Scrub bash to somewhere

12-06-17

Julie, Ed, Ethan, Gaz, Jodie and me

I have to say after our scrub bash to nowhere I was fairly surprised the others would still be keen on coming out, let alone head back with the same goal in mind. Something about unfinished business. The more we looked over maps the more convinced we were right there, just misinterpreted the trail notes.

With a whole range of schedules and commitments finding a date where every one was available was the tricky part.

The date was set and eagerness grew. Then Illness struck. Ed rang saying he was crook as a dog. I called Gaz saying I was reluctant to do the trip without Ed as it was his idea in the first place. I was just heading to the chemist to drug myself up, Says he, as I’m the same… Trip off.

It was going before everyone would be available again.

Then I got the opportunity to do the trip with others who had been there previously and a mid week reconnaissance mission took place. It had me more eager than ever to get the crew back there.

Another date was set.

Another set of circumstance meant not everyone could make it.

Postponed again

Finally 12months later every one was getting keen again. Ed suggested the June long weekend. We had a big MTB race on at Rydal which ruled out Saturday and Sunday. I needed to go to work Monday morning but arranged to go early so I could meet the others around 9.

I threw out an invite to Julie just in case she had a day off and luckily she did so it would be a party of 6.

Well Friday and Saturday pissed down. Like constant drizzle interspaced with good heavy rain. Sunday dried out just enough that the race at Rydal was on perfectly tacky trails but I warned the others that while usually dry above the knees with this rain we might get wet up to our waists… A slight under estimation.

Anyway we met up and made our way down into the Wolgan. A good fog rolled through the valley with the promise of clear blue sky once it lifted.

We made good time up the hill and through an easy break in the cliff lines. Much easier than the first way I lead them 12 months ago.

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Julie leads Ethan up through a convenient pass

 

 

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Another magical vantage point on the Wolgan cliff lines

Julie guided the way and we surprised ourselves by arriving bang on target at the lunch spot above the abseil anchor with surprisingly little scrub to be bashed at all.

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We need to squeeze down through that hole
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Usually dry it was nice to see water flowing down here, though it was a tad chilly. The hole opens out into a nice circular window

 

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As far as constrictions go it’s a fairly blah. But the abseil features make it worth it
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The start of the only real canyon section. I’m told last week this was ankle deep. Last year when I came through with Julie and the Cooks it was about nut deep. It looks a bit deeper today….. Chest deep for me. So much for not getting to wet today. Lucky it was a bluebird day

While some tried in vain in the end there was no option but to wade on through, except after we all had, Ed pointed out a high ledge we could have scampered across with a convenient abseil tree almost directly above the end of the pool.

And next is a fun little abseil down through a hole in the rock. It’s almost like a mini Alcatraz  but darker and narrower

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Gaz descending into the Hole
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Julie offering Jodie some tips as she bridges across a deep plunge pool within a Hole in the Rock
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Ed emerging from the Hole in the Rock. The Creek drops down a tunnel behind the rock face

next up is 2 awesomely exposed 30m abseils above the spectacular Wolgan valley

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The slot in the cliff line opens up with some grand views
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Julie leading the last abseil, a fun jaunt down a big slab with stunning views.

Our track notes said 2 ropes needed here but both center marks were on the ground so conceivably its doable on 1 genuine 60m (Note mine is about 63m and the center mark was just of the ground.

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Looking down the slab from the top of the last drop
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Our slot is not obvious from below, pretty much center of the shot.

 

 

Party Size. 6. all experienced to intermediate

time: 5hrs car to car at a steady pace

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“There is no such thing as spare time. No such thing as free time. No such thing as down time. All you have is life time. Go!” Henry Rollins

 

 

 

Acoustic

04/05/2017

Mandy Tal And I

Acoustic/SunnySide/Wombat(WTF?) is a great little canyon to visit in Winter as it has a nice contriction, some awesome erision caves and with a little bit of care it’s possible to get through it in normal conditions without getting you feet wet.

 

It’s fairly short so it’s usually conbined with other trips out that way but we had some other stuff to do and living close it’s an easy half day.

