The case for built in Sat-Nav

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  Well, I’d heard about an unpublished canyon called M***m and had already done one unsuccessful trip into the Carne Creek area looking for it.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.

We got pretty much to the end of the trail marked on the map and then the road was too narrow for my car, so we parked and started walking (me not all that swiftly as the MCL on my right knee still isn’t perfect). Despite the steady drizzle (which didn’t let up for the whole day), we headed off on a bearing, following a track (quite degraded probably from off trail bikes). We followed the trail even though it wasn’t going in the direction we wanted.

The trail that we followed led us eventually to a gully and we popped up to take a look at the terrain.  We were about 500m upstream of where our canyon was, Anna took a look over the edge.

On my knees this is as far as I was willing to go (after falling 1m off a retaining wall, I don’t trust myself with any exposure).  The edge had a very narrow rim of ironstone then went straight down into the lovely ferny creek.

Carne Creek.

We thought that the gully beside us might be a route down so headed over that way.

Probably would have been better to go back up the ridge than trying to traverse.  That gully ended up being a dead end.

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.

We pulled out our tapes and Anna dropped down first 1.5m and then probably about another 2m, then she went further down the gully to make sure there were no other drops.  The ground at the top of the first drop looked quite compacted, so I assumed that this was where the “climb out” was where you’d have to set up a rope before doing the canyon.  This must be the “climb out”.

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).

The creek was a mass of tree-ferns, most with tree-fern tutus like this one, the crowns of the ferns were way over our heads.

Looking up to the amphitheatre at the end with the potential “60m abseil” that I’d been told about.

The abseil as seen from the “landing zone”, it seemed to go up quite a ways, but not sure if we could see to the top.  Looks like you could climb it but there was a small 2m waterfall right at the base.

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!


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5 Responses to The case for built in Sat-Nav

  1. Kathy Leslie says:

    Thanks for sharing another of your adventures. I really enjoy reading them.
    However, you make me feel like a total couch-potato!!!🤪


  2. Jen says:

    Glad to hear your knee is well enough for more trips! Jen

  3. Pingback: M***m canyon – a little gem | Adventures with M

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