WOLLANGAMBE RIVER – JANUARY 2015
Upper Upper Wollangambe River > Wollangambe Crater > Wol #1 Entry Track
Jeff and I had started years ago exploring 2k of the upper, upper, upper reaches of the Wollangambe River, but there were a couple of no-mans land sections that we just needed more time for, so when the Oz Day long weekend came up we decided to give it a go and explore the next 10k downstream. Sadly for this great adventure, only one other person signed on for it!
Trish M was keen, she wasn’t a regular on our trips but has a real sense of adventure. We needed 2 cars as we had to position one at the Mt Wilson Fire Station (the end) and then drive to the start of the Wollangambe Tourist Track. We decided to enter the river at the point where we had exited about 2 years before (near to High Point 975 (or something like that, can’t be bothered getting the map out!) a well known landform to those to walk in to Wollangambe Crater). The weather was fabulous when we started (note the nice blue sky in the pic to the right). The upper, upper sections that we’d done in the past had some nice canyon formations, so we were pretty sure we’d get the same thing further downstream. Our first campsite was to be the overhang close to Wollangambe Crater, unless we found something better along the way, we’d be on the lookout for a nice overhang. The first 5k was relatively easy going, taking us about 5 hours (plus the 2 hours walk in), there was plenty of time to play in the rapids and waterfalls. On Day 2 the second 5k was a totally different experience and ended up being an 11 hour day, not so much time to play.
We started walking downstream and there were lovely closed in sections of canyon, with nice sandy creek bed to walk on, really easy going. Every once in a while, we’d strike a bit of quick sand, but nothing like the quicksand of the Colo! We took our time and when we came to a cascade, waterfall or slide, we took the time to play, enjoying being in a section of the river that not too many people venture into. There were big pools that we checked out and if safe, we’d do a few jumps, just for the sheer joy of it. I’d reckon that there would only be one or two groups a year that ventured down this section of the river, it just isn’t exciting enough for the adrenalin junkies.
Instead of taking lilos, we all took pool noodles, Trish had her own from her pool at home, Jeff regularly picks them up off the side of the Freeway, so he had more than enough for himself and one for me! Jeff and Trish had two each, I had one, Jeff broke his out quite early in the piece and Trish got hers out too, but for some unknown reason, mine stayed connected to my pack for the whole trip (sort of a waste of time taking it really), I’m used to swimming long pools, although I’m a crap swimmer, but it was just easier than getting that stupid noodle off the pack. The scrub wasn’t particularly friendly to the noodles either Trish broke one of hers and from time to time a small piece of blue noodle floated by (the Satin Bower Birds would have loved that).
It was getting close to 5 or 6 by the time we eventually came to “known country”, that is, Jeff and I had entered the river from this point a few years ago, so we knew that the overhang was only about 1/2 an hour downstream. When we got to what I call the Siren’s Pool (a great swimming hole), we were just 5 minutes away, I think we were all over it by then and ready to be dry and warm. By this time it had started to drizzle, so we were grateful for the overhang and when we got there it was empty – no other campers. We and proceeded to spread out and gather wood. Just on dusk we heard voices and down came about 4 or 5 bushwalkers (20-something kids who were down to the cave for the weekend). We moved our gear all into one area to give them room and then got back to the business of having dinner, sitting around the campfire and then going to bed (it had been a long day what with the drive up from the Central Coast).
Next morning we were off fairly early as we weren’t sure what we would encounter between the crater and The Big Log (aka the old Wol #1 Entry point). Instead of taking a shortcut and going cross country through the Crater, we stuck to the river and followed it around and past the Crater campsite.
The excitement was high, what would we encounter. The first part was nice, a couple of pools and big boulders and then a few big pools. I had heard that on the left bank there was an overhang high up with aboriginal art in it (not too far from the Crater), I kept my eyes peeled but nothing of promise, in fact the cliff faces were almost vertical, no way of easily getting out any where here. There were many long pools and huge sections of rock boulders, some the size of a caravan, that we had to skirt around, much time was spent route finding.
By the time we got down to where Whirlpool Canyon comes in to the River, I felt that we were home and hosed, I mean, I’d done the canyon, it wasn’t so difficult for the walk downstream. Wrong, how could I have forgotten the huge boulder choke, took us ages to find a route around it and even then it was dicey, how could I have forgotten that!
So, we forged on, by this time we’re all getting pretty tired and Trish has hit the wall, not sure she could go much further and the campsites were few and far between, then, we realised we were at the Bell Creek junction and The Big Log wasn’t too much further. I’ve never been so pleased to get to a campsite, when we got to The Big Log, we climbed the bank and made our way up to the small overhang, wasn’t much but with some rain forecast it would be a good idea to have a little shelter. We set up the two flies that we had and got down to the business of food, we’d expended so much energy we were ravenous.
There was the option of going further downstream the next day, but frankly after 11 hours the day before we were ready to go home, plus the morning dawned overcast with the chance of rain, we figured we’d had a great adventure, why push it by going any further. During the night a possum had stolen my cooking bag, so I hunted for it whilst the others broke camp (found it you rascally possum). We took our time walking out, there was no hurry, and were back at the cars by mid-day.
This was a trip that I’d thought about for a long time and was envious when I heard of others that had done it, mind you, a lot of people do this as a day trip! Obviously much younger than me – and fitter! They would be travelling light and moving quickly so possibly didn’t take the time to enjoy their surroundings. Everyone lilos Wollangambe 1 and 2, they are classic trips, but there are soooooo many people there on the weekends, we had the River to ourselves for the two days and it was magic, I’d do it again in a heartbeat! What did I bring away from the trip, well, what do you think, more adventures, there is a creek that comes in (just downstream from the Crater) and I reckon that walking down that creek would be a interesting, AND there’s a great campsite at the junction, all you’d have to do is walk a little ways upstream to exit at the Tourist Track!