The canyon log is my chronological account of the various canyon trips that I have been fortunate enough to partake, and in some cases, lead.
Sydney is blessed with an abundance of rugged bush land less than two
hours drive away, and in this bush land lie some of the most pristine and
delicate environments that can be found.
Visiting these places may require no more than a simple walk along a creek, or demand bush craft and navigation skills just to get there.
These trips are 'canyon' trips which involves starting high in the range and following a creek or stream as it carves it's way down to the river valley. The Kanangra canyons are generally fairly open and following these is an excersise in abseiling and scrambling. The beauty of this area are the panoramic views along the Kanangra Walls and valleys. The incredible ruggedness of the area.
Blue Mountains canyons like Claustral, cut deep into the sandstone below them and over time have worn channels and gutters, deep enough that direct sunlight never reaches the bottom. Walking and swimming through these is a magical tour through a ferny green wonderland. A visit to the lost planet.
I have kept these notes as a reminder to myself of the individual trips, as well as to provide 'some' useful information for following excursions, or to supply to others planning similar outings.
This page has gotten quite large and I have stopped adding to it as of the new Millennium.
For accounts of trips more recent, follow the link to the new page.
Date 4th and 5th Dec. 93
Location Kanangra Walls
Saturday 4th Dec. '93
Canyon Leader's course
Ross Gardyne instructor/examiner
Trip 1 Kalang Falls
left French's Forest at 20:00 (friday night)
one stop in wharoonga to pick up Stuart
coffee in Katoomba approx. 22:30
arrive Boyd river crossing camp ground approx. midnight.
weather o/cast , rain , wind and thunderstorms forecast.
Original plan to go to Kanangra Falls canceled due to weather and group opts to do Kalang Falls instead.
Walk to head of falls from head of old car park. (sign post).
short scramble to 1st belay. I had some difficulty with this. Stopped here and rigged harnesses and wet suits etc.
belay is tree on ledge on RHS of falls. Spectacular views of Kanangra Walls. Straight forward abseil, no tricks here.
Cross stream and scramble up and down LHS to 2nd pitch.
continue scramble down ridge on LHS being careful not to go too far.
You will need to cut back to the right to get to the top of the 70m pitch.
70m pitch. The big one.
Exit - follow stream past junction with Kanangra Falls to point where stream bends left. At this point look back and up the RHS to see where Murdering Gully leads up to the saddle between Kanangra Walls and Kilpatrick causeway. Walking up Murdering Gully is difficult. The beginning is steep and slippery and there are many loose rocks and a couple of steepish faces to negotiate.. As you get higher the terrain becomes more wooded with tree roots becoming the better handholds. Keep traveling up and eventually you will emerge on to the tourist track. The car park is to the right. If you follow the tourist track to the left. you will see a large overhang cave under the cliff line. There is a water tank approx. 50m along this cave, under the cliff. About this time you will probably need a drink.
Sunday 5th Dec. '93
weather o/cast light drizzle.
Park cars at fire trail to Mt Thurat (approx. 2km short of the car park), cross road and walk down to Dione Brook and follow brook through easy rain forest walk to head of falls.
1st fall (short drop) no handy belays avail. No-one really interested in abseiling this short pitch. We scrambled down to 2nd pitch. To the RHS of the 2nd pitch is a better fall to go down, and offers views of the top of the third pitch 100m downstream. Stopped here and rigged harnesses and wet suits etc. (today we are going to get wet !).
We abseiled 2nd pitch just in water from belay on RHS of falls (large rock) avoiding pool by stopping on ledge just above water level and walking out (to RHS). (some chose to get wet here and my film ran out)
3rd pitch belay from tree directly above falls. Abseil down falls into pool. (demonstrate ability to disconnect whilst in water).
Followed stream to head of 4th pitch.
4th pitch can be done from top but would require 90m rope. This would allow traveling all the way via the falls and end up in the pool. We scrambled half way down RHS and found tree belay to drop down to ledge at RHS of pool.
5th pitch RHS of stream. stop for lunch. again scramble down RHS to small tree belay. Very little room at the top of this pitch and the start is almost at the base of the tree used for belay. This pitch has a sharp o/hang approx. half way down. (this claimed the shin of one of our party).
follow stream to head of Margaret Falls (WOW !!! this is a water faaaaallllllll)
Exit - walk directly up spur on LHS of falls. Follow around on LHS of spur to top then follow cliff line to RIGHT until track ends in cliff gap. (this track passes several serviceable caves in the cliff line).
a short climb up through the gap exits onto Pindarra Tops with spectacular 180 degree views of the (where?) A short push through the low scrub takes you to the top of this plateau with magnificent 360 degree view of the whole world.
From here follow the trails through the scrub (northerly) back to Kanangra Rd. We hit the road at the 'no camping' sign approx. 1 km from the car park and walked the gentle 1km back to where we left the cars.
weather fine and sunny , occasional cloud.
location Dione dell (MAPS:Bottom of Kanangra, top of Yerranderie)
Wit Cieslik 'D's, pitons and harness + long johns
. rappel rack and harness
Brain Sturk rappel rack and harness + long johns
1 x 100m (11mm) bluewater static rope
Start - 10:30
Left the roadside (Kanangra Rd) opposite junction with Mt Thurat fire trail and walked aprox (SSE) to reach creek, turn left and followed creek for approx. 20 mins to reach top of 1st fall (This is not the pitch). Scramble down LHS of creek and over top of 1st fall, continue below edge to junction of Chrysties creek falls. Here we set up the first pitch (25m) using the belay left by a previous visit, two weeks earlier. (cross to the far RHS of the falls to reach large boulder for the belay).
