Canyoning for the Australia Day Week.

Part two.  -  25th to 28th Jan 2005.


  Ken H, Dug F, Shane H (2 days), Tania K (one day).

With an improving weather forecast Ken and I drove up on Tuesday afternoon, Shane who is coming for two days drove up later.  We met at the same place in the “long Paddock” (after all we had collected a heap of firewood and we knew the flat bits to sleep).  Next morning the weather was tending to be overcast with the threat of rain so we decided on the cautious approach and picked Tiger-snake Canyon because of its short catchment and we don’t need wetsuits.  Shane hasn’t been there and Ken only a long time ago when he wasn’t impressed.  Not a long day so we have a slow start not beginning the walk in until 9:30.  You drive down the Glow-worm Tunnel road to just past Dean Siding where the Old Coach road turns off, then on another couple of km to the locked gate and the car park.  From the car park you follow the footpad east then north along the ridgeline.

Now the path takes you to the canyon.  Years ago I was very impressed by the navigation of Jim and Robert when the found the narrow entry chasm on the side of a ridge without any real gully leading to it.  The canyon starts as narrow cleft between two big pagoda rocks; it is hard to believe that this is the start of a river.  A convenient tree serves as an anchor point for the rope, you then sidle backwards 5 or so metres over a slot far too narrow for me to go down, then turn sideways and walk down the cleft without being pulled into the narrow part, then you straddle the pool to arrive at the river bed nice and dry.  We all like this narrow colourful chamber with a couple of more abseils till we clamber down the tree roots into the wide amphitheatre where we abseil down the 18m waterfall from a convenient tree.  Time for morning tea in the sun.  Then we wander on to the next narrow section with a couple of abseils and a slide down into the vaulted keyhole chamber, everyone loves this feature.  In the past there were resident tiger snakes in a depression beside the slide down but these have been missing for 10 or so years now, a pity they belonged there (they had been there 20 or so years before, that I know of).  We are soon into the open vegetated, bouldery canyon with the way out up on the right. 

The exit is up a steep gully then onto a ridge with wonderful views of Deans Creek and the Wollami Wilderness.  Up over the pagodas and back onto the exit track for a great, rather easy day.  A tip always worthwhile, Shane is impressed and Ken wonders how his memory plays tricks because it is a really great little canyon.  Back in camp we prepare a laid back sumptuous tea. 

Again a pleasant night but a misty morning, so we decide on a shorter canyon again rather than the long ones we were planning.  Shane is looking for a short day so he can get back for a very important birthday party.  We chose Penrose Gully East Canyon which none of us has done before but shouldn’t need wetsuits.  It starts to the west of the track we used yesterday going to Tiger-snake Canyon and exits up the disused Newnes railway line and the Old Coach Road (which is worth the walk on its own).

From the obvious saddle we drop into the creek to the west, no problems easy walking.  We soon come to a very tight squeeze that could be abseiled into a pool but we decide to abseil from up on the left clear of the water.  Nice section of canyon some narrow squeezes one very narrow abseil, where we all toss packs down.  We just sidle out to a slightly wider place and squeeze down, trying to not be swung into the narrower crack by the pull of the rope.  While I recover the rope I can here Shane and Ken ahead suddenly stop talking, when I get there they are looking down a water fall 5m to a ledge with a further drop of 15m to the valley floor beyond that.  The canyon is a very smooth walled chamber with a sandy floor – nowhere to belay from – at a first glance.  Ahead 5 m or so is a chock-stone supporting a vertical log with a hairy looking ledge out to it.  Only one thing to do, gingerly get out there and set the rope around the log, seems ok, so I set up a safety line for the others and hook on.  A grovel start over a very narrow edge then 20 m or so freefall into a huge amphitheatre created in the main gully.  Very picturesque and we all enjoy it, although the body language tells me everyone is concentrating very hard to make sure the technical stuff is right before they look around (including me).  The rest of the gully out to the remains of the railway perway is very  pleasant – about as you would expect for a Wolgan gully.  I always enjoy the walk up the Wolgan Valley with its huge cliffs and flat river-flats.  The Old Coach road is always very pretty through the big cliff lines and out onto the plateau with magnificent views of the pagoda rocks this area is well known for.  We are soon back to the car and camp to complete another very nice but easy day.  Shane heads home and not long after Tania arrives from Springwood, while we settle for another leisurely tea, complete with olives, dip, cheese and bickies.

Another pleasant night but somewhat misty overcast morning.  After discussion we decide to do Coachwood Canyon (in deference to the possible weather).  A simple drive to the Rocky Creek car park then we follow the foot-pad north and drop into the first gully.  This time I have two long ropes so we can do the 45m waterfall abseil as one, rather than down onto the scrubby ledge to the right and then down again.  The abseil all in one is defiantly the way to go, you can really enjoy the very verdant broad rainforest gully as you come down (and your not knocking the vegetation on the side ledge around). 

This is a very pleasant green place full of the namesake trees and other related vegetation.  Impressive square cliffs, with big boulders in places.  We bypass the abseils to follow a ridge high above rocky creek for lunch in the sun – a very nice place indeed.  We return and follow the creek down, abseiling as necessary (we bypass the under the rock in the water fall abseil – rather than get wet – it isn’t all that warm a day).  The final abseil down the waterfall into Rocky Creek wets us anyway.  Because I don’t have wetsuits we decide against reversing Rocky Creek Canyon and use the down stream exit from the acute angle bend.  I still like this walk along Rocky and out even though I did it a few days ago.  Another great easy day.  In camp we repeat the now established laid back meal routine with savouries.  During the night Monika, Dave D, and Dave S arrive from Canberra ready for tomorrow.   To be continued!  © Copyright 2005 Dug Floyd.