Winter canyoning

01/07/2018

Nathan Mandy and meeeee

So my nephew is keen on canyoning but for one reason or another his options for doing a long wet canyon are limitted.

I’ve been meaning to get him down another dryish canyon for a while. My original plan was to take him down Tiger Snake canyon   but we had to get back to town early and I had not taught him to abseil yet so we descided on this one with an optional abseil for the hell of it.

Now some people dismiss the smaller, drier non abseil canyons but this one has one of the prettiest constrictions going and it’s close to home so it was a no brainer

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Nathan and Mandy enter the canyon from the bottom

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A massive storm 18months ago scoured the sand out of this bit leaving a puddle just on balls deep. Today it was icy

 

 

With frozen toes we decide to slip up onto the tops for a bite to eat and a bask in the sun

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It was glorious

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looking back into the depths

 

Warmed and fed we continue on

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And make our way back to the cars for a bit of wedding cake action

 

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The wedding cake…
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It screams adventure

 

What if something is on TV and it’s never shown again? :Smudge- Outdoor type

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JetBlack 24hr

3-4 March 2018

Richard, Phil, Mick and me

So we were hosting the 24hr on our home trails at Rydal. In return for getting the trails ready Martin offered us a free team entry.

We’ll just ride around as marshals. says I. I’ve had a few injuries and haven’t been doing a lot of riding.

You may as well be timed…

Richard was keen, Phil less so. What about you Mick

I have a bit to do on Saturday but could do a few laps late afternoon.

We’re not taking it serious you may as well be involved.

The team was entered.

I’d have to say I got a little excited the morning of the race but with the 3 of us there racing in a 4 man team we had a chat and agreed we’d go for double laps and go as hard or not as we wanted and if we weren’t feeling it we’d sit out and have some beers.

Set up next to us Gaz as doing it solo so we were happy to give Jodie a bit of a hand supporting his efforts

All good nice and casual.

Except 3hrs  in someone looked at the times and realised we were just 30seconds of 3rd place an dnot far in front of 5th. I’m not a competitive person, or so I sometimes tell myself, but if I’m on the track I want to do my best. Game on.

Turned out the team we were chasing was that of a work mate from up at one of our sister mines. Definitely game on.

We began swapping back and forth from 4th to 3rd.

I was feeling pretty good, Mandy was out there massaging for Mind Body Intigration and I was lucky enough to get a bit of maintenance after each stint.

I’d forgotten how awesome the atmosphere is at a 24hr race. It’s really special. Last one I’d ridden was Dargle Farm in about 2005.

Music was blaring. At one point old mate came up to me and asks what time the music was going off as he was trying to sleep. It was 8:45pm…

It’s a 24hr race mate.

But we are trying to sleep!

You  know the whole concept of 24hr race?/!

The music went off around 10:30. It came back on at 5:30 super load and techno. Sounds horrible but it was such a great pick up after a long night of riding

A couple of Rydal residents didn’t think so and rang Martin to complain. He invited them up for coffee and an egg and bacon roll. all smoothed over.

Anyhoo I get ahead of myself

We were doing well, each of us with very consistent lap times.

Mick turned up around 6pm. He is quick anyway and with fresh legs shot out for a couple of fast laps.

What the hell was that. Muddy says, coming over. We were wondering how you’d go when you 4th rider showed up. He has just punched out a 27min lap!

W’d all been lapping in the low 30s.

Pity he isn’t staying.

Richard goes out, we are up into 2nd.

Mick goes again. We are in first

I go expecting that was Mick last stint. It’s good while it lasts.

Katrina, I might drop you home and come back. Woohoo Mick is in it for the long haul.

We extended out a bit of a lead over night. Get almost 7mins up but come day break the teams in second and third sent their fast riders out for some catch up laps.

Long story short heading into my last lap there was about 3min between the top 3 teams, not bad over a 24hr race. I got back giving Mick a 1min lead. He brought it home well and We found our selves on the top step of the podium.

Fantastic event. Martin and Juliane put on a great show.

Thanks to outer image collective and Lithgow Council for the photos

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Wallangambe 2

01-01-2018

Ed, Ethan, Caius, David, Shaz, Tom, Claire, Tillie, Skinny, Dyso and I

For the 3rd year in a row we’ve decided to spend new years day floating down a canyon rather than nursing a hang over (Why can’t we have both? Maybe we do)

Anyhoo this year Tal and Beth both ditched us but Shaz and her kids were back and Skinny and Emily joined us as well.