1st pitch - 25m - RHS christies ck - boulder belay - pitch down waterfall - exit on ledge at bottom or continue into pool.
From here we continued down the creek (100m) to top of 2nd pitch. This
pitch was belayed from a large tree in the bank directly above but back
from the waterfall. This fall is wet ! (We could have avoided it
by belaying on the LHS of the stream and abseiling into the scrub below).
There was no exit ledge so abseiling this fall means going for a swim in
2nd pitch - 25m - waterfall - tree belay directly above water exit - exit into pool at bottom.
A short (20min) walk saw us to the top of the third fall. This fall
was quite spectacular from the top as it goes around a corner and disappears
out of sight after the 1st 15m. A good belay (small tree) can be seen on
the RHS from the top of the fall and was reached by an easy scramble down
This pitch could instead be done from large boulder under LHS of bank at the top of the falls (50m) . From this point it would be possible to abseil down the entire water fall ie. in the fall, to the pool at the bottom.
3rd pitch - 35m - RHS of waterfall - tree belay from ledge below top of fall - slight overhang - exit on ledge at bottom or continue into pool.
Exit the pool either from the end or on a ledge on the RHS. Walk to fourth pitch (approx. 15min).
The fourth pitch was reached by scrambling down the RHS of the stream.
There was not much space at the top of this pitch so care needs to be taken
in setting up. A safety line is a good idea. The belay point is right on
the edge so clip on high, and ease into the pitch, lowering yourself to
the ledge just below the tree. From here it is a straight forward abseil
to the bottom, slightly overhung, we could swing out on our last drop and
end up in the pool.
4th pitch - 10m - RHS - tree belay - exit through pool.
To exit we followed the stream to the top of Margaret Falls (as per previous visit) . The view from the top here is magnificent and you should take the time to enjoy it. If you haven't eaten yet, now is a good time for lunch and changing into dry walking gear. The walk out starts from this point.
We walked straight up the small ridge on the LHS of the falls. The track begins by following the ridge top the drops to the RHS of the ridge, then crosses back over to the LHS. Keep following that general direction and keep heading up. After 20 minutes we joined the scree-slope and climbed that to the base of the cliffs. Once we reached the cliffs we could see that the track followed the base of the cliffs to the right (away from the road). This is the easiest way out. We followed the track around the base of the cliff past several large features and alcoves, stopping to check these out as they are all quite prettily treed and offer good views. The last of these is the Grotto of Uranus, a small mossy cave fronded by ferns and peering out of a deep rift. 100m beyond this is the pass out. A short steep walk saw us push through spikey bushes to emerge up on Pindari Tops. (This 180 degree view is just short of breathtaking). We dived back into the bush and keep going up. As the track rose, the height of the bush dropped and soon we had a 360 degree view of the whole area. (This is really impressive). Following the track (NNW) back to the Kanangra Rd and we meet the road approx. 500m east of our car.
Kalang Falls (April?) '94
Rover group (party of 12) lead by Ross Gardyne
(video cannon UC10)
Weather o/cast + drizzle (cold)
Camped Friday night at Boyd R camp ground ....
Start canyon approx. 09:00
Used handline to cross creek to 1st abseil , really slippery in the creek.
All abseils done *dry* due to inclement weather/length of trip and size of group etc.
Lunch at the visitors book above the big drop.
Hell walk out (again) up Murdering Gully. (This proved to be a real leech feast about half way up).
One of the girls was not getting on with the critters at this point and really needed a rest so her boyfriend set up a 'ring of fire' to protect her.
As usual for these trips I was last up and out .... I guess I just walk slow ....
No cramps on this trip ... must be getting fitter ...
Dione Dell May '94
Wit Cieslik (lead)
(Video's UC10 and TR2000)
Weather : started fine and gradually become o/cast. Fine at night.
location Dione dell (MAPS:Bottom of Kanangra, top of Yerranderie)
Camped at Boyd R camp ground Friday night.
Started mid morning. Awoke to find a sea of tents ... obviously a commercial party.
Enjoyed a pleasant walk down the creek to the first pitch (all in obvious good humor).
From a good exit point to the left of the falls (looking downstream) bottoming out in the boulder rubble at the junction of Dione Brook and Upper Christies Ck.
2nd pitch straight down the guts. Everyone was really keen to abseil the falls. Abseil pitched from the large gum directly behind and above the falls. Prizes should have been awarded for the biggest splash on entering the pool. Many rope tangles and snags to be sorted out on the way down. Very cold.
From here there was a long walk to the top of the 3rd pitch (much longer than I remembered from previous trips). We were also being chased by the advance party from the commercial group behind us. (A group of 30 odd !!!).
Third pitch fairly straight forward and all are staring to feel a bit
pushed. Onward to the fourth pitch.
Easy rigging from a small tree right above the drop. Difficult spot to get started. Right on the edge of the drop as well as having to get under a small tree.
