Trips

The south branch of Bowens Creek has sections of canyon from high up in its headwaters, right down to the junction with the north branch. These notes describe the most commonly visited section of Bowens Creek South Canyon, the so-called upper section (technically it's about the 4th and 5th of around 8 sections!).

Entry

If have two cars, and you want to avoid a 3km road walk, park one car near the start of the fire trail at Range Hill on the Bells Line of Road. The best spot is the open area on the S side of the road about 300m E of start of the fire trail.

Then drive to Pierces Pass and park the other car at the top parking area. Walk N along the road to the top of the hill and then NE along the ridge. There is a reasonably well defined pad that keeps mostly near the main ridge line. After a little over 1km the ridge starts to drop. At the pagodas there are a number of spots you can scramble to the right down into the creek. The easiest is the obvious gully you can see about 100m further on from the top of the first pagoda, getting into the creek at about MGA544843. Some creek walking and a bit of scrambling follows to a 14m drop. This can easily be bypassed on the right, or abseiled if you feel like it. The canyon proper is reached shortly after.

Notes

The first drop is about 9m from tapes from one of a number of trees on the right. However, it can be also be slid in two stages by climbing down under the chockstone. Both drops are usually into about waist deep water.

The anchor for the next drop is normally from tapes around a tree high up on the right. This may be up to 20m, depending on the length of the sling from the tapes. The junction with another canyon (Corkscrew Canyon according to Jamieson) coming in from the left is then reached. This is well worth a side trip to explore.

Continuing on there is a nice section of canyon, until it opens out into a lovely coachwood and sassafras forest and gorge. The junction with a side creek/canyon is soon reached (Hand-over-Hand Canyon according to Jamieson). The creek continues to meander for some way before dropping through boulders and then into the next canyon section.

There are quite a few tricky scrambles and drops in this section, including one down a log. A rope can be used, although all of the drops can be climbed down or around. This section of canyon opens out a little at the junction with Range Ck (Hobnail Canyon according to Jamieson). It is a good side trip to see the bottom section of Hobnail Canyon. This section of canyon finishes a little way past the junction with the next creek on the left, Ferny Cave Creek.

Exit

Continue down the creek until you reach the next tributary coming in from the left. Opposite this you will see a steep bank, but climbable. There are logs at the bottom to help with the first section, and then a series of ledges. Follow this up to the next major cliff line. Follow the cliff line around to the right past a dryfall, to a point where it bends sharply left into small gully. This can be climbed through a narrow hole. Go up to the next line of cliffs and right on a track. Scramble up the cliffs at an obvious point (the track stops traversing under the cliffs). A rope is often found hanging down here. Follow the track up the ridge to the fire trail. Follow the fire trail back to where you left a second car, or otherwise walk back along Bells Line of Road to Pierces Pass.

Comments

Upper Bowens Creek South Canyon is an excellent canyon. The lower constriction is dark and twisting, and quite sustained. The side trips to Corkscrew Canyon and Hobnail Canyon are both worthwhile.

A 40m rope is needed for the abseils. The abseils are relatively easy, though some parties may need to do additional abseiling as there are some drops where the route down is not obvious. If you drop off the entry ridge to the left instead of the right, it is possible to negotiate your way into Corkscrew Canyon which does not require any abseils.

The water levels are quite variable. Some years ago the canyon could be done with only waist deep wades, but presently there are a number of swims and deeper wades. Wetsuits are recommened, but more experiened parties may opt to do without.


Tom Brennan : website@ozultimate.com : updated 2015-12-05