NEWNES PLATEAU – 9 June 2018
As with most of my forays into the wilderness – it sounded “easy enough”. We’d be going to the Newnes Plateau, finding the start of a canyon and checking out the exit – which was the unknown bit. Who would have known there were so many fire trails on Newnes Plateau that aren’t marked on the map – and for much of the way it was 4WD, the Mazda survived, but only just!
Anna joined me for the day, and starting from the Zig Zag Railway, we blithely drove (to where I expected we’d hit the fire trail I wanted) and turned onto a marked trail. After 30 minutes of big pools of water (of undetermined depth), very, very rough terrain, moving big logs off the road, numerous stops to check the map again and going around (literally) in circles, we eventually hit what we hoped was the right trail. Anna was navigating with her compass and we breathed a sigh of relief when the road kept on going in the direction we wanted. If I’d bought the built in Sat Nav when I got the Mazda we wouldn’t have had the trouble we had (note to self, get an after-market installation of the Sat Nav before heading on another exploratory on the Newnes Plateau). Yes, everyone, I know, I do have a hand-held GPS but I broke the screen again, so am waiting for my brother to fix it for me.
So, now that we’re on the right trail, what were the goals? Well, I’d heard about an unpublished canyon called M***m and had already done one unsuccessful trip into the Carne Creek area looking for it. Then I got a bit more information along with the third hand advice “you have to put a hand line down before you do the canyon so you can climb up and get out”. I had visions of a massive exposed 30m climb up the face of a pagoda (not something I’d be looking forward to). I also wanted to see how far we could drive to the canyon, I’d heard third had from someone else that it wasn’t much of a canyon and I didn’t want a long walk in for not much of a wow factor.
Eventually we got back over to the ridge beside our canyon (this would after all be one of the logical spots for the exit). We decided to check out the gully upstream of the canyon and were encouraged by the openness of the terrain (ie not much scrub). Eventually there was a footpad (or animal pad) that we followed, all the way down until we came to a drop off, this could be our “climb-out”, if so, it was a piece of cake – what was I so worried about.
Once Anna was back up with me, we headed on up the gully, quite confident that this was our exit route. About 10m up we came across another footpad off to the left (heading towards our canyon), we’d spotted it before but discounted it. Anna was keen to check this out, maybe there was another route down into the creek that was easier that the one we’d found, so we followed the footpad (which might have been an animal pad). The track just kept on going, very well defined and then it was obvious that it was human feet that had trodden it.
By this time I’m suspecting that there was another route out, and hopefully as we were well up above the creek, this one wouldn’t involve a climb as we were just under the cliff-line. We changed direction, and yes, we were now in the side creek, our canyon, and heading up for the final drop (hopefully).
By now it was 4pm and we thought we’d better high-tail it back to the car in order to do the drive out in daylight. We logged the track on the way out, so now we know exactly where we need to go (although both Anna and I thought we were in different places for the last 10 minutes of the drive).
So, we’ve found the start and ended up with a brilliant exit. Not sure how I feel about that, this is an unpublished canyon, but it seems as though it’s had an awful lot of action, the footpad out was just too well defined (the bushes in spots well and truly trampled). I was hoping for something that wasn’t done an awful lot, but I guess these days that’s a little too much to hope for. In any event, now all we have to do is go back and do the whole thing … and possibly suss out some other Carne Creek tributaries!
Thanks Anna for exploring with me and for your hospitality on Saturday night! I wasn’t expecting such a big day, whilst it was only a few ks that we walked, we were out there for five hours, amazingly though, my knees held up!