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Belmore Falls 80m tall - what a way to begin a New Year.

Party:-

Theo, Steve, Dug

The top of Belmore Falls.  Pic by Dug

New Years Eave 2011

Steve and Theo have two, nearly new, 100m long  canyoning ropes, so of course they are keen to use as much of them as they can in one go. They have both been busting their britches to get me over the big 80m drop at Belmore Falls on the headwaters of Barrengarry Creek. A wonderful wild gorge over looking Kangaroo Valley.

We fare-welled, Hanya and Damien who were going on to Newns to canyon, from the Waratah Ridge Car park where we had camped the night. We had all been out to the Bungleboori canyons for a few days and the other four were ready for an easy day after a big day yesterday. The drive to Robertson on the Southern Tableland was straightforward through Oberon, Goulburn, Bowral. We even stopped at the Marulan Truck Stop for a very welcome shower. We were planning to dine at the pub but stopped at a little cafe for a hot drink, where Steve had a piece of Barramundi and declared it delicious, change of plans we will dine here.

The drive to the Morton National Park and the falls is about 8km pleasant rural/bush setting. At the parking area we went for a walk to view the area of the falls. Well set up and beautiful to see, with good walking tracks and lookout to the falls, the creek gorge, and out to Kangaroo Valley in the distance. The gorge is most impressive and an inviting place to bushwalk. We then went round and checked out the top of the falls - stunning. A wide flat rock platform with today a 4m wide stream plunging over the edge with very little fuss. I can imagine inspiring, when in flood.  The road crosses the creek as a causeway 15m back from the edge, only a steal cable to prevent a vehicle who's driver was bold enough to try and cross in high water conditions. Mind you the 80m drop over the falls into the plunge pool a exhilarating way to depart this world, pity the relatives back home.

Belmore falls, looking down.  Pic by Dug.

Looking into the depths of Belmore Falls.

Before driving back we scouted around to find a place to camp, out of the "camping prohibited" areas near the falls. I found a few side roads, even a park with shelter-sheds in a small town, which I liked the look of, but Steve didn't. He liked a temporary gravel car park.  As I said gravel = lots of lumpy stones to lay your bedding on. Talk about the princess and the pea, more like the Indian Yogi on a bed of nails. Mind you my self inflating airbed has become a self deflating air bed recently (or would un-inflating be more accurate description?). I have to blow it up several times a night nowadays.

Back in town we had tea at the little cafe, before it closed at 8. Nice, we all had well cooked and presented meals. Then down to the pub for a cleansing ale on New Years Eve. That was it, one ale and Steve had us heading back at the camp site before dark. At least we did get to hear part of the first bracket from the two man band, who need a lot more practice before they get gigs in the city.

Soon with a camp fire blazing, we whiled away the time talking , watching the sunset over the trees, listening to the forest sounds such as the Boobook owl (I'm more used to the mopoke sound, but Theo insists they are the same species, just different call!), or just watching the stars. Then at 9pm we heard the remotely distant boom, bang of fireworks, but so sight. We soon turned in to try and sleep on the stones, at least it was a pleasant night to watch the stars and ghostly trees. No human activity we could detect.

New Years Morning 2012

No real hurry to get up so we took our time , packing up and breakfasting still we were down to the top of the falls with our gear by 7:30. Gee it was great standing back and letting others do all the work of setting up. Especially as they were sorting out there two bright red 100m ropes and preparing the abseil. I could see a number of rope grooves in the rock where they had decided to go over. One groove looked like a wire rope groove suggesting the emergency services have used the same position.

Steve on way over the edge.  Pic by Dug.

Steve checking the way down.

I took the opportunity to scout around in the bright sunshine and found a nearby lookout with excellent views to the base of the falls,  Down there boulder covered ledge, big black plunge pool, leading to the next 20m waterfall abseil. The bottom of the gorge was spectacular with the big amphitheatre formed at the head of the creek valley, tall fern covered cliff leading down to a big overhang, black jumble of rocks at the base with ferns and a few trees starting to take over. There were several red bands in the rock possibly lichen (I didn't get close enough to find out for sure). As the gorge continued along and down the whole was clothed in magnificent rain forest We couldn't see much of the creek bed because of the trees, but the boys told me that there were 4 more abseil.

The original plan had been to continue on down the creek to take all the abseils in, but Steve is feeling somewhat sore after the days spent in the Bungleboori.  He also has sore swollen eyes from some sort of allergy, a sad sight. So we will only do the big drop and walk out around the bottom of the cliff line, where there is a foot-track formed by bushwalkers over the years.

Soon enough the ropes are deployed and Steve is ready to go. I'm glad to see he is using the auto block, that I showed them during there original training. Soon we hear the whistle to indicate Steve is down.  Then Theo rigs and slides over the edge, followed in due course by a whistle blast. I got on rope and did my safety checks, abcde. All in order, move back to the edge while on rope and look down.  There are the two small blips of Steve and Theo, off to one side out of the spray of the curtain of the falling waterfall. The white curtain of water formed by the falls cascading onto the black rocks below then splashing into the black plunge pool. Later in the day there would be bright sunlight down there and the colours would be quite different.  It would be a nice place for a swim.

