Festival of Canyons. (11th 12th February 2012)

Mt Wilson Thunderstorms.


Mt Wilson 1:25000


UTS, Festival of Canyons group, Theo, Dug

Wollangambe water high.  Pic by Theo

Wollangambe 1 Exit beach, well under water.  no Kelvinator or Whungee Wheengee today

Friday night

I had a little chore getting to Mt Wilson as it turned out. I was helping at a search at Pennant Hills on Thursday and this was extended to Friday. So stayed over in Sydney with Keith, thank you Keith and Rose. I knocked off in the early afternoon Friday, with the intention of getting home in time to pack and meet Theo and Helen. But my stupid car decided to lock it's self after, I put stuff on the passenger seat, threw my keys onto the driver's seat and shut the door. A call to the NRMA was a little help, at first; I was told that I hadn't renewed my membership. Then it transpired that they had sent the renewal to an address in Curl Curl which I left 13 years ago (-:????:-). Eventually the service man came around and opened the car, thank you. But he couldn't take cash only card, oh well pay it next week. Thank you NRMA patrol man.

The F3 to Newcastle was stop go driving around the central coast exit probably due to accidents precipitated by the beaut storm that had gone through 30 mins before. I eventually got home after 6 pm, rushed to pack and be ready by the time Theo came around to pick me up (unfortunately Helen had been forced to pull out).

On the way down we looked for diner at Swansea but everything was closed at 8:00. The road stop half way down the freeway had to do, can't recommend it though, other than an emergency. Mist and drizzle on the Bell Line of Road not looking all that promising for canyons. Misty but no rain at Mt Wilson and we had our tents up by midnight.


Fancy dress. pic by Theo

Festival enjoying the fancy dress!

Did rain during the night, and started the morning with a, cold wind, overcast, mist and occasional drizzle. Mmm I'm not one who enjoys the cold in a canyon. By 9:00, we had all smiley faces and 8/8ths blue sky with sun. Then a fancy dress parade for the prize for the fanciest, really good humour. Many excellent choices, mankini, yowl, harlequin, white tuxedo and topper, black suit. The white tux was judged the winner by a small margin. Good on to all those who took part, well done.

Choice of canyons: Dalpura, Whungee Wheengee, Kelvinator, Serendipity or Waterfall of Moss. Theo chose Whungee Wheengee, with Max in the fancy dress mankini. Grahame and I chose Serendipity, with optional onto Waterfall Of Moss with Peter. This made it four teams in all doing Serendipity, 25+ people.

We set off and arrived with no difficulty, although there was lots of water running off the roads and tracks. A pleasant walk on fire roads through tall eucalypt forest, then foot track down steep sandstone gulley. At the first abseil we came across two commercial groups of 10 each, who had just started to abseil. We quickly set up at a different anchor in the hope that we could race ahead. Not to be, one commercial group got away before us. Well not to worry, just enjoy.

I haven't been in Serendipity for 7 or 8 years, always nice, it is even better now with all the growth promoted by the abundant rain of the past couple of years. Just here we are walking in a narrow stream with vegetated banks sloping very steeply, with some cliffs, up 100m or so. The stream is running quite well, a reasonable amount of water, but not too much. Lots of small waterfalls and cascades filling the air with their delightful sounds of tumble, burble, gurgle, added to by the sharp melodic ting of bell birds. An altogether wonderful place to hear, see, smell, experience.

As we progress it is noticeable that the sunshine is replaced with drizzle now and then. At the second abseil, the first commercial group is on rope with another of our teams behind. So it looks as if we have a wait, and park ourselves on a ledge above the water flow. Right about now it grew quite dark and hail starts to fall, then we heard the thunder a bit away.  The canyon starts to wall in just past here with 10m cliffs above and a 10m waterfall to abseil down, through.  The way the years of erosion have sculptured the rock faces is something to see:-)

The hail and rain increased as the storm moved overhead, we can see a slight rise in the water flow too. Peter and Kosta scrambled up the bank to see if they could find another place for us to abseil in, to reduce the wait. It is clear that the two parties ahead are not very quick. No luck with the new anchor, so we have to wait. By now I am feeling the cold even in my wetsuit, so decide to bailout.  Particularly since we will be swimming in part from here on and there is a lot of people to get through, and it will take much longer than usual.   The cliffs and slope on the right hand bank look broken enough to get through, Peter tells me he has been up that way in the past.

I am able to get up out of the canyon easily and can see possible routs up. The rain and hail increase significantly and a slot in the cliff I was aiming for to get up, became a 15m waterfall. Mmmm I might give that way a miss, this time. No problem, I find ways through the small cliff lines and progress up, through the wet scrub. At a certain point with the increasing storm now directly overhead with lightning, thunder, hail, rain, I wonder if it really is a good idea to get on top of the high ground ahead. Cold and wet, despite the exercise, I can't see much good in stopping, so press on, through the not too thick scrub. At the ridge line of the spur I head a little east and the scrub isn't too bad, so easy going for me, the scrub looks much thicker on the western facing side.

