in cars and head off. Michael arrives shortly after and we do the same. Veering on the the Galah mountain road we see Geoff and his group driving backout. That was quick.

Big tree down just up ahead, we couldn’t move it. He informs us. We’re changing plans.

Oh we might as well have a look. Yep big tree. we go bush and carefully edge around it and continue on our way.

I think I know why I couldn’t remember much of coachwood. It’s not much of a canyon. A bit of fun but nothing overly “Wow!”

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We somehow missed the top of the first absiel and walked in below the waterfall

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The Coachwood forest I remebered being so picturesque

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Julie on the first of our absiels

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Michael dropping in

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Michael on the the very nice second last abseil

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Julie on the last abseil

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Lunch in Rocky Creek

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All Rugged up ready for the swim up Rocky Creek

Now traditionally for me Rocky Creek is a NewYears day or later canyon. It’s always cold so I was a little apprehensive. But we’d layed up. I had a thermal top, 3mm steamer wetsuit with a 3mm spring suit over the top. Woolen beanie to keep the noggon warm and over it all a light spray jacket to keep the wind off.

With all that on and working our way up stream I never felt cold at all. Infact because the beanie stayed dry it got a little warm and I ended up splashing water over my face a couple of times to cool my head down.

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Rocky Creek

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Rocky Creek

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The light is so different each time you visit

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Toasty warm

And of course the early waratahs were out on the ridge

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all in all a fun day out. I’d class it more of a trip up Rocky Creek with an alternate entrance

Party Size: 3 all Expereinced

Time: 5.5hrs car to car

 

What if something is on TV and it’s never shown again? Smudge

 

 

Then the next day it was off to do Zorro and Cathedral canyons with the Cracks of Doom Thrown in

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Windows

05-08-17

Tim, Yuri, Scott, Louise, Peter, Sophie, Craig, Autal and me

Ah Windows 95, while Machintosh ensured “1984 wouldn’t be like 1984!”,  Windows 95 took Graphic User Interface and plug and play and made it accessable to the microsoft masses who had thus far been stuck in MS-DOS. It may have been the first and last time people got excited about a Windows release.

Anyhoo.

Windows Canyon is nothing like that.

It’s more of an absiel trip with canyony sections and the access as well as the length and tricky starts of the abseils has probably kept the masses at bay.

We park up and do the meet and greet. This time around Tim is going to be ringmaster it’s his circus and we’re his monkeys and he rallys us up for the pep talk then we are off

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Up we go. Out of the wind it’s a pleasant winters day wind jackets and thermals will soon be shed

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In the spirit of adventure we opt to go a slightly harder route up that contains a little shimey up a rock climb

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After climbing up through the cliffline the cliff edge is a great spot to have a drink and a bite ot eat

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Yuri on a brittle shelf way above the Wolgan

Don’t worry it is a bit of an illusion as there is another wide ledge just below and the pedistal is way more solid than it looks.

Autal thought he’d replicate Yuris photo and handed me his brand new TG5 camera. Now over night it was windy. All morning it has been windy. But we really didn’t get too much wind all trip, except as Autal approached the pedistal where a gust of wind plucked the beanie right off his head and made it soar.

Like wow, I’ve seen some pretty impressive paper planes in my day but nothing that caught on the wind like that beanie. Go little beanie. Go!

It went and went and went and went before finally dropping down into the tree line and snagged in a tree in the distance.

Bye bye beanie

Oh well a bit of scrub bashing later and we were in our gully

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One of the impressive side slots

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Sophie in the tunnel

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Scott leading one of the tricky to start abseils

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Craig 1’s new rope gets a test out. Flynny’s rope law. New ropes always tangle

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Over the chock stone or under the chock stone?

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About as canyony as it gets

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Can you keep your feet dry?

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OK it does get a bit canyony

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View from the lunch ledge

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Louise absieling through the arch “Window”

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A window on the world. Louise setting up ropes

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A fine Window it is

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Autal through a window

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Autal under the arch with a window

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Scott leading the last absiel

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Tim about halfway down the last pitch

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Homeward bound

Another great day in the bush with great people

Time: a tad under 5hrs car to car

Thanks to Tim for organising and making it run so effortlessly.

 

 

 

“Get out there now and make sure you become part of the glorious past in somebody else’s future!” Andrew Penny

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