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.

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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

Alcatraz

26/01/2017

Mandy and I

Mandy was looking for an easier trip for Australia day. I was keen to get back after the canyon ate my phone and I lost most of the photos from our trip last year

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Orb Weaver eating a large Christmas beetle
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Orb Weaver

Remnants of when the area was used as part of the youth offenders program. Getting troubled youth out into the bush and building self esteem and worth

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One of the most unique waterfalls you’ll see. The water tumbles down a natural pipe like structure before emerging from a slot in the base
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Mandy at the start of the short canyon section
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The top of the descent into Alcatraz. AKA The Devils Throat
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One of the few higher flow absiels you find in canyons in this area
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Mandy Descending into the dungeon
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Mandy under the falls with the exit slot in the back ground
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Looking back into the exit slot with Mandy in the chamber
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Looking back in to the chamber
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This makes the exit slot look much bigger than it is. Just enough room to slide out on hands and knees
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It’s a spectacular site
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With care it’s possible to climb up above the exit slot and look back down opposite the falls
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We had followed the path of the water. Abseiling down the S bend and then through the spray of the water into what, from the top, looks like an inescapable hole
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Looking back up at the relics on top of the 50m vertical cliff line

Party Size: 2 both experienced

Time: 2hrs car to car with some photo phaffing.

(Note: the creek bed below the falls was far more slippery this time than when we did it last year. It was almost impossible to control speed sliding down the slope. It may be safest to set a rope here to lower down the slide. see video)

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Twister Canyon

14/01/2017

Mandy, Sharon, Sean, Tom, Claire, Tillie, Mick and Robbie.

And Me!

Aaaaand Weeze!!!

Last weeks blog about Sheep Dip Canyon addresses the naming confusion between these two canyons. I wont go over it again but todays canyon is Twister. It’s near the Rocky Creek Canyon car park and now days most people use it as a warm up (should that be cool down?)on their way into Rocky Creek Canyon. A Lot of people still mistakenly refer to it as Sheep Dip.

Anyway this was a cruzy morning with family and friends where we did Twister on it’s own, which is kinda unusual, but it is a fun little trip to show beginners down. I was a bit busy looking after the kids (and adults) to concentrate of either photos or video so they are not my best work but I got a little  bit and I’ll let them tell the tale.

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Tom keen to get the party started. The small stream drops down into a labyrinth between the mighty pagodas behind him
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Tillie was a little apprehensive at first
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It’s not deep or overly dark but Twister has some nice canyon sections

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Weeze had been lamenting she was the only one of my siblings who had not been canyoning before. I’m sure it wasn’t the first time she had been invited
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The smile on Tom’s face says it all. It’s a very fun slide. Unfortunately I didn’t have the GoPro going as Sharon came down out of control in what I am sure was a deliberate attempt to skittle her whole family
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Some of the jumps can be intimidating to those not use to it. There was very little hesitation in the group today.

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Tillie had been a little reluctant on the first few jumps. By the end, while still a little scared, she was still willing to take the leap of faith
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Sean and Tillie in the water. Robbie about to do the slide.
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Claire is a bigger adrenaline junky than I am and was keen to lead the way. Nothing daunts this super chick
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Tom on the last drop into the plunge pool.
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I never seem to get a good shot of this section
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The secret is out. All good so long as you are not after that wilderness feel (and there are other canyon that offer that.) The car par was so full it seems the camera had to cut that subaru in half.

Party size 10. 2 experienced the rest beginners

time: 2hrs car to car taking our time and enjoying it.

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While it is an easier canyon it has beenthe scene of many rescues over the years and at least 1 death so it still needs to be treated with respect. You are a long way from help so need to have the right gear and know how to get out of trouble when things go wrong.

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