07/02/2015 - report - photos
Participants: Rachel Grindlay, Tom Brennan, Vivien de Remy de Courcelles, Alan Osland, Brendon Anderson
Dumbano. A nemesis canyon for me!
It had taken me and Rachel over 5 years and several attempted or aborted trips to finally get through the upper section of Dumbano Canyon back in 2009. Another 5 years later we eventually visited the lower constriction of Dumbano in a tough 4-day trip that included the lower Bungleboori.
However, there was still a short section of Dumbano below the junction with Cesspit that was missing from our travels, as well as potentially much of Cesspit itself. With likely benign scrub post the fires, it seemed like a good opportunity to knock off the unvisited sections, so I put it on as a day trip on the club's short notice program, and got three other experienced takers in Alan, Vivien and Brendon.
Passing the sign at Zig Zag that the fire trail would shortly be closed, we turned off at the sharp left hand bend on to what I call the Upper Wollangambe or Dumbano Fire Trail, and with the help of Brendon's map, managed to navigate it to the locked gate at the end without too much difficulty. The fire trail was in fairly good nick, and didn't tax the Forester too much.
We headed down across the saddle and up on to the three-pronged hill opposite, only for me to veer off too early and end up above the upper reaches of Yarramun. We quickly skirted around the headwaters, and soon made our way down into Cesspit via a small side creek.
Walking along the banks was easy, as they were fairly clear of vegetation after the fire. There were two short sections of canyon that we passed, both of which we could walk along the top and look into. I'd spotted these on the aerial photos, which was why we'd dropped in as high up as we did.
After morning tea, we headed down towards the main canyon section. I managed to slip trying to climb up on a ledge, landing heavily on my rear and stunning myself for several minutes. Luckily I was able to continue, though every step up with my left leg would send shooting pains through my bum.
The entry into the canyon was via either a long long slide, or a couple of tricky climbs down slippery boulders. The swims started fairly quickly and there were plenty of them. The canyon was slow going with lots of slippery boulders, and short drops to negotiate. We had lunch in a pile of boulders in the sun, but unfortunately Alan had gone ahead, and was already down a short water jump! He found his own sunny sand bank.
We came across quite a lot of snakes, perhaps 6 all up, including a beautiful little Mustard-Bellied Snake sitting on a log below the junction with Dumbano.
I offered some "free time" for people to go exploring upstream in Dumbano when we reached the junction, but everyone was looking a bit cold and there were no takers. Instead we headed downstream through some nice sections of Dumbano Canyon to the exit point, where a cold breeze blew out of a dark slot. We explored downstream without packs to the end of this section of canyon, including a long swim, and then returned to explore up the interesting side canyon. This had a dark tunnel, reminiscent of Starlight Canyon, almost pitch black with glowworms overhead.
It was then time to leave the creek, and head for the cars, a fairly cruisy 2 1/2 hour ridge bash across fairly open tops. After the first hour or so, I clocked off and left Rachel in charge of navigation, ably assisted by Vivien and Brendon. An excellent day in this rarely visited country.