16/11/2003 - report - photos - Breakfast Creek Canyon track notes
Participants: Tom Brennan, Chris Stephens, Jim, Lisi Jarrott
I was a bit grumpy early in the morning, as I wasn't able to find my GPS. Not that I thought I'd need it, since I'd done Breakfast Creek before. More that the last time I saw it was at the start of a canyon, and I had this sinking feeling that's where it might still be.
After the obligatory stop at the North Richmond Bakery, we made our way out to Galah Mountain, and started the walk in along the fire trail. Turning on to the Rocky Creek exit track, it was pretty quickly clear that there hasn't been a lot of traffic recently. I had last been here over 18 months ago, and the fires last season have changed the face of the bush. It was interesting to see how quickly things like tracks return to the bush. The Rocky Creek exit track was difficult to follow and the track to Breakfast Creek, and the fainter one towards Closet, were non-existent. While the area was fairly green, it was largely devoid of understory. The larger trees had survived and the small plants just starting to recover, but nothing much in between.
The bash down the hill to the start of Breakfast Creek was through dead hakea, the curved branches blocking us at every opportunity. I didn't even recognise the area around the abseil into the creek. It was thick head high scrub 18 months ago, but now was almost completely bare. The lack of vegetation meant it was much drier as well, a far cry from the damp swamp previously.
There were signs of the fire at the abseil. Of about four tapes around the anchor tree, three were fused together into a melted mass at the base. We used the other one.
The fire had even got into the creek itself. The banks in places were denuded of vegatation and a number of large trees had fallen down. One large tree made the slippery slope down into the large cave known as St Pauls Cathedral much easier to negotiate.
From there it was a short walk to the main drop into the canyon proper. Jim and Chris scrambled down a hole to the lower start while Lisi and I dropped in from the top. I kept dry on the abseil but finally had to get my feet wet jumping across the pool. Two more abseils followed, neither into anything more than knee deep, before we emerged into the bright sunlight at Rocky Creek.
Another party passed us during our lunch break, before we set off towards the Rocky Creek exit. The first side canyon on the left looked interesting, and we managed to reverse all but the very top of the first drop. We might have been able to reverse that too, but given we'd then have to come back down without ropes or harness, we gave it a miss. Further upstream we tried to reverse the next gully, but some dodgy scrambling and lack of a rope to descend meant we pulled out. We managed to climb the nose on the north side via some dirty ledges, although it wasn't clear if that also got us through the second line of cliffs.
A bit more walking got us to the Rocky Creek exit gully and we headed up. The fire had also crossed the gully about half way up and had cut a wide swathe. It was an impressive sight from the top of the exposed scramble.
The track back was vague and we occasionally lost it. The crack of thunder and a few drops of rain made us hurry the pace a bit, as the sky went grey. Luckily, just as we reached the car the heavens opened and the rain poured down. Perfect timing, as it had been all day. A long drive back to Sydney but an excellent day's canyoning.