14/09/2007 - report - photos
Participants: Tom Brennan, James Yorston
James and I left Sydney at 6:30am and headed up through the Newnes Forest via North Richmond. We met a number of logging trucks along the way through the pine forest, before parking the car at a locked gate.
We jumped on our bikes and headed out for some distance along a fire trail. I managed to face plant misjumping a couple of logs, which caused me numerous bruises and grazes, and tempered my enthusiasm for risk taking. We left our bikes leaning up against trees and headed down the first of a couple of creeks we were going to check out. The rumble of thunder brought back memories of the last time we had been out this way checking out new creeks. We had got caught in a thunderstorm exiting a nearby canyon. Large raindrops plopped on my jacket, but the weather blew through quickly.
We scrambled down the ridge through the top cliffline, but the creek didn't look particularly promising. We followed it down to a larger creek where it tumbled over the edge into the valley below. Retracing our steps back to the bikes, we had a brief stop for banana bread before heading along the ridge to the next creek.
This ridge dropped off a bit more steeply, and we had trouble getting through the top cliff line. A steep gully got us most of the way to the bottom with a few tricky moves, but the last five metres seemed to have no way down. We abseiled, but left the rope in place so we could explore our options. Checking out the next gully found us a reasonably easy route back up, so we pulled the rope and had lunch.
A little further down we reached the junction of two creeks, and the left branch dropping nicely into a slot. By this time it was 2:15pm and given that we had at least an hour's ride at the end, I wanted to be back at the bikes by 5pm. We had only a vague idea of where our pass out would be, so I was a bit reticent to push on. But in the end it seemed a waste to be out here and not do the canyon we had found, so we harnessed up and dropped in.
The canyon developed slowly, the first couple of drops being only a few metres into a widish slot. However, the drops continued, the canyon getting more interesting. On one abseil James dislodged a branch blocking a hole in a pool, and the water drained out of it like a bathtub. This made it a shallower pool for me, but the next pool which had been dry when James went through, was a waist deep wade! We also got the rope jammed on the pull down, but it was fairly easy to fix it up to retrieve.
At the junction of the two creeks there was an impressive drop. Down several pools and then out of sight. We rigged up both ropes and James set off while I took photos. He called me down after a while - he was standing on a ledge halfway down that he could scramble off into the other branch. I kept going all the way to the bottom, and since the pulldown was fairly straightforward, he followed me down.
The canyon opened out shortly after this, and we set off for the larger creek. We were a bit behind time at this point, so we needed to get moving. James did an impressive entrance to the larger creek, tripping over a vine as he jumped off the bank, arms and legs flying as he made a large splash. Funny to watch!
We scrambled out near a point and headed up the hill looking for a pass. There were a couple of possibilities, but nothing obvious. One last gully presented itself before the cliffs took over, and this one looked good. It turned out to be an easy walk up and we made our way back to the bikes via a quick stop at a lookout at the top. We made it back to the bikes at about 5:30pm, which gave us less than half an hour of light.
We knocked off a few kilometres before it started to get dark, and then rode for a while in the fading light. The bikes went surprisingly well - they roll over lots of things that you just can't see. James had a bike light which helped a bit. I had my failing Petzl which was usually just enough to stop me from running into anything too dangerous. We finally made it back to the car a little after 7pm, walking the last kilometre or so.
It was then a drive back to Lithgow to meet Rachel who was catching the train from Sydney. We had lunch at a cheap Chinese place and then headed to Glen Davis to camp. All up an excellent day of canyoning.