The walk that just wasn’t meant to be

WOLLEMI WILDERNESS – 22 – 23 September, 2018
Culoul Trail > Culoul Creek > Tinda Creek > Wollemi Creek > Culoul Trail
About 12 or 13 years ago Geoff Sherwood put this walk on the calendar, I didn’t get to do it, but I put it on my wish list for the future.  I can’t believe I keep this sort of stuff for so long!
First there were five of us, Jeff, Trish, Brad, Rahm and me.  And then Brad had to pull out and on Saturday morning Rahm had to pull out too.

Then there was the route.  In the planning stage a month ago, neither Jeff nor I were feeling particularly fit, we came up with a walk from Putty Road out to Wollemi Creek, and return the same way, not too much up and down, and about 10k on both days.

Then this week I looked at the map and thought it would be nice to mix it up a little, maybe do a car shuffle to Culoul Trail and have an easier second day (that was when I thought there would be five of us).  But when Brad dropped out, driving two cars to the Colo area for four people sounded over the top.  So, Jeff and I took another look at the topo map and came up with another route, and what do you know, it’s pretty much the walk that Geoff Sherwood did 12 years ago.  And, surprise, surprise, it’s not the nice easy walk we thought we’d do, but a lot of up and down into creeks which were bound to be scrubby.  Trish wasn’t ecstatic about the ups and downs, but trouper that she is, she hardly grumbled.

On the way to Coloul Trail, on the Putty Road, we passed “The Colo Bra Tree”, with a sign on it that said leave your bra here and donate to Breast Cancer Awareness, first time I’ve seen the tree!

Conversation in the car was varied but one thing that Jeff brought up was an article in a Wild Magazine about the dangers of outdoor activities, not just snakes etc, but ticks, falls, you name it, it’s a dangerous place out there!

We arrived at Culoul Trail and accidentally drove right past our drop off spot, and had to back track, no big deal though.  We left the car at 10am and headed off into the bush.

It wasn’t very scrubby at all, once years ago, I’d finished a walk out of the Colo with John L’Estrange (in roughly the same area) and the scrubb was horrendous.

Looking towards Jeff, nice open country.

And then it got better on our walk down the spur on the way to our first creek.

On the way down the spur, I was thinking about the story of Helen Smith that T2 shared with the Canyoning Australia forum last week.  Helen was having a lovely day and then it all turned to shit when she was climbing up out of a pass on the Bunglebori (how many dodgy passes have I been up/down!), and the rock she was either holding onto or standing on broke and she fell 12 metres to the creek below, landing on her back, which left her a paraplegic.

I was also way cautious, after all it was the Colo and it’s notorious for “floating rocks”, rocks that look ok but they’re floaters and often give way.  I thought back to Martin Dale, walking up out of Pass 6 out of the Colo with Jenny and a floater let loose and broke his leg.  It was with these thoughts that I carefully avoided anything that looked it had the potential to be loose.

It was at this point that we came to a small 1m climb-down.  Jeff went first with his pack on and then took my pack for me, giving me advice on how to get down with a few foot holds.  I chose to go a different way, beside where he said (ignoring all his good advice), and got down safely, and dropped down to the next level to put my backpack on.  I had my back to the down-climb, and it was when Trish was going down, the way that Jeff had recommended, that all hell broke loose.

The black arrow shows where the rock was sitting, the dotted arrow shows the route that I went down.

Trish saw the whole thing, Jeff missed it all, all I heard was “Marilyn watch out”.  From what I can surmise, the rock must have hit my backpack, throwing my to the side of its path.  Apparently, I did a perfect roll and luckily the rock missed me entirely, and whilst I banged my head, it was on the only small soft sandy patch around.

The rock’s route, I was standing where the yellow patch is middle of image on far right.

The top arrow showing where I climbed down, and the four bits of the rock after they broke and rolled down.

Trish giving some perspective to the size of the rocks.

Trish and Jeff went into action mode, making me stay in place until they were sure I wasn’t critically hurt.  Then they got me up off the ground to assess the damage.  Bruised right shoulder, big-arse bruise on my right butt (that they couldn’t see), bruise on the top of my left femur, bruises on my right arm and wrist, bruised right heel, probably sprain to left ankle, a small graze/cut/bruise on my left knee and a nastier cut on my left finger.

Trish bandaging my finger.  I think at this stage the shock had worn off.

Whilst I was catching my breath (and relieved at how lucky we all were), Trish and Jeff decided that when they got home they’d figure out how much the rock weighed (footnote:  Adam says 800k but Jeff/Trish think closer to 500k).

All things considered, we were very, very fortunate.  If I’d climbed down where I was supposed to, I could have pulled it onto myself, or Jeff who was just below me; and if Trish had put more weight on the rock, she could have pulled it onto herself.

At this point we decided that we’d turn around and go home (while I could still walk without assistance), they took all my heavy gear out of my backpack but it was still a long slow walk for the 3k that we’d already travelled.  It was a slow trip, and we were back at the cars at 2.30pm.  We might go back and do the original walk, but don’t think I’ll go down this spur again.

Thanks Jeff and Trish for looking after me!


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12 Responses to The walk that just wasn’t meant to be

  1. David says:

    9 lives Marilyn…stick to caving…it’s much safer!


    So she forgot to mention 2 earlier “the universe is telling us something” incidents.
    1) when we got out of the car I was feeling a bit carsick. I have an old neck whiplash injury and bumpy roads can set it off. So all the way I was holding down the vomit/nausea.
    2) a slight nav error saw us go 600m past our spur. Should’ve kept going not turned back, eh.
    The adrenalin of the incident did fix my nausea though- haha

  3. Trish says:

    Fortunate! Nice of the universe to drop a big rock on your pack not your head! Glad it didn’t.

  4. brad M says:

    yes the universe is saying something , glad your mostly ok , sorry wasn’t there to help,
    , that was a big rock

    how’s the bumps today

  5. Mary Kay Hokanson says:

    Glad you are OK, I love reading about your adventures.

    Take care and put your feet up.


  6. Kathy Leslie says:

    Geez , Marilyn,
    Your idea of a good time and mine are definitely different!!!
    Glad you lived to tell the tale. I love reading about your adventures.
    I have been traveling a bit myself the last couple of months so am just now binge
    Watching your past several escapades! Love the photography , too.
    Amazing scenery especially in the caves!!

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