Waratah Ridge – Bjelke’s Mind Canyon

3rd 4th  Feb 2004


  Shane H, Dug F.

We drove down Tuesday afternoon so that we could walk out Waratah Ridge to camp and get a start on the long walk in and out of Bjelke’s Mind Canyon.  We also intended to go down Bubble Bath Canyon into Bunglboorie on the following day.  Shane did a good job navigating on the way out so we knew exactly where we were when we camped after 1.5hr walk when it was too dark to continue without torches.  

Comfortable flat place to camp just off the foot pad that we had been following.  Pleasant clear moonlit night.  Away by 7.30 we followed the dogleg ridge system to the start of the canyon.  We could discern a track most of the way, although it did tend to get lost over the high spots.   We didn’t find the walk in and  needed to abseil, as it turned out we should have turned south but we only found that out on the way back.

We had nearly 1km walk in the creek to the start of the canyon, bit scrubby, although the ridges have been burnt and are easy walking.  This is an interesting canyon very narrow with some “interesting” abseils.  On a few we had to toss the packs down because they were so narrow and we hade to straddle out and then go down sideways, doing our best not to get swung in, distinct possibility of getting jammed if we had.  This is a very straight and narrow canyon after its name sake.  Tall cliffs, water sculptured quite a lot of moss for a popular canyon.  A few wades up to waist deep and one pool landing about 1.5m long to swim, just too long to step across.  We didn’t take wet suits to save weight and they weren’t needed although I did put a thermal top and beanie on near the end.  The last abseil is only short but it is into a chamber blocked by a chock stone, you just hope it goes!  You look out through a dark cave and see vegetation that proves to be the junction with South arm of the Bunglboorie. 

This arm of Bunglboorie is a nice creek, flat sandy floor, tall colourful cliffs, decked in luxurious vegetation.  A good place for lunch sitting on a convenient log in the bright sunshine after the cool canyon.   I did think about walking 2-3 km in the creek to the Arch Canyon exit because it is so nice, but in the end we opted for the standard exit.

The way out is 100m upstream from the junction, we were expecting some sort of foot pad but only found thick matted ferns to fight through, a mixture of bracken fern, coral fern with the odd creeper thrown-in.   The way up was easy, we could have scrambled up the pagoda to keep on top but chose to follow below the cliff line “knowing that we would just walk up on top”.  We did, eventually, about 1km back along the ridge.  That’s how we now know the best way in – for next time.  The return was a reciprocal of the way in -  with a track to follow – me think a rather good thing, for finding the tents on these rather featureless system of ridges. 

Back by 4pm for a lazy camp (I did suss out the best start for tomorrow though).  A pleasant evening and night with only a hint of a possible thunderstorm and about half our of gentle misty rain after we had retired.

A warm sunny morning ready to up and into it, unluckily Shane has a “knee” which may not last the day or worse still may not let him work tomorrow.  We pack-up slowly and walk out for an early return to Newcastle.  A good walk and a good canyon thank you Shane for your great company.  Till next time.   © Copyright 2004 Dug Floyd