IYDM Trip #4 – Monkey Ropes Creek

ETTREMA WILDERNESS – 18 – 20 July 2020
When the Legendary Louise first mentioned her dream of doing Monkey Ropes Creek and the abseils, I said “not sure I’d be up for this” after all it was a 15k walk in and out, hence the In Your Dreams M grading.  But then I thought, “maybe we can charter a helicopter to get me and the ropes in and maybe an esky of beer!”.  

Heather (who’ll go anywhere with me) even sourced a helicopter and pilot for us.  As it turned out, we didn’t need a chopper … Murray N and his push-bike transported the 2 x 60m ropes along the 15k of fire trail to get to the start of Monkey Ropes.  Sorry you missed the trip Heather (but you’ll love your new knee).

First a little of the back story.  Louise got the idea of this trip seven years ago. She’s been researching it ever since.  Apparently a few trips occurred in the 70s, when it was possible to drive all the way to the top of the creek.  One trip report was very succinct “did Monkey Ropes, five abseils”.  So, this trip would be fulfilling her dream and we’d potentially be the first group down Monkey Ropes in over 50 years!

The trip had an inauspicious start … Tim O and Mickey D both had to be tested for Covid-19, fortunately Mickey D was tested on the Thursday and she was confident her results would be made available by Saturday afternoon, unfortunately Tim didn’t do the test until Friday, so it was less likely he’d get the results before the trip.

Nevertheless, Murray and I met up on Saturday morning and walked to the designated campsite (which we thought would potentially shelter us from bad weather).  We got to the campsite around 2pm and after setting up, Murray went off exploring  Pass Point, the pass we’d use to get out of Bundundah Creek.   In the meantime, I collected fire wood and started the fire. Murray returned, and we had dinner sitting around the fire until 7.30pm.  By this time Louise and Mickey D still hadn’t arrived, so either they were doing a night hike in, or something unexpected had happened.  No sooner were we in bed than Murray first heard them and then their torches lit up our tents, I was so relieved that they’d arrived!  Mickey D’s test was negative, unfortunately Tim’s results weren’t in yet.

And then the wind came up overnight, gale-force winds, didn’t matter where you were, the wind gusts were so strong that I was fearful that if I got out of my tent, it would blow away, regardless of the rocks I’d placed on the tent pegs.  Eventually, at 4am I got up and took the tent down so I could go to the toilet!  Couldn’t even light the fire the wind was so gusty.

Nevertheless, we were ready to rock and roll at 8am … (l-r) Louise, Mickey-D, me and Murray (photo: Louise)

Setting out on the fire trail towards the headwaters of Monkey Ropes.

In the headwaters – easy walking after the fires.

Most of the time we stayed high out of the creek, avoiding boulders and dead trees, and to gain as much distance as we could – the abseils would be in the last few hundred meters of the creek. (photo: Louise)

Crossing a small gully filled with tree ferns, lovely to see them come back after the fire.

Finally , at 9.15am we arrived at  a gully (at the top of this gully is a favourite campsite of Louise’s, Lyrebird Leap).  We took the chance to have morning tea.

We needed to bypass a fallen tree before finally getting into the creek.

And we’re in the creek, doesn’t look too bad from here. (Photo: Louise)

Crossing a rock slab, the creek is starting to become interesting now (Photo: Louise)

Whenever we came to a small drop, we managed to get around the obstruction without using the rope, mainly by climbing up and around the obstruction.

Louise on a bit of a downclimb, lots of Monkey Ropes vines  that would trip us up!

A bit of caving –  “skinny woman” slot (Photo: Louise)

More boulders to make our way through.

A small drop into a pool that we could make our way around to keep our feet dry.

And finally we’re at a big slabby section, I had envisaged a lot of the creek being like this.

The slab was quite extensive, sadly it didn’t last for much further (photo: Louise)

Second morning tea at 10.50am, Murray and Louise checking out where we were and what “emergency exits” were available to us if we ran into a problem, after all, we didn’t know how big the drops were.

An hour later  at 11.50am we were on the first abseil.

Louise and Murray had rigged up a double anchor up on a tree at the side of the waterfall to avoid getting wet, and this would allow us to land on this good ledge (photo Louise).

The second abseil was only 50m or so after the first one. There was a BIG pool of water that was potentially a compulsory swim, none of us wanted to get wet (it was bloody cold), so we came up with a way to avoid it, it took us about 30 minutes to sort out what we were going to do.  This involved going up a small ramp, to where Murray set up the rope(s) the arrow shows where Murray was.  He threw the ropes down on an angle (which is why they tangled), then traversed down a bit further, it took about half an hour just to set up the rope.

Louise and Mickey D watching Murray as he sets up the “Traverse of Death”,  he set up a couple of “redirects” which would prevent us from pendulum-ing  into the waterfall (and down to the pool).  Louise very nervous about Murray doing this … “maybe we should have just done the swim!”

Redirect #1 a small sapling that was hard to get to, then a traverse along a ledge about 30 – 40cm wide to Redirect #2 on another small sapling, then traverse to a small sapling that you abseiled down behind … this was where I ran into trouble, my Rack getting hung up on it, was bloody hard to get down!  the popular refrain was “Tim would have LOVED this!”

