WATAGANS NP – 20 August 2020
So, a “possible” canyon that was hinted at by a Watagans Wanderer walker many years ago and I’ve finally gotten around to looking for it … six years later. Steve R, Brad M, Peter F, Ian K and Lauren C joined me on what I fully expected to be “just a creek walk”.
We set out from Heaton’s Lookout on the Great North Walk.
And immediately dropped into this minor tributary which would lead us into the major side creek of Wallis, which we intended to follow all the way down to the junction with Wallis Creek, approximately 3k of creek walking.
A few small downclimbs (Ian & Lauren). (photo: Peter F)
At the junction of our small side creek and the main tributary, we looked upstream, and there was our first canyon-like section, good think we didn’t walk downstream, the pool was really deep, am sure we could have gotten around it, but there’s now a good reason to go back and take a look upstream. (photo: Peter F)
We’re now in the major tributary and it’s looking promising with overhangs.
And the walking is so easy, we had no problem avoiding getting wet feet.
Easy creek walking.
Another “canyon-like” section which we skirted around as it was deep water.
Loved these rock slab sections.
We came across this great camp cave, only 1 hour into the walk, looks like there’d been a campfire here, but was quite old. The camp cave was only 20m above the creek bed.
And immediately below it was along long ledge.
There were many examples of these vines that had wound around a tree, and then the tree had died off, broken down to nothing and left the vine behind.
Lots of lovely deep pools.
Lauren’s first (but not last) effort at caving.
Looking down our first waterfall which we were able to skirt around.
Some were easier to skirt around than others, here Steve helps me down a drop as I held onto vines, I wasn’t overly confident that I’d get down, eventually he just grabbed me around the waist and I was down on firm ground. (photo Peter F)
And our second waterfall where we had an early lunch (12 noon).
The next waterfall.
Lauren above the next one, she and Ian went to the rh side, we skirted around to the lh side.
Trying to skirt around a deep pool, Lauren made it look easy, Steve not so easy and I know how much he hates squeezes.
After the squeeze, we took the time to take a good look at the map. The creek looked like it kept going down a series of waterfalls and by now it’s around 1 or 1.30pm and we had another 500m of creek to go before reaching the junction of the main creek. So, we decided that we should amend the plan and traverse around the spur and eventually drop down into Wallis creek, eliminating roughly 170m down and 170m up the creeks.
The going was pretty good, sticking to the one contour, avoiding the odd sections of lawyer vine and before long we were effectively going upstream in Wallis Creek, but missing most of the downstream section (approximately 400m), does this mean it’s “unfinished business”? Eventually we picked a good route down into the creek, just above what sounded like a waterfall.
As soon as we were in the creek, we got a big surprise. Boulders the size of houses (or at the very least big mobile homes) and we started making our way upstream, avoiding big pools and looking for easy ways around the boulders.
Brad on one of the many climbs.
Finally we’re through the house size boulders but there was still a lot of rock hopping.
I don’t know how the others got to that spot, lots of deep pools and some really hard climbs, I think Ian came over and dragged me up this one!
A deep pool to avoid, Lauren took this route, a fairly big downclimb using roots, Ian jumped around it as did Brad and Peter I think, the downclimb looked decidedly dodgy. I took a safer route for me, climbing up and around.
After what seemed like an eternity of rock hopping (and climbing), we came to where the Great North Walk first crosses over Wallis Creek, and there, upstream was one of the best canyon sections in the Watagans I’ve come across (apart from Gap Creek that is).
Waterfall into a deep pool, would definitely would be fun to see what’s above (no time today), and a nice 1/2 day trip for the summer. I’m pretty sure this is the section of canyon that the Watagans Wanderer member hinted at, she said it was “just off the track”.
At the junction with the GNW and the group socially distancing – unfortunately, you tend to forget about social distancing on the walk but we’re all living on the Central Coast and there are no known cases there.
From here it was simply following the Great North Walk back to Heaton’s lookout, about 2 1/2 – 3k but it took longer than expected, I was stuffed and took a few rest stops, we were back at the cars by 4.10pm (so the walk was about 6 1/2 hours). All up the trip was around 9k (maybe a bit less) but it was a full body workout, my thighs are still sore!
Thank you so much Brad, Peter, Steve, Ian and Lauren for coming along on this exploratory walk. Still haven’t found the ultimate Watagan’s Canyon, but we did find two nice sections. And, whilst I thought that I wouldn’t have to go back and do that downstream section, it is unfinished business, think I will have to go back and do it, but will try an easier route, plus, looking at the map, there are two other trips that should go on the wish list now … seems I’m not finished with the Watagans!
There’s nothing glamorous about bushwalking, caving or canyoning, but it sure is fun! If you’re an armchair bushwalker, someone looking for new adventures, or one of my friends who just wants to see what I’ve been up to, this site is for you, sign up to get email alerts now!