20/08/2016 - report - photos - Dione Dell Canyon track notes
Participants: Tom Brennan, Jon Bell, Jo Squires, Ed Squires, David Carmichael, Emma Simpson, David Mason
I hear canyoning is a summer activity. I optimistically put a couple of dry Kanangra canyons on the program for the second last week of winter. Dione Dell and Kalang Falls are the two easiest of the Kanangra canyons, though the slippery quartzite rock, long abseils and loose scree slopes mean that they are typically harder than their northern counterparts.
I watched the weather somewhat anxiously for the week before the trip. After a balmy few days, a heavy bout of rain was forecast on Friday night, with a cold front on Saturday morning. I ended up switching the order of the canyons to allow things to dry out before we did Kalang Falls on the Sunday.
This meant we could have a late start on the Saturday, so it was a very civilised 9am on the Saturday morning that we were rolling along the Edith Rd toward Kanangra. David M pointed out the pale white appearance of the hill off to the left. Was it snow? It sure was! As we came around the bend, the sides of the road were covered with shallow drifts, and the paddocks glittered white. We had a few minutes to spare, so jumped out and took the obligatory photos.
Everyone was already assembled at Boyd River when we arrived. Snowflakes were whirling around, though not settling on the ground at the camping area. I quickly donned five more layers of clothes, as the car temperature hadn't prepared me for a subzero start.
It's not every day that you can set off for a canyon in the snow, so you have to make the most of it! Quickly the snowflakes turned to drizzle as we descended into Dione Dell. My toes, which had already gone numb, started to defrost as we walked.
My memory of Dione Dell was that the only compulsory wade was after the third abseil. Obviously a flawed memory, as not only was there a chilly wade after the first abseil, there were a few other sections of shallow creek walking. Thin Dunlop Volleys were better than bare feet, but still resulted in aching toes from the cold water. Thankfully everyone successfully negotiated the slippery underwater slab after the third drop and no-one went for a swim - though the cameras were well poised just in case!
The sun emerged and it looked like a beautiful, if cold and windy day. However, this was just an illusion, as more grey clouds scudded over the hill behind us, and it started drizzling again. The only benefit of the occasional shower was that there was a lovely double rainbow over Margaret Falls at the end of the canyon.
When the rain did clear, the sky was beautifully clear, and we had uninterrupted views from the lookout at the top of Wallaby Pass on the way out to Pindari Tops.
Just as my toes were starting to warm up and dry out, we finished with some unavoidable wading across Marrilman Heath (or should that be swamp)? As we trudged back along the road to the cars the snowflakes started to swirl again, and they were whistling around us as we set up camp just down the fire trail towards the Uni Rover Track.
A roaring fire was the order of the day (or night), which David M kept well fed. Unfortunately copious doses of "I hate white rabbits" were not able to overcome the gusty breeze blowing smoke in people's faces all evening. Jo had the right idea for the cold, having brought Ugg boots from home for extra comfort. Happy Hour was plentiful, perhaps excessive, and my packet dinner was left to languish! Eventually after a social evening, everyone rolled off to bed.