Recce #2 – Hawkesbury River abseil

HAWKESBURY RIVER – 18 January 2020
You know you’re hard up for an adventure when the prospect of 20-50ml of rain doesn’t deter you.  With our weekend of canyoning cancelled due to Parks being closed, Jeff B (trying to prove he hadn’t turned soft) and Heather (who’ll go anywhere with me), decided to ignore the fact that it was going to rain cats and dogs to do a recce and potentially set up a prussic rope so that we could do the Hawkesbury 80m Abseil over the coming months.

Back in November 1996, as a member of BWOC, I did an 80m abseil from cliffs above the Hawkesbury River.  We’d parked our vehicles on the southbound side of the M1 (then called the F3) and crossed over to the northbound side of the freeway … obviously there was a lot less traffic than there is today.  I suspect that we followed a ridge line around to the abseil point, did the abseil and then we walked a short distance to where a set of ladders were.  The ladders had been removed by ’96, so we had to prussic up through the cliff line to our exit creek.  We were back at our vehicles by 3.30pm (and we were a group of 12, so wasn’t a long day – either that or we were really efficient).  I don’t remember much about this trip other than the abseil, and crossing the freeway!

Over the last 15 years, I’d often thought about putting the trip on for MSS and/or BWOC, I didn’t particularly note where we’d gone, but after pouring over maps for a couple of days,  Jeff did a recce to where Jeff believed you could access the cliffs (Recce #1).  We found a good safe spot to park the car (there wouldn’t be any crossing of the M1 ever again!) and then set off cross country, eventually dropping down into the creek we would have to cross to get to the abseil site (and then turning back).

Today (Recce #2), we parked in the same safe spot and found that there was a fairly well trodden path that we were able to follow and eventually came to a cairn which marked our entry for the track down to the creek.

The obligatory “start of walk selfie” when we’re all looking happy and heading off on a great trip. I refused to do an “end of trip selfie” cause we all looked like drowned rats.

We started the walk with raincoats/thermals on, but it wasn’t raining (it was just a light mist), and it was too hot with rain gear on, after 10 minutes we took the coats off.

Nice view of the river.

Found a water bowl for animals, so cleaned the leaf litter out, on our return trip it was full of water, then Heather reminded me that so close to the freeway, there wouldn’t be any native animals left, they’d have been road-kill many years ago.

A handline in place going down through the cliff-line to the creek.

Handy trees in some spots to get down the small drops.

Another handy tree.

Down at creek level now, took us about 45 minutes to this point.

Handy overhang to get out of the rain found by Heather about 15 minutes later.  There was even a seat to sit on, obviously someone had been there before us.

Heading downstream no track to speak of and scrub is getting thicker.

In the creek now and getting close to the end.

The top ledge, seems there are two ledges that need to be negotiated.  I’d brought along a decent length of 11mm rope so we could prussik out, and Heather and I had brought abseil and SRT gear, but by now it was raining heavily (water droplets all over camera lens), and you couldn’t see over the edge – abseiling down and prussicing out wouldn’t have been at all pleasant, so looks like another trip back when it’s not raining. At least now we know what we’re up against.

Walking back upstream, we found a “cave”, Heather sussed it out, found you could get through. Jeff said as he watched us doing our “caving” the water in the creak was steadily rising, up about 5cm while he was standing there.

I gave the cave a go.

Looking downstream from the cave rocks.

Nice little waterfall, we had skirted around the top of this, using some steps.

Steps that had been put in in the early days (would have been used in conjunction with the ladders) to access the Hawkesbury.

More steps.

Heather saying “I’ll do what I’m told” I think my reply might have been “that’ll be a first”! By now we’re absolutely soaked.  

We were back at the car by 12.15pm – considering we started at 9am that’s pretty good.  Exiting from the top of the main waterfall (where it goes over through the cliff-line), took us about 1 hour. We headed off to a road-house for lunch to reward ourselves.

So, Heather and I have come up with another trip, Recce #3, all we need is a date – we still have to put in the fixed lines to prussic up – and it’s too big a day for us to do that and then do the abseil (lol).  We’ll take abseil gear and have a fun day abseiling down through the cliff-line (not usual route in the creek), then, setting up two static ropes we’ll abseiling down and prussicing out, then exit up the creek.  We’ll leave the prussic ropes in place and then go and do the full Hawkesbury 80m Abseil trip in the next couple of months!

Thanks Heather and Jeff for joining me on this adventure, wouldn’t have been half as much fun without you guys.

This entry was posted in Abseiling, Bushwalking, Canyoning, MSS. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Recce #2 – Hawkesbury River abseil

  1. Albert Hakvoort says:

    Hi Marilyn,

    I remember doing this trip many many years ago with Kerry and Doug. The exit was climbing up the waterboard ladders. Hope you find it.


    • marilyn says:

      Hi Albert, yep have found it, just need to set up the exit ropes! Was a great day out, looking forward to repeating it after all these years.

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