We opted for the section of the Wollangambe commonly reffered to as the Lower Tourist Section or Wollangambe 2. That’s a little misleading as there are many canyon sections (Including some of the best bits) up stream. It is also reffered to as the Greg section by some of the older bushwalking club stalwarts.

While I’ve done bits and pieces of this section as part of trips to the steeper, narrower, more canyony side canyons I’d never done this bit in it’s entirity on it’s own so I was keen to check it out.

We met at the Fire Shed at the crack of 9:30am. chuck all the gear and most of the people out and then drop cars down at the camp ground in the spirit of being lazy.

The walk in was uneventful, we set a handline on the exposed down climb that had made the news 2 nights before after a seriously under prepared group on a bucks party required rescuing when several members were too worn out/freaked out and couldn’t climb it…. Do your research and go prepaired people

Every one made it down without incident before I told them that story. I reteived the rope and made my way down.

Did I mention the spirit of being lazy? We get to the water and it looks so inviting. People pull out lilos and start huffing and huffing. Me on the other hand had had a brillant idea before leaving that morning. I’d pulled out the soldering iron and rigged a little high volume pump to plug into my MTB light battary.

I had worried it might ruin the serenity of other groups but no one was around and it had most of the lilos up in no time (After some manipulating the cheap pool beds Shaz had got the kids who valves were plastic welded shut). It was certainly less disturbing than listening to a bunch of people hyperventilate trying to blow air into the air beds.

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And then we were off

Despite a number of cars at the fire shed and at the camp ground we didn’t see a single group in this section of canyon.

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The kids were obviously hating it

I was pleasantly surprised with this bit of the river. There was some nice long pools through some reasonable canyon sections and there seemed to be a bit less boulder scrambling than in the more popular “Upper tourist Section/Wollangambe 1”

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Jumping oportunities were propably a bit rarer and harder to get to but that’s OK
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The boulder scrambles that were there were generally short and relatively easy, though this one required a precision jump or short hand over hand down a rope
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The cliffs might not be as high but it’s still very nice
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It was a crackng day
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And smaller jumps were available

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A narrower canyon section
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The locals were freindly enough
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The water was divine

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The side trip up the bottom end of Whungee Wheengee is well worth braving the colder water for.

 

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Claire wasn’t about to let a bit of cold water deter her from exploring
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I have no idea why they call this section the “green room”

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You can make your way a fair way up Whungee Wheenge but even the first hundred meters or so is worth a look. Walking up it is impressive but when you turn around to come back down the bottom chamber is something else again

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Back in the relative warmth of the Wollangambe we sun ourselves a bit then continue down.

By now we’re starting to get a bit peckish but the exit isn’t far down and that’s probably the best lunch beach near here so we keep on going.

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Along the way are some fun little chutes

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and a bit of portage up the sand dune to the last, and probably most difficult boulder scramble of the trip
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The kids handled it with just a little help
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And a final grand section down past the exit of Waterfall of Moss Canyon

It’s time for a late lunch as we let the floaties deflate, wetsuits dry and bodies warm up

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All ready for the haul out

Then it’s a steep climp up through the cliff lines and a longish walk up the ridge, all up gaining about 400m elevation, and back to the camp ground

Party Size: 11 mixed experience

Time: Didn’t really pay attention but I’m guesing around 7hrs relaxed pace

 

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Stunning light in Rocky Crk Canyon

23/12/17

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

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

Anyhoo

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

I’m a bit excited.

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

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

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

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Curro getting into the swing of it.
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Macca taking the leap with out hesitation
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Soon she is styling it up
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Lauren was probably the most nervous on the jumps but she didn’t let the nerves get the better of her
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Jump. Slide. Jump. Slide. Repeat. Twister is a hell of a lot of fun
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But all too soon it’s over and we have a 30min walk down to the Junction where the little stream that the entrance track follows meets with Rocky
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The soft morning light on the way in promised some thing special once we hit the canyon

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

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I realy can’t describe the feeling I get looking in here. Must be a bit like a coffee addict catching the aroma of the best coffee they have ever smelled
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In we go
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Rocky creek never disappoints me
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If they thought the water in twister was chilly they are in for a surprise. I feel a bit sorry for curro who was toughing it out in a rash shirt.
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One of the small drops in the canyon
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The swims start short but get longer towards the end
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After a fun constriction the canyon opens up breifly and offers a fun slide or small jump in a sunny pool
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The walls soon close in again and up ahead the sun beams look magical
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And they keep getting better
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And better

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

Sorry, calls I, How awesome are these rays.

