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Canyon Extravaganza 2007 - Newnes Plateau

Criky, Sheep Dip, Heart Attack, Bridge, Breakfast Creek, HIW, River Caves, Coachwood, Rocky

Map:-

Rock HILL, Wollangambe, 1:25000

Party:-

Lloyd, Sandra, Tania, Hania, Damien, Dug, Dave, Graham, Monika, Dave, Steve, Jim, Col, Paul, Scott, Robyn, Theo, Kevin, Will, Lara

We all met at the Long Paddock on Newnes Plateau over the weekend, many of us camping from Thursday night.  A good location for this weekend, lots of space among the trees, the weather was most kind.  Our drive up via the Bell Line Of Road a little inauspicious with thick fog and misty rain, luckily it was clear by morning.  There were several other groups and individuals dotted through the trees but giving each other plenty of space.

Friday

Dave with a party of 6 experienced canyoners decided to do Crikey Creek Canyon from Deep Pass because we had heard reports that Waratah Ridge road was closed for logging operations (we couldn’t tell in the foggy conditions in the night on the way in); they were away by 7am.  Scott and Robyn with a party of 9 did Sheep Dip and Rocky Creek leaving about 8am.  Dug with a party of 5 experienced abseilers did Heart Attack also leaving about 8am.

Heart Attack was good as always, we abseiled into the creek (about 45 m), then wandered downstream through beautiful forest for an hour, until we reached the chock stone above the 35 m drop into the canyon.  A beaute spot for lunch on a pleasant warm sunny day.  I demonstrated the self belay with a prussic below the descender.  There was a slight hitch when the prussic jammed on a tape Damien used to mark the center of his rope.  I couldn’t clear it and in the end needed to prussic up to release the load on the belay to take it off.  The other four had not been here before and are entranced by the beauty of this chamber under the huge chock-stone above.  We continued on down stream through the lovely canyon, a few wades and two smaller abseil later we were at the exit creek.  This is beautiful in it’s own right too.  Back at the camp by 6pm to be greeted excitedly by the others who had a really great day in Sheep Dip and Rocky Creek Canyon.  A wonderful day of bush experience for everyone by all accounts.

A pleasant night of food and talk under the stars (it was warm enough to not bother with a camp fire even though Paul had collected enough fire wood).

Saturday

Tania and Lloyd with a party of 5 head out at 7am to do Bridge Canyon from Waratah Ridge (she checked the road was open last night).  Will and Jim with a party of 5 go to Glow-worm tunnel, Wolgan View Canyon, Old Coach Road walk.  Dug with a party of 4 newer canyoners head for Breakfast Creek about 7.30am.  It is planned to meet the non abseilers down near Glow-worm Tunnel at 2pm for some abseil practice.

I always enjoy Breakfast Creek Canyon, 4 easy abseils for the beginners, a bit of rout finding, in absolutely beautiful surroundings.  Dark and mysterious in places, broad and cathedral in others followed by delightful coachwood forest sections, even a mystery scramble down through a pile of rocks.  The walk back up Rocky Creek to the exit is very pleasant in its own right.  The party is a lot slower than expected and we reach camp about 3pm to be greeted by the crew from Glow-worm trip who are glowing from a wonderful day.

4 of us head back to the Glow-worm Tunnel car park to do the abseil practice until about 5.30.  Just around the rock by the car park is a deep treed valley, this has a small cliff face we use, looking out on the tall majestic blue gums amongst the pagodas.

Dave and his crew arrive back while we are preparing dinner; they are brimming with enthusiasm after a great overnight trip to Crikey and Fortitude Canyons.  They couldn’t find the pass up the other side of the Bunglboorie so did Fortitude instead as plan B.

Tania with here crew arrived a little later, they also have had a wonderful though tiring day.  They did only find 8 abseils not the 13 advertised in the book.

Tonight a much bigger group to talk around the fire and relate the experiences of the past two days.

Sunday

Dave with a party of 5 Canberraits is planning Coachwood/Rocky Creek Canyons.  Theo and Scott with a party of 6 are planning a late start for Deep Pass and River Caves Canyons.  Dug with a party of 8 is heading for Hole In The Wall Canyon.  Dave thought the HIW would have attracted more starters and decides the numbers are small enough to also do HIW. 

We are at the car park by 8.30am and set out before Dave’s group arrive expecting them to catch us in the canyon.  HIW is one of my favourite canyons and is certainly a hit with the first timers.  A one and half hour walk in over treed but relatively open sandstone ridges on old fire trails and then foot track brings us to the start in a small stream that disappears between small cliffs. 

We wander on down the valley getting narrower and the cliffs taller till a small drop into a pool of dark water prompts us to don wet suits.  For the next while the canyon gets darker and deeper with a couple of narrow swims (I’m glad I brought the new wetsuit as I find the water a bit too cool), then a crawl on sandy bed under a fallen chock-stone and we are into the open section. 

We enjoy this open creek walk, with its trees and scrub, tall cliffs, majestic caves and overhangs, some beside waterfalls (dry now because of the drought), we occasionally pass a side creek and wonder if that would be a canyon worth doing or “just another scrub bash down a grunge filled gully”?

The final section is the decent through the sandstone gorge into the Bunglboorie, starts with a 2 m water jump into a sparkling clear pool (which we all do), there are three abseils including one “pussy in a well” free fall into a chamber, a couple of swims, the underground section with the tight squeeze past the rock pile blocking the exit, climb downs and the final slide through the slot into the pool of the Bunglboorie.  (I remember quite a few years ago, sitting on the ledge opposite eating lunch after doing Banks, and we were all amazed and intrigued by hidden squeals followed by people popping out of the slot, which we hadn’t even noticed till then (naturally this was the canyon for the next day)).

The walk/swim/wade up the magnificent Bunglboorie a few 100 m to the lunch/exit spot is still a joy every time I do it.  I am a little surprised the other team hasn’t caught up with us we are a bigger party and taking out time photographing and exploring; still.  We do meet two other parties near the exit, one is just taking a lazy final day while the other who have just done Bridge are planning HIW and Banks (I suggest they may have to run to achieve that and get out before dark).

The flat rock by the exit is a great place to laze around getting out of wet suits, enjoying the sun, being entertained by the water dragons, looking at the cliffs or vegetation, or just hearing the gentle creek noises as the water tumbles over the rocks and down the cascades.  The first timers down HIW are ecstatic because they find the whole experience totally exhilarating and there is even talk of a second trip through.  Dave and his party arrive while we are lunching, so we all exit together, and arrived back at the cars at 3pm.

Conclusion

An excellent weekend, with a diverse interesting group of people from a number of clubs and organisations all over NSW and ACT, (NBC, CBC, SBC, SCBC, SyBC, BWRS).   Many of us had not met before and now new friends made.  Some new to bushwalking, several new to canyoning. Nearly everyone, got to areas they hadn’t been before and many made the startling discovery “these are indeed strange and special places”.  These weekends are designed for all levels of bushwalking and someone needs to help the newbies start on there journey of discovery or learn the skills to safely lead canyons.

Canyoning has the potential to be dangerous but can be carried out safely by competent groups, you need: good bush skills,  good navigators, good water and swift water skills, good rope skills, good rout finding skills and good improvised rescue skills, every one should be first aid trained.  Some people have all these skills but they still need support to help the inexperienced, other groups will have individuals with the right mix of these skills for the particular canyon and party.

Thank you all for your company.  Till next time.  © Copyright 2007 Dug Floyd

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