Pulling into the car park I handed the map and compass to Tal. Navigation is as straight forward as it gets in trackless terrain so it’s not a bad one to practice on. I gave him a bearing and he lead off following the path of least resistance through the scrub while staying on course. A decent effort delivered us to the dry water course about 100m upstream of where the pogodas sprout out the the ground and the creek canyons up.

Just before the jaws of the canyon Mandy decided to have a lie down when she stepped in a hole and twisted her ankle. After a bit of drama queen stuff she got up and said she’d be fine to keep going.

We left her to walk out the sprain a little as I lead Tallis up an easy scramble to check out the Acoustic chambers from above. The ridge above the western wall is easy to negotiate and gives a great perspective on the canyon.

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One of the “smaller” chambers near the start of the canyon
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Looking down the canyon towards 2 of the larger chambers
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Looking down into the canyon
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Tal checking the views from pogoda tops
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The large chamber from the western ridge
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Looking back up along the canyon

After quickly checking it out from above we make our way back to Mandy and head on in.

The canyon starts with a little twist and then a nice little tunnel scramble

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Mandy following tal into the gateway

There’s a few spots where it looks like you are sure to get your socks (and more) wet but with a bit of route finding and care you don’t even get the soles of your shoes wet

 

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Tal balancing of thin ledges to avoid getting wet. It might look like a mirror of liquid mercury in the harsh noon sun in the photo but its crystal clear

 

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Mandy reflecting on how we got past here with out getting wet. There are ways… We may or may not have shared our secret

and after a little bit of fun the eastern wall opens in to the large chamber…..

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Mandy an Tal eating lunch by the ferns while I check out the TARDIS effect, it’s bigger on the inside

You soon have to tranverse across the base of another chamber. In any other canyon this one would blow you away but it is eclipsed a bit by the previous one.

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Mandy traversing the balcony while Tal heads downinto the next section
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Once again it’s bigger from the inside
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Canyon formation

It’s advisable to traverse the right hand ledge above the last 100m of canyon. this avoids a little scrub as well as some delicate vegetation in the final slot which ends in a boulder choke. It also gives better views out into the Wolgan as the canyon opens up.

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The view down into the final slot is also pretty cool

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There are a few ways to exit. On my first visit we climbed an easy spot on the west wall and went back along the tops. It is also possible to scrmble out the exit portal and scramble around into Bushranger creek or to simply reverse the canyon but most parties now seem to use a hidden slot in the east wall. There a bit of a step up to access it so those short of leg may need a boost but once on the ledge it’s an easy ramp all the way to the top of the cliffs.

 

Once up there are vista’s applenty and it’s worth having a good look around.

Then Tal was back on map and compass to lead up up the ridge to the old fire trail and hence back to the car

 

Party size: 3 all experienced

Time. 1.5hr car to car even with the photo phaffing

Video to come if I can work out why my external drive with the go pro file and editted video on it decided to go RAW…

 

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Pleasant View Canyon

27-05-2017

Mandy and I

Pleasant View canyon is a canyon which leads a view over the Carne crk which is  pleasant… Actually the views from the end of the fire trail are better as are those from the cliffs above the canyon.

But anyhoo…

The canyon itself has some nice features (Some of the erosion caves are, IMO, on par with those found in Acoustic/Sunnyside canyon) and the tree ferns are awesome, but the canyon sections tend to be short and there is a bit of scrub, stripped bark and dead fall to negotiate.

All in all it’s worth a look if you are in the area doing other stuff

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We followed a little gully down through a short canyonette but a 4-5m drop barred our way in this fantastic chamber
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Luckily it was easy to slip over the top of the pagodas and scramble down then approach the chamber from below.
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With the big wind swept over hangs in the upper cliff and the blanket of ferns commanding my eyes I would have missed this cave altogether if it wasn’t for Mandy disappearing into it
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Sure the canyon sections were short but a couple of them gave promise of a deep, narrow passage.
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Did I mention tree ferns?
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Felt fern covered the walls, leaf litter and bark carpeted the floor.

The dry creek bed followed the big over handing wall around almost 180°

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Scrambling out of the canyon gave this awesome view over the Carne
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The pleasant view at the end of pleasant view canyon

 

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Xanthorrhoea spears back droped by towering cliff lines.

