BLUE MOUNTAINS CANYONING – Unnamed Waterfall – 8 April 2017
Steve had been promising me a visit to Dug’s secret canyon so we set aside a weekend and added on an exploratory trip to check out whether or not there was any canyon above a waterfall we’d previously spotted. Brad M and Trish M joined us for the weekend.
We rendezvoused at Richmond Maccas, and the fun started as soon as we got out of the car, Steve was accosted by someone. According to Steve, the guy asked for money to get breakfast and a rail ticket to Parramatta. Steve asked how much that would cost and the guy said $20. Steve said that he only had $5, gave it to him and then walked into Maccas. Sitting in Maccas, the three of us watched in amazement as Steve gave him the money, as soon as Steve’s back was turned the guys started laughing, must have thought he was easy pickings. According to Steve, he didn’t want them to kick his car, so he thought it was worth it to give them the 5 bucks.
After that we headed up Bells Line of Road and positioned one of the vehicles at the Birrabang exit as we intended either walking up Birrabang or taking the exit track. We then drove back to the Mt Wilson turnoff.
A couple of months ago we did Wotta Canyon and on the walk downstream to Birrabang Brook, we spotted this big waterfall, looked like it was 60m from where I was standing. Steve, Trish and I vowed go come back one day to abseil the waterfall and see what was upstream.
We identified the possible creek on the map and walked out to the ridge above Wotta Canyon (in the middle distance the big open area), then headed off on a bearing.
Eventually we came to a creek, not the one we had identified, but we thought it was worth getting a bit closer and checking it out, since we were in the area. We contoured across the hanging swamp to a spur in the distance.
Once past the hanging swamp, the scrub wasn’t too bad and we easily made our way down the spur.
At the end of the spur, we heard water flowing over a waterfall, so even though this wasn’t the creek that we’d identified, we had stumbled onto the right one (this one was right next to the one we were heading for). Brad and Steve at the end of the ridge overlooking the creek into which Wotta canyon flows.
Looking down into the creek, it looked “canyon-like” so I decided that we should head up stream and get the full “canyon experience” if there was one!
The creek was rather scrubby and Brad thought that I should have started further upstream to experience the full scrubbiness.
One small section dropped a metre into a pool, so we used a handline – only because we didn’t really want to get wet up to our waists.
We eventually came to the waterfall, set up a bomb proof anchor around some saplings, they weren’t all that big but didn’t move so we thought they’d be ok, we purposely didn’t photograph them – avoiding any “what were you thinking?” comments! Steve then deployed the 2 x 60m ropes
Knots in the end of the ropes, self belay and we sent Steve over. He had a walkie talkie so that we would know whether or not the ropes reached the bottom, after all, to me it looked like a 60m waterfall! He also had a 30m rope in his pack so that if the ropes were short he’d be able to extend them.
The word came up that the ropes were long enough and so we sent Trish!
Bit of an overhang just as you went over.
So, now it was my turn, you can just see Trish and Steve in the middle of the photo. It was so cool looking down the rope (not easy braking yourself with the right hand and taking a pic with the left!)
A little further on, looking down again
And looking up
Brad showing the full 35m of the abseil (well, maybe 40m, but definitely not 60!), he’s standing on a ledge, there were two of them on the way down. Lots and lots of moss, none of it disturbed, possibly we were the first who were silly enough to walk all that way for one abseil!
We’re all down so time to pull down the rope, no snags and it came down cleanly.
We walked downstream for a little while with the intention of walking all the way to Birrabang. But, after not going too far, we saw a gully to the right. We all agreed that as it was still early we should check out the gully and see if we could get back to the top. Steve and Trish took one gully and Brad and I took another one. Even though we were far enough away that we couldn’t communicate, with the walkie talkies we were able to keep in voice contact for the whole time.
It turned out that Steve and Trish’s gully was not all that great, a few places where they found it hard to get past some slippery rock. Brad and I on the other hand had an easier route, although, for the most part I was crawling over grasses and bushes on my way up to the top.
Brad at the top of our Gully. We heard that Trish and Steve needed a handline so we set off over the top to help them out. Took us about 15 minutes to make it to the top of their gully and by that time they’d solved the problem themselves.
It was at this point that I asked Brad if he had his car keys with him, his car was parked at the end of the Birrabang Track … and he didn’t, so it was good that we were walking out the way we were. Twice we’ve been to this area now with a car shuffle and twice the keys were in the wrong car … you’d think we were novices wouldn’t you!
Trish in the middle of the photo coming out of their gully
Trish finally at the top, she was less than impressed with their route. The good news though is that there definitely isn’t any canyon sections in either gully, so we never have to go back again to “check them out”. We had lunch up on the pagodas above our creek.
As we were virtually where we had started the abseil, Brad and I headed into the bush to retrieve our tape anchor, we took a rope so that Brad could get down into the creek if there was a rock in the way. It was way, way scrubby, but we did decide that if they ever came back, this tree was a better one than in the creek itself and could be used to back up the two little saplings.
Looking up Wotta Waterfall’s creek (very scrubby)
Brad making his way back to Trish and Steve
Coming out it was dead easy, just up the spur onto the top and follow another bearing (although you didn’t really have to it was a no brainer).
Coming back across the top to the Yileen/Wotta Track.
We retrieved Brad’s car and then headed off to Mt Wilson. I’d forgotten how beautiful it is in the autumn, not all the trees had turned but a lot of the maples had
Finished off the day with a great campfire and speculation about the tent that seemed to be permanent (at least it’s been there in the same position for the last few months). The couple did drive up after 8pm, stayed there and then headed out at 8am – intriguing.
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!