Canyoning – Newnes Plateau 15 & 16 October 2016
I did say that we’d be doing exploratory canyons and not to expect too much, maybe there’d be some constricted canyon, maybe not. They were after all unpublished canyons and if they were any good they’d be in the Guide! Am pretty sure though that the weekend’s canyoning exceeded all expectations, PLUS I gave Rod the opportunity to gloat!
This was a combined MSS & BWOC trip but as it turned out, everyone was a member of MSS. We were doing “Evil Kenievel” and “Lone Pine Canyons” (my nicknames for them) on the Newnes Plateau. We camped out near the Alcatraz exit which was really nice, no other campers there, and no traffic. Rod S, Trish N, Nick & Marcella P and Jo and Ed S joined me for the weekend, here are some photos …
We were back at the cars by 3pm. Ed and Nick were a little concerned about the rocky hill we had to drive up to get back to Northern Boundary Road, but their little cars made it without any problems. We then made our way over to the old Forestry Camp area, near the Alcatraz exit trail, I’d promised a nice grassy campsite but that must have been in my imagination, I could have sworn there was one there! Where we camped was flat, and there was plenty of fire wood and we didn’t have to share it with anyone or have cars driving past, so, it wasn’t all that bad, I’d definitely go back there again!
Nick and Marcella had to leave us on Sunday for their big drive back to Narrabri, brilliant effort them driving down for just one day. We left Ed’s little car at our exit point and drove the two other cars around to the fire trail which would give us access to the creek we wanted to explore. Having done the first part of the canyon before, Trish and I had no trouble getting down into the creek, and as it was almost a “no brainer” I hadn’t brought along my map or gps, how hard could it be, I knew exactly where I was going!
Anyway, we made it into the creek and soon came to our one (and only) abseil, about 15m down into a very constricted part of the creek. Once down we were able to walk up about 5m to see the waterfall that we’d missed because there wasn’t a convenient anchor. All up there was about 20m of constricted creek (canyon), and then that was it.
At the bottom of the creek, and the junction, I “thought” I was 200m upstream of our exit point. While the others were having morning tea, Trish and I went off to explore a bit, they sat around with Ed’s map and compass and determined that we were in fact right at our exit point. When Trish and I returned, Rod was adamant, and I was equally adamant that we had 200m to go (“just humour me Rod!”). Last time I ever leave my GPS back in the car. So, we headed off downstream (Rod humouring me), and then at the next junction, sat down for lunch and reassessed the situation. Yes, Rod was right – simple error of me thinking I’d entered the creek 100m further upstream than we did. Plenty of gloating by Rod – and embarrassment on my part!
Once we’d all agreed that we were in fact 200m downstream of the true exit point (and a guaranteed track), we decided to just head up and “hope for the best” to find an exit route out rather than go back upstream 200m (through scrub). So, we scrambled up to the first cliff line (this part was easy). Rod went to the right and Jo, Ed and I went around to the left. Rod got cliffed-out but after 100m or so, Jo, Ed and I came to a gully that looked like it would “go”. So, we all regrouped and headed up the gully, which ended in a number of pagodas. Rod did some excellent rock climbing and got up the top, setting up a hand-line that the rest of us used to climb up in a less exposed spot.
Once up the top, it we discovered that we were 100m from our planned exit route, so the shortcut we took was worth it.
From there it was a simple matter of finding the track back to the car (easy), and then Ed, Rod and me retrieving the other cars from the other side of the valley. We regrouped and were ready to hit the road by 3pm.
It was a great weekend and I definitely ticked one canyon off my wish list (not sure I’d do it again though), and pending confirmation may have ticked another one off (will go back and do it again, just to do it the “right way” and also abseil down the little waterfall, a nice 2 stage 15m abseil). Thanks Nick, Marcella, Jo, Ed, Rod and Trish for joining me.