01/10/2005 - report - photos - Koombanda Canyon track notes

Participants: Tom Brennan, Rachel Grindlay, Lisa McGinnigle, Tania King

Rachel and I got off to a good start for the weekend when just as we got on the M2, I realised we hadn't got the tent out of the garage! Given that turning around wasn't much of an option on the M2, we would either be borrowing a tent off Lisa or Tania, or using the fly.

Lisa and Tania turned up at North Richmond some time after us, and we set off for Koombanda Canyon. Parking on a dirt road, we headed off initially on what might have been a track last canyoning season, but it petered out after a while. We then had to make our way through some particularly prickly and scratchy scrub before getting into the trib we were after. At the end of the trib there was a bit of a drop and I had the rope out, but Lisa quickly found an easy walk down gully.

There was a bit of flat creek walking to the first drop, into a long chilly pool. Given that it was the first day of October, I had been hoping that Jamieson's "short swims" were very short, or non-existent, like those in Breakfast Creek. Looking down from the top of the abseil, the pool looked long, deep and there was no opportunity to avoid it.

We all stripped down to swimmers and harnessed up. Well, all except me, as my harness didn't seem to be in my pack. It must have fallen out when I got the rope out at the end of the trib, and I had to jog the 15 minutes to retrieve it, banging my knee painfully on a rock on the way. I got back to find Rachel already across, and Lisa just about to start the swim. Reporting from the others suggested she had been avoiding the swim for some time! In the end she went for it, with plenty of noise accompanying it. Tania was next, and then finally it was my turn. The icy water made me gasp for breath as I set off, and my hands and feet quickly went numb even before I got across the pool.

Thankfully there were patches of sunlight at the top of the next drop, down a dark hole into a shallow pool, and so we all defrosted a bit. Just around the next corner we were confronted by a bit of a fright - two brown snakes in the water. Luckily for us they were well and truly dead. Presumably they had fallen off the cliff while mating!

Then rhere was one last abseil and swim that we shivered - literally - in anticipation of. The sun shining on the beach on the other side of the pool was a tantalising lure from the cold of the canyon, but the stretch of chilly water awaited. To me it didn't seem as bad - I found this one a little less icy, more "refreshing" than the first - although I think the others disagreed!

Once we warmed up, we had a look for a possible exit up a side creek, but ended up heading downstream to the old Canyon Colliery. This was an interesting place, appearing as it did in the middle of an apparently remote creek. After a few snacks, we headed up the road, and back along the railway to where we left the cars. An interesting little canyon, but one probably better left for summer in future!

After (a late) lunch we headed to Lithgow for (alcoholic) provisions, and then up to the Newnes Plateau to camp at Barcoo Swamp. Later in the evening, a 4wd wagon with L-plates turned up, somewhat to our interest. It was a father with his presumably 16-year-old son, clocking up hours on the son's L-plates. The father invited himself around our campfire later in the evening, and proceeded to bore everyone, including his son. Lisa and Tania made the smart move of going to bed, leaving me and Rachel to hold the fort. Luckily we were able to make our excuses and leave without having to continue a boring conversation for too long.