Pipe Line, Devils Pinch and Starlight.
We have a longish day so are away by about 7:30 on a clear warm sunny day. Along the
Wolgan River, past some of the relics of the oil shale refining days, to climb the pipeline track. At the top of the cliff line we all wander over to the lookout to admire the views
eat snacks and drink. The dryness of the area attested by the number of trees with tan dead leaves hanging lifeless in the still hazy mountain air.
None of the others have done Pipeline Canyon so the ease of entry is a pleasant surprise to them all. Just waltz along the track a few 100m and drop down at a sensible place. A pleasant little gully walled on one side by tall sandstone cliffs. Easy walking in the creek bed for the most part, it soon disappears down a short waterfall complete with a moss beard held together by tree roots down to the half full plunge pool. We abseil in beside a tree around to the right, just for practice, as demonstrated by Dave shimmying back up the tree to free a rope jammed between it and the cliff face. A very pretty canyon well worth the walk even in these dry conditions. This canyon is usually done as one of the fun kind with water slides, jumps and only small abseils (about 8, many with tricky starts or finishes) but the inky black water with floating leaf debris and mostly dry slides discourage this sort of fun today. Only short swims and wades so we don't don wetsuits and as a consequence there is the odd shiver despite the warm dry day.
Out under the cliff line high above the Wolgan we admire the views as we walk back to the track, to get back on top. good start, every one thinks.
Then it's overland to Devils Pinch Canyon for a 12:40ish lunch in the shade of a overhang out of the hot sun. One thing of note was the very smelly dead wombat further up the creek (we pass four or five more further down - well it is rather dry). Not far down stream the creek disappears down a series of now dry waterfalls and cascades into a tall narrow chamber. We abseil about 10m in from a tree on the right, once down you must walk 10m or so and turn a corner to find the way on down. This is a narrow cleft quite dark and you can't see the bottom. We stay on the same rope to continue down (figuring that if we cant pull the rope the cleft is so narrow we can chimney up, about 12m). There is another sling around a chock stone in the new chamber but the way on down is so narrow we must take off packs and then chimney down rather than abseil. Very dark and narrow and mysterious a The chasm soon opens out a bit and we wander on through a beautiful narrow valley with sandstone cliffs on each side (no way out but ahead), the usual coach woods, tree fern and thick lawyer vine vegetation typical of these places. We soon come to the wet section and don wetsuits this time. A series of wades, swims and abseils into smelly black water. Incredibly beautiful, narrow, tall cliffs, no direct sunlight a pleasant subdued lighting, magnificently water sculptured and smoothed sandstone showing all its vibrant colours. All to soon it opens out again and we continue down to complete the last tricky, slippery abseil over the final waterfall, to the bolder jammed watercourse below, that leads to the Wolgan. We enjoy a wash off before following the work road past many more relics from the oil shale days. A great day and everyone is glowing as we prepare various gourmet evening meals, complete with very runny blue cheese (left out to ripen in a (very hot, as it turned out) car) and crackers.
Another good night and dawn bird chorus. After much discussion, the trip for today is down Starlight and a very good choice it turned out. One of my favourite canyons and never more so than today. We do the upstream wet section for a change (I usually by pass this), then pass through very beautiful bush areas, very narrow tall areas, until we reach the place where there is a hole in the creek bed. The creek just goes straight down but 10m further on the creek bed continues (I have seen new comers sidle on round to keep walking, before they are called back). This is a wonderful 22m abseil down a waterfall, (no water at all today) into a chamber about 2m wide and roofed at both ends. Dark and mysterious and soon a cloud of steam rises from those below. There are a series of stakes driven into the floor of the cavern that you must dodge as you get down (created by logs spearing in during past storms). It's such a wonderful place we get many screams of delight, as well as oos and arrs or just standing to stare in awe. The cavern continues on narrow sometimes roofed and sometimes open (way up there) until you come to the 250m long underground section, complete with glow worms and near the exit a bat colony high up in the roof. We always enjoy this journey but never more than today because the sand build up is so high we are up walking in a narrow squeezey part where you must crawl of chimney up and along. A very narrow 2m climb down is cause for comment from first timers.
This canyon continues on with many fine sections to the last waterfall just in time for a lazy lunch. The final abseil is from a dry cliff face around to the left. Then down to the Wolgan for a wash and long cool lie down in the water. Back at the cars for a respectable 3:30ish departure. I even made it to "The Beaches" for the last bracket of the night! (c) Copyright 2002 Dug Floyd