Really long walk now to Margaret falls. I guess we were all just tired,
but it started to seem as if someone had added about an extra 10 Km to
the creek, when we got to the falls, we just wolfed down some lunch (at
around 16:00) got dry and headed back out. The walk out was as expected,
difficult with leg cramps hindering myself and ..
It appears that we turned 'up' the slope earlier than previous efforts, and this led us to discover a track before the scree slope. The track winds up through thinning bush and trees and soon hits the base of the cliff line. Following the cliff line as usual, past the grotto of Uranus we made it up to Kangaroo Pass and up to Pindari Tops.
The brief feeling of freedom was soon crushed by the commercial group overtaking us, and for some time we walked slowly with a constant stream of people pushing past.
Eventually we made the cars at around 20:00 ! One really long day .....
Claustral Canyon 16/12/94
Mt Tomah Sth on the Mt Wilson map.
weather o/cast occ sun. Brief Thunder shower aprox 14:00 (2 minutes). Sunny for exit walk.
Ropes: 1 x 30m
Party: Ross Gardine (lead)
06:30 - Leave Ross's place in Lindfield/Chatswood
08:30 - Leave (again) ..... (see footnote)
10:00 - We leave car at Mt Tomah Sth car park near transmission tower. South past trig along old vehicle track then West down ridge to bottom of small saddle. Then turn right and follow the well defined track down to creek. This is a longish walk with many steep sections. The creek is a welcome relief. Cool and ferny with lots of trees hanging by their roots to bare rock or moss. The track itself cris-crosses back and forth over the creek gradually winding it's way deeper into the canyon. The walls become steeper and higher and gradually the light fades as the canyon walls begin to take shape overhead. There are a couple of knee-deep wades required in this section.
11:30 - Wetsuits on for 1st major swim. (This is *really* cold water !). Swimming and scrambling becomes the order of the day. Swim to the end of the pool, scramble over the rocks, drop (carefully) into the next pool. (short handlines can be useful in some spots along here).
12:00 - Top of first pitch. We are delayed while waiting for commercial
group who ,in turn, was waiting for pair of dick-heads (One of whom had
never abseiled before!!!)..... Family group behind made one and only contact
at this point. (We never saw or heard them again).
Eventually the commercial group were forced to mount a rescue of one of the dick-head-pair, which allowed them to leap frog ahead and us to begin our descents.
We caught up with dick-head-pair at junction of Claustral Canyon and Raynon Canyon (just after swim exit from bottom of last pitch). They moved off as we arrived and we never saw them again either. (They apparently finished 3 hrs before us). (Commercial group 1 hr earlier still).
The three pitches are, in themselves, fairly straightforward but obviously have the potential of becoming killers with high water or carelessness. There's a great visual looking up from the top of the third pitch and slowly scanning down the canyon and then down the pitch and finally viewing someone abseiling down into the void.
Pitch 1: Belay from jammed log and rope under boulder following water path.
Pitch 2: Belay from bolt pair high on right just before falls.
Pitch 3: Belay from tangle of rope slings around rock forming 'the keyhole'.
Yes! Ross and Kev did freeze me on the ropes and yes, . and Bushie did alternately dam and inundate me from above by blocking and unblocking the 'keyhole'.
14:00 Lunch at junction Claustral Canyon and Thunder George. (smoked oysters and tinned spaghetti chocolate and fruitjuice ... Ross leaves us all to shame again with his smoked salmon, fresh avocado, cheese and mushroom on pita bread). Bright red yabbies galore right throughout the george. Almost a shame it's a national park. Ross even found an eel to play with for a while. More tunnel swims and a few jump in's, plenty of log walking and a couple of slippery traverses. (. nearly lost it on a jump in here ... suckered in by an old hand line with a foot-loop, he jumped, but his foot stayed behind .... about 2 foot above the water.)
At one point the track becomes elevated from the creek by about 6-7m. Here it is necessary to cross from the track to a large flat rock in the center of the creek bed. It's only a small step ... but it felt really exposed. If you don't make it ... at best you will fall to the right 7m to the rocky creek bed, at worst you will fall to the left 7m into a thin crevasse and get inextricably wedged just above the creek bed. (Maybe I was just tired).
16:00 Exit point past Rainbow Ravine, dry(ish) clothes for the walk
Short scramble up small gully then go left (obvious track) to get back into Rainbow Ravine.
The walk up Rainbow Ravine is steep and relentless. Not as steep as Kalang or Dione Dell but really hard just the same (longer I think). Some climbing (3 short cliff sections) easily negotiated. (handlines in place already courtesy of the commercial groups). After the major climb up, you get to go back down again. Up and down again for the hour or so. At last the Kilpatrick Causeway has good views of where you've been and where you've got to go, (you can see the transmission tower from there). Gives you a good idea of distance. Interesting view of Mt Banks. One more up and down .... then only up to go !
19:00 back at cars. Exhausted! (Family group's vehicles still there).
This canyon has to be seen to be believed. It's fantastic. It's so steep
and narrow and gothic looking.
Giant trees and ferns crowding over the top, deep pools and plenty of tunnel swims, make the whole place look and feel like you're in the land of the giants.
Bushie shouts every one beer and hot chips at the pub in the hopes that we will all stop harping on about the 2 hour delay at the beginning of the day when we had to go back to Ross's to get a spare wetsuit for him.