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Another cave
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Heading back up into the canyon
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Another cave

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An even more pleasant view from the end of the fire trail above

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Party size: 2

Time: 2.5hr with a lot of phaffing about.

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”Jobs fill your pockets, but adventures fill your soul.” – Jaime Lyn

Wandering around the plateau

20-05-2017

Julie, Leaf and me

So if you listened to the weather forecasters you’d expect to see a guy building a baot and collecting animals two by two or something.

Still I was keen to get out and was origanlly thinking one of the drier canyons out around Sunnyside might be nice with some rain.

Julie was keen and expressed an interest in doing Alcatraz instead.

Leaf posted on the Ozcanyons facebook group looking for trip she could join inon and we invited her along.

After a bit of discussion we settled on Alcatraz and a small double(or is it triple) canyon system out near the glowworm tunnel that I wanted to check out.

The forecaste went from gloomy to dire. There was some discussion on canceling the trip but thankfully we decided to roll with it.

Friday was ment to be the worse day. It was fine but the rain rolled in Friday night and belted down.

Saturday dawned sunny. A prefect day for a bit of exploring.

We met up and navigated the maze of roads into Alcatraz. The view down into the canyon from the cliff above showed the waterlevel well up but we suited up and carefully made our way into the anchor point.

Looking down into the slot, had me a bit concerned. I’d done it in high water with Ed and others a while ago and it was fine but this was up even more and without being able to see the exit I wasn’t comfortable dropping in.

We opted to descend the cliff beside it and make up way up from below. In hindsight it was likely doable but te canyons are always there for next time and I’m happy to play it safe.

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Looking across into the spout
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Julie setting the camera up while LEaf makes her way into the chamber
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The chamber and exit were fine
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Julie and Leaf in the chamber 
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Inside the chamber
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Inside the chamber
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The exit slot

So a bit disappoint we didn’t abseil in but as I said there is always next time.

We made our way back to the cars and then continued out toward the glowworm tunnels for our next points off interest.

I had done the first little slot  with Mandy from below and after checking the satelite imagry realised there was another system close by. This time we headed down the dry canyon (not so dry today) and then explored as far up the other system as we could get before retracingour steps.

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Not far off the Glowworm tunnel road a sleep little creekbed begins to canyon up
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Dark sandstone gives way to walls the clour of honeycombe
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Leaf poses next to a temporary waterfall
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The canyon is only short and opens up into the hidden valley, hanging between clifflines.
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Julie and Leaf make their way through a cave like section into the North branch of a Twin canyon system
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This one is straight and narrow
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Without loosing a lot of weight this is as far as I can go
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Can’t believe the girls didn’t follow me through is cold stagnant swim. ©Julie Burton
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And then it was back out the way we came in.

Group Size: 3, all experienced

Time: Better part of a day phaffing about

 

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Easter Epic ride

It’s been a bit of a tradition over the last 5 years or so that at some stage over the Easter long weekend we do a bit of a longer social ride. We’ve done the Lithgow-Glowworm Tunnels- Wolgan loop a couple of times. Lithgow to Capertee via Black Fellow hands trail, Long Swamp, Baal Bone Gap, Crown Station was a good one. Sunnyside ridge return. All good rides with a more sociable atmosphere

This year I thought we’d try something different, it would be a slightly shorter ride but broken up with a bit of a bushwalk up into the bottom of the delightful Deep Pass Canyon.

The idea gathered a fair bit of interest so even though i knew a few of the regulars had other commitments I was expecting a largish group. but when I rolled into the meeting spot it was just Shawie, Richard and Wiggo there.

We waited until the appointed time and with no sign of anyone else headed off just the 4 of us.

No dramas, we’re all about the same level of fitness so while not turning it into a race we were able to push a steady pace.

Dragon sky or some such thingie was on so the plateau was infested with 900 or so scouts and venturers out having a bit of fun. In times when people often whinge about kids sitting around playing computer games it’s great to so many kids out learning bush skills. We came across them in groups of 4s and fives as the navigated the maze of fire trials between check points.

Your going the wrong way! called Richard as one group came around a corner. We are not! replys girl with map and compass but no sense of humour. Her friends had a bit of a chuckle. Not her. Serious face. Eyes on the prize.

