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Bull Ant Canyon (An upper section of Rocky Creek). (12th February 2011)

Map:-

Rock Hill 1:25000

Party:-

Ken, Dug

Ken in Rocky Creek, ferns and cliffs and tree ferns. Pic by Dug.

Rocky Creek, before the canyon, ferns, cliffs, tree ferns and Ken.

Friday night, Saturday

We camped at Long Paddock after having visiting Horseshoe Canyon earlier. Surprisingly, for a weekend in summer no one else. This place is usually a buzz with canyoners. Still we did appreciate the quiet and retired early after a busy day. It was pleasant to be lulled to sleep by the twilight bird chorus. The quartet or more of Laughing Jackasses did have us wondering "are they laughing at us, do they know something we don't?". Not to worry, just enjoy their mirth.

Long Paddock, is a relatively flat, grassy area with few trees. I'm not sure of the origins, was it cleared in the past as part of the pine tree plantation, or is the lack of tree because this was a swamp. There are slight rises both side and a gentle slope down towards the upper reaches of Deans Creek. I have heard it referred to Barcoo Swamp by some canyoners, but never seen that name on a map. There are a few individual radiata pine trees in the area some 30 - 50 years old, planted, or droppings by black cockatoos who knows. I rather feel the area was cleared, but for what purpose I cannot guess. My original guess was as part of planned expansions of the pine forests, but then it could also have been related to the Newns Junction Railway system, or even, perhaps a small holding. I guess the main thing is that it is a relatively flat, dry area suitable for camping. We have been using this place since the 1970's.

A little cloudy in the morning, not promising for a canyon walk. The weather forecast had predicted rain today :-( There are patches of particularly dark clouds to the south east. Oh well such is life. We got into breakfast and then packed up tents. Drove off about 8am only a short way to find a foot track on an old disused forest road. A little messing about and we found the right place, this plateau area can be a bit tricky to navigate around first time in an area.

A pleasant enough place to start, broad open well treed ridge, well trodden foot track, only gentle slopes. We enjoyed the walk through the forest, green and pleasant after recent rain. I carried the map this time and found navigation easy, fitting map to ground. At the spot I elected to leave the foot pad, the gps agreed. Then Ken spotted the cairn I was almost standing on. Obviously I was concentrating on navigation and scenery, instead of looking around for manmade clues.

Our intended rout took us down the steep bank of Rocky Creek, to join the creek at a big bend. The map shows lots of cliffs and clifflines along Rocky Creek and I have had it in my mind to explore, some time, well now's my chance to start! Except this part doesn't show any cliffs and the exit point is where the cliffs start??

alt="Water

Bull Ant Canyon, cliff walls, slides, pools, greenery and drizzle.

Regardless of what the map shows there are lots of cliffs in sight from here, notably the buttress that causes the river to take such a big bend, right here beside us. The rout down is steep but easily manageable with some slipping and sliding and bum sliding. The valley at the bottom is reasonably wide and a carpet of bracken, coral fern, reedy grass and shrubs. Lovely to look at but a bother to walk through. Time to change into wetsuits, that will reduce the prickly feeling of the prickly scrub.

We found places to walk where the vegetation had been trodden recently, in others we walked in the creek. The creek has a good flow of water over a sandy or rocky bottom, between moss and reed banklets 0.1m - 1.5m high. After about 200m the small rock walls became continuous and they started to crowd in, making the way ahead narrower. The creek bed had become slippery rock which within a short distance became, slippery slides and small jumps, into short pools. From here on the rock walls became taller and narrower space between them, the slides and jumps became longer and higher. I hasten to add that, because there were only two of us, we didn't do too much jumping, as I always like to check out the pool before launching myself. An injury with only two of us would have been a nuisance.

We liked this creek with the combination of rock and vegetation, relatively open here with clear views of the sky (cloudy). Lots of magnificent tree ferns, a most prehistoric feel. We soon came to the cascading waterfall abseil. About 25m and very, very slippery. We landed in a waist deep pool, normal enough perhaps, except the soft, fluffy, smelly, sticky, decaying vegetation came up to our bums. Never found that before, lots of quick sand, and decaying vegetation before but not so deep, (oh just remembered the cess pit in Dunbaneo Canyon Mmmm). We both found the scene of the cascading waterfall, big rock faces, verdant vegetation, fascinatingly lovely. About now misty rain began to drizzle, but that dodn't matter as we were already in wetsuits, and the chasm is wide enough to protect us from flash flood.

Just past here the canyon widened a little, to became a beautiful flat bottomed passage, about 10m wide, between tall sandstone cliffs stained black by years of exposure. The lush vegetation of tree ferns and a few big spreading trees created a, lovely to look at environment, then we noticed ahead a huge slab of the right-hand rock face, had fallen into the chasm, a complete block. It wouldn't be within our capabilities to clime out.

