12/02/2005 - report - photos - Bungonia Creek Canyon track notes

Participants: Tom Brennan, Caoimhin Ardren, Bram, Jane, Steve Thomsen, Brenda, Damo, Jimmy Jeff

After replenishing supplies in Goulburn after our Ettrema trip, Caoimhin and I headed to Bungonia State Conservation Area and set up camp in the least rocky and sloped site that we could find of those that were left. With no fires allowed, we sat variously around the stove or the lantern, until Steve and Brenda arrived close to midnight. We chatted for a while before hitting the hay for the night.

Bram and Jane were supposed to arrive at 8am but it was more like 9:30am when they arrived with Damo and Jimmy Jeff. We fiddled around for a fair while getting organised and then headed off to Bungonia Creek Canyon. Just as we left, Steve realised he needed to strap his ankle and had to rush back to camp, while the rest of us waited at the creek for him to catch up.

The section down to the first abseil was pleasant going over slabs and around rocky pools. There was a bit of bouldering to avoid getting feet wet, and being mostly climbers, everyone took on the challenge. At the first drop I thought I heard voices, but couldn't see anyone. It was only as I was going over the edge that I could see a couple of guys at the bottom of the 40m drop. As they were where I wanted to throw the rest of my rope, I had to wait a while on a ledge. I had taken my shirt of and was regretting not putting sunscreen on my shoulders as the sun beat down.

Curiously, one of them swam the 30m pool with a rope tied to his waist, pulled their bags across, and then pulled the other guy across, who was wearing a life jacket. As everyone came down, Bram, Jane and I scouted ahead to the next drop. I had abseiled it last time, but we decided it was jumpable, and everyone followed suit. The guys ahead of us did some dodgy traversing high, and abseiled down past the pool.

Last time I had been at the Falls, we had abseiled from the right, but we tried the left this time. There were a few too many ledges to get going on the abseil, and I think I would go from the right again next time, although anchors are a bit sparse unless you have full 60m ropes. With a big group it worked better with shorter drops. Most people tried a bit more bouldering to get around the pool - with a few falling in!

We found a sunny rock across the pool for lunch and watched the guys behind us come down. On the ledge above the water they waited for what must have been 15 minutes, looking for ways of avoiding a swim. They tried the bouldering method, but it was a bit tricky. It turned out one of the guys couldn't swim, and necessitated the elaborate setup we had seen at the first abseil every time. Why you would go canyoning if that was the case, I don't know! It looked like a recipe for trouble, as they kept trying to find dodgy ways to avoid the swims.

This was as far down the canyon as I had been, as last time we had exited up a dangerous scree slope to the left. We all climbed up a slab and had a look down at Jerrara Falls and the pool at the bottom from a good view point. It looked like an exposed drop. The guide was a bit vague as to whether there were any more abseils, but not far downstream it turned out there was another 50m abseil in a few stages, with a fairly murky pool at the bottom. We got everyone down fairly efficiently and swam the pool. The guys behind us looked like they were going to take a while as there was another pool to sort out.

The next section of creek was pretty slow going, with huge boulders that had to be climbed over, under or around. Once we got to the bend in the creek it got easier, and we were soon at the Red Track. Caoimhin, Jimmy Jeff and I were at the back and gave the others a bit of a start up the steep hill. We were quite surprised when we got to the top without catching up. We headed along the Green Track back to camp, with still no sign of them. It turned out that they had lost the Red Track going up the gully, and we had passed them before they got back to it. They arrived about half an hour later back at the camp.

Caoimhin and I had a look at the rego sheets the next day and the two guys following us finally got out about 8pm.