10-11/01/2009 - report - photos
Participants: Tom Brennan, Rachel Grindlay, Chris Berwick
Rachel and I met up with Chris at the NRB on Saturday morning. Another SUBW group was there on their way out to Newnes so we chatted for a while, and then headed out in Chris's car to the Waratah Ridge car park. We assembled a plan of attack that took in Arthurs Canyon, Luna Park Canyon and Dead Tree Canyon with fallback options, and then set off along the fire trail. Quite a few groups were ready at the same time and we found ourselves in a group of 15 or so ... at least for the first 200m before we headed off down another fire trail.
We continued to the end of a ridge where I was hopeful of finding a pass. With spectacular views of cliffs and headlands all around us it didn't look hopeful, and we decided the easiest course of action would be to backtrack a few hundred metres into the obvious gully. No abseiling was required, although I was bleeding from about six places by the time we finished up at the Bungleboori, despite the fact that the going was not too bad. Climbing up the next creek on the other side we hit a waterfall pretty quickly. However, a dirty bank led to a groove that we were able to scramble up and around into the next level of the creek, and from there we exited up on to our ridge. At the top of the ridge we were clearly at the mini-Arthurs, long narrow fingers of rock separated by scrubby saddles. We traversed these for a while before we decided to abandon them and enter the creek. The going was less circuituous than on the tops, but perhaps no quicker. We found an interesting little clearing in the creek. A nice campsite, but we decided not to stop for lunch and pressed on instead.
The creek got scrubby for a while, and we were wondering when something interesting would happen. An abseil appeared, but not really canyon. Then a little further the creek dropped into a very nice looking slot. There was only the one abseil, and then a good but not particularly long section of canyon before a walk out to the Bungleboori. Chris made disparaging comments about my 34m rope not being anything like 34m, but it reached fine in any case. We found a spot downstream for lunch, and then headed a bit further downstream to a pass I had exited before. The first gully was clearly not the pass, since it got steeper and steeper, and we were forced to retreat and try the next one downstream. The route we took up posed a few challenges, but we were soon on top and heading slowly up the ridge.
About half way up we encountered a snake. A thin grey one with what looked like the head and a couple of feet of a frog or gecko sticking out. Chris and I watched for five minutes while the snake consumed its unfortunate victim, still struggling, and then slithered away (the snake, not Chris and I).
It was slow going to finally reach the top and we dropped into the saddle and then to the creek. As usual we had dropped in too early and had another creek bash down to where Luna Park Canyon started, reaching it a bit after 5pm. The first few drops were pleasant, but then we reached the tricky abseils and the canyon got quite impressive. It was also quite cold. The abseils were almost as awkward as I remembered them, and Rachel got her biner jammed on the trickiest of them, not for too long thankfully.
A few abseils later we were at the Bungleboori again, with the only decision being whether to camp on the sand bank or on the cave. The sand bank won out for cooking and campfire, and chancing the rain, we decided to just sleep out. A good choice since it was a fine night and an excellent spot!
The next morning we were going to walk downstream and do Dead Tree Canyon, but Chris was keen to try a nearby pass. It was exposed but quick, a narrow ledge 20m up leading to a scramble and then a short climb on to the tops. The scrub on the ridge was pretty unpleasant, and we dropped off the ridge as soon as we thought we would get through the cliff lines. We appeared to have done well, finding a neat route down just as our ledge petered out, but again found ourselves with a decent walk downstream to Dead Tree Canyon. It was better than I remembered it, with plenty of interesting log slides and a few abseils, with the highlight into a deep dark chamber. Back at the Bungleboori we walked back up to our camp in about 45 minutes and had a break for lunch.
After packing up we headed further upstream for an hour or so to the gully below Hailstorm Retreat and climbed up. The bottom section was loose and scrubby and it was quite a surprise when it narrowed into an impressive slot, which continued for quite a way. Up on the tops we picked up a vague track which made the return trip to the road easier than I had anticipated. From there it was an easy walk back to the car, and then back to Richmond for pizza and pasta. An excellent walk in one of the more scenic parts of the Bungleboori.