Is that you Flynny, comes the reply.

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

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

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The soft morning light casts and etherial glow

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The lower constriction really is sublime
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And just before the junction with Budgary( originally Buggery) creek we emerge back into the light.

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

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

We grab packs and head back up the canyon

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As I said the light changes
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And you get to experience the canyon from different angles

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The sun ray were awesome on the way down but not half and hour later they were on a complete other level
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Rocky creek canyon dwarfs you, engulfs you and reminds you your troubles aren’t even a blip on the geological time scale
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And the beams progress from sun to tractor
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Beam me up, Scotty
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Step into the light
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Almost need UV protected sunglasses
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Light behaves both as a wave and a particle and sometimes like a solid bar of awesome
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Everytime I turned around I though I have to get a photo of those rays
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And still they got better
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I could have stayed here all day. I was wishing I’d set up the camera on a tripod in a time lapse and could just sit and watch it all unfold
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The little TG-4 was pushed to it’s limits with the contrast but did a reasonable job
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Ok the others are well ahead of me now I tear myself away and continue up the canyon

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Renee negotiating on of the little cascades on the way up
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Curro feeling a tad shivery in his rash shirt by now but not far to go
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I can see the exit up ahead. I assure him
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Lauren is keen for a swim under the falls

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Back where it all began.

All in all a great day out.

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

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

Time: 4hrs 20min car to car

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

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Glowworm Tunnels

09-09-17

Me and Mandy

Built in the early 1900’s to cart goods and supplies (and people as an afterthought) into and out of the new shale mine in the Wolgan valley the Newnes rail line was a marvell. 31miles (~50km) long, including 2 curvng tunnels carved through the sandstone where the line descended through the clifflines at Penrose gully, it took just 18months from survey through wild terrain to having trains run.

The trains themselves were special Shay locomotives that had a unique vertical piston and gearing arrangement that was able to deliver steady power to all wheels via drive shafts thus they were able to negotiate the steep grades and tight bends required to get out of the valley.

The line was always a bit of a problem child though. Not only were mining conditions in the Wolgan far harsher then expected (the seam was easier to mine from the Capertee) but maintenance on the track was expensive. The little culvet bidges used to span the “Dry gullies” proved completely in adiquate for the “gully rakers” and flash floods produced by summer storms. By 1934 the line was closed. Much of the remaining track and infrastructure were pulled up and shipped over seas for the WW2 war efforts in Egypt and Turkey.

The line was left to deteriorate but the second tunnel, with water now running through it from tunnel creek became the home of glowworms which exist naturally in the canyons and caves throughout the plateau and are a larvae stage of a gnat.

Being able to see glowworms in the day in an easily accessable spot soon became a draw card tourists and much of the line above tunnel became an access road.

 

Anyhoo. I’ve visited the tunnels many times and I always enjoy it. Dad took us there as kids, I took my kids when they were little and we’ve done it many times with friends and family. Now days though my visits are usually part of either a longer mountian bike ride or as a side trip from near by canyons. Each time I go I try and snap a photo of the ferns looking out of the tunnel and invariably it the photo ends up either with the ferns too washed out in the bright sun or the tunnel too dark or both.

Then I had a bright idea and contrived a plan to slip up at night to see what I could capture.

 

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I think it came out Ok for a little point and shoot camera.

click to enbiggen

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No matter how many times I do it driving through the first tunnel on the way to the car park is always an awesome experience

 

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Tiger Snake Canyon

01-07-2017

Ed Tal and me

Tiger snake is a cool little canyon. The two canyon sections are very short but the top one is tight with some interesting climb downs/absiels and the bottom section is magnificantly deep and narrow making it very cave like. One of the few “dry” canyons where you need a head torch in the midde of the day.

