|The canyon log is my chronological account of the various canyon
trips that I have been fortunate enough to partake, and in some cases,
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.
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.
As I have been hap-hazardly adding pictures lately, these pages are best viewed at a screen resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels !
Kalang Falls , Kanangara
11th January 2003
Vert. Elev: 350m (approx.)
Distance : 2.5km (approx.)
Time : 10.5 hrs (aprox.)
Comments: Fairly wet day. Overcast and constatnt drizzle. Camp ground very quiet.
Ropes: 2 x 65m, 1 x 28m
Other Sources of information on this area :
I'm thinking of starting a 'tote' of which canyons and parks are opened each weekend.
The rate of change over this summer has been increadible. Open one day closed the next. A very frustrating situation for all those keen canyoners, walkers, and cavers.
With all the closures, I had just about given up on canyons all together and had re-discovered the fun (and art)
of caving at Bungonia.
As such I had (at the mere mention of the prospect) engaged the imagination and enthusiasm of several friends for a beginers caving
day. Alas, no sooner than I had gotten everyone fired up to go, the park was closed.
Well, actually the state of information
flow was ...
- NPWS web page listed just about everywhere as being closed.
- Phone number #1 for NPWS at BUngonia gave recorded announcements stating the park WAS open, but was dated 22nd Dec
- Phone number #2 for NPWS at BUngonia gave recorded announcements stating the park WAS open, but was dated 1st Jan
Kanagra-Boyd was listed as open on the web site, and subsequent phone calls to Oberon and then to Blackheath NPWS confirmed Kalang Falls open for canyoning, so at the 11th hour, we changed plans and all agreed to meet at the wall lookout carpark by 09:00.
Unusually for me, I had a bad night and woke badly on the day, leaving home about 20 minutes late. I must have made good time though as I met Patrick, Margo and Ben at the Walls Lookout road only minutes after they got there themselves.
We were met by a grey cool day with mist sweeping in 'tantalisingly', and reducing visibility at times, and patchy drizzle. While waiting for Richard and Rob (we were about half an hour early), another group arrived and started to gear up, also heading for Kalang.
As seems so usual by now, I was starting to feel that this trip was probably not the best idea, given the weather conditions, and the fact that there was going to be a group ahead of us. At the very least, I felt we were probably heading into a long and epic day.
Rather than race the other guys, we opted to unpack and re-pack again in the comfort of the picnic shelter, and let the other group go ahead and get a head start on us. All packed and drizzle stopped, we left the carpark at 09:45.
The first couple of scrambles gave us a good idea of what was to come ... Much slipperyness ! CAUTION! Take extreme care !
We met a couple of the other group coming back out at this point, just a short way above the top of the first pitch. When we arrived at the ledge the other guys were happy to let us go first while they waited for their guy to return.
As best I could I unravelled our spagetti and tossed it over the edge, knowing full well this was going to end in a tangle.
I was right, what a mess.
Looped over trees, knots in the end (I did flake it all out before tossing it too!) ... Even the stopper knots causing problems. I swung out and caught the offending tree bound rope, untied the stopper and gently pulled the whole length through and let it drop. Cool! One down! One to go ... The next tangle was in the rocks below and this was just a horrendous snarl of rope. Nothing for it but to get comfortable and start unravelling. With that done I could do the next little drop and work out the rest of the rope.
Finaly I'm at the bottom, and the rest of the guys have a free run down ...Whew ! Judging by the amount of rope left over I think this pitch is about 50m although you could stop much earlier (40m) and scramble the rest if you needed to.
As our guys came down, Richard suggested that the other crew use our ropes and get on down, but at that time they were already calculating the rate of descent and the conditions vs the number of people and decided to bail out and do this the following day. Looking at my watch, I calculated that we were probably going to be back at the car about 7PM. It's a bit "iffy" ! ... In retrospect we really should have discussed the options with the other guys and possibly joined forces. This would have allowed us to leapfrog a set of ropes and keep the whole she-bang moving.
