Ferny Canyon
Wow! What An Entry.

Wolomi NP. January 10th 2009.


Rock Hill 1:25000


Shane, Jim, Dan, Dug

Ferny canyon, steep V slot into hidden grotto.  Photo Dan Shane and I drove down on Friday intending to do Yileen Canyon in the afternoon but we felt the weather was too cold for a wet canyon on the day.  We did a couple of small walks and set up camp at the long paddock.  The overnight weather was not promising, being cold, windy and with showers.

A cool overcast morning with a good dawn bird chorus to ease us awake.  Because it was so cool and not really conducive to wet canyoning we took our time breakfasting and breaking camp.  We discussed wether to do Ferny which was exploratory for us and may have involved swims or do a dry canyon such as Tiger Snake.  We all had driven a long way so a decision was needed, in the end we tossed a coin and Ferny won, with a tail.

We left one car at Rocky Creek car park, then all drove around to Natural Bridge in the Honda.  Fairly rough in places, Dan is worried about getting the Kluger through, fortunately the map shows another rout in.  Away and walking by 09:00 hr, following the abandoned service trail north and north west along the ridge system.  Pleasant open walking with a well defined foot pad that extended beyond where we turned off.  We saw wallabies, roos, lyre bird, and lots of other bird life along the way.  Just down from the knoll we are aiming for, we find a cairn made of wood, we think a bit to soon for where we dropped off into the creek that becomes Ferny Canyon.  A couple of 100m further along we set a bearing into the system.

The start of the off track was a bit scrubby, then became more open, until eventually we ran into the thick swampy vegetation that we find at the start of many canyons.  This wasn't very wide because we could see what looked like a drop off 200m or so ahead.  Shane found a "hole" that disappeared down into the swamp growth, just ahead of him, so we started to look around for a way ahead. 

We could make out a wide semicircular crater that lead into a narrow crevasse but couldn't see the bottom of either.  We moved around to the true left, until we could see down to the base of the crater.  Boy it is impressive, a huge amphitheatre full of tree ferns.  Around to the right is a big cave, above this a tree on the cliff edge that would make a good anchor.  The abseil in would be impressive over a narrow edge then free fall past the chamber to land in a magnificent garden of tree ferns.  Not too sure where you would go from there as a spur blocked our view.  Just here the cliffs drop to a steep rocky floor 150m down, much to far for our ropes.  Between this cliff and the cave rout is a 50m or so abseil to a spur with trees that look suitable for anchors to get down further - but we cannot see where.  Over to our Ferny Canyon, top amphitheatre, and cave.  Photo, Dan left more we can see a steep treed slope that should get us down 150m or so.  This is our choice and we scramble down to locate a tree suitable for an anchor.  Jim sets up a rope so that he can get to an edge and see what is down below, damn just a ledge 3m down that he cannot see over. 

We set up the two ropes on a sling around the tree (we lend a bit to the 50m, to make it a little longer).  Jim goes over the edge intending to prussic up if the ropes are not long enough.  When he sends the ropes down from the ledge, the ends just disappear into the foliage at the bottom, so he cannot see if they are long enough, or wether it is just leads to another ledge, "A Hidden Chasm".  Luckily the rope is just long enough, and a test rope pull down shows that we can recover the rope from the bottom. 

Soon we are all deep in this hidden grotto, this strange prehistoric world tall tree ferns and other prehistoric vegetation.  You wouldn't be surprised to find one of the small dinosaurs popping out to check us out, it looks that ancient.  An impressive abseil into a truly amazing place.  A gorgeous tree fern filled chamber, with the odd coachwood and sassafras tree to add variety.  One coachwood manages to hang onto life by sending an amazing array of roots down a small cliff face, the things we see!  Cool and pleasant after the hot sun above, we explore a little.  Just here we have a leafy chasm about 10m across, back up steam it narrows quickly into a, narrow, steep, V, rocky, slot with some flood debris on the floor and the odd fern on the walls.  This ascends quite steeply, to end in a short very narrow chasm with a green V of rock where the waterfall would form after rain, about 30m high.  Down stream the chasm gradually widens and becomes more vegetated into a typical rainforest gully, all green with moss and ferns. 

To abseil down this narrow slot by the waterfall, next time we are here, What a way in :-)  After abseiling in past the cave mentioned before, to get here, of course.

Very pleasant walking, scrambling, moving down the gully enjoying the primeval feel, with ferns and mossy rock faces.  Those canyoners who come for the slides and jumps and swims may be disappointed, as there aren't any pools at all, but I love it just like this.  I didn't notice any ways out up the sides of the canyon, except a slight possibility on the true left just at the junction with Rocky Creek.  One more abseil, about 33m down a mossy water fall channel and a short scramble to arrive at the junction into Rocky Creek.  Rocky is a magnificent place in it's own right.  A rain forest creek between high cliffs, Ferny Canyon, Hidden Grotto.  Photo, Dugwalled in by tall marvellously sculptured cliffs, clear water flowing gently over a sandy bed, or splishing splashing through rocky rapidsy places, or tumbling between the tall boulder jambs.

We arrived at the exit point about 14:00hr for lunch sitting in the sun debating walking further on to back track Rocky Canyon.  Shane needs to be home reasonably early for work tomorrow, so it is the exit here.  This is an interesting trip in it's own right, up a steep rainforest gully with a few scrambles thrown in for interest.  Then following the series of ridge lines around Galah Mountain, to the abandoned access road, then onto the road and down to the car park.  As soon as we are above the cliffs again we notice the cold wind, but it has been pleasantly warm in the chasms.

Thank you, Dan, Jim, Shane, for your great company and challenging trip to a new canyon for us all.а A particularly interesting one at that.  Both Shane and I were feeling apprehensive about finding a way in with the ropes we had, we definitely needed to be selective about where we tried to get in.  Till next time.ай 2009 Dug Floyd.


Ferny Canyon, amphitheatre from Rocky Ck exit. Photo Dan
The little black thing in the centre of the picture is a big cave.  About a 50m abseil.  You can just make out the shape of the canyon down to Rocky Ck, where the lower cliff line is.

Photo taken 2 - 3 km away from Rocky Ck Exit scramble.

Ferny Canyon, 50m abseil into hidden grotto.  Photo, Dug
 Ferny Canyon, V slot.  Photo, Shane.  Ferny Canyon, V slot.  Photo, Shane
 Ferny Canyon, Shane in Hidden Grotto.  Photo, Dug Ferny Canyon, Dug looks at living root system.  Photo, Shane 
Dan and Jim, Rocky Creek, by exit.  Photo, dug Dan and Jim, Magnificent Rocky Creek.  Photo Dug
Dan and Dug, scramble up Rocky exit.  Photo, Shane Jim, Shane,Dan, smoko on ridge track in.  Photo, Dug
Ferny Canyon, narrow V slot to abseil into next time.  Photo, dan Ferny Canyon, 50m abseil in.  Photo dug