At the blockage the water gurgled downwards through broken rocks, no way for our bulk there. Beside it and above, a small cavity. This proved to be a false lead being completely blocked. Beside the left-hand cliff a small cleft seemed to show a way through under this boulder blockage. We slid down the cleft with packs on to slow the pace and landed in knee deep water. The way ahead revealed to be an inviting wall of verdant tree ferns, The tree ferns are definitely a feature of this canyon. We followed the creek bed which ran along beside the undercut cliffline, until the water disappeared down between a jumble of rocks.

alt="Water

Bull Ant Canyon, waterfall cascade to abseil 25m, very, very slippery, you bet.

Flattened vegetation track lead over to the other side of the chasm to where we could see, a big internally domed overhang. An interesting spot. The overhang was more or less circular, about 10m diameter, possibly 10m to the highest point of the dome. A flat sandy area near the centre suggested this has been used as a shelter in the past. Our view from here is green, green, ferns, tree ferns, with just the occasional tree. A 100 metres past the overhang a lovely veily waterfall sparkled 30m down the cliff face. Of course the threatening rain from earlier becomes real rain now.

The Valley here has a jumble of square sided boulders littering the floor, making a maze for us to get around, to go on. We find one enormous rock that has split down the centre leaving a narrow cleft for us to wander through. We turn a right angle bend and go on to a ramp, that leads us down, down to the real valley floor. No pre-trampled vegetation that we can see here, so the going is a little difficult. Ahead we could see that the rock walls peter out and there is a steep slope, we will be able to scramble up. This is also heavily vegetated, so was slow going, till we found a wombat pad at the base of the disappearing upwards cliffline.

No problems completing the scramble and we use the compass to find the exit track only a 100m or so from where we left it earlier. The rain stayed with us all the way to near the car then stopped. We cleaned up and changed for the drive to Lithgow for lunch. The rain started again with a very sharp shower just after we drove off. So the timing was impeccable, having allowed us to change into our dry clothes, and keep dry (-: The rain stayed with us in Lithgow and became a deluge while we were driving to Dunns Swamp for Chris's birthday party. Luckily the rain had stopped by the time we reached the camping ground.

Thank you, Ken, a great outing It is a pleasure to share this experience with you all. Till next time Dug Floyd, Copyright, February 2011.

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Rocky Creek before the canyon. Pic by Dug

Rocky Creek not far past the entry point.

Rocky Creek. Pic by Ken

Rocky Creek starting to form up into the Canyon.

Rocky Creek.  Pic By Ken

Start Bull Ant Canyon.

Rocky Creek cascade.  Pic by Ken

Slippery dip in Bull Ant Canyon.

Bull Ant Canyon. Pic by Dug.

Bull Ant Canyon, cliffs and rock formations.

Bull Ant Canyon. Pic by Dug

Bull Ant Canyon.

Bull Ant Canyon, duck under.  Pic by Ken.

Dug ducking through under a chock stone.

Bull Ant Canyon, abseil.  Pic by Dug.

Abseil down 25m cascading waterfall, Bull Ant canyon.

Bull Ant Canyon, abseil ken.  Pic by Dug.

Ken abseiling slippery cascade waterfall. Bull Ant Canyon.

Bull Ant Canyon, cascade waterfall, abseil.  Pic by Dug.

Cascade waterfall, Bull Ant Canyon.

Bull Ant Canyon.  Pic by Ken.

Bull Ant Canyon, nearing block-up.

Bull Ant Canyon, Chock-stone.  Pic by Dug.

Major chock-stone block-up, Bull Ant Canyon.

Bull Ant Canyon, getting down below major block.  Pic by Dug

Shimmy down past block-up, Bull Ant Canyon.

Looking back at block-up in Bull Ant Canyon.  Pic by Dug.

Looking far back to the block-up.

Boulder jumble past Bull Ant Canyon. Pic by DugBoulder jumble past, Bull Ant Canyon

Side Waterfall in Bull Ant Canyon.  Pic by Dug

Side waterfall Bull Ant Canyon. You can just see the deep overhang.

Bull Ant Canyon, side waterfall.  Pic by Dug.

Side waterfall, Bull Ant Canyon.

Squeeze through, in boulder field past Bull Ant Canyon. Pic by Dug.

Ken in tight squeeze between two fallen boulders. Bull Ant Canyon.

Squeeze through boulder falls, Past Bull Ant Canyon.  Pic by Dug.

Squeeze between split boulder, Bull Ant Canyon.

Way out from Bull Ant Canyon.  Pic by Dug.

Boulder jumble past Bull Ant Canyon.

Big overhang cave past Bull Ant Canyon.  Pic by Dug.

Deep domed overhang, Bull Ant Canyon.

Creek past Bull Ant Canyon.  Pic by Dug.

Creek running beside overhung cliffline, Bull Ant Canyon.