26-27/02/2011 - report - photos - Closet Canyon track notes
Participants: Tom Brennan, Rachel Grindlay, Andrew Glover, Bethany Hoye
Contradiction was a trip that had been coming for several years, but never quite made it, either because of weather or party. Finally we had a weekend pinned down, and a party to go with it. Then I managed to slip the weekend before, landing on my ribs and finger, and Rachel strained a hip flexor playing frisbee, both of us putting the trip in jeopardy. In the end we both decided we'd be fit enough to manage, and we'd just see how things were going.
We headed up on Friday night with Bethany and Glover and camped at Barcoo Swamp. One of the other groups camped there left at 6:30am, who knows where they were off to? We were supposed to be up at 6:30am too, but given it wasn't light, I thought it was way too early and stayed in bed til almost 7!
We were in the car shortly after 8am, and off along the Rocky Creek exit route about 15 minutes later. The tracks are more overgrown than they used to be, and we eventually abandoned them for the wide flat ridge that leads out towards Closet Canyon. One surprise was a fire trail running directly across the ridge, with a cairn at a high point. Anyone know what this was about. I'm sure I hadn't seen it on previous occasions, so figured it must be something recent.
The route into Closet was a bit scrubby as I probably dropped off the ridge too early, but we were soon in the creek. Last time some of us had managed to stay dry. I managed to get across the pool below the first abseil, but was surprised we had been able to bridge the next pool. We certainly weren't up to it with overnight packs and carrying injuries, and all jumped in instead. The canyon opened out shortly after and we scrambled our way down to the main drop.
I had brought a 39m and 53m rope, so hoped that it would be less than 40m. I sent Rachel down first, so it wasn't going to be my problem! There turned out to be rerigging points, but in any case the ropes reached fairly easily and it was only a case of making sure they pulled successfully.
Once down we wandered down Rocky Creek and had lunch near the Thunderstorm junction, and then started looking for a pass. I had thought finding the pass might be the most difficult part of the weekend but the pass was quite straightforward, and very scenic, and we were soon taking in great views of Rocky Creek. It was easy going up the ridge to a striking set of overhangs in the large knoll at the top. The other side was less straightforward, being densely scrubby with little visibility. It turned out that we had headed pretty much to where I wanted to get to - but there was a significant cliff that I wasn't keen on abseiling. Heading up the gorge a little way, we found a ledge to abseil about 15m from a large overhanging tree, and were able to scramble down to Contradiction Creek.
The creek looked like it was going to be slow going, but immediately we were in open coachwood forest, and were able to make good progress. The only unfortunate thing was an inordinate amount of mud. Several times I stepped in the creek only to go up to my knee in the stuff. Even as the creek opened out it was easy walking ... but where was the canyon? Finally the creek flowed into a hole under a chockstone, and looking down into crystal clear pools, it seemed we had reached the start. It was 4:20pm, but we figured the canyon couldn't be more than a couple of hours long, and in any case it was about the same time we'd started Fortitude the month before so no worries!
The abseils came thick, fast and awkward. Actually, they were the nastiest collection of canyon abseils I've had the pleasure of doing. Almost all were overhung starts over chockstones with no footholds underneath, and most threatened to swing your head straight into a rock if you slipped up. Still, the canyon was nice, and there was a good collection of glowworms in the tunnel. It looked like it was coming to an end, so we started hunting for our camp cave. In actual fact, we were nowhere near the end and had a few awkward boulder scrambles, and one final (nastily overhung) abseil before we were finished for good. A small overhang appeared, which looked serviceable though I was hoping for more.
I walked some distance further down the creek to see if there was anything better, but abandoned that exercise when I smelled the smoke from a cooking fire already going.
Bethany and Glover weren't confident in 10m of sandstone to keep them dry (actually it was because they'd forgotten their beanies) so erected their Megamid, making it look like the circus had come to Contradiction Canyon. We settled down for snacks, and then dinner, as the stars in the form of glowworms came out all around us. The display of lights was absolutely magnificent, with the entire creek glowing around us with pinpoints of light. Makes you want to go night canyoning. It's amazing that during the day they just can't be seen, and yet there are thousands upon thousands of them.
We were up late the next morning and away later - after 10am - since I didn't think it would be a long day. It started drizzling pretty quickly, making all of the boulders and vegetation quite wet. The descent to Rocky Creek was pretty slow, and Rocky Creek itself wasn't much better. The banks were usually either steep or scrubby, and the creek mostly bouldery or filled with water gums. After a kilometre and a half, Rachel bailed up the hill to the cliffline and we made better time to the outlet of Galah, and an overhang for lunch. The mozzies enjoyed lunch too.
The rain had made the exit up Galah a bit more treacherous, and I took some time getting up there and letting down a belay rope. The chute also seemed more slippery than I remembered, but it's always hard to tell. The rest was fairly routine, back up Galah Creek, out the pass and back along the ridge and fire trail to the car. meals at the Richmond Pub to cap off an excellent trip.