BLUE DRUM CREEK – Kings Tableland – 7 May, 2017
The pre-trip rider from the leader stated the trip was “quite challenging … involves a few hairy scrambles … some tricky abseils … challenging scramble to exit”, so, it was with some trepidation that I turned up at the meeting place at 8.00am. I was so ambivalent that I even considered calling in sick, it didn’t help that I was slightly hung-over and had eaten the equivalent of a four course banquet the night before.
So, I was very happy to see Lyn C at the meet-up spot when I parked the car, if Lyn was there, I’d be fine. The trip was organised by Jim C and his trusty co-leader and wife Lyn, other members of the group were Anna O-B, Ev O, Nicole B, Marcia K and Sheila Z, the group unofficially named Girls on Ropes but I think more appropriate would be Wild Women on Ropes (some of us are way past being called girls!). Jim was our token male on the trip.
Jim and the Wild Women on Ropes (l-r, Anna, Ev, Lyn, Jim, Marcia, Nicole & Sheila)
We parked the cars on Kings Tablelands Road and were walking by 9am. The route involved about a k of off-track walking from Harris Hill and then into Blue Drum Creek.
Anna coming up to our high point on Harris Hill. The scrub was relatively friendly and easy to walk through.
A little further on and a small scramble up to another high point.
And then we were up on top looking down into our creek system.
A little more off track heading towards the point Jim wanted to use to drop into the creek.
Jim taking the time to give a bit of navigation training whilst looking for the best route.
Some nice rock shelves to walk on.
And then we were into a wetter area and walking through tall ferns and sword grass
Morning tea after arriving at our entry point – our fearless leader (who else do we know that would lead 7 women out into the wilderness) checking our position.
In Blue Drum Creek now and a bit of trudging through scrub.
You can see from the cliff-line to the right, why we needed to skirt around this section.
Our first abseil, 10m from a tree anchor. Anna looking very professional (left hand quickly taken off the rope) and her Scurion caving light (I’m envious of that light)!
Lyn (l) and Sheila. Lyn’s whistle was used extensively at the last abseil to signal off and on rope (some of us are now hearing impaired – just joking).
The bottom of the first abseil, Sheila abseiling and Marcia on belay.
Sheila belaying Lyn.
The pool at the bottom of the abseil, which thankfully we didn’t have to land in!
After the abseil there was a bit of creek walking
Nice and open in this section.
Marcia followed by Lyn, we had to get up out of the creek to keep dry in some spots.
Nicole on the second abseil
Anna on the second abseil
Sheila on the second abseil
Marcia on the second abseil – she is so photogenic!
Marcia belaying Lyn
The second abseil was followed by some scrambling.
and an awkward down-climb for those of us vertically challenged.
Doesn’t look as bad from this angle does it?
Sheila on the third abseil
Anna on the third abseil
Marcia on the abseil
Looking up at the pool we skirted around so that we didn’t have to swim/wade.
The creek opened out again.
Crossing the creek again, you can see in the background that we’d walked through a nice section of Coachwood trees and past a nice overhang.
Eventually the walls of the creek moved in and we were forced into the creek itself.
Nice section where we had to negotiate through a tunnel.
By now we are just above the waterfall (arrow at the bottom). In the summer, this would be a wet abseil and we’d land in water, so to avoid this, we crossed the creek upstream of the waterfall and climbed up on the right, skirting around to a side creek that comes in from the right, ending in a small waterfall that you can’t see but is where the top arrow points.
We’ve crossed the creek and climbed up and are now sidling over to the side creek, there was a reasonable footpad.
Looking back the other way.
This is taken from the side creek now, looking back at the creek we’d just crossed over with the waterfall we’d avoided. The plan now was to abseil down about 5m and then sidle around and crawl under a ledge below the waterfall and make our way to the next abseil!
A shot taken from the same place as above but looking the other way, lovely cliff-lines and our route is in the trees at the bottom of the photo.
It’s now after lunch and here’s Marcia on the top of the 5m abseil.
Just below the top of the abseil were some orchids, these ones in flower (small yellow orchids), not easy taking a close up photo when you’re hanging off the rope!
Anna on the abseil.
Lyn on the abseil
Crawling along the ledge underneath the waterfall in Blue Drum Creek
Ev crawling under the waterfall/ledge.
Overhang after the waterfall.
This was probably one of the most dangerous parts of the whole trip. The ground sloped down steeply and numerous people going down had worn away vegetation and there were lots of loose rocks to dislodge. There was a nasty climb down at the end and someone had to stand there to help you down, and was potentially hammered by falling rocks/stones. Eventually, the final four of us moved over about a metre to the right where there were trees to hold on to and less loose rock.
Nicole coming down the last section, if you lost your footing, there was about a 5m drop off to the right.
The final challenge was getting over this boulder and landing. It was ok for the taller people, but my feet didn’t touch the ground and I had to rely on Lyn to stopping me overbalancing and falling down the slope.
The next abseil followed immediately after the climb down. Shiela about to drop over the edge for the 5m abseil.
The anchor for the 5m abseil at first glance looked very dodgy but was in fact backed up underneath to another rock.
It was a lovely abseil down to a small overhang.
This is the pool that we would have landed in if we’d not avoided the waterfall by doing the previous two abseils. The pool was amazing, about 20 – 30m across, but not very deep, if you did the trip in the summer, you could abseil down the waterfall into the pool.
Marcia walking out to enjoy the view.
The view out to Mt Solitary, was hard to see that it was Mt Solitary because we were looking at the south-eastern end of it.
An extremely rare photo of me, enjoying the view in the sun, and wondering what’s ahead of us (photo: Ev O)
A 1m drop down to the creek, through a lot of bushes and then our last abseil.
Jim dropping down at the start of the 50m abseil. The anchor was very old, and backed up to another tree but could be replaced with a better/newer set up.
The top of the abseil was very slimy, and immediately after this you were in the waterfall, we all wore rain jackets so we wouldn’t get wet.
Me just at the top of the final 50m abseil (photo: Ev O)
Beautiful section of cliff, just calling to be abseiled (photo: Ev O)
My camera battery died at the top of the last abseil, and once on our route below the cliff-line, the going was tedious with scree and dry leaf litter which meant that you were slipping half the time. So, not many photos by Ev were taken, and then we started up our exit gully and, frankly, it was scree, bouldering with exposure and a constant battle with rotten logs and sticks, so none of us even considered any photographic record.
Five of us at the tail end also accidentally took a different route at the end which was extremely challenging, so we didn’t regroup until the top of the gully until around 5pm. So, we basically put our heads down and moved as quickly through the scrub as we could following Jim and his trusty compass.
We dropped onto the fire trail at 5.50 and were back at the cars by 6pm (yes DS it was dark when we walked out but it was by no means an epic).
Obviously I’ve been doing this sort of thing for far too long as the “hairy ledges” were fine and the exit pass (IMO) was pretty good, yes, rotten logs, but not the worst pass I’ve been up. At the top of the last abseil, the Wild Women on Ropes came up with some variations on Blue Drum Creek …
(1) A summer trip where we do all the wet abseils, particularly that abseil into the lovely pool at the end.
(2) A winter trip where we come down the side creek (north of our final abseil) to see what’s there, and put in some better anchors on the waterfall.
or (3) a trip from me for summer, walk down the side creek (north of our final abseil) and then skirt back around to the waterfall upstream in Blue Drum Creek and then just do two BIG abseils!
So many trips, so little time! Thanks for a truly memorable trip Jim!