Extreme Passages of Time

ETTREMA WILDERNESS – 19 – 21 September 2020
Back in June 2017, I’d walked from Discovery Cave, through the Passages of Time and then over to the North West to a side creek of Bundundah Creek, and discovered part of the plateau which had been rendered apart forming slots.  I was looking from on the top of the slots and determined that I HAD to go back and check out these slots from the bottom.

When Murray and Emma said they were going to Discovery Cave for 3 days, I asked if I could join them along with Murray’s dad Greg and a friend of Murray’s, Shane.  I was so excited when he told me the trip was going ahead … it would be Emma’s last big walk, as she is now 27 weeks pregnant.  We met up on Saturday morning and set off at 9am.

It’s the first time I’ve been out to Discovery cave since the 2019/20 bushfires and the change was dramatic.

Murray in a field of purple flowers doing his rendition of Julie Andrews in The Hills are Alive!

The purple flower is Kangaroo Apple (Solanum aviculare), also known as Bush Tomato – a species of Nightshades.  The fruit, when ripe, is red and edible.

We took a short cut down to Bundundah Creek, normally this route would be impenetrable scrub.

Dropping into Bundundah Creek just above the waterfall.

The waterfall adjacent to Waterfall Cave. Normally this is absolutely beautiful, lush green and shady on a hot day.

The waterfall, there’s a small overhang up on the right hand side where a small group could camp.

Shane and Murray had a swim in the pool, they didn’t last long, the water was freezing.

The pass up to the plateau to get to Discovery Cave. Many of the trees in the area were burned beyond recognition and its just a matter of time before they fall down and a gazillion trip hazards are on the route.

We easily found the pass down to Discovery Cave. What took about 40 – 60 minutes to walk from Waterfall Cave to Discovery Cave, took all of 20 minutes.

Murray and the guys went over the top of the chock stone, Emma and I crawled underneath it.

Emma making her way down the pass.

The cave, a shadow of its former self with all the tress burned. It took us a mere 4 1/2 hours to walk from the cars to the cave, and that included a 30 minute lunch by the waterfall. Normally it would take 6 – 7 hours to do the same route.

Looking the other way from my tent, as you can see, it’s an impressive overhang.

Murray, Greg and Shane went off exploring in the afternoon, Emma and I cleaned up and then had a nap!

Next morning, Emma decided to have a lazy morning so the rest of us crossed the creek and headed for the Passages of Time, but rather than go straight to the Passages, I suggested that we walk the 750m over to where I saw the other slots.

Crossing the creek, like walking through a live game of pick-up sticks (looking downstream).

Looking upstream, note the flood debris that would have come downstream in the two rain events that the area had had, one in February, the other in June.

On the way we discovered a cave formed after a rock fall. Murray decided to see how far it would go, Greg looking on concerned “don’t do anything silly Murray!”

Unfortunately, without a head torch (nor a handline), Murray could only go so far, but it looked like the cave definitely had a dark zone and went for quite a way – I’m pretty sure Murray will be back to check it out on another trip.

We walked along a bit further, then climbed up on the plateau to see if I could spot the slots from the top.

And there was the first one I’d seen in 2016, deep, and ending in a T intersection, there was a drop of about 2 – 3m that you couldn’t reverse, so we decided to see if we could enter it from below.

Murray was off like a racehorse, checking out slots all over the place. I didn’t want to go down unless I could get back up so headed off to find another way in, it was very frustrating not being able to get into where Murray was.

Greg and I entered via the creek, heading downstream to try to meet up with Murray.

More slots.

Looks like this route down is do-able and I’d be able to get back up (if it ended at a dead end).

Finally caught up with Murray and headed into this slot.

Which turned a corner into a skinny man slot – with a dead end.

Up another slot and across the creek it turned into Pagoda country.

Once we’d had our fill of the slots and pagodas we headed back to what everyone else calls the Passages of Time, again, lots of slots, overhangs and places to explore but not half as good as by the creek.

We went back to pick up Emma and Murray, Greg and I then went to explore another creek and a waterfall.

Up on the plateau again and heading over to Danjera Creek, an area that I’d not been to before.

Before long we were on the creek itself and sussing out camp sites. At the moment the creek has plenty of water in it.

Looking upstream.

Walking down stream, this is my sort of creek with nice slabs of rock.

The waterfall, about 20 – 30m with a gigantic cave/overhang at the bottom (which you can’t see). There’s no way down to the pool, you’d have to walk for approx 4k (round trip), in what looks like a very scrubby creek to view the waterfall from below.

Murray and Emma at the viewing platform, the edge of the waterfall in the foreground.

Heading up a side creek, again with the slabs of rock, would have been beautiful before the fires.

This is the metal log book container that Geoff J made to leave at Discovery/Rainbow cave. Each person that visits, leaves their details in the book inside so that Geoff can get an idea of how often the cave is visited. The metal box survived the fire (it was well back at the back of the overhang and wouldn’t have been exposed to direct fire.

But to give you an idea of the intensity of the fire, the log book inside was well and truly “cooked”, all the pages were brown and fell apart when you touched them. The cover of the book is what I’m holding and some of the pages. There’s a new log book there now, but all the old history is gone.


Monday morning, time to leave, Shane, Murray, Emma and Greg.

Looking across at the Passages of Time from just above the pass. It will be years before the trees return to their former glory and the rainforest areas below recover.

Short side-trip into the upper reaches of Bundundah Creek and looking across to the hill that we’ll have to climb on the way out.

Difficult pass for Emma and me, the slot’s on a 45 degree angle.

Down in the headwaters of the creek, more rock slabs and some good campsites.

Really unusual how on one side of the creek there’s cliff-line, on the other, just slabs of rock.

Looking upstream – for those who want to explore, now’s the time.

About an hour from the cars. We left at 7.40am, stuffed around exploring for about 30min and were back at the cars by 12.10pm – a record for this route!

The trip was great, definitely not the slog that it used to be to get out there, but, that’s probably my last trip to Discovery and Waterfall Caves.  It was good to be able to check out the Extreme Slots, but it isn’t as beautiful as it once was, and I think it will be years before the trees fully recover and the crowns grow back.

Thanks so much for taking me on the trip Muzza and Em, always good to get out with you too, and great to meet Shane and your Dad.

Lots of paper daisys.

And lots of these small orchids … the wildflowers did put on a good display!

Banner:  me in the Passages of Time
Thumbnail:  me at the Extreme Passages of time

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4 Responses to Extreme Passages of Time

  1. Kathy Leslie says:

    Broke my heart to see the devastation from the fires.
    Nature will work its magic but that takes TIME.
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Rob Wildman says:

    Thanks again for a lovely report on this area. You were doing this as I was leading a group into the main gorge musing about the ability to move swiftly though this devastated country. I was interested to ask why this would be your last trip into the area – was it the loss of the greenery or something else?

    • marilyn says:

      Mainly the loss of greenery, it will take quite a few years for the canopy of the trees to recover and my memories of it are of a lush green rainforesty area; but also, with the amount of fire damage, there will be a lot of fallen trees in amongst the ground cover, the walk then becomes just one trip hazard after another – walking through fallen trees isn’t something I enjoy. So, I would have to wait a few years to go back and frankly, in 2 or 3 years, I may not be up for a 3 day walk any more, and will probably have moved onto more relaxing walks (lol).

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