07/12/2004 - report - photos
Participants: Tom Brennan, James Yorston
James and I drove up to the plateau on Tuesday morning. Turning on to the Glowworm Tunnel Rd from the Newnes Forest Road, we were surprised to see the side of the road covered with what looked like grass, but turned out to be pine needles, giving off a distinctive smell. There were white drifts on the side of the road that looked like snow, but turned out to be hail. The hail had shredded the leaves on all of the trees.
On arriving at the Bungleboori Picnic Area, we were amazed at the amount of pine needles on the ground. Anywhere there were trees looked like a lawn had sprouted underneath. It was much the same as we headed further out.
At a locked gate, we got on bikes and rode out along a fire trail for some way, down to a saddle. At the bottom of the saddle, we rode through what felt like sand, but turned out to be a drift of hail, still 10cm deep. We left bikes in the bush, wandered along the trail a bit further, and dropped into a small creek that we thought might have some canyon in it. It has a very small catchment, so we thought it would be ok despite the weather.
A little way down, it turned into a canyon, and despite its tiny size, there was a healthy amount of water going over the falls. We couldn't see the bottom as the water curved around a shute, although it looked like the end was only just out of sight. With no anchor points around, James scrambled out and rigged the drop off a tree above the canyon. We managed to bridge out and avoid the water on abseiling, and headed downstream through a narrow section. With plenty more bridging, we stayed dry and soon reached the end of the section. Another creek came in from the left, and we had a look up it. It also turned into a nice canyon, but ended fairly soon at a waterfall that looked much like the one we had descended.
Further down the creek dropped through boulders and a canyon started forming. It was nice but not spectacular until it dropped down into a pool and over the edge out of sight. Fantastic! We did the two abseils as one as there were no anchor points below. The water was pouring over the second drop, and we couldn't avoid it coming crashing down on our heads. Luckily there was only a few metres until you could escape the rush. There was a bit of a swim, and then a scramble down some loose logs to reach another drop. There was a similar amount of water rushing over it. It was even more painful as it was a bit longer.
At this point we could hear the ominous rumble of thunder, and see the occasional lightning flash above us. We continued moving, and reached another drop with no anchor. Some tricky bridging and a short jump got us to the bottom, and a junction with a larger creek. We were going to stop for lunch, but with the rain starting to come down decided that a quick exit was on the cards.
Heading upstream on the larger creek, we soon entered the bottom of another canyon. Normally I take my time and enjoy the view, but we raced through and after a couple of hundred metres, headed up another tributary. Feeling safer, we scrambled up a tricky pass and up to the cliffs. After finding a dry overhang, we had some lunch around a fire, and waited for the rain to stop. Dropping back down into the creek further up, there were some huge drifts of hail, some 20-30cm deep.
Back up at our saddle, the sun came out and we rode back to the car. The pile of hail in the saddle was still there - should have brought some beer and champagne and left it on ice!!
We laid in a supply of firewood and retired to Barcoo Swamp for the evening. At one point the rain started to come down quite heavily and almost doused our fire, but it eventually retreated and we had a relatively dry night.