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First Wet Canyons for 2006-2007 
Dec 26, 27, 28

Sheep Dip, Rocky Creek, Banks
and Coachwood – sort of.

Party:-

  Steve, Shane, Tania, Dug.


We arrived at the Rocky Creek car park at about midday and were soon on our way.  Sheep Dip Canyon is just a short, fun, tip, with water slides, jumps and climb down, into Rocky Creek.  Today the sun is shining, temperature only in the twenties but a good day for an outing.  The bush is generally very dry although it has been freshened up by recent showers.  There is even a small water flow in the feeder creek system.  I point out the cave with aboriginal art as we walk down.  There are flowers every where, some of the flowering trees, in particular, are putting on a magnificent display.  A great start for a bushwalk. 

The canyon begins with a shallow water slide into a shallow pool, then a few wades to the first jump about 2 m into a deep pool, then the slides jumps, splashes, swims come in quick succession until the final airy jump into the pool overlooking the waterfall.  The final scramble down assisted by a handline already in place.  A great little canyon, we all find the water quite cool (it is early in the season, and this year has been quite cold generally so far, (despite claims of “global warming”) and more rain would warm things up a lot).  A second effect of the low rain fall is that the water in the pools is inky black due to the large numbers of people who use this canyon; more rain would flush out the suspended particles.  We all vote this a great way to start the season.

Everyone enjoys the very pretty rout through the rain forest gullies into the start of the Rocky Creek Canyon.  When we arrive a couple of parties have just completed a back track of the canyon, which is handy for us, as they have checked out the landing pool, for the 3 m jump by the water fall (the alternative is that some one would have had to climb down the drill hole to test for the others).  Care is needed with the jump, as while the pool is big enough, the landing zone is in just one place.  We wade, scramble, rock hop, jump and swim, down through the gorgeous narrow wet section, to the right-angled right-hand bend where we have a jump/slide into the big pool. 

Then on down the wider section of canyon with vertical cliffs either side.  Jumbled fallen timber, rock hops, swims and wades or sandy creek bed to negotiate along the way.  Soon the canyon closes in overhead, while still wider down low, a “Green Room” for those used to surfing.  Eerie beams of light shining up from the floor through to the roof (or is that down through the roof to the floor?), a hallucinogenic effect!  Mots of light flash away from the columns in arcs, escaping pearls of luminance, adding a third or fourth dimension to the green lit vault.   We continue on down, with longish wades/swims to the next right-angled, left-hand bend which signals Rocky Creek creek.  I always love this canyon regardless of the number of times I have travelled it. 

Steve, Tania and Shane feel they have been in the cold water too long and walk downstream in Rocky Creek to that exit, while I choose to retrace my steps to enjoy a second time, either an excellent choice.

Being back in camp at a reasonable hour gives us the chance to set-up a good cooking fire and more than usually comfortable camp.  A lovely night sitting in the bush listening to the night sounds, watching the small bats hunting through the night sky or just chatting.

In the morning we drive back to the Waratah Ridge turn off by 7:30, where Tania is waiting for us.  Plan A is to get to Cricky Creek Canyon from the Hole In The Wall Canyon exit, time permitting.  I last did Cricky in the 70s as an overnight trip from Deep Pass along Railmotor Ridge and a camp in the Bungleboorie. 

A pleasant walk over the Waratah Ridge top tracks sees us in the North Bungleboorie HITW exit by 9:20.  We cross the stream with dry feet, find our way up the gully immediately opposite and eventually onto the ridge top (a short swim down stream would have seen us on the traditional track – but we would have been wet!).  Because of the time a unanimous decision is made to go to plan B, Banks Canyon which is much closer and none of us has done recently any way.

On the way over we cross the traditional foot track and follow it to the start of the canyon.  The top section of canyon is very narrow and windy but not all that deep, “interesting”.  In places so narrow one has to slide your feet along one behind the other.  The cliffs either side gradually become taller and taller as we descend deeper and deeper.  

We have to find our way though dark mysterious tunnels, even, in one place, not being able to tell how deep it was, nor wether the rope reached the bottom.  Still we soldiered on enjoying the beauty and the mystery, to eventually we arrive at the T intersection with the Bungleboorie, a rather special place.  The walk, wade, swim up the Bunglboorie back to the exit is great.  We enjoy everything about these canyons.  One particularly notable spot is the small slot where HITW joins this creek.  Most enjoyable this delightful canyon, it certainly has a character all it’s own.  We all find the water a bit cold in Banks but ok in the Bungleboorie.  A good choice for a full day would be to do HITW and then Banks for a very different canyoning experience.

Another delightful night leads to a very pleasant morning.  Today we plan a short trip down Coachwood Canyon for an early day.  We set out from the Rocky Creek car park without looking at map or compass.  We find our way into a delightful coachwood and tree fern gully and really enjoy the high cliffs either side with the subdued light under the tall canopy above.  A magnificent place it is too but it isn’t Coachwood Canyon!  We have found a new (for us) way into Tree-fern Gully that leads down to Rocky Creek, not to worry we enjoy this instead.  Shane in particular appreciates the early mark as he must work tonight.  I find it useful to rush into the surf shops with 20 minutes to spare, to try and buy a new wet suit.  I no longer enjoy being cold and my old wet suit is defiantly well past it.

Thank you Tania, Shane, Steve for your company a great outing.  Till next time.  © Copyright 2006 Dug Floyd

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