13/11/2005 - report - photos - Lower Bowens Creek North Canyon track notes

Participants: Tom Brennan, Rachel Grindlay, Anthony Dowle, Andrew Glover, Bethany Hoye, Rosalie Ashe

Driving back up the mountains on Sunday morning seemed a bit of a waste after only being there the day before, but a party back in Sydney on Saturday night had made it necessary. Rachel and I arrived at Cathedral Reserve to find the others still packing up. Glover had forgotten his sleeping bag the night before and was getting stick from Bethany from stealing too much of hers during the night.

Glover was his usual prompt self (not!) in getting ready, so it was a little while before we left from the parking area near Wynnes Rocks and headed off down the fire trail. At the anthill, we headed off on to a track down into the gully. There were a couple of biggish drops to bypass, and the clay ground was still wet and quite slippery underfoot. It took us a while to reach the junction - I think Bethany kept stopping to take photos!

It took us a little longer to get to the canyon. We were mostly trying to keep our feet dry, and detouring around the pools. At the start of the canyon we suited up, and headed down the first abseil. Rosalie hadn't abseiled before, so I gave her the two minute course and sent her over the edge! I was last down, but stopped to take a few photos. Glover had gone ahead with the rope, but the others waiting at the next drop thought I had it, and were still waiting to rig it up when I arrived!

The rest of the canyon was nice but uneventful. It is similar to the Grand Canyon in being fairly open but relatively deep. A few more scrambles and swims brought us to the end of the canyon. It was after 2pm by the time we reached the junction with the South Branch. I had thought we would be moving a bit more quickly, and we had just brought snacks rather than lunch, so we stopped for a snack before starting up the gully.

At the first little climb up there was no fixed line hanging down. I climbed into the cave below the drop as there was light shining out the back. It turned out to be a fairly small hole, and I doubted that we would get up that way. As I was climbing out of the cave, I put my hand on what looked like a large chockstone, about the size of a microwave. To my horror, it moved, and started sliding. I tried to grab it with both hands, to hold it for a few seconds to allow everyone time to get out of the way, but it was too heavy and ripped through my fingers. It bounced out of the cave, split in two, and one half headed across the gully to where Rachel and Glover were standing.

What happened next is a bit of a blur, but the rock certainly hit Rachel somehow, knocking her down the gully. She was in shock, with a large gash on her shin, unable to put much weight on that leg. We weighed up our options - in the end it really depended on whether Rachel could walk. The hardest bits were going to be the two little climbs, particularly the first. In the end a combination of crawling and walking backwards using the trees for support got her up to the top of the ridge. By this stage her leg had warmed up a bit and she was able to walk more normally, albeit with a bad limp. Half way up we were passed by a couple of guys - one in swimmers and bare feet! I thought he looked like the other Dave Noble, but wasn't sure.

Back at the fire trail the going was easier, and we made it back to the cars about 5pm. A far cry from the short day I had envisaged. We had "lunch" out at Wynnes Rocks lookout, and then started the long drive back to Sydney. A nice canyon but not the best day in the bush.