Paul, Steve and Dug left Newcastle
about 7:20 and drove up to Mt Wilson
Via Richmond (for Kebab) and Bell Line Of Road, to
arrive about 10:45. Jim was already
in bed and of course didn’t stir but the fire suggested he wasn’t long gone.
Clear mild night for a change in this area. The forecasts varied by source
but BOM promised rain in the early morning with a change. By 3:30am
it was overcast and a faint drizzle, by 9am
when Tania arrived sun starting to show, vegetation hardly even dewy.
Autumn colours have arrived to the immigrant trees of Mt Wilson, brilliant
reds, yellows and many hues of brown. Some trees are already losing there leaves
so as you drive down the avenues a swirl of colour follows. Prolific growth
along the roads mean the verges are softened by the hanging ferns and
A quick car shuffle saw us walking down the ridge 400 m from Pearce’s Pass
car park, at 9:30. A very
defined track most of the way now, made for easy walking, with ample opportunity
to watch the scenery, see the flowers and watch the birds.
Jamison’s book mentions two ways into the canyon we chose the right side, with abseils.
Near the end of the ridge we drop into
the creek on the right. Follow it down stream skirting around above the short,
wet, scrubby, canyony section onto the first abseil. About 10 m, to a small
ledge to bypass the pool (except Tania that is, who tipped in). The second
abseil, again about 10 m into the creek junction with Bowen’s but we need a
40 m rope because the anchor is a tree back up on the right.
This junction is delightful, high narrow cliffy section with flat sandy/pebbly
floor that winds away down stream. Black waterworn cliffs, covered here and
there by patches of green moss or ferns. We soon come to a broader section
of creek with sand banks covered in, tree-ferns and vine amongst the typical
coachwood and sassafras trees. We walk on down a creek with tree vegetation
on both banks, pass lots of ferns and moss, wade through short shallow pools,
negotiate boulder jambs, over, round, down, through, under any which way. An
altogether delightful walk, pleasant temperatures, fascinating lighting due
to the autumn sun and the most unbelievable scenery and little creatures. Enough
obstacles to make things interesting and enjoyable, without being difficult.
We come to a place where an abseil can pass a waterfall tumbling down through
a boulder jamb and over rock slabs. But Steve has been here before, he takes
his pack off and disappears through a small hole in the rocks, he emerge below
us and wriggle over the next couple of drops to the sand beside the pool below.
We all follow and continue our journey down through an area where, long ago
past, the walls of the canyon above caved in forming a chock-stone roof. The
narrow section continues passed the chock-stones. Some short waist deep wades
now, more challenging obstacles but still well within our capabilities. A few
2 + m jumps onto soft sand, narrow slots to chimney down, narrow ledges to walk
around to save a swim, one person hangs and dropped down a 3 + m jump and then
wedges a small log for the others to scramble down. We slide down a sloping
log across a pool, one by one, each in turn sliding off into the water unable
to negotiate the obstacle where the log touches the wall under a slight overhang,
Dug is lucky and finds a hand grip that enables him to pass, the only one still
We pass side canyons, some difficult to notice unless you look back at the right moment.
The walls are quite high now and
much of the cliff-face in this area is a hanging garden of ferns and bright
green mosses. Eventually the creek widens a little and we can see the gap in
the skyline that indicates a junction on the left. This section is more
overgrown than last time I was here, I wonder if we have passed the exit.
The others ahead of me do but I sight the dead branch propped from the bank
up to a convenient tree 3 or 4 m up. We all scramble up and have lunch in a
sunny spot at the foot of the cliff line above. We follow the well defined
foot track around the series of short cliff-lines to the top. The only tricky
bits are seeing the small hole scramble through the fallen bolder to break one
cliff-line and later scrambling up at the place where there used to be a length
of rope to steady you.
We recover our cars, Tania returns to Sydney, the rest of us head back to Cathedral
of Ferns Camping area again, for a laid back tea and talk around the fire.
Sydney Uni Astrological Society is having a field trip with many people arriving
all through the night to peer through telescopes at the planets in this clear
sky. Steve and Paul invite themselves to look through a 12” telescope at Saturn
and Jupiter, where they can see the rings but are disappointed by the small
image size, about as big as a 1 cent piece. This is the highest magnification
because any higher the atmospherics cause fuzziness.
A pleasant warm night with clear starry skies and the call of night birds. Again a lazy start as
we pack-up camps and ready to drive to Yileen by 9
am. We do the car shuffle to Pearce’s Pass car park and are walking
along the ridge by 9:30. Very nice
day for a stroll views of the huge cliffs in the Gross
Valley and beyond the rolling hills
to Sydney skyline in the far distance.
We soon reach the end of the ridge and drop into the creek. 40 minutes later
we are in the start of the real canyon section, markedly different to yesterday,
mostly rocky with not much vegetation. A number of shallow wades, many climb
downs some a little tricky, then we reach the 6 m jump into a pool of clear
water. Everyone jumps and the water temperature is very tolerable – about 17
A short swim and a few more wades brings us to a more open part of canyon with
tree-ferns and coachwood trees. Huge slab cliff walls towering all round, every
now and again we catch a glimpse of the Gross Valley ahead. A 15 – 20 m abseil
down a clean face amongst the huge square blocks of stone. We are soon at the
main event - the 55 m abseil. From the abseil hook in point you can’t see the
landing immediately below, just the valley centre way way down below (probably
700 m down). We have brought 2 x 60 m ropes to do the whole face in one go.
I show a different knot for this abseil, one that will not pull through the
chain link added to the anchor slings. Doing things this way would enable you
to descend on one rope and use a light line to recover the rope.
It is an impressive abseil and everyone enjoys
it, especially first timers Paul and Steve, the scenery whichever way you look,
up, down, left right and behind is unbelievable. Paul in particular is stoked
that he has managed this face so well.
The two canyons we have done this weekend are particularly enjoyable, each
markedly different to the other. We are all pleased that water temperatures
and air temperatures are still not that cold we experienced in November. The
lighting is different to summer much gentler giving the whole scene a particularly
pleasant feel. The section of Bowen’s Creek we did would make an excellent
bushwalk since it is possible to do it without abseils, you will not find a
more beautiful place. Thank you all for your company. Till next time. © Copyright
2006 Dug Floyd