04/12/2004 - report - photos - Claustral Canyon track notes

Participants: Tom Brennan, Gill Fowler, David Noble, Chris Collier, Stacey Ly, Clare Ly, Luisa Ngeow, Sarah Truscott, James Bevan, Tim

Meeting most of the group at the North Richmond bakery, we laid in supplies and then headed to the Tomah South carpark where James and Sarah were waiting for us. We sorted ourselves out and were away by about 10:40am, with one group in front of us already in their wetsuits! A short way down the track, it turned out that Clare was short one wetsuit, and Gill had a couple of spares, so they went for a jog back to the cars.

Picking our way down the eroded entry track, we dropped into the creek and wandered along through a few short canyon sections and little climb downs to the first pool. After suiting up and getting wet, we negotiated the first tricky climb down. There were a few interesting manoeuvres on this, and at least one sore hand afterwards.

Descending to the abseils, we waited a bit for the group in front of us to clear, and then got ropes set up on all three drops. Even with the ten of us, we proceeded through the Black Hole of Calcutta pretty quickly. There wasn't too much water going over any of the falls, so they were reasonably straightforward abseils. The sun was fairly high in the sky, so the colours on the walls were excellent, particularly the in the first abseil.

The long constriction was also excellent with the sunbeams lighting up the chambers. The paparazzi were out in full force, digital cameras snapping away. I almost fell into the water carrying my camera across a pool. In the middle of the constriction, we came across a Broad Headed Snake (Hoplocephalus bungaroides). The poor creature probably didn't know what hit it, but it was the star of the show for a while.

After exiting the constriction, we wandered down an overhang where Dave had a small fire going and we settled down for lunch. Our warm day hadn't quite eventuated, so we moved off fairly quickly after lunch. There were a few more tricky drops to negotiate. Clare managed to get her foot jammed in one of them, which was a bit awkward, and had to remove one of her volleys to get free.

In the last section of the canyon we came across what appeared to be a Diamond Python (Morelia spilota spilota). Some of us spent fifteen minutes watching the snake climb a very slippery steep rock wall. We didn't think it would be able to make it, but when we left, it looked like it was past the crux.

The walk out was quite pleasant, as the weather had gone overcast, and seemed to pass quite quickly. We stopped at a couple of places to look at aboriginal sharpening grooves. Most people headed back to Sydney while Gill and I went to Mt Wilson for some more canyoning on Sunday. Another excellent day's canyoning.