NEWNES FORREST – ETHEREAL CANYON – MARCH 2016
Back in October, when we were walking out from the Mini Western Arthurs along an old dis-used fire trail, Trish N and I both looked up a creek on the left and said to each other, I wonder if there’s any canyon up there? I looked on my map when I got home and sadly discovered that I had a pencil route marked on it.
I hadn’t been there before but I knew of someone else who had, and they’d written it up in a Book – so everyone and their mother would now be in there creating a footpad, is there no-where that hasn’t been explored (highly likely).
I was going to have to be up at Newnes anyway on this weekend, so I decided to do an exploratory day walk, talked Grandson Bailey and Jeff B into going and threw it out to the BWOC members – bless her heart, Denise Weston decided to come.
You can read about this walk in The Book so I wont bother to give details, suffice it to say that we parked our cars at where we’d be walking out (the end) and set out back along the fire trail. I actually don’t have The Book and so didn’t have any track notes, and didn’t actually bring the map with the route written in (Jeff had his map), so we were flying blind as far as The Book was concerned, but we knew where we wanted to go, and how we wanted to get out, so I figured we were fine (plus we had all the navigation and emergency gear one could hope for!)
We were all surprised to find that at the point where I thought we’d have to head off into the bush (based on Jeff’s old series map), there was a well-used fire trail, so we headed off down that. We were seduced by it, and walked all the way to the end, where we found a lovely pagoda and lookout AND someone had kindly left nice wooden chairs there, so Bailey sat down for a photo opportunity. Obviously this was someone’s secret camp where they’d come to enjoy the sunset.
Jeff thought we’d just walk down from the Pagoda and be in the creek. The smart thing for us to do would have been back-track up the fire trail and then pick the most likely looking gully and go down that. But we went down to the cliff-line anyway and looked over, nah, wouldn’t be going down there, but the cliff-face on the other side was spectacular.
So, we contoured around and along the cliff-top, probably for about 500m (maybe less), poking our heads down gullies and beside pagodas looking for a negotiable route down. We struck out on them all, there was usually a 5 – 10m drop at the end.
By this time Jeff’s had enough of scouting down the gullies and having to climb back up, so we came to one that looked like there was a rock fall at the end and he suggested that I should go down and sus it out. I traversed around the top of it, and there looked like a ramp, just couldn’t see what was underneath me, so I asked Jeff to sus it what was below me (no point in me expending too much energy, I am after all a little old lady). He managed to get down to the bottom without any effort, so the rest of us followed. We were now in the creek.
We followed it downstream and before long were coming to nice sections where the creek had worn away the cliff-face, sort of canyon-ish but not at all constricted, but still really pretty. We followed this for quite a while and were wondering when we’d come to the real “canyon”. It was about this time when we discovered that the creek went down a hole (big enough for a person to go down) and our way ahead was blocked by a massive rock fall. We climbed up the rock fall and followed what looked like a footpad over the top of it, but were uncertain as to where to go then. We were at the junction of our creek and a side creek coming in from the right but way too high. The route down was highly unlikely, big drops and flat cliff face, no-where for footholds and in fact the bottom of the creek looked to be about 20 – 30m away. We tried off to the right (near the side creek) and struck out, no way down. So we backtracked and sidled across the rock fall to the left of the creek, Jeff had spotted a potential route down, further downstream.
There was a bit of a footpad (definitely human, The Book obviously at work), and eventually Jeff got down one way (he said it was “interesting”) and I found another route down (a footpad), and so we were in the creek proper again. We went upstream and found The Canyon, very pretty, with a waterfall coming out of the rock fall, probably about 20m of true constricted canyon. We looked around for a while and then retraced our steps to the junction where the side creek came in and decided we had enough time to explore upstream. This was a really pretty creek with lots of pools and some challenges to get upstream. After about 500m we felt that we’d seen the best of it, so retraced our steps and returned to the main creek. We followed this downstream a bit further, there were a couple of other sections where the creek had undercut the sandstone, but nothing as nice as The Canyon. Soon enough we were out in the valley where our old dis-used fire trail would be, found it and started the trudge up the track back to the cars.
As with all exploratory trips, we were pleased that we’d found what we were looking for and it was a great day of exploration, particularly for Bailey who learned a lot. I came away with the intention of going back with caving friends and headlamps and following the creek through the block up rock fall, and I still may do that, but doing an internet search, it would seem that someone else has already gone down the hole and said they couldn’t get through. I’m hoping that that person was big and fat, and that when I go back I’ll get all the way through, another adventure to put on the wish list!