(Right! Beer .... from the tap ... to the glass ... off the bar ...
straight down .... nothing but net).
Claustral Canyon 23/3/96
Mt Tomah Sth on the Mt Wilson map.
weather o/cast occ sun. Sunny for exit walk..
Ropes: 1 x 34m Other. food.
1 x 50m some safety gear.
some rescue gear.
full wet suits.
Party: Brenda ('who ate all the orange snakes ?') Alison
. ('what's wrong with my hat!?!')
Brian ('wow ... this is amazing !' every 10 minutes) Stirk
Wit ('anyone want another sandwich, soup, tea, cake,
chocolate, piece of chicken, lamb rissole, slice of watermelon, bowl of fettuccine....) Cieslik.
Arrived to pick Brenda up, (only 45minutes lateJ ) and grabbed a drive through coffee and McMuffin on the way. Packed and ready to walk at 08:45.
The weather was looking OK. Not to sunny but at least not threatening rain ! Forecast was for a drizzly morning followed by a sunny afternoon.
Three other groups were ahead of us already, and we set off eagerly in anticipation of the wonders that would no doubt unfold throughout the day.
08:52 - First incident... Brenda stumbles in a hole whilst walking on comparatively flat ground, but with quick footwork, a skill learned through years of dodging cow-pats in Dolby, manages to avoid serious injury and only cops instead, a bagging about being the token female on the trip.
09:12 - Second incident ... Brenda stumbles on a rock as we approach the Camel's Hump and also gets 'thwaked' by a swinging branch. Quick reflexes come to the fore and again she manages to avoid serious injury and only cops instead, a bagging about being the token female on the trip.
So far the day is shaping up nicely ... (I ask Brenda if she has signed
our personal liability forms yet ?)
We follow the track up the other side of the Camel's Hump, and decided to leave a water stash for the return trip. (is 4 litres overkill ?). The cruise down the hill towards the creek, (gravity is our friend), goes well and soon we can hear the water below us when suddenly .... Third Incident ... Guess who again ... but still she manages to avoid serious injury and only cops instead, a bagging about being the token female on the trip.
We reached the creek in good time and pause only to remove jumpers (and flanny shirts), and begin the pretty walk along the creek, dodging giant ferns, crossing logs and generally getting our feet wet. Except Brian who is demonstrating his 'no-getting-wet-until-absolutely-necessary' style of walking. In no time at all we arrive at the 1st swim, and it's time to suit up. Brenda has obtained a particularly nice black number with pink highlights on the arms, ('she looks so cute in rubber'). Purple socks are worn to identify us as a team! Dry clothes are packed into canyon bags, hatches battened down, and with grin and a wink I jump in and immediately lie to everyone and tell them the waters just great! Time now to watch their faces as one-by-one, the rest jump in and follow .... except Brian who decides it's too early to get wet and bridges himself most of the way across until it inevitably gets too wide and in he comes too. His face is the best! Brian doesn't like the cold. Cold enough to try swimming without actually putting your hands in the water.
I don't remember much of the next walk except that the couple of jump in's were tremendous fun, or maybe it was just the look of apprehension on Brenda's face at each one. No matter where we chose to scramble down and get wet, Brian was always waiting for us on the other side ... dry ... The man is not human! All too soon we were at the top of Calcutta Falls, the Black Hole of Calcutta, waiting ...
We caught the tail end of a large group and settled in for a long wait while they bumbled their way down the first two pitches taking photo's and losing rolls of film into the water etc. Finally (an hour later) their last guy disappeared and we quickly dropped our rope in (log belay). I set off to set up the next pitch. (s/steel ring and tape). . followed me with the next rope and Brenda joined us almost immediately. This whole operation took us about 10 minutes. I was surprised at the bottom of the 2nd pitch to find that four of the first group still hadn't gone through the keyhole ...
Rather than join them in the water I hung off the water fall and waited where I could wave the occasional message back up to Brenda, and let our guys know what the holdup was. Eventually their last guy waved goodbye and racked (sic) off.
Brenda made a spectacular entrance down the second pitch, and after I got my heart going again, joined me at the bottom of the pitch, shaken... but not stirred.
The views from this point are truly special. Looking straight up, the smooth sandstone walls curve and twist, effectively blocking out most of the light into the chamber. Ferns reach out of each nook and cranny as the walls rise higher, and become brilliant green fans as the sunlight illuminates them from behind. Soft green moss carpets the rock walls and adds horizontal bands of color which help add dimension to the height of the walls. Here and there, silk strands of old spider webs catch and reflect the subdued light. The only sound is that of the water as it tumbles down from above, and continues it's journey onward and downward. Through the keyhole, the view is down, up, out and just has to be seen as words cannot describe the feeling you get seeing it with your own eyes! It's hard not feel very small just here. The power and the patience of the water creating these passages through the sandstone cannot be ignored.
As . swam through the dim light to join us at the keyhole, we were surprised to see that he had picked up a hitch-hiker. A spider about the size of the face-hugger in ALIENS was happily perched on the top of his cap and apparently enjoying the free ride. (Fourth Incident ?) ... We yelled at him ... He stopped swimming and looked at us ... We waved our hands and yelled some more, pointing at his head... He looked behind himself... We made 'throw your hat away' movements ... He just blinked at us. At last he decided to go along with the joke, whipped his hat off , smacked the water with it, and viola ... the face-hugger was swimming ...
