MACHINERY CREEK, Cethana, Tasmania – 2nd January 2019
I’ve always wanted to do a “canyon” in Tasmania, well, they don’t have slot canyons as such, more like multi-pitch creek walks. When I attended the 2019 Australian Speleological Federation conference one of their “mid conference” activities was Machinery Creek canyon, so I jumped right on it, along with most of the other MSS members attending the conference.
The field trip was oversubscribed, there were only supposed to be four groups of 8 and whilst we all got into one of those groups, there were another 8 people who missed out, so, because all the MSS canyoners were experienced, they allowed us to form our own “group” which allowed the wait-listed people go too.
It was very well organised, the first group of 8 (led by Alan J of STC) set up all the ropes (and safety lines), then the middle 3 groups just had fun and the final group of 8 (led by David B of NC) retrieved the ropes. How good was that? The anchors in the creek have been placed by a commercial group and are bomb proof (beautiful shiny bolts and chains), some had both a wet and dry route.
In our group we had Rod S (our fearless leader), Cathi H-H, Alan G, Andrew B, Daniel B, Eleanor (who’s only 15 and was our local “guide”) and Gabriel K, a Southern Tasmania Caveneer member and of course me.
From where we parked the vehicles, we walked down an old trail (possibly used to bring in mine machinery), until we got to the creek, where we put on our gear. We then walked downstream for quite a long way. The rocks weren’t sandstone and so were a little slippery under foot.
There were a few climb downs that were challenging, this one had a slippery log that you couldn’t use and you were in danger of getting caught on the top of it.
It was a hot day and by now we’re all ready to get in the water to cool off. At this point in the creek, the water was still pretty clear.
A small slide into a pool, we took advantage of the shade wherever possible.
Pitch #1 – this had a wet route and a dry route, we took the wet one. The start was awkward but once over the edge it was a nice abseil. Now you can see that the pools are getting muddy (with so many people going through the canyon, that was bound to happen). A safety line had been rigged at the top so that there was no chance of falling over to almost certain death.
Pitch #1 from below.
Someone else on the pitch, gives you an idea of the height of it.
Cathi on Pitch #2
I tried sliding down this cascade but the rock wasn’t smooth enough, surprisingly very sticky!
Eleanor negotiating the cascade
Pitch #3 – another nice abseil
Pitch #3 from below, taken with a blurry camera lens.
Cathi on Pitch #4
Andrew on Pitch #4
Gabriel under the chock-stone
Another awkward climb-down
And another awkward climb-down but you could have jumped it once someone had sussed out where the shallow parts were (see below).
The jump-in if you wanted to do it, we spent a lot of time here with Alan who was filming the trip, here’s Alan showing the guys where a rock was which had to be avoided.
Gabriel trying to stay dry!
Pitch #5 – not very high, you could probably have climbed down on the rh side.
Pitch #5 from across the pool.
Pitch #6 – we had a lot of fun with this one, there was a pool up above and Daniel blocked the flow of water for each person, then when you got down to where Rod’s now standing, he let the dammed water flow over the edge, it was a real buzz just standing there with all the water flowing over your legs.
Pitch #6 from a distance.
Last but not least Pitch #7, Gabriel went down first and told us to make sure to look at the way the rock had eroded.
The route of the water over the eroded rock.
Pitch #7 from across the pool – a really nice abseil.
After Pitch #7, all we had to do was walk downstream (there was a footpad on the side of the creek for most of the time). After about 30 minutes we came to a road bridge, climbed the embankment and there were the cars. Best walk out ever!
From car to car it was about 5 or 6 hours, but we spent a lot of time playing in the creek, particularly at one spot where Rod dammed up the water and it plummeted over the edge onto Daniel, the force of the water was enough to almost knock him over.
This was a fun trip, we were really fortunate that the weather co-operated (as you can see it was a stunning day with no clouds or rain), it wouldn’t have been half as much fun if it was overcast or raining! Thanks for guiding us through the canyon Eleanor.
So, this has given me a taste for canyoning in Tasmania, might make a trip down there next January!
Banner: Rod getting hammered by the dammed water on Pitch #6
Thumbnail: The boys getting instruction from Alan on where to jump.