NEWNES PLATEAU – 14 September 2019
I had six people signed up to do Tuglow Main Cave – I’d never done it before and it was a case of do it now – or forget about it. I’d put on a few SRT training days so everyone would be up to speed for the prussik out (especially me), and I’d applied for the permit six months ago and been given verbal confirmation that it was approved. And then disaster struck!I still hadn’t received the hard copy of the permit so called up NPWS (a week before the date for the trip) and was informed that our permit was being withdrawn. Apparently, photos had recently been taken of the bolts (“what bolts” says David the leader “we don’t use them”) and someone had put in a handline that NPWS felt looked suss.
Not much we could do about it so I put some thought into a Plan B before I told everyone that Tuglow was off.
I came up with a weekend of canyoning, knocking off two known canyons and one exploration of a creek, all of which were on my Wish List. I sent out the email, some dropped out and then some others who weren’t on the original list of six booked in, and I ended up with a group of five, including me … Anna and Heather (both of whom will go anywhere with me), Alan (who’s only ever canyoned with me – I’m not looking forward to the day he finds a better leader), and Bill (who’s just getting used to my eccentricities). The question is, after this trip, will they canyon with me again?
I drove to the Plateau from Abercrombie, arriving at the campsite at 5.30pm. No-one else was there, which was a little freaky, but I settled down with a glass of wine (finishing off the dregs of one bottle) and my book. Finished off the book, thought I’d have another glass of wine and bugger me, couldn’t get the screw top off. I eventually had to attack it with a steak knife, getting a little panicky that I’d cut myself badly, this trip just wasn’t going well at all, and it was only 7pm on Friday night! Eventually Bill and Heather turned up and at least I had company (and Bill lit a fire which was good).
We all met up on the Wollangambe Fire Trail at 8am on Saturday morning to attack our first canyon Budoir (not it’s real name as it’s sort of unpublished). I had no beta data on this canyon, although I’d walked into the bottom of it many years ago. It ends in a large amphitheatre and I (mistakenly) thought you abseiled in from the top. Looked like a great abseil and couldn’t wait to see what was above. We took all our abseil gear and a couple of ropes and set off.
When we came to a big amphitheatre, and I knew I was in the right place, but WTF, where was the abseil … there wasn’t one! You could walk in from the bottom. Major bummer, particularly as I’d told everyone to bring their abseil gear and ropes!
Getting out of the creek early was a big mistake, added another k onto our walk back to the cars through scrub, but eventually we came across a dirt bike trail which we were able to follow to the fire trail and then it was a fast trip to the cars, arriving at them at 1.15pm.
I asked everyone if they still wanted to do Part 2 of the trip. I’d been down Lucid Pools Canyon a few years ago and looked up a side creek and there was what I thought was an abseil, “would be interesting to see what’s above this if there’s another canyon” says me, and I became obsessed with the possibility, just had to check it out. I showed everyone the map and the creek which was adjacent to Lucid Pools Canyon, 500m from where we would park the cars, then 1k in the creek and a very easy exit, about a k, then a k up a fire trail. Piece of cake – right? and everyone decided that they’d do it. Honestly, I was a bit hot and tired and the off track route back to the vehicles from Boudoir had tired me out. If anyone had said they didn’t want to do this creek, I would have happily pulled the pin. Talk about revisiting the Abilene Paradox (shades of my Freezfest trip back in June).
It was a fairly easy trip back to our exit fire trail, as I’d promised them, up a spur, along a ridge, down to the creek through a few ferns and onto the fire trail.
The one thing about my blog is that you get the good with the bad, not every trip turns out to be a great adventure, some are epics or just plain horrible – but at least I’m honest about them. The team did suggest that we gild the lily so others would venture into this creek, but I’m here to say DON’T! definitely not worth the effort.
It was a 10 hour day, I was stuffed. Luckily Bill, Heather and Alan were feeding me tonight and after we built up the fire, I’d cleaned myself up and had a beer, all was well with the world, and the afternoon didn’t seem half as bad as it was … and the good news was the team had stopped complaining! Thanks everyone for enabling me to fulfil one of my Wish List trips, I’ll try to do better next time!
Thumbnail: Bill, waist deep in ferns