Canyon Log

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 exercise in abseiling and scrambling. The beauty of this area is 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.

Earlier trips are documented on my original canyons page, and other trips are indexed on my main canyoning page

As I have been hap-hazardly adding pictures lately, these pages are best viewed at a screen resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels !

Trip 34 Fortress Ck (Mt Hay Rd Leura)
2nd Feb 2002
Vert. Elev:
Distance :
Time (approx.) : 5 hrs
Comments: Lots of swims, great views, one abseil (or jump).
no image

Other Sources of information on this area : Canyons Near Sydney (Rick Jamieson)

Free week ends are hard to come by at present, so with reasonable weather and a spare day, I decided I'd go back to the last pool in Fortress Ck and search for the hats we lost there a couple of weeks ago with Stu and Raj. (see trip 32) Tony also was keen for another canyon so we decided on doing the round trip properly, as opposed to just wandering sown the exit track with our snorkelling gear.

That settled, we met up at 'the-office' on Saturday morning and drove the hour and a half, (stopping for some breakfast on the way) to the start of the track on the Mt Hay Rd. There was only one other vehicle there.
Weather-wise it had been raining throughout the night, and I expected there to be some extra flow in the creek, and was not surprised to find the swampy track fairly squishy on the way in. Water flow was noticably higher than the last few times through, and also it seemed a little warmer than normal.

In keeping with the plan to search the pool for our hats, we both carried wetsuits and as well, I packed face masks and dive torches.

Splashing through the canyon was about as enjoyable as it gets. Cool pools for swimming, small jumps and occasional scrambles. There is a smooth hollow overhang on the right hand side of one of the later swims. In our last trip through we spent a short while here boulering a traverse under the lip and dropping off into the deep pool below. Last time, after a couple of goes each, we gave up and moved on. This time I had the sequence in my head and proved it goes... even in wet volleys !!.

Tony discovered canyon spiders for the first time. We had just been talking about them when he noticed a deep pool in a large rock at our feet, which actually joined the main creek via a sumberged arch. To prove it, he scrambled in and carefully ducked through into the dark hole. This will, from now on, and forever more, be known as :

the 'Spider Hole'.

Almost immediatly on entering the chamber (of horrors), he came face to face with 3 or 4 (hundred) of the hairy buggers. The resulting reactions should have been filmed and sent in to funniest home videos!
A startled Tony made for 3 or 4 (hundred) startled and hairy spiders, and all made for the submerged exit at once. ICK !!

The small jump and the two or three swims that follow are probably one of the highlights of this trip. I always enjoy the serenity of swimming the narrow channel towards the final pitch. It is here that the canyon really is at it's best and most confined.

With Nick's recent ankle incident in mind, we carefully rapped the last pitch and began searching the bottom for the missing hats. It's amazing how quickly the light gets absorbed by the sediment in the water. Run off from the recent rain wasn't helping either. Neither was the overcast sky. Howerver we weren't in a hurry and the wetsuits were doing a fine job of keeping us warm.
We found some slings, a prussick loop, and old shoe and a drink bottle. All of which we took out with us, but alas, no hats.
I think these will require a much more intensive searching, possibly with my 50W Halogen dive light and scuba gear.

It was greatly disturbing to see what was on the bottom of the pool in the jump zone. Rocks and big branches. From what we saw I'm guessing Nick must have jumped just a tad too far out and landed almost stradling a large rock. (Lucky, another foot further forward and it could have been a tree stump to the groin! Slings and all !).

It must have been Tony's day for wildlife. Lunch looking out over the magnificent view was shared with a couple of water dragons, sunning themselves as best they could in the grey conditions. Eager for any dropped food and wary of our every move.
Curiose to see how close he could get to the bold one, Tony crouched low, so as not to intimidate the beast, and krept toward it as quietly as possible. Face to face at about one metre distance, the creature suddenly charged. Tony bolted backward so fast, he nearly fell into the pool behind him. (Damn! Another fine video opporunity missed!)

Gaining the ridgtop on the walk back we stopped and examined the single fixed hanger located on a short craglet. A point of curiose observation on each trip. As always I spent a few minutes grimly trying to cling to the first move, but there's no way I can reach the next hold. This is definitly one hard-assed climb.
Theorising that there might be bolts at the top we walked around the back of the cliff and gained access to the top of a quick search of the edge.
It seems, someone has placed a hanger down low, a ring on the opposite side of the track and that's it ...
Who's ever is was and whatever the intentions at the time, the reasons are a mystery. Lost in the annuls of time, or perhaps a hushed mistake, never to be spoken of again?
The rest of the walk back over the ridge top is always an enjoyable feast of Blue Mountains scenery. Vertical orange cliffs in just about every direction, capped with scrubby green bush. Waterfalls spouting from crevises and plunging hundreds of meters to the valley below. All this and not another soul in sight.

Not that I really mind but ...

Where is every one today ?