Puzzle & Yarramun Creek (North Branch) Canyons – 29 January 2017
I suppose I should have asked more questions … and looked at the weather forecast for Sunday, it turned out to be a very long (12 hours), hot day, but the two canyons were worth it.
John G organised the trip and Min, Jeff B and I went along, the three of us were all from the Central Coast so we met up at Kariong at 5.50am – a very early start. We met John at the Zig Zag car park and drove out to Dumbano ridge.
The walk in was ok, except for the heat, and when we got into the upper section of Puzzle with the pagodas surrounding us, it was even hotter. The canyon is very nice, has a few constricted sections and there are three abseils and quite a few climb downs. Whilst it has been published in the 5th Edition of Canyons near Sydney, it’s obvious that it doesn’t get much visitation, probably because of the need to navigate the whole way and it’s a fairly decent walk to get to the start. There weren’t any anchors and there were banks of moss on rocks and walls that hadn’t been disturbed; the impression was “greenness”. Whilst from time to time we though it should be called “log jam canyon” overall it exceeded my expectations. It was one of those canyons that keep on giving, an abseil, then a swim/wade, then a section of open canyon, then another constriction and a climb under then another abseil. It was 4.30 when we got to the junction at Yarramun Creek.
Up on the ridge – the walk in (photo: Min)
There were sections of boulders some of which you could crawl through, others you had to scramble over (Photo: Min)
This one was a bit harder to scramble over than others, Jeff made it look particularly difficult
And climb downs, this one was so mossy/ferny that it felt awful squashing the moss
Instead of getting narrower the creek widened out, pleasant walking amongst the Coachwoods that were in flower, the small flowers lying on the ground.
John had noticed this side creek and said that Google Earth showed a narrow “canyon” worthy of inspection. It was so hot that neither John or I felt like the additional exertion, so we sent Min and Jeff off to investigate, it was as depicted on Google Earth, finishing in a dead end waterfall.
Back into the creek and stepping over fallen trees/logs
Finally we came to what was looking canyon-like, around about the grid reference mentioned in Jamieson’s book. We were beginning to wonder if this canyon was worth all the effort at this stage.
The best choice for an anchor was a burned out tree that had sprouted lots of shoots from the base (so fulfilled the first rule of being alive), we put the rope around the saplings and Min headed off.
Turned out to be quite a nice little abseil, into knee deep water.
Me abseiling, a better shot, maybe it’s not my camera but the user (photo: Min)
Walking downstream and through this tunnel with a massive chock-stone at the top, then the creek opened out again, and the water had disappeared, it was puzzling alright.
Another boulder choke and we were back into canyon.
John on the climb down, it was much better without a pack, I got my backpack stuck and had trouble extracting myself
Back into the log jams, this one needed a lot of cleaning up.
Another small canyon section after the log jam
We got to a spot that called for either a handline or an abseil. For the “anchor” we chose this little sapling (which fulfilled the “rule of thumb” that is, it was thicker than a man’s thumb), was particularly dodgy but we didn’t put a lot of weight on it being wedged into the crack. With a much longer rope you could probably find a decent anchor way back but the pull down would be untidy.
Another abseil (or climb down), they were all around 5m
After the previous abseil, there was a narrow section opening out into this pool, as Min had already walked through it the silt had been disturbed and you couldn’t tell how deep it was (waist deep for most)
Lots of debris to negotiate
Lovely mossy section with another log jam
By this time we’ve all agreed that the canyon was worth the effort, it was quite constricted and so green and mossy, very pretty.
A small crawl through
A pool after a small climb down, this pool had the biggest yabbie in it.
More boulders and only way down was sliding on this rock. It possibly had a wear mark where others had slid down it in the past, but hard to tell.
The third abseil, it was officially a pretty good canyon now with 3 abseils.
The bottom of the 3rd abseil.
Another climb down with no-where to put your feet (Photo: John G)
I’d heard of the camp cave on Yarramun but didn’t realise there was such a large canyon section on Yarramun which was so accessible (from Mt Wilson). From the junction of Puzzle and Yarramun, we walked upstream for about 2k and almost the whole way was constricted canyon with pools (swimming and wading), climb ups, tunnels and rock slabs, it was really impressive.
In Yarramun Creek
Nice “wave” section of cliff face.
Yarramun was definitely worth reversing up, would be even better going down it, climbs wouldn’t be as challenging if they were climb-downs.
Min in Yarramun (Photo: John G)
We reached Yarramun Tunnel (pictured) at 6pm and got ready for the long walk out (photo: Min)
By this time my legs, hips and back were complaining and I had to drag myself up the hills (4 weeks of inactivity have played havoc with my fitness level), the tops of the ridges were fine but there were a few ups and downs. John led us unerringly to the saddle we were looking for just below where the cars were parked. We were back at the cars at 9pm, a punishing 12 hour day. Whilst we were all stuffed, we agreed it was a great day but most of us wouldn’t be going back – at least not to Puzzle. I will definitely do an overnight walk from Mt Wilson to Yarramun, ah, so many things to do, so little time.
And the stats are in … thanks JB, total time car to car 11hrs 36min, moving time 5hr 53min, stopped time 5hrs 42min for a distance of 18.6k averaging 3.1k moving! What did we do stopping around for 5hrs 42min … yes, a long lunch, but I sure as hell don’t remember standing around for 4hrs 42min!
There’s nothing glamorous about bushwalking, caving or canyoning, but it sure is fun! If you’re an armchair bushwalker, someone looking for new adventures, or one of my friends who just wants to see what I’ve been up to, this site is for you, sign up to get email alerts now!