Just like in ALIENS we spent the next couple of minutes circling around, in the water, in the dark, yelling. 'Did you see where it went ?!', 'Did YOU see where IT went ?!'.
We paused for a couple more photos at the bottom of the keyhole and, still a little jumpy from the spider incident, Brenda nearly spat-a-dummy at the hideous sight of one of my shoes slowly floating to the surface of the water in the half gloom. Thinking it was some kind of primeval combination, eel-like face-hugger coming to get her, she quickly grabbed the log she was sitting on, yelped and tried to climb higher. Of course this only skittled me and served to make me attempt leaping bodily from the water, bringing my hideous boot with me! Excitement over, a swim, a wade and a stumble and we're out in the daylight again, at the verdantly green junction of Ranyon Canyon. If you like moss covered sandstone ... this is the place for you ! Tired of trying to take photos of an obstinate Brenda, the lads posed for a shot and eventually Brenda squeezed one off just as I overbalanced and fell flat on my face.
From here we walked and swam along, scrambling down a couple of boulder piles and pretty soon reached the Thunder George junction in time for a late lunch. (OJ, Tea, Jamaican Rum Chocolate, mixed-nuts, fresh ham cheese and asparagus on pita bread). As it was about 14:30 and we really had to be back in enough time for Angela to dump her boyfriend, we decided that a visit to the glow-worm cave would have to wait for the next trip.
Traveling down the rest of the george was uneventful and very pretty, scrambling and sliding soon became the mode of travel with the occasional log-traverse thrown in for good measure. A fine test of woman's prowess on the balance beam! After a couple more neat jump-ins and one jump across (which still unnerves me, even though I've done it before), there is a really cool cork-screw scramble under some boulders which brought us to the final down climb and jump before the tunnel swim. The swim through the tunnel was cool and refreshing and kind of sad as I knew it signaled the end of the easy sailing and ultimately the end of the canyon. We all drifted quietly along on our backs looking up at the walls of the george, allowing the water to gently propel us along, marveling in silence (as if we hadn't seen ferns before) at the cool greenness of it all.
Passing Rainbow ravine, it's easy to see why the recommendation is to continue along the george and traverse back.. The trickling waterfall drops nearly vertically about 15m down steep sloping, slippery sandstone and finally splashes onto a nasty pile of boulders.
One last swim and we reach the exit point where we catch up with the couple that passed us at lunch time. As we're changing into dry(ish) clothes another small group of three catches us from behind and moves off, up and out.
The walk out was really straight forward, with 3 short scrambles (easy climbs) and generally lots of uphill. There are a couple of really nice camping spots along the lower reaches of the ravine. Level, treed and well protected with running water nearby. After these the going gets steep again and soon Brenda asks us to lie to her, and tell her 'we're nearly there'. I am tempted to talk dirty to her and call her names as well, but after carefully gauging the dummy-spit level I decide this could possibly cause a fatality. As we gain height we begin to catch some great views of Mt Banks and the sun setting on the cliff faces to the east of us. The trail is well worn and easy to follow, and to help pass the time we begin to play hide and seek along the way. I am always amazed at how much of my body I can hide behind a single blade of grass! Suddenly realise my jaw is sore ... I've been grinning like an idiot all day again!
We're back at the car and signed out .. oddly the visitors book shows that all the groups are out, including three more groups after us ... but we passed a large group at the lunch spot !!! and only two small groups passed us ... where did they go ?
Getting close to winter now, but it just wasn't that cold !
Think we can squeeze one more in ... this time with video ?
Breakfast Creek Canyon
8th June 1996
Led me describe my weegend trib...
Stardig on Friday, Rossco tuned be in to beet with hibself ad Peter
Louise after dinner. This beant I could still go clibing. . came clibing
too which was good, and wanted to talk afterwards. Unfortunatley I didn't
and the result was not good.
Lader I met up with the others ad we drove off to Newnes and reached
campsite at aroud 1a emb. Apparently we hab the entire Newnes Plateau to
ourselves! Whooo hooo ! Ross has a new tent ! It's a beaut !
All asleep by 2. Destination Staurday .... 'Breakfast Ck Canyon' !
Acordig to both Peter and Louise this was a dry(ish) canyon.
We took wetsuits but chose not to use themb.
(I'b sorry this ebail souds a little funny, but I have a roaring hed-code.
Legacy of gettig too cold for too log ...
Led me blo by dose ..................).
Thats betterer !
The walk into the canyon is short and very scrubby. A lot of the time
through sharp spikey stuff. Ross managed to cop a real bloody finger just before
we reached the canyon.
Two easy abseils down the cliff line dropped us onto the creek and within
minutes we were
again transported back through the ages into the land that time forgot. Cliff line gradually
building above us. Direct sunlight receding. Green moss, giant ferns and the occasional dinosaur. The canyon itself has three pitches (25m, 6m and 4m), and we had a single 45m rope (go figure!).
The first is almost just like Claustral,only much greener and damper.
wetsuits we were resigned to wading about at the bottom of the pitches up to
our testicles in freezing cold water. At first this was invigorating, but
after a couple of minutes it just becomes numb !
I saw, in this canyon, the biggest chock stones I have ever seen !
Must have weighed hundreds of tones. (Obligatory jokes about 'like to have seen that one come down !').