The storm has moved off and abated by the time I reached the first high point, so not so many worries now. I soon found the track from the Wollangambe 2 exit, to escort me back to the camp ground. I took a side track through the Cathedral of Ferns, a magic place of tall tree ferns on the rich volcanic soil, that make Mt Wilson such luxurious plant area. As I wander back into camp on my own, there are some concerned looks, followed by concerned questions, easily answered. I just piked early.

As I stripped I found that the diversion on the side track had added a number of small black leaches, on boots and wet suit. One thing about wet suits leaches have extreme trouble finding their way through. Sad to think that on the way up I told Theo there were no leaches in Mt Wilson because the lyre birds eat them. I did hear lyre birds and see their display mounds on the first part of the walk today, but clearly they have been predated from the Cathedral area, bummer.

The other groups drifted back in, during the afternoon. Wollangambe River was right up, too high to cross, so the Kelvinator group had a great swim and came back to camp, because they thought there would be too many people in Serendipity. The WW group had a swim and headed into Serendipity. A hoard of people turned up after bailing out of Serendipity. Several FoC teams plus a commercial group who had come up the left hand bank. The water levels in Serendipity had continued to rise after I left.

 Waterfall in Waterfall Of Moss Canyon. pic by Theo

Waterfall of Moss, has a waterfall and some moss, and lots of grins.

One of the members of the FoC groups ahead of us in the canyon became stuck on rope. Peter was able to abseil down on a separate rope and sort things out. Good one Peter, well done. Both ropes were pulled down and those above the abseil took this as a sign that they shouldn't try. The FoC group plus Peter and the Commercial group were stuck in the canyon below the abseil, because of high water flows over a particular waterfall/abseil for a couple of hours before they could move on. They sheltered in an overhang and shivered till the water level dropped. The WW group, after all that, were able to go through Serendipity without any problems. The Dalpura group had a great day without much rain, off the Bell Line of Road only 6km away!

Well an adventurous day for most and it seems everyone enjoyed it. I certainly did, I like to know ways out of canyons. Soon the BBQ kicked in with a few beers or wines, raffles were organised to raise funds for BWRS, with great prizes donated by some of the equipment suppliers and magazines. In the evening a great fire thanks to Peter who brought stacks of wood, again thank you Peter. Peter is a local and captain of the Rural Fire Service at Mt Wilson as well as a BWRS member. Shane presented his web site concept "www.immortaloutdoors.com". He aims to show worldwide all the camping areas and outdoor activities that can be done nearby, e.g. hiking, bicycle riding, fishing, canoeing, canyoning, climbing. Good going Shane. A great night chatting and reminiscing!


Saturday night was a lot colder with a brief frost, but dawned to a bright sunny day. No hurry to start as temperatures are quite cool. The FoC organisers had a BBQ breakfast for everyone. The choice of canyons for today are: - Dalpura, Serendipity, Waterfall Of Moss, Clatter Teeth, Bowens South. Theo and Grahame go with WoM, Peter needs a day off and I am not keen on cold and wet, so do a walk instead.

I wandered down to the Wollangambe 1 exit, the roads and tracks are still running water. The Wollangambe is still right up, it wouldn't have dropped more than 100mm overnight. A most pleasant stroll in bright sunshine but still not all that warm. By 5pm all the parties are back telling tales of wondrous sights and sounds, from the thundering waterfalls and churning rivers.

A great weekend for everyone magnificent job of organisation by Ellen and UTS.  Thank you for inviting NBC. And a special thanks for the BWRS fund raiser. Thank you to everyone for a great couple of days. Copyright Dug Floyd February 2012.


Ready for Fancy Dress Parade. pic by Theo

Getting ready for the Fancy Dress Parade

Setting out in Fancy Dress. pic by Theo

Getting ready to canyon some in fancy dress

Ready the rope WFoM. pic by Theo

Some one has to sort the rope!

From WFoM to Wollangambe. pic by Theo

Water slide into the Wollangambe, a rare treat nowadays!

Pool in WFoM. pic by Theo

Plenty of water in this pool

Down boulder jamb WFoM. pic by Theo

Down the boulder jamb!

Pool in slot, WFoM. pic by Theo

Beaut little wade in narrow section with water falling along the wall!

 pic by Theo

A light cascade leading to waterfall

Sky through the waterfall. pic by Theo

Water every where, in the creek, in the waterfalls, down the sides.

On Rope. pic by Theo

Ready to go

On rope. pic by Theo

On rope in WFoM Canyon

On Rope. pic by Theo

Abseiling in Waterfall of Moss Canyon

In A squeeze between fallen tree and rock. pic by Theo

Abseil down waterfall negotiate the squeeze by fallen tree and rock!

Down the top end of canyon. pic by Theo

Canyon starting to form up.

Pleanty of Water. pic by Theo

Waterfall of Moss and plenty of water

Going down. pic by Theo

Nice little abseil in WFoM Canyon

Happy canyoners group photo. pic by Theo

Happy Festival of Canyoners

I live here too! pic by Theo

I live here too, please give me room!