27-28/12/2005 - report - photos - Hole-in-the-Wall Canyon track notes

Participants: Tom Brennan, Rachel Grindlay, Caoimhin Ardren, Glen Lewin

The alarm went off annoyingly early at 5:30am, but since Rachel and I had agreed to meet Caoimhin and Glen at 8:30am at the end of the Waratah Ridge Rd, we had to get moving. After a short stop at the NRB, we pushed on to the end of the fire trail, arriving only about 5 minutes late. The others turned up closer to 9am, having had a flat tyre on Caoimhin's van on the way up.

Rachel and I had packed light, assuming we would carry the packs through and camp at the camp cave near the Fortitude junction. However, Glen and Caoimhin had everything but the kitchen sink (and possibly including it) and were keen to dump packs. Glen mentioned a camp cave near the Hole-in-the-Wall turn off, which sounded reasonable, and meant that we could do Froth and Bubble the next day from the ridge.

By the time we left it was after 10am, and we headed off along the old road and on to the ridge, passing part of a group along the way. The "camp cave" at the big pagoda turned out to be more of a crevice than a cave, but the weather looked good, so the cave was unlikely to be needed. We repacked into day packs, and chased the other group into Hole-in-the-Wall, as they'd managed to pass us again. We played leapfrog, passing them as they were suiting up, but then they were ready before us, heading off into the canyon. The first section was dark and quite spectacular, as usual. After a bit of scrambling to avoid swimming, we emerged into the sunlight again, and passed the other group again as a couple of their members lagged behind. Although it turned out one of them was lagging because Glen had stepped on her hand!

We jumped into the next section, and made quick progress, apart from in the glowworm cave, which took me a while to squeeze through. I must be getting fat!

Soon we were wading and swimming up the Bungleboori to the rocky platform below the Hole-in-the-Wall exit, where we stopped for lunch. A couple of fairly brazen water dragons kept sneaking up looking for food, but we denied them. Then it was up North-East Canyon to the top of the ridge. I had forgotten what a great little exit this is, in shade the whole way until you emerge only a few metres from the top. We passed one guy resting in a little cave, waiting for his group to come back from doing Banks. Then we dislodged a rock which must have gone most of the way to hitting him! We could hear it rattling down the canyon for quite some way!

Banks gets a bit canyony pretty much from where you drop in, although it doesn't really start until the first abseil. I went down first, and spent quite a bit of effort trying to stay dry (I'd only had to swim in the Bungleboori up until then). It was all a bit pointless as there were a couple of compulsory swims. There was also one tricky drop that involved a high tranverse. Eventually the canyon opened out, and we had two more abseils to the Bungleboori. I had only been downstream, not upstream from here, and so heading upstream was new to me. It was an excellent section - majestic, with long sections of high curved walls. We passed the Hole-in-the-Wall opening, true to its name just a hole in the wall of the Bungleboori. By this stage Rachel and I were obviously getting a bit tired as we seemed to be slipping over a lot more than the previous time. I was happy to reach the exit and head up on to the ridge. Caoimhin and I spent a bit of time taking in the views from various vantage points while Rachel and Glen headed back to our pagoda for the night.

We found a few flattish spots and settled down around a fire for the evening.

The next morning we were up not particularly early, back to the fire trail, and dumping our packs in the bush nearby before heading off to Froth-and-Bubble. It was quite a long walk along the ridge before we reached the point to drop off, and quite a bit of scrub bashing from there to get to the creek, not helped by some average navigation. There were a few narrow pools in the creek, which we mostly tried hard to avoid, going to great lengths to scramble around in a couple of cases. Finally we reached the start of the canyon proper, and it looked quite impressive. I headed off first, slipping on the very slick abseil, but catching myself. The highlights were the first couple of chambers, the first with an arch, and the main passageway. We also spotted a small green tree frog on a rock in the canyon. However, all too soon we were at the end, and we stopped for lunch in a slightly sunny patch in the creek.

From there it was a long slog. Out of the canyon back to the ridge, then back to where we left the ridge on the way in, then back to the bags, and finally back to the cars. All up about 12km, in hot weather with limited water. Not much fun. I longed for the cool water of the canyon! Still, we made it eventually. From there we tailed Caoimhin's van back to Lithgow to make sure it made it, and then Rachel and I made our own way back to Sydney. A hard couple of days with some excellent canyons.