After the first pitch we followed the creek down a short chute which was
good fun and soon arrived at the second pitch.
The second pitch gave us a little trouble as the rope snagged, on the
down and eventually Louise climbed back up to release it.
(Louise and Peter are really accomplished rock climbers as well as back
country snow skiers, walkers, trekkers and ice climbers!).
From here it was only a few meters to the top of the third pitch.
Third pitch was no trouble, but the pool at the bottom caught Ross,
everyone's amusement, he slipped and went right in !
Descent over and we are now at Rock Ck. What a beautiful spot !
White sandy beaches, crystal clear water running past, giant ferns, green
moss covered logs, dappled sunlight playing on everything !
No time to rest though ... there are two tributary canyons that need
examination. Lou takes off to check out the most promising of the two and
we guys dawdle along behind (thawing our nethers), suddenly the sound of
Lou's splashing stops with a scream. Then silence.
"Lou... You OK ?" ....
Louder now and all together "Lou ! .. ARE YOU OK?!" ...
The three of us are running up the creek.
Quiet and shaky "I'm all right ..."
We look at each other. It doesn't sound like it. We all start running again
and meet Lou coming out of the canyon looking a little shaken.
"It was just a dead animal!" she says, "That's all ... looks like a
with no tail!".
We go to investigate and subsequently name the new canyon "Dead Koala
Looks like the poor buggar fell in from the top. (Probably only 60m or so !).
Excitement over we continued up Rocky Ck to the exit point. Entertained
occasion by Ross's outbursts on being cold and wet in a 'dry' canyon.
little did he know, the final joke was yet to come.
Just downstream from the exit was....
One final wade.
One last pool.
One last chance to get really wet !
We looked into the deep pool.
We searched the canyon sides for a path around.
We stared into the water hoping for a shallow spot.
All to no avail !.
Pete went first. Wet to his chest ! Brrrr!.
Ross went next ... screaming and yelling the whole way !
Then the unimaginable happened. The unbelievable. The bastard !
Pete waded back in, and CARRIED Lou across.
Ross tried half heartedly to push them both in but relented.
I jumped last (silently)... I don't really mind being cold and wet !
From here we scrambled up a short section of slippery logs and splashed
along the wide sunlit avenue of Rocky Ck. Walled on both sides by steep
sandstone, glowing orange and red in the early afternoon light.
Big drifts of white sand, and little caves and overhangs on both sides. Each one
a perfect setting in a perfect place.
We fell into a pattern of Lou up ahead, followed by me, then Ross and
Pete (with the rope). (I think my fitness for this sort of thing has improved!).
Reaching the exit point was both a relief (as it meant warmth and food
not far away), as well as slightly sad, as it also meant that we would be
leaving this very pretty place.
A quick wash of shoes and socks and we were off, chasing Lou up the
steep overgrown gully
that it the exist point for Rocky Ck. (This is just about the ONLY feasible exit
After only a few minutes of slogging up the hill and we were at a cliff
The route ? Straight up the cliff ! (about a 15-20m grade 10 climb, kinda like walking up
a steep set of stairs). There was this weird little guy at the top with heaps of abseil gear,
(obviously from a commercial mob) who proudly showed us the 'new bolt' he had just
placed. Apparently two people have fallen here in the last two years and his bolt
will stop more of these occurring. Lou and I walked on to avoid the argument that we
knew this statement was going to start !
The rest of the walk out is fairly level and quite easy going.
In all, we did the trip in 5 hours. Just a stroll in the park as it
Back at the cars ... Hmmmm Late lunch ... Time to eat ALL the food we brought !
Chocolate, Cheese, Sandwiches, Tom YungGoong, snakes (even orange ones) and bananas.
Change into warm dry clothes. Admittedly everyone looked at me with
as I pulled out the faithful Ugh! Boots, but it wasn't long before I was
being offered bribes for a quick lend! (I don't mind being cold and wet,
but I do take the required precautions!).
Our bolting friend returned but drove off in a manner that did not allow
us to see his vehicle properly .... So we don't know who he works for, and
he wouldn't tell the guys after their initial 'words'.
Dry and warm and with the sun setting we head of to Mt Vic pub for a
in front of a roaring fire.
.... and so ends a another great canyon day !
(I think I can find my way back into this one ! :-)
Kowmung Trip with Ross, Peter and Louise ....
Kowmung River 20th and 21st July 1996
Subtitle : Even the best laid plans ....
Peter and Louise,
Ross and Myself.
Kanangra Tops to Kowmung via Bullhead range track. Down the Kowmung through Denis Bulga Canyon. Camp! Return via Brumby Ridge and Gingra Range track to Kanagra Tops.
And so the plan WAS ...
We all meet at Ross' place around 6pm on Friday and leave Sydney bound for Kanangra Boyd. A quick camp overnight followed by a quick and early breakfast would see us walking by about 8 am. on Saturday. A big push on Saturday would take us via Kanangra Tops and down to the Kowmung river. Following the river downstream and through Denis Bulga Canyon to Orange Bluffs for our overnight camp. Sunday was the BIG UP from the river via Brumby Ridge back to the Gingra range track and then back to the car. Simple in theory !
