10-11/01/2004 - report - photos - Hole-in-the-Wall Canyon track notes

Participants: Tom Brennan, Chris Berwick, Greg, Christian, Marcello

I tried to ignore the alarm going off before 5am, but the need to be in Blacktown by 6am meant I had to obey its annoying command.

Meeting at Chris's place, I was introduced to the other members of the expedition - Chris, Christian and Marcello knew each other, but the rest of us were acquainted by email only. After the obligatory stop at the North Richmond bakery (which by the way I think has gone downhill a bit in the last couple of years), we made good time to the Waratah Ridge carpark. We discarded a bit of gear and headed off to Hole-in-the-Wall Canyon. It was as good as I remembered it - the top section probably better. Chris and I got rather cold in the Glowworm Cave as the other three struggled to push Greg's large pack through a couple of small holes. We emerged into the Bungleboori and found ourselves a sunny rock upstream for a leisurely lunch.

After lunch we headed up the pass into North East Canyon and dropped into Banks Canyon. This was lots of fun, very twisty, with some narrow sections and a number of short cold pools. As we reached the Bungleboori, we bumped into another party from ANUMC that we had been trailing all day. One of the party had had a dislocated shoulder, but was pushing on. They had also laid claim to the campsite that we had in mind for the night. This posed a bit of a problem as we hadn't even bothered with flies.

We found a sandy area near an overhang a little way downstream, and while it wasn't great, kept it in mind in case we didn't find anything else. We pushed on for a few more bends, leaving packs where the other party was camped, but didn't find anything better. So we backtracked and set up camp at our little beach.

It was still pretty early so we took our time with dinner. The night's entertainment was provided by a pair of yabbies that were fighting over a bit of food in the creek. The larger one was forced to turn tail initially but came back around to scare the smaller one off.

Our campsite ended up being pretty good, as there were no mozzies and no overnight dew. The glowworms that came out during the night added to the ambience. There was a minor slope to contend with, but everyone managed a decent night's sleep.

The entertainment for the morning was provided by Greg, who tossed his tin of beans on the fire to heat. Predictably it exploded - at him! Luckily most of the beans went in the other direction (mostly over Marcello's sandal!).

We headed down the creek to Crikey, passing the group we bumped into the night before, who were doing Froth and Bubble Canyon. After chatting a bit, their leader turned out to be John McGrath, who I knew from the OzCanyons list - always interesting to put a face to a name in a canyon.

After a bit of seat of the pants navigation at the top of the ridge, we found our way into Crikey, and after a short canyonlike section at the top, had a longish scrub bash down the creek to the canyon. The canyon quickly dropped into deep dark chambers, with a number of tricky abseils. Greg managed a swinging inversion on one of these, making the rest of us a little more cautious. The canyon continued through a couple of cold pools to a large vaulted chamber that some people called the Cathedral - and then a chilly 15m swim to an inviting patch of sunlight.

There was some more open canyon and a couple of abseils to the Bungleboori, and then we headed back to where we had left packs. We passed another group of six from SPAN Outdoors, who we'd followed through Crikey. There had been a fair bit of traffic in the 'Boori over the weekend!

After a latish lunch we found the pass out on to the ridge relatively easily, and then had the long ridge bash back to the car, which we reached a bit after 7pm. A few excellent canyons and a great trip.

Report from Chris Berwick

Trip report: Canyoning 10-11 Jan - Upper Bungleboori

Party: Christian, Tom Brennan, Greg Salway, Marcello & me.

After getting away from Blacktown at about 6:30am on Sat morning, we arrived at the end of Waratah Ridge to set off walking at about 9am. Our first undertaking for the day was Hole in the Wall. As usual, it was a great canyon, with the spectacular tight and dark cave section illuminated with glow worms. We spent a fair bit of time in this section as we felt and squeezed our way through without torches. After abseiling into the lower constriction, we arrived to the Boori for a swim upstream and a pleasant lunch where the sun warmed us up.

We then set off for Banks up a steadily inclined pass, dropping straight into the canyon on the other side. Again, the upper section was tight in parts and quite impressive. It was finished off with a couple of abseils to get back down to the Boori.

Mid way through Banks, we started to trail another party of 8. After talking to them at the last abseil, we discovered they were planning on camping at our desired camp cave a few hundred metres downstream. Having relied on the cave, we only had one fly between the five of us. An alternative camp spot was required. We found a good sandy bank a little before the camp cave, with a few sheltered spaces under a ledge in the undergrowth. A couple of us made a reconnaissance scoot further downstream to check for a better site, only to return in vain.

A fire was lit, and we all enjoyed a relaxing meal, being entertained by a couple of yabbies explosively fighting over some of our microscopic food scraps. After a big day, Christian and Marcello were pretty quick to hit the sack, being out for the count before dark, with the rest of us following shortly at dark. We all slept side by side on the sandy bank out in the open, with not a mossie or bit of dew to bother us. After dark a number of glow worms appeared deep in the cracks of the surrounding canyon walls.

Next morning Greg lit the breakfast fire, in order to heat his can of baked beans after he'd placing a few large dents in the side of the can. A couple of us, including Greg, watched as it expanded. A comment was made that it had almost fully expanded, and then all of a sudden it exploded landing all over Greg's leg and Marcello's unoccupied sandal.

We got away by 8am for a pleasant 2km scramble downstream to our exit gully for the next canyon, Crikey. Here we left our packs and went up and over again into it. And what a canyon it was, with a sustained, deep and dark constriction, requiring a number of tricky abseils, followed by a huge cavern and then a swim to exit into the open sunshine. It then continued with another couple of abseils and another more constricted section.

Coming back upstream along the Boori, we were again somewhat surprised as we passed another party of 6 or 7 who had just been down the same canyon before us.

As we ate a late lunch, our plans for a fourth canyon had to be abandoned. We then bashed up to the ridge for a 5km walk back to the cars, arriving after 7pm. Tom had recently been to this area, and so assisted with the navigation and route finding.

It was a great weekend in amongst some truly amazing surroundings.