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Yarramun Creek from the west - January 19th 2015

Map:-

Wollangambe 1:25000.

Party:-

Jerry, Dug.

Plan:-

A four day trip to explore Yarramun Creek and Canyons, and explore the side creeks which are also canyons. We have been told there are camping caves in the canyon, so we can save on the weight of tents.

Dug and Jerry at the start.  Note the bush regenerating its self.  Pic by dug.
Jerry and Dug at the start. Note the regenerating bush after the hot fire of a year ago; note also the mist and drizzly rain. The views should not be mist!

As we found on the Waratah Ridge Canyoning walk a couple of weeks ago the fires of 12 month ago have reduced the usual scrub bash on these ridge systems, to a gentle wander in the (burnt) park. It is wonderful to see the regeneration of the trees from what must have been an incredibly hot fire. Unfortunately there are a lot of dead trees in this area too.

Still from our point of view much easier walking. That is why I came up with the thoughts (while on Waratah Ridge) on Yarramun, a place I haven't been to before. Steve and Theo weren't interested at that time. I thought it would be a good chance to do a BWRS Canyon Familiarisation trip; initially there were 8 interested, but getting dates proved difficult as always, in the end 4 whittled down to two due to work commitments. We organised it as a private trip in the end.

I drove up on Sunday afternoon to pick up a plb from the Windsor Police Station (these plbs were a donation by a commercial firm following a number of tragedies in the bush, so free). I then drove on to reconnoitre the track into the start. Track is rough in places but ok. Then of to Lithgow for tea, and back to Zig Zag Railway parking lot to sleep the night in the car.

Pleasant if overcast night minimum temperature 17 degrees. In the morning fine misty rain with signs of fog on the hill tops. By the time Jerry arrived at 8am the fine misty rain had turned to drizzle and the temperature dropped to 12 degrees. I was interested to see three other parties meet here before driving off, I surmise: one to do work on refurbishing the railway (which was damaged in the fire); and the other two looked like mid week bushwalkers. We each drove out without any problems and Jerry had a 2wd car.

I'm not sure if someone is trying to get me to stop canyoning. It was raining with mist and in some areas fog, similar weather to when we were on Waratah Ridge. The drizzly rain won't stop us, the mist and fog won't stop us even though it will hide the scenery and make for "interesting" navigation on the wandery ridge and spur system we must use. Although we did sit around for an hour to see if weather would improve.

Yarramun Creek has a north branch, with canyon (which I have been advised doesn't have any abseils), a south branch with canyon that has a 8m abseil, a canyon past the junction then intermittent canyons sections all the way down. Many of the side creeks are also excellent canyons.

We have packed light for this trip and to facilitate that only tape and a few carabiners, for harness and hand line. We could use this gear to abseil or prusik to get out of trouble. We have decided to start in the north arm of the creek as the south arm has one abseil. Jerry did the navigation, and did very well, thank you Jerry.

We decided to start further upstream than I had planed, because Jerry's newer edition map seemed to indicate that there was likelyihood of canyon up there. The walk to where the drop to the creek was pleasant but uneventful. To get down we had to find a zig zaggy way down through cliff lines. Eventually we dropped into a side creek where I changed into wetsuit as I wanted to keep my clothes as dry as possible. We were blocked, in the last 50m, where a slippery dip ended up in a pool of water, just before the junction with a main creek, (with more people and more gear we would have probably tried that out, for fun). We found a way out and around between the cliff lines and continued on at, this stage only a scrubby creek below.

Misy start of canyon Yarramun.  Pic by dug.
Canyon starting to form up, very pretty place.

Eventually we dropped in, as the canyon was starting to form, and not long after that Jerry changed into his wetsuit as we came to longer deeper pools. Pleasant low canyon at this stage, we did notice a lot of recent flood debris, some build up of sand and big piles of charcoal from the fires. We passed several places where the way forward was partly blocked by flood debris, and eventually came to a place where there was a block-up and we needed a hand line to get down 2.5m or so. A bit further on we could see a rock block-ups, so we checked this out carefully. Past this point the rocky bottom canyon began in earnest and we could see two more rock block-ups before the canyon disappeared around a bend. Hmm, I'm not sure I can get back up the block-ups I can see, with the equipment we are carrying. We could clear enough of the debris block-up behind us so we could get back out. Again, hmmm, this doesn't fit with what I have been told about this branch of the creek, perhaps were further upstream.

If there are more block-ups downstream we can't deal with, we could be in a bit of bother. We have packed light and the plb may or may not get a signal out, (Who wants to use a plb anyway, just don't get into strife in the first place). On balance we both decide that backtrack is the way to go, today. Cool temperatures, cold water, drizzly rain, no sun, limited equipment, unknown canyon environment. I always consider these things every time I go down a canyon, because they can change dramaticlly very quickly, it only takes flood debris, a rock fall, a thunderstorm (with heavy rain to flash flood). Nice sunny day makes a big difference too of course.

It took us about half an hour to clear enough of the block-up to get back through. Thick branches, thinner branches, twigs, sticks, sand, soil, bark and leaf litter, just twist turn dig away. A couple of other simple scrambles and we were above the lower cliff banks. Simply, then find our way up through the many cliff lines and rocky outcrops. Jerry found an overhang to sit in and brew-up (old army saying, "when in doubt, brew-up"). We both agree that we have made the correct decision, all we have to do now it get out before dark, 3:15 now so we should be ok.

Interesting pagoder country to walk, and with scarcely any ground cover scrub, easy going. Except the steep up-hill, which had me stopping frequently, to recover. Very pretty still, with the recovering tree growth, and the weird, eerie rock formations. As before Jerry did an excellent job of getting us back. We were still wearing our wetsuits because of the rain and cold. Second time for me in two trips. Back at the cars by 6:40 so no problem. I am glad to have the big back door of the Mazda to change under out of the rain. Damn cold but and we didn't wash, smelly blokes.

Thank you very much Jerry for your great company. I would have to say an adventure even if we ddn't achieve our initial objectives. We must set another date to complete this walk, perhaps as two, two-dayers. copyright Dug Floyd, January 19, 2015.

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View should not be mist! Pic by dug

The views should not be mist! On top of the knoll on our way to Yarramun Creek north branch.

In the rain.  Pic by dug

Smiling in the rain, tired but still enjoying. Notice the bush regeneration and the light rain will help.

Jerry in start of canyon.  pic by dug.

Jerry at start of canyon, don't you love that smile?

Yarramun Creek.  Pic by dug

Yarramun Creek.

Jerry smile.  Pic by dug.

Keep on smiling Jerry.

Smiling in the rain, Dug.  Pic by dug.

Wet, cold, tired, dirty, but enjoys too.