It’s a hard subject to photograph well but we had a goal in mind for sun set shots at a spot close by and thought this would be a good way to fill in the day.

-7.5° is almost a record low over night temp for the ‘Go, lucky its a short day and we weren’t planning to leave until 10am. By then most of the frost had melted and while cold, the sun was shining nicely.

The walk in was fairly uneventful and we reach the cleft where the small creek drops into the upper section without incident

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It’s an awe inspiring fissure, Narrow and dark

In all our previous trips we have absieled directly down here. It is an awkward absiel, as you have to bridge out over the narrow section to a bit that gives a bit more room, then you are pretty much down climbing on rope, if you slip you are going to swing in and get grated into the narrow bit… This time we deside to check out the alternate anchor point from higher up on the pagodas next to the slot.

 

The views fromthe top are amazeballz

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Tal and Ed checking the view and enjoying the sun shine

It also gives you a great perspective over the top section of canyon. It really is narrow and short

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That dark slot drops 15-20meters down before openning up just around the corner
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The abseil from the higher anchor point is still narrow and awkward but you don’t feel you are goign to get pulled back into the narrow slot, plus you miss a little pool so keep your feet dry for a bit longer
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Ed dropping in

Once in there is a slipery down climb, another advantage of the high anchor and long ropes is you can leave them set to assist you dont this bit and along the log to keep your feet dry again

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And then it’s the infamous bundle of sticks anchor. Where some one has placed a surperfluous fixed line.

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Hmmm that water looks cold, might take a few balancey moves to keep our feet dry
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Tal descends as Ed watches on
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Ed unclipping on a tiny ledge as he contemplates how to keep his feet dry

With the advantage of a bit of hieght I managed to bridge across easily. Tal had a bit of a go but decided the risk of slipping in outweighed the thought of getting his socks wet so just stepped in. Ed took a bit of time and all but done a Van Dam like set of splits but made it across the small, wet, slippery, sloping ledge.

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The top section finishes with this 17m absiel next to a small water fall

 

It is possible, with some good scrambling and down climbing skills to do the entire top section, including this bit, without abseiling but it is risky and why would you miss this one? It’s a very nice abseil

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Ed on rope Tal on firemans belay

 

It’s a short walk down the gully, the creek is dry again with the wtare from the canyon soaking into the sandy soil, to the lower constriction

There are acouple of ways in. Entering straight down the creek is nice but it is an awkaward drop and you do get wet at the bottom. This is the way I have been on all previous trips except the last one.

The other way is to scramble along the top of the canyon on a dodgy ledge to a anchor high up on a chock stone bridge. You do miss a bit of very pretty canyon but with a bit of scrambling/climbing skill you can make you way all the way up to the bottom of the awkward drop.

On the plus side the high entry is a great absiel down a dark hole and you keep your feet dry

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Ed Disappearing down the rabit hole
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It’s 20-25m straight downinto the darkness between walls so narrow that half way down you turn around to put your feet on the oposite wall

We spend some time in the dark depths snapping photos. Hopefully Ed gets some shots he can work with. My little TG struggled a bit in the darkness with my small head light trying to light paint the walls. My bike lights might have been better able ot illuminate the scenes.

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Ed sitting high up on a delicate arch within the darkness of the canyon
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Ed on a narrow bridge getting ready to defend 13 dwarves and a hobbit against a Balrog!
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Ed at the exit portal
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Tal and ed making their way downthe boulder scramble below the canyon
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What goes down must go up. Climbing out
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Climbing out

After doing all the “extreme” stuff I go arse over tit on the flattest part of the trail back to the car. I slipped on a slimey log, thought I’d caught my slef only for the momentum of the haeave pack to tip me over and drive my head into the ground. Mush laughter was had at my expense..

Driving back along the Coach rd we are stopped by a car coming the other way. How much further is the camp ground? says he

Which camp ground ar you looking for? say I

The one at New-nes, is it New-ness? says she

Newnes. You wont get there going this way.

We lost GPS when we turned off the highway.

Yep but you turned off the highway 20km to early and have gone 30km out of your way. 45years ago you could drive down from here…

they ask if there were any spots to camp up here and decide on a rough camp rather than trying to drive all the way back around in the fading light. Did I mention -7.5°? The night promised to be just as cold and they don’t really look like the outdoors type.

