14/08/2004 - report - photos
Participants: Tom Brennan, James Yorston
I had a lead on a couple of interesting possible canyons, so James and I headed out on Friday night for a couple of nights of camping and a day of exploration. Our stop at Richmond to pick up food turned into a bit of an epic when the cash register at Woolies broke down and it took us about fifteen minutes to check out. The girl serving us promised to make her manager pay if we got a ticket for being parked in the fifteen minute zone too long.
The weather forecast for the weekend was supposed to be dry and windy. Driving up Bells Line, the dark grey clouds looked very ominous, but we comforted ourselves with the fact that the Newnes Plateau is usually very dry. It started to drizzle.
Heading out on fire roads, we turned down a small one, expecting to quickly reach 4wd territory. Instead it was in good condition pretty much all the way to a convenient camping spot between the two creeks we wanted to drop into the next day.
It continued to drizzle, on and off. As a result dinner was a slightly miserable affair. James' stove decided to be temperamental and needed to be cleaned several times. I ended up getting out my stove which had not been used in over two years, but surprisingly worked first time. It continued to drizzle, so we gave up the idea of a leisurely night around the campfire and retired to bed.
As we packed the next morning, I noticed James putting in his harness ... and realised mine was still at home! I had plenty of tape, but having abseiled with thin a thin tape harness, I wasn't looking forward to it. We headed off around 9, bashing our way through the scrub across the ridge into the creek.
The creek was a bit of a scrub bash, but we joined it as it started to pass through pagodas, which was promising. A short drop which we handlined led us to a narrow section of canyon. After a bit of an amphitheatre, the creek continued to stay in canyon for quite some way, although there were only a couple of bits of good quality. There was a fair bit of scrub to fight through at times. We kept mostly dry by bridging, with only one section a bit over knee deep.
Towards the end we headed up on ledges to the right, and so didn't check out the last bit of creek. It look much the same as the rest. After looking for easy passes we did an short section of low grade climbing and then an exposed scramble up to the top line of cliffs. Wandering around into the creek, we scrambled up onto the ridge and headed back to the fire trail.
We decided to head down to the end of the fire trail for lunch and views. The views and lunch were excellent, marred only by the intermittent rain which came through with some regularity. It was quite impressive watching the rain pass through the Carne Creek and Wolgan valleys almost horizontal. Back to the car after lunch, and then down to the cliffs on the other side.
After some searching we found an very narrow crack that looked quite improbable. We trailed a rope and headed down, squeezing and grunting. Amazingly it came out at the bottom. Continuing around the cliffs we found its partner crack, and walked up it to the top where it was blocked by a chockstone. A slightly exposed bridge got us back out. Just next door was a massively deep crack which we dropped into next. Unfortunately we were repelled by a short drop with no easy anchor point. Just beyond was an awesome chamber, before the crack reached the far side of the cliff. Reversing out we headed back to the car.
On the short walk back it snowed on us briefly, and with continuing wind and rain we decided to try for an alternative campsite. I knew of a small overhang, which we headed for. It was still cold and windy and eventually we decided to write off the second night and head back to Sydney. Still, a worthwhile day of canyoning.