08-10/06/2002 - report - photos
Participants: Tom Brennan, Jonathan Potts, Lisa McGinnigle, Liz Edye
Day 1: Yadboro - Kalianna Ridge - The Castle - Cooyoyo Creek
Another long weekend, another opportunity for an adventure. It seemed like a good chance to get a bit further afield than usual. Liz suggested the Castle and Monolith Valley after pooh-poohing my other suggestions of a Wollemi wilderness bash or a Gangerang/Gingra range walk. I can only be held responsible for one of her bad experiences with those walks! With Jonathan (Pottsy) and Lisa (Granny) also keen, we headed off early on Saturday morning with drizzle falling.
After a more than four hour drive from Sydney we reached the campground at Yadboro, where the carpark was almost full with vehicles. Obviously a popular destination, particularly on a long weekend. We were keen to get underway, as it was already nearly 11am. Along the bank, across the freezing cold Yadboro River. Pottsy rubbished me as he had shoes and socks on and was ready to go again before I had set foot in the river.
A couple more minor creek crossings and then we started up Kalianna Ridge. This is a gradual climb and relatively easy until just before the top. It gets steep just before a scramble up a steep slope of conglomerate. There are fixed ropes here to climb on, which was helpful since the wind was gusty and inconsistent, threatening to blow us off the cliff.
After some up and down below the west side of the Castle, we swung around into the gully and started the long slog up. The trail had a lot of log steps to prevent erosion, but the distance between them made it hard work climbing. We scrambled through the tunnel at the top, and hid packs off the path, before putting lunch in a day pack and climbing up the Castle.
There was a group abseiling off the tail of The Castle, which we watched for a while. There were a couple of tricky points near the top, but we were soon eating lunch in a slightly sheltered spot with excellent views over Talaterang and the Byangee Walls.
After lunch we headed out to the south end for more good views including Pigeon House. By this stage it was getting pretty late and we figured we should make tracks for camp. Scrambling back down we recovered our packs and trotted down the path to Cooyoyo Creek. The area was pretty full, and we ended up taking a campsite on one of the many tracks. The area is a bit degraded from overuse.
The wind continued to gust all night and the tent, while surviving, spent most of the night well out of its normal shape.
Day 2: Cooyoyo Ck - Nibelung Pass - around Mt Cole - Mt Owen - Cooyoyo Ck
We took a daypack between the four of us and headed for Monolith Valley to explore for the day. We climbed up through Nibelung Pass and into the valley, which as its name implied, was filled with striking monoliths. Pottsy and I had a good argument about whether the first interesting one we saw was Gorilla Rock, or Cassowary Rock. It's definitely Gorilla!
We had some difficulty finding the right track through the valley, as some areas were out of bounds to allow regeneration. Heading for the north end of the valley, we marvelled at the Natural Arch and scrambled through the Green Room to the Seven Gods Pinnacles. The names are just fantastic! After a snack stop, we headed out of the valley and around Mt Cole. Passing between Mt Cole and Donjon Mountain you descend through a mini canyonette reminiscent of the Blue Mountains slot canyons. It wouldn't surprise me if there were a few bigger ones hidden in Morton National Park. Passing the camp caves around the side of Mt Cole, we climbed up into the pass between Mt Cole and Mt Owen, and near the top found an easy pass on to Mt Owen itself. A late lunch was had at the lookout at the end of Mt Owen. I chatted to a couple who had ascended via a hairy route up the side of Mt Owen. It looked like a long climb up a ledge that was less than a metre wide at times, and I would not have wanted to take that route.
It was getting late by this stage so we headed back towards the gully between Mt Cole and Mt Owen. Scrambling down we quickly descended between the two mountains. A little way down a narrow slot canyon joined the main creek line. I scrambled up it for about 20m until it ended in a steep waterfall. I wonder how many more canyons there are in this area?
Continuing to follow the creek, it swung down between the two peaks. After about 15 minutes, we were wondering why we were still descending and pulled out the map and compass, only to find that we were heading for trouble. The path back into the valley proper had already been passed and we were heading for the cliffs of the main plateau. With darkness falling, we hurriedly backtracked and found the less than obvious track marker that we had missed. Crossing Monolith Valley, we climbed Nibelung Pass again and headed back to camp in the dark.
We set up our fire, although the weather was less than ideal. The wind continued to blow, and sparks would routinely fly around the campsite. A number of these landed on people's Thermarests, and despite efforts to brush them off, Granny and Pottsy's Thermarests suffered the ultimate fate and deflated. Some strapping tape helped, but only slowed the problem. Mine was happily in its chair kit, and while it got a few holes, the Thermarest was protected.
As it got later, we noticed that the party camping next to us had not returned. They still hadn't returned by the time we went to bed and we hoped that nothing had happened to them.
Day 3: Cooyoyo Ck - Kalianna Ridge - Yadboro
With not too much to do but descend to Long Gully, we explored a bit around the camp site. There were a couple of decent lookouts, and we found the camp cave (already occupied) above the creek.
The party next to ours still hadn't returned, and we were just about to leave a note saying that we would alert the police if they didn't check in when they walked out, when they finally turned up. They sounded like they had missed the same turn off as us, and ended up down near the cliffs for the night. At least they had a camp cave and fire.
After breaking camp, we shouldered packs and climbed up to the saddle and steeply down the other side. At the bottom we stopped at a lookout, and I almost got blown off the edge by a sudden gust of wind. We were a bit more careful after that. The rest of the descent passed without note other than a tree branch which nearly fell on us back down near the Yadboro River.
This time crossing it I found some stepping stones, and managed to cross without getting my feet, and certainly quicker than the others! The drive back to Sydney was interrupted by a winery stop and the usual stop at the Berry Donut Van. Yumm!