29/12/2007-01/01/2008 - report - photos
Participants: Tom Brennan, Caoimhin Ardren
Caoimhin and I met at Lithgow and drove in his van to Newnes. Packing seemed to take quite some time, as both of us had far too much food which we ended up taking. We both shouldered overly heavy packs and set off down the Wolgan, wilting somewhat in the heat. A welcome rest and drink was had at Firefly Creek, which was flowing strongly. At this point we wrote off any overly ambitious plans for the day and just concentrated on getting to camp. A lunch stop and siesta at the old farm lasted some time. We eventually reached Rocky Creek late in the afternoon, set up camp and went for a bit of a swim. Downstream from the Rocky Creek junction, the waters from the two creeks merging created some hot and cold patches - it was nice to get into the warm bits from the Wolgan River!
Then we settled down to cheese and biccies, soup and pork chops for dinner.
The next morning we were up and off a little after 9am. We headed up a ridge and traversed into a creek that we hoped would get us up on to the tops. It was scrubby near the bottom, but then opened out into coachwood forest before a junction. The side creek looked like it would get us out, but we had a bit of a look further up the main creek. It rapidly narrowed into a nice section of canyon. Caoimhin managed to scramble up a short drop via a tree, that looked a bit dodgy to reverse. I ran back to the packs to grab some tape and then scrambled up to join him. A little further on we were faced with another 3m drop. We could have probably forced our way up this too, but the canyon looked like it finished about there, so we returned to the packs using the tape on the way back.
Then we climbed up a gully and up to the next line of cliffs. Heading upstream along the cliffs, we were unable to find a break to get up through. We were starting to run out of ledges before a convenient tree gave us access to a higher ledge above which the cliff broke. There were some more cliffs above, but these were easily passed and we made it to the top of the ridge. By this stage it was well into the heat of the early afternoon, and we were still not in our canyon. Dropping off the other side we got into the creek fairly easily, bypassing a couple of drops and then abseiling a couple more into canyon-like sections. Then the creek dropped away dramatically into what looked like some good canyon. Unfortunately it was fairly open and stayed that way. We did about 8 abseils, although often combining 2 or 3 drops into one because of limited anchor points. There was just the one compulsory swim right near the end.
I suggested going down the creek, with some ramps that looked pretty promising to get down without an abseil. However, Caoimhin thought we should try and get on to the ridge, and headed off along the halfway ledge. After a considerable distance of traversing steep talus slopes, and being cliffed in we finally found a break and got on to a good ridge that took us most of the way down to the river. We had a very late lunch on a boulder in the middle of the river and then rock hopped back to camp. Another quick dip and then the cheese and biccies that had been refrigerated in Rocky Creek for the day.
The following day we set off for another pass. It looked particularly unlikely from below. It was not until we traversed for some distance that we could see that a pinnacle that we thought was part of the main cliff was actually separated, hiding a neat little gully behind. We headed up through this, admiring the views from the top, and then walked up a gully to the main ridge. The spur down into our creek was a bit scrubby near the bottom, but we eventually found a gully that dropped into the creek, although I dislodged a very large boulder on the way down it. Luckily I was at the front!
After lunch in the cool surrounds of the creek we set off downstream and immediately entered an excellent section of horizontal canyon. This continued for some way, opening out a little, before we came to the first of many log jams for the day. Climbing over this somewhat precariously we found ourselves at the top of a drop, with a sling on the obvious tree anchor. This dropped us into a lower section of canyon. The lower section was pleasant, but not as good as the top section. There were numerous log jams to negotiate, and one very awkward abseil/downclimb off a low anchor. Then we were boulder hopping down the bottom section of creek to the final drop into the valley. We may have been able to traverse left but we set up a 25m abseil. Then we made our way down the scrubby looking but fairly easy going ridge to the Wolgan. A quick bash up the hill and we were on the fire trail back to camp. I had a fair headache by this stage, probably from the heat of the past few days, so didn't eat much or party it up for New Year's Eve.
On the final day we got a late start, and headed back to Newnes. On the way we checked out another pass, which took us up on to the tops fairly easily. We pushed on to lunch at Firefly Creek, a welcome break in the shade, and then slogged the last few kms back to Newnes. Near the car there was the remains of a large fire with broken, melted and twisted glass that was still emitting huge amounts of heat. A relic of the excesses of the night before.