Anyway after a bit of a cold snap earlier in the week it was a pleasant day to be out riding and we covered the miles to the Mt Cameron fire trail turn off in good time and stopped for a bit to eat. From there it was down down and down into Deep Pass Clearing. An awesome walk in camp ground. The thought of lugging gear in and out the steep track on foot usually keeps the hordes at bay but today it was a little tent village.

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Gus Norris and Russel May carved out a bit of a clearing and built a hut down here under an occupational lease way back in the day. The hut was once a popular stop over camp for 4wders, motorbike riders, walkers and partyers. It was dismantled in the 80s(?)

After a bit of a look around the clearing we stashed the bikes and made our way up the head waters of Nayook creek to the bottom of the very pretty Deep Pass Canyon. It was on a very similar excursion (Riding, bush walk, swim) I first visited this canyon on a school camp back in the days of my misspent yooff.

A bit of time soaking in the ambiance then back down to the clearing for lunch then pushing out bike up the steep track up to Deep Pass Saddle and then the steeper trail up through the cliff lines before remounting and taking the back roads homes.

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The little waterfall and deep plunge pool at the exit portal of Deep Pass canyon is a great spot for a dip on a hot summers day
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Richard using one of the fixed lines to scramble up into the next section
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the Second last waterfall is an even better spot for a swim and cliff jump

This was as far up as we went to day. It’s possible to scramble up into the canyon proper with out getting wet via fixed hand lines and an assortment of logs tethered to the walls in the narrow bit but cycling shoes aint the best option.

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By George! My Uncle is Great.

25/04/2017

Julie, Lyn, Jim and I

So I always thought it odd there were some great canyons running off the Blue Mts Plateau on the North side of the Highway but not much to the South. Sure there was Empress, which is stunning, but I thought it an oddity in among the micro canyons, steep cracks and more open V-gullys running into the valleys on the south side.

Awhile ago I heard rumours that something else had been found but was vague on details. Then the 5th edition Jamieson guide came out with a brief description of the awesomely named “Great Uncle George” Canyon and I’ve been keen to check it out but just hadn’t gotten around to it.

Hey Julie, texts I, U off on ANZAC day? though my spelling and typing is even worse on text.

Sure am, says she or something to that effect and we hatch a plan to visit Old Uncle Georgeyboy. She contacts Jim who pioneered a different exit up an easy ridge back to Ingar Fire trail which makes a very short car shuffle or negates the need for one altogether if you don’t mind a bit of boring fire trail walking at the end.

Jim and his wife Lyn are keen to come along, even better.

Ed can’t make it as he is busy doing family stuff, which is a bummer. As I know he was keen to check it out too.

Tal was keen but when I woke him up at the crack of 7:45am he groaned, rolled over and pulled his covers over his head… Um OK. Julie shows up we stash gear and head up to meet the Cooks at the car park.

It’s a short walk in… if you veer through the private property but it may be best to skirt around the outside, avoiding the swamp and neighboring gully. Up top it’s a bit of an erosion scar. A trail dozed down towards the cliff edge must surely be an old fire break as it’s too steep for a standard 4WD.

Anyhoo we reach the abseil point. Jim set up on the rope, backs up and with a little hop disappears. It’s funny to watch. One second he is there, there next he is not. Hopefully I can get some video together over the next week or so as I have a good clip of Lyn doing the same.

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Jim dropping in

A nice overhung abseil into a awesome amphitheater. A tall waterfall plunges into a sited up hole which must once have been a very pleasant swimming hole.

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The abseil comes down beside this pretty fall. With all the earthworks/erosion up top the pool is silted up but I wouldn’t mind betting it was once a nice swimming hole.

A set of stairs lead back up the through the cliff line and while the rope is getting retrieved I fire off a couple of photos and head up the stairs to see where they go. A lot of work had gone into making the stairs and the trail above them. It takes me up to a little cave where more stairs are carved up the rock face to no where, as the trail continues around a nose and up above the top cliff line.

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What followed was a pleasant stroll down a very pretty creek inter-spaced with some abseils and some nice canyon sections.