Murray belaying Lou on the abseil as she is getting past the rebelay (Photo: Louise)

Mickey D looking back at the waterfall wondering how the hell we managed to get down and stay dry!

Mickey-D on abseil #3 a nice easy drop – a relief after that last one.

A better shot of the 3rd abseil by Louise), you can almost see the junction of the two creeks in the distance.

Abseils 2 and 3 looking upstream (photo: Louise

And Louise on abseil #4, you could probably have walked down but the rock was very slippery.

A short walk down a rocky section and we were at the junction of Monkey Ropes and Bundundah Creeks and found a great camp cave (for a future trip), we stopped here and had a late lunch, it was 2.45pm. (Photo: Louise)

A trip report we’d found from many years ago, gave an indication of how we’d get up the steep spur at the junction, took us about 15 – 20 minutes to find the route and it was quite obvious, a boulder strewn gully (photo: Louise)

At some spots, there were almost steps – like a stairway to heaven.  This initial section would see us climb 100m vertically over 100m in distance.

After the Stairway to Heaven, there was a small 2m climb – they had to put a rope down for me, quite a challenging climb.  From there it was around 600m up the spur to Pass Point at a much friendlier gradient.

And finally Pass Point was right in front of us, at around 5pm, just 100m to go.

Finally, we were on the top and Louise unerringly led us in the dark to the fire trail (she is a Legend), approximately 2k away, took a while to get there, maybe 1.5 hours, and then we had another 30 minutes down the fire trail to our camp site.  The wind by now had picked up and was gale force again.  We got to camp at around 7pm, packed up and decided to move to the camp cave on Cinch Creek that we’d found last trip.

Murray decided to ride his bike out and go home (he only lives 1.5 hours away).  He told us he was followed for the last k on the fire trail by a dingo!  From now on I will always be sleeping in a tent – don’t want a dingo sniffing around me!

The rest of us got to the camp cave at around 8 or 9pm, and it wasn’t at all sheltered, in fact one gust blew my tent away, the only thing for it was for a couple of big boulders (thank you Mickey D) to hold it down until I got into it.  Louise made us cocktails before dinner (hot Blazers I think), I went straight to bed without dinner Lou and Mik sat up by the fire for a while. The wind blew all night, but by about 6am when I woke up (hardly slept!) it had calmed down a bit.

We all slept in and started up the fire again, and sat around enjoying coffee, tea and breakfast (note the chair for me that Lou carried it, she really does spoil me).

Lou and Mik were going back to where we broke through the Pass as Mik had accidentally left her mobile phone at one of the stops we made, luckily she remembered exactly where.  I decided to walk out by myself to make an early start home so set off at 10.15am.

I beat my personal best making it back to the car in 3 1/2 hours – even with multiple stops, I hate that walk out.

On the walk out I came across a couple who were walking out to Cinch Creek, we chatted a while and then the woman asked me if I had a blog as she recognised me from one of the posts, she’d have shaken my hand if it wasn’t for Covid! I felt like a rock star!  Whoever you are, thank you so much for making me feel special, and I hope you had a great trip up Cinch, would love to hear about it.

So, Lou finally got to achieve her dream, but now we have a new trip … Monkey Ropes in summer to enjoy those lovely pools, and camp in the camp cave, and check out Bundundah Falls on the way out … possibly another IYDM trip!

Thank you so much Lou for organising it, and Murray for carrying the ropes most of the time and Mik for being the “back up” girl and being so supportive.  Love going out with you guys and missed you Tim!

 

 

 

 

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11 Responses to IYDM Trip #4 – Monkey Ropes Creek

  1. john says:

    and a very big thank you from me!
    This has stopped me from attempting to exit Bundundah via Monkey Ropes when I get there later this year. I know how I’m going down (a detour via Lost Pools and along the escarpment, not down LP – it’s a 65m drop and I have no room for ropes) but have been browsing furiously on exits from Bundundah.
    I see what you mean about the relative paucity of scrub – gee, what a difference but plenty of charcoal to wash off on return.
    Ta muchly 🙂

    • marilyn says:

      Haha, yes, definitely not an option. But Pass Point was very good, except for that small climb which would prob be fine for you. We think you could also go up New Moon Creek, small scramble, maybe 2m but would be fine for you I think, see my post on New Moon. Geoff Jones has another pass on his map too.

  2. Jeff says:

    Looks like a fun trip!

    • marilyn says:

      It was great fun, although at times I didn’t think it was (like with the cyclonic wind!), good to do something so challenging.

  3. Jenny Hughes says:

    OH my, that one did not look fun!

    • marilyn says:

      Ah no, was lots of fun, except for the tent blowing away and the dust/wind. It was so good to see how excited Lou was to do the trip, they are great fun to go away with.

  4. Sandy says:

    Hi M:

    Good to meet you on the way out and we had a great trip – Tilly Ann Gap to Cinch Creek to camp, west up Cinch Creek to Billys Hill, side trip to Hamlets Crown, walk south along the cliff edge above Ettrema with stunning views to camp by unnamed creek, and then walk out Jones Creek track.

    Looking forward to some more trips in there.

  5. Shiva says:

    Looks like a great tip.

  6. Shiva says:

    Looks like a great trip.

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