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Ferny Canyon Tuesday 26th January 2010. (Australia Day extended weekend, continued)

Map:-

Rock Hill 1:25000

Party:-

Brian, Barbara, Paul, Dug

Monday - Coachwood with SBC

A pleasant enough night, bit misty. Not a hurried start as the Breakfast Creek Canyon leader was doing a car shuffle for the Contradiction Canyon Group. Sometime after 8am a group of 10 assembled at the Rocky Creek car park, and we set off across country to find the canyon. We were following a well trodden track which I haven't seen before and eventually turned off to scrub bash to the creek.

At the first abseil I set up a 60m and 50m rope hoping to do the fall in one go, but when I got to the main waterfall part there was some timber being held up by the vegetation on the sides. I tried to dislodge this but it just hanged up a little lower, fearing that it may dislodge during further descent I sidled over to where the ledge used to be. Just to find that much of this has fallen away. The abseil anchor is just a sling round the tree and a dirt step below it. I tied to the tree with a safety line and called the rest down. We needed to rig a second safety line from the anchor sling, beside the abseil rope, so that each person could clip onto the safety before changing ropes. All went well but it did take a while for us all to get down.

Then follows a delightful coachwood and sassafras filled broad section of canyon, with tall straight cliffs all around, this always pleases. The canyon then becomes a bit scrubby and bouldery for a while before descending into the narrow chamber with the abseils. The abseil down a waterfall from under the chock stone seems to have disappeared, these canyons are always changing. A great trip which we all enjoy brings us to Rocky Creek, where we lunch in the sun. Then we tramp/wade up stream to Rocky Creek Canyon which we backtrack, a trip always of great joy because it is so beautiful. Most people would be able to do this Rocky Creek trip and I would recommend that you do.  Thank you SBC members for inviting me along, particularly Ian the leader.

I fussed around making drinks and then dinner into the evening, before joining CBC for nibbles, round the fire. Hadn't been there long when the thunder came then the heavy rain, we all made a dash for my big tarp with the goodies. Luckily it was big enough to shelter us all, perhaps a little squeezy. The rain didn't last long and we all retired to bed for the night. The other group had not returned by the time we went to bed, even though we had a pool going to try and guess there arrival time. I had guessed 10:15, but someone else suggested 10:30 so she was closest.

Tuesday - Ferny 

Brial abseil big drop in Ferny CanyonA good night the rain had stopped and we were clear of mist. I prepared for the day early to make sure for Barbs and Pauls arrival. The Contradiction Canyon party had still not returned, so the SBC were planning to walk the exit routs from about 9:30. There was no great concern at this stage as it was an experienced party of well prepared people. Paul and Barb arrived about 7:30 and had Brian with them. We are all members of Bushwalkers Wilderness Rescue and so had a short discussion of our options, our conclusion was that there was no real concern until mid afternoon and we should be back by then. In the event when we got back the camp area was empty, the party had got out at about midday. They had simply camped rather than try and walk out in the dark.

We 4 did our car shuffle leaving a vehicle at the Rocky exit, and then driving round to Natural Bridge. Away walking before 8:30, a pleasant sunny morning not too warm yet. Navigation was no problem as I was here only a year ago. We located the place where I hoped to drop in but it was hard to tell the height of drop so we scrambled around to the east (last year we went west) and found our way down into a huge amphitheatre. The drop I was hoping to do, looked much scrubbier this year (I have commented on this before the scrub generally seems much thicker at this time). Paul found his way down into an overgrown watercourse where he found a sling around a tree near the edge, so people have been here before. 

The first drop looks a beauty down onto a ledge about 30m below, then what? Only one way to see, rig two 60m ropes and go down and see and hope we like what we see :-) Paul goes first and reports all well, there are about 5m of rope spare. We find this a delightful abseil down a more or less dry waterfall, just a drip. We pass a group of dreadlocks of twined tree fern root hanging down in the drip line over 4m long, then Dreadlocks formed by Tree Fern Roots in the drip line another set. The walls around us covered in ferns and mosses. You don't see these root beards in high use canyons because they are so fragile, I'm glad we avoid these for future enjoyment.

When I get into the chamber I recognise it as the one we abseiled into last year (but then from the other side and a little further down. The big sloping chute/waterfall we commented on last time, is there just beside us. Another careful looks shows that the back of the chute is back 20/30m beyond the vertical cliff of the amphitheatre way above. Would need a "real long rope" to abseil this in one go, more than twice our 60m. It should be possible to land on a platform above and then abseil in but again we would need much longer ropes probably 80m; mmm perhaps.

I loved this chamber last year and still do. A place I feel I'm meant to visit. The cliff walls so tall and smooth, the chasm narrowing above us, trees tall and straight growing up into the sunlight above. Tree ferns growing straight up directly under the opening but bending over for the sun when growing from the sides. A few very small birds flitting about the sheer cliffs, looking for what?

We wander on downstream, the upper part much scrubbier than last year (similar to Quick dip). Then into the narrow section that leads into Rocky Creek, the last 30m abseil Paul does out of a bag because it is a little scrubby on the way down. In Rocky we find our way up to the exit, this is always a highlight as Rocky Creek is beautiful. The exit gully is a gem too, patches tree ferns mixed with patches of very tall straight trunk trees. I felt the need for a belay help up the exposed scramble.

Thank you, Paul, Barbara, Brian, a great tip. It is a pleasure to share this experience with you all. Till next time.  Dug Floyd January 2010.

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Brian on big abseil into Ferny Canyon Amphitheatre above start of Ferny Canyon

Paul belaying Brian on big abseil into Ferny Canyon