12/01/2008 - report - photos - Surefire Canyon track notes
Participants: Tom Brennan, Rachel Grindlay
With no-one else wanting to join us, Rachel and I headed out on bikes from the locked gate. It was a warm but leisurely 5km ride to the junction, where we locked the bikes to a tree. As with other times, I was unable to find the start of the old fire trail that heads out along the ridge, although it seems fairly obvious on the aerial photos. No matter. We headed up the road, into the bush, and picked it up in about a hundred metres.
The ridge was a little scrubbier than I remembered near the top, but from memory the area had just been burned out last time I was there. We reached a 20m cliffline, but a promising gully a couple of minor ridges away got us down through those, and another gully brought us into the creek. It was only 5 minutes walk to where the guts dropped out of the creek.
We abseiled down and I started to scramble down the next drop. However, I couldn't see how to descend the last couple of metres, so Rachel had to throw the rope over the log for me. The last couple of metres was still awkward. As was the next abseil, although half of that was just to avoid swinging into the waterfall! Then there was a nice tight, twisting section of canyon, before we reached a massive log jam perched some way above the canyon floor, and another drop. The anchor was a large log sticking up through the jam, but the abseil went straight over the front of another log into a free fall, an even more awkward start. Instead I dug a hole in the logs and we abseiled through them. looking back up at what we had been standing on was rather hair raising - basically just two logs jammed between the canyon walls. Next time I think I will set the anchor further back!
In the next chamber we were confronted with a skinny metre long snake, that watched us carefully each time we approached. I didn't recognise it, and had to pass within a metre or two to scramble down the next little drop. What was previously a swim was now only a waist deep wade, so there had been no swims at all. We passed the exit canyon and went for a wander down the superb lower corridor to where it opened out. I took plenty of photos, before returning to the exit canyon.
The exit was pretty much as I remembered it, a few exposed moves and we were up. I wonder how long the trees will last, because it will certainly get trickier then.
Up at the main cliffline, we sat under an overhang as the rumble of thunder started across the valley. I thought we might wait out the approaching storm under the overhang, but the front seemed to barely inch towards us. The thunder rolled on continuously, but eventually we started up the creek. It finally started to rain as we neared the top, and just as we were about to climb out on to the ridge a bolt of lightning struck just over the far side of the ridge. At this point we retreated back to the creek and another overhang, where the mozzies feasted on us until the storm moved a few kilometres away.
Then it was a pleasantly cooler walk back to the bikes and an easy ride back to the car. We drove back to Barcoo Swamp to camp, where there was one other group of canyoners. I went and chatted to them before dinner, and joined them around their fire a bit later for marshmallows.