Wollami Canyons -
Midwinter, Caveman, two un-named, plus Looking Glass at Newnes. Dec 20th/23rd
Dave D, Dug F
I train to Eastwood where Dave picked me up after dropping off the BWRS map sale, maps. Our plan is to try and find my rope misplaced at Newnes last weekend, before we go to the Wollami. We drive there via a quick bite for me from the supermarket at Katoomba and camp on the eastern side of the Wolgan at the locked gate to save time in the morning.
Good camp site and we're away before 7am, up on the ridge by 9am and into Firefly creek by 10am. This time I take the time to backtrack the entry creek (dry this weekend) and find that you can descend all the way without an abseil; do need a hand line though. Up the ridge on the other side zigzagging through the thick scrub searching as we go. “I like that funny noise your making Dave” from me near the top, yes he has spotted the rope lying on the ground. Not as we had expected coiled up, but the centre of the rope caught on a twig on the ground and the rope had un-flaked from Tania’s pack and laid a straight line through the bush as she walked. No wonder she didn’t notice the rope drop, just another snag in the bush and then a gentle reduction in weight as she struggled on. This is only 100m or so from where we discovered it gone last weekend. How did we miss it when we backtracked? And wouldn’t you know, we had to do all the extra scrub bash zigzagging on the way up.
We decide to do Looking Glass as it will take less time than Twilight and we have a longish drive to the Wollami on the old Army Road tonight. We take more care with the navigation this time and are soon in the correct creek system. Looking Glass is an excellent canyon, 5-6 abseils, well worth the visit again after all those years. The 50m rope means we can be a bit quicker on the longer abseil. I did get to abseil into the pool and through the keyhole for the last abseil, Dave wanted to take pictures (unfortunately these were lost due to a computer virus. aren’t the people who write and distribute them dills?). We’re out and driving before 5pm via “fairly ordinary” tea at the Capatee Pub. At our campsite in the Wollami NP by 10pm, after picking up the key to the locked gate. There is a light drizzle so we erect flies.
Sunday morning:pleasant night and we're away by 7am for Midwinter Canyon. Easy as, to get to, simply go down hill to the east and follow the creek, good clear going. The canyon soon develops and keeps on going narrow and straight, quite long, a few climb downs and we do one abseil but probably could have down climbed with hand line. It’s a superb canyon with long constrictions, so Dave keeps stopping to set up his tripod so he can take some photos using his brand new waterproof digital camera (as above, all photos lost – B). At Numietta creek we turned down stream and walked down to the Caveman Canyon creek junction by 11:30, easy pleasant going in a beaut rainforest gully. On the way we notice a pass that looks as if it might ‘go’ to get on the ridge above and the map supports that.
We notice a second pass that looks as if it might go to Caveman but Dave thinks it best to backtrack the creek and go up a nose that the map suggested might go. At about 12:30 we stoped for lunch at a junction, it is too late to continue on as we must ‘rout find’ to find a way back onto the ridge, to get to camp. We backtrack and proved the pass does ‘go’ before heading up stream in Numietta. No problems straight up to the cliff line and then follow upstream to the ridge above but only at one place we can see. Dave wanted to use this way into the creek tomorrow to do Caveman so we marked it on the GPS. The ridge system meanders back to the camp, is scrubby with lots of prickly brush and a few scrambles. Back at our camp site in about 2 hours. We had just finished cooking tea when thunder storm opened up above us. We sat in the car to eat but the sun roof leaked more water on me than if I had sat outside. I did manage to collect lots of the water in billies and bottles for disposal out the window and as I said fortunately the rain was only brief. A rain and mist most of the night clear by morning.
Monday Morning:nice sunny day it has been decided to do an un-named creek and canyon that joins Numietta Creek down stream from Caveman. Again it couldn’t have been easier, just walk a few 100m along the track over a low saddle, then simply drop into the creek. The creek walking is easy and we just amble into the canyon section. A couple of abseils, nice little canyon, no wades or swims and on down to the junction 11am. Then we head over to Caveman, not quite the way I interpret the map – much flatter but no problems in the end. We come to a waterfall drop into a big amphitheatre a simple abseil from adequate slings already in place, beautiful location. Continue down and we soon come to the first abseil into the canyon section, quite narrow and I choose to abseil with my pack slung below me. Just as well because I find it a snug fit and need to wriggle around a lot and kick my pack down to fit through. There are several more short abseils some with awkward starts from only just adequate slings. We make damn sure we don’t fall onto them and so shock load the anchors. Now we are at the very narrow section Dave squeezes through no problems dragging his pack on a short sling. I start erect and then have to back out and crawl dragging my pack until I’m forced to drop it – too tight and I can’t rearrange myself. Lucky for me, Dave is smaller and can just manage to extricate it.
A very nice canyon well worth the effort to get here. We’re soon back to Numietta Creek and then out via the rout we pioneered yesterday. I’m getting a bit “had it” with the prickly scrub but we're still back in camp for a leisurely dinner before 5pm. We decide to re-locate to another section of the park a few kms away, so that we can do an exploratory trip and then Rainforest Canyon in the morning.
Tuesday morning:a good comfortable night and away by 7.30am, we drop into the eastern branch of Coorongoobra Creek. We are expecting a canyon section to explore, so take heaps of rope plus equipment to create belays if necessary. We find a very pleasant rain forest gully that leads us comfortably into the main creek, it’s such a nice way into the Coorongoobra that I’m not disappointed. The next creek junction is a good place for an early morning tea, then find the pass up the ridge to the top again, so we can do Rainforest Canyon. The pass is a bit more difficult than I remember it seems a number of people have used it not to long ago and some vital vegetation has been damaged. Then on the ridge we hit the wall of scrub. 15 – 20 years ago this was a hard ridge to come down now it is damn hard or harder to get up. The hour or so slog we had allowed for turns into a 3.5h hard slog. Back at the car 1:30pm we decide it is too late to do Rainforest Canyon, and make the drive back to Sydney, and to face that ridge again is a definite deterrent.
Back in Sydney Dave has the opportunity to go to the BWRS Christmas dinner but I opt for the train ride home at a reasonable time. An excellent 4 days of canyoning and we found my rope, thank you Dave for your great company. Till next time. © Copyright 2004 Dug Floyd