With Margot belaying now, I set off to find the next anchor points. Two nice shiny rings just on the edge. They will do nicley! Richard and Rob brought our rope down and away we went again. This second abseil was also close to 50m I think, but very straight forward.
Bush bashing off to the left we now went in search of the third pitch (a big tree). Followed shortly by the 4th pitch. The visitors book at the top of the 4th pitch was full and probably needs replacing.
The 5th pitch (about 12m) is found by again scrambing around on the left and following the ridge down to a short drop into a gulley.
Again we bashed along to the left to find the next (6th) pitch. Abesiling down and right (facing in) along a slippery ramp.
The next two pitches (7th and 8th) we ran together as one big 65m abseil. Looking out, from the top the belay for this is two rings in the 'ground' on the left. One of our ropes was just long enough to make this under rope stretch, which presented a slight problem for those belaying. To belay comfortably, I had to climb back up about 5m. this presented me with two immediate problems. Firstly I was unable to see what was happening above for most of the pitch, and secondly I was in direct line of fire should a rock get knocked down, (with no room to manouver to get away either!).
And then it happened, just when you MOST expect it... Margot had adopted a different line comming down than I did and was heading for the pool. I called up and got her to work her way around the corner and back onto the face. Suddenly there was a blur of movement at her feet and something huge began tumbling towards me.
"SHIT! ROCK!" I yelled, but even as I did so I was transfixed.
It was horrible...
It was compelling...
I couldn't move or even look away...
And it was comming straight at me !
Even as time slowed down i could see 'something' was not as it should have been.
It was wrigling as it tumbled !.
Wham ... Right on the elbow !
It was soft, but heavy, (and it stank like pee !), but it bounced off and I held my position !!
I looked on the ground four meters below to see what it was, only to see a good sized possum limping away as fast as it could. Examinig my elbow later, I was surprised to find a large tuft of fur sticking to it, and another couple of tufts on the rock at my knees.
Wow ... I've never had the wildlife launch itself at me before. Very glad it wasn't a rock though. I think I might not have been the one typing up this report had it been so ....
We spent a while searching for the little fella afterwards but to no avail ... Hope he's OK, I reckon he fell in total about 15m !!
Sticking to the left we again searched for and found the last abseil. Again a good 40m or so pitch to finally arrive at the bottom, shortly after 5PM.
Whew! Still looking good for a 7PM car top-out!
Gad to be down for now and with only the long haul back up to go, we quickly squared away our stuff and headed off down the stream looking for the exit. From memory it wasn't very far, but it should be noted that the Jameison Guide suggests 50m downstream from the creek junction, and the Noble Guide (WILD Mag.) suggests 100m downstream from the Kanagra Ck junction.
With hindsight beging 20-20 (it's a beautiful thing!), I think, in all probability simply head down the creek for a minute or so and bash up on the right wherever you find convinient. This trip we travelled way too far downstream, and our exit was a long winded afair with much sidling and traversing to get back into the saddle gully. Always fun when you're not quite sure of the direction and racing the daylight.
We made it though, and with daylight to spare ... thank goodness for long summer days !
I remembered from previouse trips that the walk back to the car was cruel, and filled with 'hundreds' of steps, but today it seemed just a short jaunt. Even so, we were back at the car at 8:15PM ... 10.5 hours after our start ! Warm dry cloths and a thorough de-leeching. Rob had the biggest leech I've ever seen. I think we should have kept it and mounted it on a board.
For me, this is the first time I've been out of this canyon before dark ( A PB if ever these was one!). (Mind you, the last time I was here for this one was about 8 years ago!).
Katoomba was the dinner stop on the way home and never before has food and coffee been so desparatley needed.
I so needed the caffeen hit, I couldn't wait for the coffee and begged for Coke as a stop gap measure !
To all canvas dolphins (in-tents and porpoises), this was the 1st canyon for me this season (due to unprecendent park closures and work commitments), but we're all looking forward to many more ! Bring on some rain ! But not too much huh Hughie ?!?