Well Friday night Bucketed down... in spite of the beautiful omen of a rainbow in the late afternoon. My plan to leave work early failed and I actually left about an hour late, and STILL had some shopping to do before going home to pack AND get to Ross' at a decent hour. Luckily Ross was running late too.
I eventually straggled into Ross' at about 7:00 (still packing) and Peter and Louise arrived from the pub about 7:15 (also still packing....). Ross had his stuff neatly strewn about the floor and had so far only packed a plastic bag.
Looking at the weather we had our first group decision for the weekend. Pizza or Thai. Camping was definitely off for tonight, and a 04:00 am start was looking to be the go! Dinner, beers and light conversation heralded an early night. We had all finished packing while waiting for the Thai to arrive so now it was unpack again to get our sleeping bags out and we had a mini-sleep out on Ross' living room floor.
04:00 came all too soon and our 04:30 departure slipped to 05:00 as toasted muffins forced their way into our breakfast plans. 05:00 slipped to 05:30 as we cleaned up, repacked and swapped cars around, then, at long last, we were off. Away from the sunrise. (Red sky at morning ?). Katoomba was looking good for a coffee, but we got there too early, and both Louise and I were impatient to be going. So with the grumbling of the caffeine addicts drowning out the suspension noise.. we headed off to Jenolan and then Kanangra !
At 08:00 am the Car park of Kanangra walls was unexpectedly busy. There was a search and rescue exercise just waiting to start. With it was about two dozen people milling about , chatting and generally not get ready to do anything. As we pulled to a halt, Peter mumbled something about "wouldn't happen in America!" and "right, walking in 80 seconds!"....
80 seconds later we were walking through the throng and on our way !
We stopped short of the top of Murdering Gully to quickly check the maps and then marched on the Kanangra Tops and despite the warnings that the track we wee after would be hard to find... just walked straight on to it.
The view from the track junction back was breathtaking. Kanangra Main tumbling down into the 'Slot'. Kalang falls looking like a tiny trickle appearing about halfway down the wall. (I've been there a couple of times. 8x 30-40 m abseils is no trickle!). Light cloud still wisping through the valley. Sun low. Wind cold!. I love this place ! The walk across the 'tops' takes only a short time and soon we were descending into eucalyptus groves and starting to 'get the map out' more often. The main features we were looking for were humps and cliflines. All difficult to spot through the trees. A couple of moments of confusion, but general consensus kept us on track. (We only took one really wrong turn). We made it to Coal Seam Cave in about 70 minutes (track notes suggest 50) and decide to push on to Cambridge Spire ! Coal Seam cave itself is just that... a great big long roof overhanging a seam of coal. I thought this was a very pretty spot and would mind camping here at some stage. (Just an easy overnight perhaps). The View from Cambridge Spire was awesome. From here it's easy to see the amount of vertical we were about to lose in the descent to the river. Scary stuff ! Thinking about the walk back up that is ! A quick photo opportunity, (Yes I took the Clutz Balls!), and we're off again. Down, down, down. At first the going is really steep and rocky, with lots of small down climbs. (I do well on these) but soon it turns back into steep soft track, and we simply and carefully plough our way down. Ross slips once and hurts a wrist. Peter likewise. Lou gets clouted by a falling rock on a down climb. I remain charmed !...
We eventually hit the river at around 14:00 and settle down for a late
lunch. We've become accustom to setting our watches by the weather. Light
rain falls for about 10 minutes and then stop abruptly to be replaced by
cold wind for about 10 minutes which gives way to bright sun for about
Coats on , jumpers off. Coats off, jumpers on. Jumpers off. The going is slow.
Lunch is great... Ross and I have planned well and we settle down to smoked salmon and raw veggies on Lavash bread. (Did you know that Lavash bread has a history that goes back 3000 years ? Back before the Assyrians .....These trips away ARE educational!). A bit of chocolate, some fruit and some Tom Yum Gung round it off ! Packs back on and we're off again. We have a long way to go today and are uncertain about the river conditions ahead. Our first river crossing is from our lunch spot and we step into the water hesitantly.
I HAVE NEVER BEEN IN WATER SO DEBILITATINGLY COLD IN MY ENTIRE LIFE !
I thought I was going to break down and cry before getting to the other side. I think I went into shock. I was still walking and talking, but not doing either very well. We all decided that river crossing were to be avoided at all costs... Following the track down the right hand side of the river, we started getting pushed into 'black slippery rock' terrain, made even worse by the thin but persistent low bush. Walking was difficult here because if you watched your feet, you got your head and pack tangled in the under brush. If you watched the under brush, you ran the risk of twisting an ankle or maybe doing a knee... Bad place for fast pace!
Three more wades and we were done. Faced with the ambiguous "a couple of wades" from the track notes, and already having had to do 4 before even reaching the canyon, we were getting worried. We looked at the map. We looked at were we were, and the steepness of the walls around us. We looked at the map again, and looked at the contours around the canyon. We looked at the river, and how much water was flowing in it. It was really adding up to ..... 'swimming ?' No Way ! Not this trip ! No even us !
