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Windows Canyon – 29 December 2008.

Map:-

Ben Bullen 1:25000

Party:-

Jim, Dug.

This is a canyon that I have been keen to do for a while, because it's one of few the canyons that I haven't done before, that we can do in a day.  I have virtually no information about it, except its general location and I have seen a photo of an abseiler on a rope descending past the "window", a circular hole through a rock platform that the stream passes through.  Through the window in Windows Canyon.  Photo from web author unknown. While it isn't very long and it does have a long walk out, along the old train line in the Newnes valley, then up the Old Coach Road back to the car park.  I always enjoy this walk out with the tall sheer cliffs of the Wolgan Valley, then the huge blue gums amongst the sandstone pagodas of the Old Coach Road. 

The last time I was here with Theo and Steve, in early December, it was cold and there had been heavy rain over night so the streams were flowing well, pools were full to overflowing.  This discouraged us especially as I had no details of the rout and we didn't have any spare slings or material to improvise anchors – foolhardy to continue was Steve and my opinion.

The drive up to camp at the Tiger Snake Canyon car park was uneventful, with little traffic on the highways, although I did pass a surprising number of cars on the Glow-worm Tunnel Road.  This road is in very poor condition where maintained by NPWS, especially the twin road section, quite good where Forestry maintains the roads for timber production (they are harvesting the pine plantations now).  Jim arrived about half an hour after me after a good trip from Mittagong.  We both slept out under the beautiful starry night sky.

A delightful place to awaken as the sun light began to stream between the trees, a more subdued than expected dawn bird chorus suggesting it may be too dry up here how, although there was plenty of water in the road potholes on the way in.  Away and walking by 07:30 after a leisurely breakfast.

A well marked foot pad leads to and from Tiger Snake Canyon, following an abandoned road east to a ridge then north.  Typical Newnes Plateau ridges vegetation, with short eucalypts tree cover and sparse ground cover.  We both enjoy the wander on this lovely sunny day.

Gradually as we progress the scene changes from the open dry low eucalypt forest of the plateau to the lighter dispersed forest of the narrowing, rocky ridge.  Sandston Pagoda formations with their characteristic shape, littered with strange rock formations peek between the trees.  We walk over rock platforms, crazed by ironstone filigree.  In the distance the rolling forests of the plateaus, sheer sandstone cliffs indicate the course of Deans Creek to the east, the Wollemi Wilderness beyond that; the Wolgan River, on to the Garden of Stones with Pantonies Crown to the west.  We pass the entry to Penrose Gully Canyon on our left, and then begin to climb the gentle rise to the knoll and east/west ridge that forms the end of this ridge.  Zobals Gully and Constance Gorge straight ahead.  Tiger Snake Canyon, follow the track to the right.  We bear left to find the ridge south of the valley formed by three tributaries that come together to create Windows Canyon (no track found here this time).  A pleasing vista of pagoda formations and rugged brush.  It is still sunny but Jim has been hearing thunder for a while and I can hear it now way over to the North West.

After a bit of a zig and a zag we pick up the correct ridge and walk far enough to fluke a way into the main creek below the three junctions without abseiling in.  The way tending to be a bit scrubby on the ridge tops.  Quite reasonable walking in and beside the creek though.  Soon we can see an airy space before us that looks out to the Wolgan Valley and then find the sling waist high on the small tree, just before the chock stones in the creek bed.  A careful inspection convinces us the anchor is satisfactory and will hold our weight for the abseil.  Only one rope needed on this one (about 14m) and we can bypass the pool at the bottom without problem.

It has clouded over now and the thunder more frequent but still not overhead.  The creek here is quite steep as it cuts down the  escarpment and we abseil two other pitches about 14m each.  One goes through the "window" a circular hole through the rock platform and out below.  There is a way up onto a ledge with an overhang to our left.  We choose not to check it out, this time, as getting back seems a bit problematic.  I have been told that you can abseil down further round the ledge – but were interested in the "window" rout.  The next abseil is 35 – 40m down the main cliff face, so we need the two ropes here.  A waterfall here if more water flow in the creek but not today.  The start a tricky grovel over a narrow edge then free fall for 20m or so before we touch the face again.  An excellent finish to an interesting canyon.  Yes I would do it again and explore the overhang ledge.  I have heard reports that one of the feeder side creeks is a very narrow canyon, probably worth investigating.

Time for smoko/lunch sitting on the rocks of the watercourse at the base of the cliff, in the intermittent sunshine with the intermittent thunder much closer now.  The walk down to the abandoned rail line easy enough although we did get a couple of slight showers.  An enjoyable walk back as described above.  To the cars in about 2 hours.  Still no other cars, what has happened to all the canyoners?  I followed Jim out as far as the Waratah Ridge Road and turn off there to camp close to the Hole In The Wall Canyon car park tonight to catch up with Ian and Anna.

A great trip with great company.  Thank you Jim.  Till next time. Copyright © Dug Floyd January 2009.

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