GALAH CANYON – NOVEMBER 2014
Peter F was the intended leader for this weekend but unfortunately he was not able to join us, I’d done Galah a couple of times years ago so I said I would fill in for him. I remembered vividly the entry into the creek as I’d always hated walking down that Big Log, apparently there are different entries now as I sure couldn’t find that tree!
With plenty of canyoners interested when the trip was first announced at the end it was just the five of us taking it on, Brad M, Cat McL, Klaus and Trish M. As all the group were potential leaders I decided to let them “lead” the canyon for the day as a training exercise. Whilst this worked out well, it also slowed us down considerably and in hindsight was a poor choice on my part!
We had an early start from the Central Coast, met up at the Zig Zag Railway and directly drove to the starting point of our walk in for the canyon, we left the cars around 9am. We followed the old Wollemi Wilderness walking track for about 40min until the end and then followed a small footpad down into the creek system, let me state here that the last time I did the canyon, there wasn’t a track!
Anyway, the footpad led us to our creek, but as I didn’t remember ever starting here at the creek, I was not sure if we were actually at the proper start of the canyon because there was quite a big pool waiting for us to start, my notes didn’t mention it and I don’t ever remember getting wet, plus, I distinctly remember entering the creek via the Big Log. We looked around for alternative entries and we wasted about 45 min before we decided to go for the pool and get wet (without wetsuits). A couple of easy climb downs and pools, then a fairly long but nice creek walk followed … no sign of the Big Log.
When we finally reached the canyon section it was already past midday. The canyon starts with a very nice 30m abseil with a very tricky rope pull down. Nevertheless, the rope pull down is easier to handle than the other possible anchor which had a very dodgy access across to it. Next was a short abseil with a difficult start over a big boulder followed by a slide down a slippery log.
An abseil with another tricky start over a big boulder down a narrow slot followed next. Finally, we arrived at the last abseil but where was the sling? It took us a little while to find it because it was around a log in a shallow pool of water a couple of meters behind the actual abseil. Before getting to the actual last abseil, but already on rope, we had to cross a deep pool, not everyone took this opportunity to get wet, some managed to scramble around the pool but it wasn’t worth the effort.
It was getting late and we still had to walk/climb out, so there was no time for a long lunch break.
After a short walk along the cliff face we spotted two ropes hanging from a tree. Whilst a lot of people just climb this using the rope as a handline, it had a lot of exposure, so some of us chose to prussic up with the reassurance of being on a safety, plus, the rope was really old and dodgy, in fact one part of it just broke away, so we put our own rope in place.
One of the group had a lot of difficulty prussicing up, and more time than anticipated was spent at this spot, putting us behind schedule. After the climb we scrambled up a dodgy ramp and some scrubby bush and were finally back in the upper part of the canyon where the abseils started.
We had two options (that I knew of), either walk back to where we entered the creek (and wade across that pool), or look for the Big Log. We easily found it, just walked along the cliff line and there it was but it sure was even dodgier than I remembered. It is covered with moss and after some rain the day before was very wet.
Now the next decision, who was going to be the first one to go up. Brave Brad volunteered and became the man of the day! He did an extraordinary job getting up the slippery dodgy log and setting up a handline. For some of us the log looked a bit too dodgy and we decided once more to prussic. This was fine for the first two up but I was last and by this time the rope was caked in mud and then my prussic were caked with mud and I could barely move them. Took more valuable time to get up, log would have been quicker but I hated that log.
Eventually we were all up on high ground and we bush-bashed our way back to the footpad we used to go into the canyon. Obviously this log is no longer used as an entry/exit as there was no evident pad to/from the log. We hit the footpad that we’d walked in on and were finally in known country, it wasn’t dark – yet – so as a precaution we got out head torches out. It was 9pm when we finally arrived at the cars. Certainly a much longer day than I remembered, but we did waste 45 min searching for the “right” entry, another 45 min or so on the climb up and another 30 min at the Big Log. I thought that that would be the last time I’d do Galah but now feel compelled to go back and do it the “right” way and see if we can improve on a 12 hour trip – sort of embarrassing to admit to taking 12 hours in Galah!