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Julie abseiling the second drop
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Jim on the third drop
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Julie on the 4th drop
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Julie on Camera, Jim on watch and Lyn on rope

More pleasant creek follows. It was mostly easy walking with a little bit of boulder hoping

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Several times the canyon threatens to form, swings around a corner and peters out

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Jim, Lyn and, Julie in a canyonesque section
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there were some tricky down climbs
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And lots of little waterfalls

And after a bit more creek walking a canyon forms with a bit of length to it

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Jim leads Julie into the narrows of the canyon

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It opens out briefly

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But it soon closes back in with some tricky abseils
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Lyn on one of the tricky overhanging starts
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Jim past the tricky start an abseiling into a very nice chamber

While never overly deep or tight it does seem to keep going for a while

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Julie disappearing down the next bit.

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And then there is more pleasant creek scrambling with enough awesome scenery to make it well worth while

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Looking back up stream to our lunch spot and exit point

The Jameison guide says to continue down stream a while then out another creek, which requires a car shuttle but Jim had scoped another option last trip and we scramble up a break in the clifflines which leads to an easy ridge back toward the picnic area near the start of Ingar fire trail and thus back to the car.

So, while I wouldn’t say the canyon itself was overly spectacular it was a very nice trip  in a beautiful creek that was, for the most part, very easy going. While a couple of the abseils had tricky starts they were all a bit of fun.

Party Size: 4 all experienced

Timing: 5hrs car to car with lots of photo phaffing, exploring, chatting and taking it easy )

All in all a great day in the great outdoors with great people

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I thought the entrance chamber was so awesome I went back with Mandy and Tal a couple of days later for a picnic via the stairs

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We were trying to figure out why these stair would be carved under the cave, its certainly easy enough to walk up the slope beside them then Mandy cottoned on to a likely answer, could they have quarried blocks from here to use int he stair case below?

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Despite a coolish day Mandy was keen to get under the Falls

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I hadn’t even notice this that first time around. Blue Mountain Historical society had a few clues to the initials may have belonged to nothing that matched completely

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I think Tal is disappointed a) he didn’t come on the canyon trip and b) we didn’t bring ropes with us today
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A weathered inscription on top of the cliff. Could that be WRH,  For Walter R. Hall? Unfortunately we couldn’t find an SC Hall or ED Hall to tie it in to the initials in the rock in on be of the previous photos
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Looking back on to the falls from the pagoda at the top of the stairs
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This chick makes me happy

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Hoping to see some more water in it

25/03/17

Me and Mandy

Thought we’d revisit this one hoping to see a bit more water flowing through it.

There were a lot of stick jams that showed just how high the water got, which surprised me this high up in the catchment.

Also any one planning  a winter trip note the storms have scoured out some of the pools so they are now waist deep.

 

Dead Tree canyon

1/04/2017

Julie, Ed, me

Julie invited me and Ed out on a trip out to one of the less raved about canyons on the Southern Bungleboori, accessed off Waratah ridge and we weren’t about to say no.

The original plan was to do 4 Dope but after all the rain the Julie suggested Dead Tree (AKA “Dead Log” in the Jameison guide) instead as 4 Dope required 1km of wading, swimming and, scrambling upstream to exit the Bunglebooori which may well be pumping.

I had previously read on Dave Nobles blog that he hadn’t thought much of the canyon on his first trip through (thou that was at a time when canyons like Rocky Crk, Crikey, Steep crk… were still being discovered) and while on a much later trip he was more impressed with it, of the 2 he still preferred 4 Dope. So even though Julie assured me she liked Dead Tree better I didn’t have high expectations for a spectacular constriction.

Whether it was these low expectations, the extra water flow or a combination of both I thought it was a great trip through a very pretty constriction with plenty of challenges to keep you thinking.

Anyhoo I get ahead of myself.

Oddly the Jameison guide suggests 1 day for 4 Dope but, even though it has a shorter walk in and out, suggests a “long day” for Dead ‘Log’ I’m figuring it must be slow going in the canyon so was a little surprised with reasonable starting time and we roll out of my place a little after 8.30am.

The Waratah Ridge car park was empty when we arrived (though had another 3 cars by the time we returned) and the walk out was fairly uneventful with a clear trail for fair way before we veer off the main ridge and head into trackless scrub. Julie is navigating and I enjoy just tagging along.

