27-28/12/2003 - report - photos
Participants: Tom Brennan, James Yorston, Gill Fowler, Andy Wilkinson, Duncan Sinclair
After meeting at North Richmond bakery, we convoyed to the Hole in the Wall car park and sorted out packs. In the end we didn't get away until shortly before 11am, which was a bit later than I'd hoped. Navigation along the ridge was easy until we reached the 972 point, where the tracks started to become vague. After a brief navigational mishap at that spot, the map and compass stayed firmly in hand for the remainder of the walk in. Tracks continued to appear, and then disappear just as quickly. The fog didn't help making visibility of anything over fifty metres away near impossible.
At the 932 point we dumped packs and had a look for a campsite. James found one that had been used before a little way down the hill, so we set up tents and had a bit to eat. Over lunch I decided that we'd start with Whip Bird, and depending on how we were going for time we could perhaps do Cannon's.
Navigation was pretty easy, although it was a considerable scrub bash down the creek. The canyon, however, was disappointing. One drop into the bottom of the canyon before it opened out again. While there were a couple more drops, there was only about 50m of canyon in total. James almost caused a disaster by dislodging a large rock on the abseil. Luckily we were all standing well away from the bottom of the drop - a good lesson - and the rock crashed harmlessly down.
It was then quite a long creek bash up the south branch of the Bungleboori (aka 9 Mile Creek). Andy and I made it longer by trying to avoid getting our feet wet. After a bit of searching for the pass, we found it reasonably easily. A scramble up a steep gully, a squeeze up a groove (hauling packs) and a climb up a slippery slope (at least once the drizzle started) got us to the top. I then got my feet completely wet walking through the wet scrub!
Back at the camp we had a small fire to keep us dry from the light drizzle that continued to fall, and then had an early night.
We didn't get that early a start, but managed to navigate pretty easily to the gully which held Bjelke's Mind. We couldn't find an easy pass down, so ended up throwing a rope around a tree that had obviously been used by other parties. Again it was a long scrub bash down the creek to the canyon. This time it was worth it though. After a couple of abseils and a twisting section, the slot opened into a long, straight, narrow section of magnificent canyon. Some more squeezy abseils and a short tunnel with glowworms and the canyon opened out to the Bungleboori. An excellent canyon. I got my feet wet but not much more.
A short walk upstream brought us to an easy gully, after a bit of a bush bash at the bottom. We climbed up onto the ridge for lunch, with some excellent views of what we had just come down, and assessed our options. Bridge Canyon was the plan for the afternoon, although we knew we were going to be a little pushed for time.
From the ridge, we scrambled down one line of cliffs and abseiled the next into the creek. As usual, it was a scrub bash in the creek. We realised afterwards that we could have pretty much just crossed the ridge from the Bjelke's Mind exit, and still dropped in above the canyon, so we wasted a fair bit of time. The canyon got better as it went, with lots of abseils and climb downs, and the canyon quality improving. It was a pity we had to rush it a bit, as it would have been nice to be able to stop and look around more. The abseils were often from dodgy anchors and generally required a bit of checking to be comfortable with. The second last abseil was a classic, into a deep pit with crawl through a tunnel to exit.
Back at the Bungleboori, we walked down to the same exit as earlier and started the walk back to camp. We were running pretty late, and didn't make it back to camp til 7:30pm. Fifiteen minutes to pack, and we were on our way. We managed to pick up a track, something we'd generally failed to do on the way in, and made good time until it got dark around 8:30pm. We managed to stay pretty much on the track until we hit the fire trail again, avoiding the use of torches to retain our night vision. From there it was a pretty easy walk back to the cars, albeit long. We got back around 10:15pm, and had a few snacks before Duncan, James and I started the long drive back to Sydney that night. An outstanding weekend of canyoning.