31/05-01/06/2014 - report - photos
Participants: Tom Brennan, Richard Pattison, Melissa Thomas, Simon Hager, Sue Bucknell, Alison Curtin, Alex Allchin, Nicole Mealing, Kerry Atkins
After a long week at work, I couldn't face the drive up to Kanangra on the Friday night, so instead it was a 4am alarm on Saturday morning to get to Glenbrook to meet Sue and Alex. Our timing was pretty good. We pulled up at the trackhead of the Uni Rover Trail just after 8.
The lure of the SBW Olympics and Sue's birthday at Hatchers Hollow couldn't prevent a few pikers, so it was six of us that set off for Doris Creek at about twenty past eight, with another three approaching via Sombre Dome a little later.
After the obligatory stop at Lost Rock, we trotted down the Boyd Range, dropping into Doris Creek almost a kilometre early, something that may come back to haunt us later in the day.
Goondel Falls seemed to take a while to turn up, with plenty of scrub, slippery rocks, and a few awkward drops to negotiate along the way. It was 10:30am when we stopped for morning tea, and after 11 when we reached the top of the falls. Rich scrambled down to the main drop, and inspected the anchor, which appeared to be something from the Jurassic Period. The main sling was well covered in moss and lichen, and had clearly been in situ for some time. We comforted ourselves with the fact that it could hardly be sun damaged as the sun couldn't even get to it!
Rich led the way on the 50m ropes, which turned out to only be about 10m short for the drop. Conveniently, there was a ledge at the 50m mark which avoided Rich having to do a long prusik.
Hidden Falls were next, a pretty chute leading to a vegetated wall. Lunch was at 12:30pm at the top of the next unnamed fall. This took us some time to negotiate as the first two drops needed to be chained together on the one rope, slowing us down again.
The next three kilometres of creek took us over two hours, with the highlight being the stinging nettles trailing off head high branches to catch the unwary. The leeches and slippery rocks, exacerbated by the occasional drizzle, barely rated. On the plus side, it was winter, so most of us were wearing long pants which proved useful against the smaller nettles and leeches. A small patch of beauty, a glade of blue gums, lasted just long enough to entice. I was struggling with tiredness. Whether a lack of fitness or the long week and early start I don't know, but Rich took pity on me and carried the rope I'd been lugging up until then.
Doris Falls was one of the real attractions, a gently curving waterfall into an amphitheatre, rimmed with vegetation. Unfortunately it was after 4pm, and no time to enjoy. Instead of a short drop into a pool of unknown depth, we sidled high, creating mini-avalanches of rock, and having to move one-by-one to get back to the creek. In revenge for forsaking it, Doris Creek pulled out the big guns, the Stinging Trees, and after another sidle to avoid one, we were forced into abseiling again. Rich and I both took a hit from the trees, and the fine hairs lodged in my trousers continued to occasionally remind me for the rest of the day.
With the light rapidly fading, and less than a kilometre to the Kowmung, we made about half the distance before we had to pull out the torches. A section of narrows and pools forced us up on to the slopes, and we were torn with the decision of whether to try and return to the creek, or sidle the ridge and try to drop down near the junction. Even in the light, the steep spurs and ridges aren't much fun to traverse, but we figured it was more of a known quantity than the creek. So up we went, and then back down the steep dirt slopes under torchlight. Only a little further and we were at the Kowmung, happy that we were in sight - well, figuratively - of our goal. Given that we were planning to be at Hatchers Hollow by mid afternoon for some Olympics action, we were rather worried what the Sombre Dome crew would be thinking.
In the end, it was 6:40pm when we walked into camp, and the other half of the party was about as happy to see us as we were to see them. It turned out they had also arrived after dark, wondering where we were!
The bush decathlon had to be rescheduled. The athletic Olympic events all got postponed until the next morning, with only the Happy Hour, Drinking and Bedtime events to take place in the evening. Unsurprisingly, there was lots of Happy Hour, and little dinner eaten, and plenty of Drinking done by some. A cake was pulled out for Sue's birthday and a round of Happy Birthday ensued. I can't comment on the Bedtime, as I retired from the competition at 11pm, leaving the other boys to fight it out for the podium finish!
The expected rain held off overnight, with just a spattering on my fly. The slackline was erected the next morning, along with the stadium for Javelin (well, stick throwing), Rock Put and Frisbee Throwing. Rich was the undisputed champion on the slackline, and Keepy-ups (with the Soccer Ball). Simon took out the pack carrying. I maxed out on the Stone Skimming. The ladies ran their own event, so I can't report, though almost everyone got the maximum points on the Rock Put, and Mel did pretty well on the Frisbee.
In the end, Rich took out the men's decathlon, though apparently I would have won if I hadn't drunk anything (3 drinks was the lowest score!). I think Mel was the victor in the women. By this point we were back at Doris Creek skimming stones, collecting water, and readying to head up the hill.
From the Kowmung at 360m, it's an 840m climb back to the cars at the head of the Uni Rover Trail. It was amost 11am by the time we set off, and the rain finally caught us on Mt Ibbai. Some smart cookies rigged up the flies for lunch on Mt Despond, though the chill breeze made things unpleasant. We were not expecting to see the sun again, so it was a pleasant surprise to see it emerge on Mt Hopeless. I twinged a tendon in my foot, so it was a bit of a slow and painful trudge back to the road. We finally got there just after sunset, and headed to the Halfway Hotel at Hampton for a feed.
Doris Creek would have to be a oncer. Happy to have done it, no desire to race back - except for the last half kilometre which we had to skip in the dark!