One of the things I know about big abseils is that, the weight of the rope pulling down below you, when your at the top, make for a lot of friction on your descender.  You have to lift the rope to reduce its weight, as you feed it through to go down. Two 100m ropes are quite heavy for me nowadays. When I first looked at the cliff face I thought it was relatively smooth, but as I descend I find lots of small overhangs, which means that, I have to first go over an edge, then free fall briefly, just to add to the experience. It is a beautiful sunny day here on this face,, with the cool curtain of white water to one side and the rounded cliffs of the amphitheatre on the other. after about 40 m descent, I came to the top of the huge overhang, so down over the edge and into free fall. As I descend I was spun slowly on the rope, so get to see all around, what a scene!

Dug New Year Morning 2012.  Pic by Theo.

Dug New Year Morning 2012.

Another thing that I know about big drops is that, as you get lower the weight of the rope pulling down decreases, resulting in a lot less friction in the descender, so you need to increase the friction.  I did this by changing my rope hand so that the rope passed around my derriere, getting some friction from my body, (Steve was adding a little pull on the rope also to increase friction as well). As I neared the bottom the spray from the waterfall began to wet me a little, and I could see that the rock was wet and looked slimy and slippery.   The rope lay was a out a little from the ledge that Steve and Theo were on, so I had to reaches my leg back to pull myself over, Steve helped by pulling the rope and I was down and off rope. Theo came up and hugged my and said "Happy New Year".

A wonderful dark cool place down here, with the sounds of the falling water and the sunlit forested valley out before us. Of course towering up over us the overhang and then the cliff face. The overhang is about 40m high and the cliff face about 40m, so it was quite a free fall.. The ropes were sorted ready to be pulled back up. If we had continued we would have pulled the ropes down.

The walk back to the walking track interesting, around or over the boulders on the ledge, all wet, slimy and slipper, we need to step carefully. I could imagine this plunge pool would be a wonderful place in the sun of midday - bit cool at the moment though. We pushed through the vegetation on the scree slope below the cliff up and down until we found the foot track. A wonderful place here, huge trees, tree ferns, moss, air moss, ferns, vines, fallen logs, land slips, with a vista of forest, cliffs and waterfalls glimpsed between the vegetation. I liked this walk.

We soon started to climb the steep bank and then came to a cleft in the cliff where steps had been cut long ago, for easy passage, as we climbed we could see further and further in the forest of delight. All to soon back on top and the walk on the tourist track back to the road and the rope at the top of the waterfall. Again I appreciated Theo and Steve doing all the work to pack up the rope, good on you lads.

Only the drive back to Newcastle thanks to Theo.

Thank you, Theo, Steve, a great outing.  It is a pleasure to share this experience with you all. Till next time. Copyright Dug Floyd January 2012.

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p.s. some people think I have problems with big abseils because I tend not to seek them out.  The reality is I only abseil to get into places difficult to access by other ways.  For instance I find canyons fascinating places and they often have waterfalls to get below to continue.  Abseiling for abseilings sake holds no great appeal, so that Malata point or Kalang Falls or Kanangra Main, I don't bother with.  I did dangle out over Goverts leap, 200m up during a search at one time, but there was a good reason for that.  My time flying hanggliders gave a fill of heights.  At 6000 ft above the ground if you look around there is no visible means of support, to see support you have to twist around and look up to see a small strap holding your harness to the aluminum frame covered in nylon sail cloth.

Setting Uo at top.  Pic by Dug

The top of Belmore Falls, sorting the red rope ready to go.

Sorting rope. Pi by Dug

Steve preparing the red 100m long rope .

Edge of cliff.  Pic by Dug Top Belmore Falls.  Pic by Dug
Into the Void, Belmore Falls.  Pic by Dug

Looking into the void early in the morning. At midday it would be all lit up down in those depths.

Belmore Falls Gore.  Pic by Dug

Belmore Falls Gorge.

Base of the Belmore Falls.  Pic by Dug

The Belmore falls cascades down to these black rocks

Dug coming on down.  Pic by Theo.

Dug abseiling probably only 30m up now.

Base of Belmore Falls.  Pic by Dug

Base of Belmore Falls Steve Sorting the rope.

Belmore Falls plunge pool.  Pic by Dug

Belmore Falls plunge pool looking down the creek valley.

Amphitheatre beside falls.  Pic by Dug

The big amphitheatre beside Belmore Falls.

Belmore Falls.  Pic by Dug

Belmore Falls from Below.

Belmore Falls.  Pic by Dug

Belmore Falls and plunge pool, with the red rope

Belmore Falls.  Pic by Dug

Belmore Falls and red rope.

Belmore Falls. Pic by Dug

Falls from the edge of the Amphitheatre on our way out.

Belmore Falls from the Gorge.  Pic by Dug

Belmore between the trees as we follow the gorge down stream.

Belmore Falls from way out.  Pic by Dug

The falls from the wonderful way out down the gorge.

Packing up aat the end.  Pic by Dug.