We point the way to a bit of a area where they might set up camp and wish them well then head off to capture a sun set from the cliff lines above the Wolgan

 

 

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Sun set over Donkey Mt. People might pay thousands of dollars per night to stay atthe resort below us but they wont hae views like this.

Tiger Snake canyon

Party Size 3 all experienced

Time: about 5hrs car to car with a lot of photo phaffing

 

‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”” — J.R.R. Tolkien

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Fern Tree Gully

21-05-2017

Mandy and Me

It might be hard to beleive but the town of Rylstone has one of the best Yum Cha/Tea house in Australia (29 Nine 99, do yourself a favour). I’d booked in with Mandy for a late Mothers day lunch and we thought why not do a walk while we were there.

Dunns Swamp is the gate way to the Wollemi  and a hot spot for outdoor activity in the area but it’s a long way out of town and with the limited openning hours for Yum Cha we needed something closer and a bit more touritsy.

A quick google search told me there was a little nature reserve about 16km north of Rylstone that might offer up a pleasant walk. Fern Tree Gully

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, certainly not a little canyon, but I was in fr a pleasant surprise.

A well maintained (Not a thing out of place, 1 discarded chip pack the solo piece of rubbish we carted out.) tourist trail winds down into a pretty gully the vegetation is completely different to what I’m use to in the blues and there were lots of little information signs to let us know what we were looking at.

At the base of the gully I commented it was almost a canyon… then we rounded the corner and it canyoned up. Sweet!

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Mandy making her way down into Fern Tree Gully
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Fern Trees aplenty

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The walls close in and a canyon appears

 

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After a bit the gorge opens up a little as the trail ambles through the gully
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Even close to midday the light was magical
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For all their calling and mimicry Lyrebirds are normally shy creatures that dart off into the scrub at the first scent of humans… This one didn’t get that memo. I think he liked Mandy to be honest.
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The canyon opens out and closes in a few times

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The grey gums were massive

At the junction with the exit gully a short board walk lead down the main gully to a little chair where a natural spring rises

There was more canyonette in the exit gully

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Did I mention the trees were huge?
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Steps back up to the lookout trail

The Lookout trail winds along the top of the canyons 1.4km back to the car park and offers some very nice views

 

Well worth a look if you are in the area.

Party size 2.

Time: 1.5hr with a lot of photo phaffing

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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.

 

Grand Canyon Loop

Access: Tar road to car park.

Navigation: Navigation is fairly straight forward if you stay on the trail

Map: Katoomba

Time: 3-4hrs

The Grand Canyon loop is a sign posted tourist walk from Neates Glen to Evens lookout and back. The 7km walk involves a lot of rough hewn stone steps into and out of the valley. In between is a nice tourist trail winding through rainforest, a small tunnel, long overhung ledges and waterfalls.

Below the trail Greaves creek cuts a deep slot canyon and you may catch sight of canyoners either at the abseil point or down in the canyon from a few vantage points along the trail that offer views down into the depths.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Getting there:

Turn onto Evans Lookout rd at Blackheath. Follow this 3.5km and park in the Grand Canyon loop car park on the right (Note: When doing the loop use this car park rather than those at the Lookout or further back at Neates Glen.)

Follow the marked trail back toward Blackheath to the Neates glen car park and then down into the valley on the marked trail.

The trail follows a smaller creek to where it meets the larger Greaves crk. Here the trail crosses Greaves on stepping stones and then follows it down on the right hand bank. The trail passes under a picturesque waterfall and through a short tunnel.

Greaves creek soon carves itself into  a deep canyon while the tourist trail continues high above it. There are several spots along the trail that give views down into the slot. The best is at a small bridge over a steep side creek.

Once the trail descends back down to creek level it is possible to head back up stream and visit the bottom of the canyon. Not far in that is a deep 20m section that is a nice spot for a swim on a hot day.

The trail continues down, crossing the creek a few times in the next couple of hundred meters before reaching another intersection. Take the left up toward Evans Lookout  with very nice views into the Grose  Valley where Govetts and Greaves crks join.

The follow the trail along side the road back to the car.

BACK

The trip through the canyon proper is a great experience too, if you have the gear for the abseil or you can, with some scrambling and cold swims reverse up aways and then return back down

Photos from in the slot     Grand Canyon 29/01/17