Unanimously we agreed that discretion was the better part of valor and sadly worked our way back to the last good campsite we had seen. A nice sandy glade about three meters above the river. We quickly setup camp and got a fire going to dry off socks and shoes. Dinner preparations started in the waning light and continued under full Petzels. Ross and I started first with three packets of Spicy Thai soup, two packets of prawn noodles, fresh chicken, mushrooms, capsicum and carrot ! Hmmmm... Hmmmm! Whilst consuming this heart warmer Peter started his specialty... fresh Green Curry (fresh beef!) and rice (cooked with the 'absorption' method). This went down real well and soon we were all belching and farting and generally complaining that we'd eaten too much. Tea, Coffee, Hot Chocolate completed the evening and half a pack of Chocolate Monte's finished of the gluttons amongst us ! About this time the river suddenly rose about 5 cm. At first we thought Peter was making it up, bat careful inspection of known obstacles proved his claim. Nervously, we all went to bed.
It only rained once more that night, but the wind didn't get the hint. Sunday morning dawned quiet and cold. Breakfast was a noisy cheery affair with Tea and Coffee high on the menu followed by left over curry and then toasted muffins and fruit. Breaking camp took longer than anticipated. Partly because I was having trouble fitting everything back into my pack, but also because of the stories Peter and Louise kept telling about their travels. Nothing gets my imagination more fired up! Eventually our 08:00 am walk out started at 09:00 and Ross and I struggled to keep pace with the other two. Ross having trouble with his knee at least had a good excuse. I was just having trouble!. We crossed the river at 10:00 and began our ascent at 10:30. This time the river crossing went well! (Nude feet helps a lot). In contrast to the trouble I had the previous day, I actually felt good this morning and even warned Pete and Louise that they "were in trouble now! I'm starting to ENJOY this !".
Our initial pace upward was slow until we hit the rock scrambles. These were fun. I like these. I passed Ross and just kept going. Peter and Louise just behind, then past me and just ahead. Keeping up here was no problem. It's amazing just how much vertical you can build in this kind of terrain. Although we were all sad that we didn't do the canyon, we were all glad to be walking and I very much enjoyed the surrounding views. Many of the views were obscured the previous day due to cloud, but today was a bottler! Views in all directions were steep, rangy and rugged! Cliff lines abounding. Gullies disappearing on every side. My photos are all disappointing. We stopped for a snack at the top of Cambridge Spire again and caught our breath, (with chocolate and snakes) and then set off on the gentle up and down and up again to Kanangra Tops. On the way we met a group of guys heading down on a five day circuit. They just didn't seem to have enough stuff!... They did say that it had snowed up on the top of the walls last night. We said we thought it was cold last night!
The last big haul up was back to Coal Seam cave for a late lunch. Again we got there about 14:00 and it was cold!. Salmon and Lavash bread, veggies AND cheese too ... I don't eat this well at home! due to time constraints we opt out of a hot drink and 'head on up'. Gradually the bush around us shrinks and becomes the low stunted heath of Kanangra Tops and soon we are surrounded by 360 degree views again. Cliff lines, valleys, rainbows and distant clouds. It is my favorite place !
We all look at each other. We know this trip is about to close and there
is only one last hard bit. Murdering Gully ends at a low point in the cliff
line. From here there is a path of stairs to the top and this is going
to be a killer. Valiantly we push on up to the top and relax back to the
car. Warm dry clothes.
Visions of Pizza and Coffee at Rene's in Katoomba...
Even though we failed our objective by a long way. Due to many factors.
The major ones being Time, Weather and river conditions. We learned something
about this area and our own way of estimating our progress through it.
The area itself is beautiful and even a simple walk here is well worth
the effort. To have been able to travel through it for two days and enjoy
both it and the company of others also enjoying it, was a great break from
the stress of the Urbane Monster. Plans for the next trip are already underway.
Dione Dell with :
Patty and friends from Melbourne
Geoff, Sean, Jen, Denise, Steph, Nat and Ed. Pleasant driving and dining in Blackheath on Friday night saw us all safley at the Kanangra Boyd camp ground well after dark. A quick round of tent erection and all were tucked away safely for the evening to sleep and dream of canyons and other things ...
A beautiful sunrise and a warmish day comming, we rose late, breakfasted quickly and made our way to the start of the walk.
The first abseil we dispatched via the righthand side of the left hand fall (looking out) and everyone, even the beginners had no problems with the drop or the landing ...
The second fall was a little more exciting. Down the water fall and into the clear pool below. Luxury in the heat of the day. I was surprised to see the group milling out listlessly in the sunshine at the bottom and cracked the whip to get everyone roused and moving.
The bottom of the third pitch begged for some jumping and another quick rest and bite to eat. Honestly, it's like hearding cows...
Last pitch was smooth with no-one comming unstuck on the overhang. The walk to Margaret Falls seemed to take a long time and it was getting on in the day by the time we got there. More food and excellent views before striking up the ridge on the left and heading for home.
Geoff suggested we head left when we reached the cliff line and this proved to be a quick (although slighly less scenic) alternative to the other ... That is, going right instead !
Without too much ado we found ourselves back at the road and wanderd slowly back to the cars and then the campsite for dinner and another night of tenting.
Next morning, much refreshed we headed out for a short walk along the cliff tops as a number of people had not been out here before, and you just can't go home without looking at the views ...
Patty's friends from Melbourne were so enamoured with the day I understand the first thing they did on returning home was to join up with a caving group.! How's that for keen !
This page has gotten quite large and I have stopped adding to it as of the new Millennium.
For accounts of trips more recent, follow the links from the Canyon trips index page.