02/01/2004 - report - photos - Galah Canyon track notes

Participants: Tom Brennan, Gill Fowler, Andy Wilkinson

As we were camped already at Barcoo Swamp, it was only a short drive to the locked gate at the Rocky Creek exit track which is the start of the walk in to Galah Canyon. About forty minutes of walking brought us to the end of the fire trail, and we headed off on a bearing along the ridge. We shortly dropped down to the creek, scrambling down an easy gully near the bottom. Immediately we were confronted with a canyonlike section, with quite a number of waist deep (and some deeper) pools and some tricky climbdowns. Gill put her wetsuit on - Andy and I had opted to go without. At one of the downclimbs we left a rope, assuming it was the 10m drop down a log mentioned in the guide. After passing through a large cave, the creek opened out but was still fairly easy and pleasant walking through coachwood forest.

After a little longer, we reached a long sloping ramp, at the end of which the guts dropped out of the creek. We harnessed up and threw the rope down. A longish abseil later we were at the bottom, and in the canyon proper. A couple of downclimbs quickly followed, then a short abseil, followed by an abseil/slide down a large log. It was grippy enough that we could have just slid it, but we decided it was safer this way.

We then reached a short drop with no obvious anchor point. The easiest way down appeared to be a slide down a ramp into knee deep water. After trying for a short while to lodge a log in a hole for an anchor, we decided just to slide it. I fell backwards at the bottom and as a result failed to stay dry.

Being around the middle of the day, the canyon was pretty well lit - rays of sun poking into the darkness. The canyon is not particularly deep at most points so it was reasonably bright throughout.

The next abseil led down to the log where the cover photo for the guidebook was taken. Gill and I spent some time at the bottom trying to recreate the shot (see photos). After a particularly good section of canyon, we reached the final drop. We retied the anchor, as one of the slings that was there involved the famous floating log belay, and the other one, while it seemed OK, in fact was only held from sliding off by a small wedge of bark.

Andy got his amusement from me, as after successfully traversing my way around the small deep pool to get to the drop, I slipped at the last minute and fell in. The canyon quickly opened out after this and we headed around under the cliffs to the exit.

Reaching the upper cliff line, we walked quickly back to the large cave for lunch, out of the sun, and more importantly, away from the hordes of pesky flies.

We exited back up the canyon, retrieving our rope, and scrambled up through the pools to the gully we had climbed down. Right at the top we met a couple who had been checking out the canyon. They were the only people we had met in a canyon during the entire Xmas/New Year period, which was pretty surprising. We chatted about entry and exit points and found out that our route in was probably not the same as the one in the guidebook. But since we would have missed the top section of canyon, I was pretty happy with the route we took.

I had to get back to Sydney for drinks that evening, but we were already running pretty late. After a quick climb up the ridge and back along the fire trail to the car, I dropped Gill and Andy back at Barcoo Swamp, and managed to do the drive in 2h10min, a record for me. A good canyon to finish an excellent few days.