We wander out to the end of our ridge to a big pagoda complex that offers views out over the trackless wilderness of the Southern Bungleboori.

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then we back track slightly and drop into our creek

Straight away we are greeted with a very pretty pool at the base of a small cascade. I set the little camera up in live comp mode and leave it recording as we don wetsuits and harness’s

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This pool was crystal clear and looked fairly still but Olympus live comp mode compiles images in a basic histogram type thing that keeps adding the bright sections to the background image and them blends it all together in camera. The guide says it’s for getting good fireworks photos but it is great for waterfalls and foam/leaf swirls too. Here foam bubbles are captured in a slow swirl

Next up we are straight into a cool little tunnel.

Cool in more ways than one. brrrr. fresh

What follows is a bit of a slog down the gully. It wasn’t too bad but lots of dead fall, peeled bark and washed down stick jams to negotiate between some slippery boulder scrambles.

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And then the canyon closed in and we were met with a lot of tricky little down climbs and abseils that looked higher than they were. You’d be squeezing down a hole, trying work out how to get your foot over the next ledge by feel as you couldn’t see then you realise that ledge was the floor…

With the water levels up a little the waterfalls were all very pretty and a few of the abseils had you swinging under them. it was all very enjoyable.

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Julie and Ed at the drop into the constriction, we ended up down climbing rather than roping up
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Julie making her way down a very slippery, dead tree/log with an old sling at the bottom
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Another drop down a Dead Tree/log follows, this time it stops 2 meters or so from the water level so a rope is needed.
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The constriction was narrow, deep and dark in places
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Ed squeezes down an tight hole on one of the many awkward abseils.
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Canyon formation

click images to enlarge

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Ed on rope with Julie looking on from below

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Ed on rope, Julie on photo duties below.
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Ed watching Julie disappear down into one of the darker chambers

Click to enbiggen

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Julie on the final abseil
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Ed on the final abseil
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Just above the junction with the ‘Boori

After the coolness in the canyon we scrambled up into a patch of sunlight to thaw out and grab a bite to eat and then it was back into the water and down stream on the Boori.

Type 1 fun*, says Julie as for the most part we lie back on our packs and let the extra current take us. Some short, shallow rapids were shot. Sure the video makes it look tame but it felt fast and fun at the time and sure beat wading up stream.

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Julie letting the current do the work

We forgo the exit suggested in the guide and continue down to the one next to Arch canyon. This is a fairly easy pass with a bit of route finding but with slight side trips offers nice views over the arch, only slightly obscured by trees.

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Back on the ridge top it’s fairly easy going. The trail comes and goes from clear as clear, well trodden and defined to nothing but the scrub is sparce and we know we just need to follow the tops. Eventually we find the trail proper and it’s an easy march back to the car park.

A most enjoyable day

Party size: 3 all experienced

Time: 8.5hrs car to car

After all the rain there was a lot of fungi out and about and we spotted some nice looking ones. If you can identify any of them I’d love to see it in the comments below

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*Julies types of fun goes something like this

Tpye 1. Good old plain fun. Its fun planning, it’s fun doing and it’s fun looking back on. You really wish you were doing it now

Type 2. It was fun after the fact. You know once you’ve forgotten the 3km of scrub the scratched the crap out of you one the way to the fun and you have also forgotten also the 5000m of vertical you climbed to get out of the fun. You’d definitely do it again

Type 3. You claim it was fun. You tell your mates it was fun. But you’d  would never do it again.

Sheep Dip canyon

11/03/2017

Mandy and I

A few photos from a trip down Sheep dip canyon. For more photos and a write up of a previous visit please visit A Quick Dip in the Sheep Dip.

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Mandy zigzagging down through the cliff lines
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Impressive wind/erosion cave dot the cliff lines all through this area
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Mandy in Rocky creek where it starts to canyon up for Sheep Dip

 

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Mandy on one of the small drops into a deep pool that give the canyon it’s name

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Mandy tackling the larger jump
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Mandy On the abseil

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Lower section
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Into the cave
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Out of the cave

 

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Back up on the ridge overlooking upper Rocky Creek
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Geez these bestard boots are comfy…A nod to the Fat Canyoners and #getnakedaustralia