The upside of lots of rain

MANGROVE MOUNTAIN – 6 January 2021
After almost 2 weeks of off and on rain (about 60mm at Mangrove Mountain), it seemed like a good time to check out one of our local waterfalls.  The goal was to practice some of our (newly learned) SRT skills for white water abseiling – albeit not to the level of the BIG waterfalls, but we were intending to start out small sort of like dipping your toe into the deep end!  Trish, Alissa, Brad and Jim joined me and we could see a window in the forecast where there wouldn’t be any rain! 

I’d first heard of Crafts Creek about 10 years ago.  Two of our Bushwalking Elders (thank you Doug and Kerry), had found a 45m waterfall on one of their rambles in the Mangrove Creek area.  Earlier this week, Newcastle Ramblers (big thanks to Ramblers), posted a proposed trip on their FB page to Crafts Creek (along the lines of “what we can do when it’s raining”) and that reminded me that it was a trip I’d thought about a few years ago.  I looked up my database and found that another member of BWOC, Peter F, had abseiled the waterfall and given me his track notes.  Sadly, when we got to the fire trail, I couldn’t make head nor tail of the notes, other than Peter said the longest abseil was 27m (well, it would be if you got off rope half way down!).

So, we met at Mangrove General Store, and went over the plan.  I’d printed out some track notes, had maps for the area and then we started talking about SRT.  It was at this point that I realised that I hadn’t brought along any anchor tape (doh!), there goes our plans for SRT!  In my defense, I was a little vague when I got up this morning, but, on the positive side, I’d decided on taking 2 x 60m ropes rather than the 2 x 30m ropes that the track notes called for – this would prove to be a great decision, except for the fact that in the darkness of the garage instead of 60m the tag said 52m (another doh!).

So, we set out anyway, we’d tackle the SRT on another day!

We parked the cars on a fire trail, then headed off, crossing the creek in the headwaters and then immediately after the creek crossing headed off into the scrub.

Had a small drop to negotiate around, then dropped back down to creek level.

Very easy walking at creek level, and in the distance we could see the creek disappearing over the edge.

The whole of the creek up to this point was flowing over lovely rock slabs, this cascade was just before the waterfall.

And then the creek cascaded over the edge in some nice steps, we abseil,ed probably about 6 – 7m onto a ledge then we moved over to the right (facing downstream) to our next anchor (which would enable us to look over the edge to see the way forward).

Brad going over the cliff on the second abseil. This was a little scrubby, we did some gardening to eliminate vegetation that would get tangled in the rope when we pulled it down. It turned out to be a good thing that we had 2 x 60m ropes, although when I checked the label of mine it actually said 52m. I thought about taking walkie-talkies – should have – we were using whistles as signals but with the water and the cicadas, we couldn’t even hear the whistle blows.  I resorted to hand signals when Jim went down to join Brad!

Trish at the start of the abseil, and yes, from the top of the waterfall to the landing zone was pretty close to 45m.

Trish at the end of the abseil.

I was last, so it was my job to bring the knot joining the two ropes over the edge of the cliff – wasn’t easy working with two heavy ropes and the drag of the water fall.

Half way down, me checking out the way forward, I chose the route through the water and got really wet, everyone else took a drier route.

Half way down (photo:  Alissa)

Getting very wet.

Trish belaying with Jim looking on (photo: Alissa).

Looking at the waterfall from further downstream.

Looking downstream at the next abseil.

Brad on the abseil.

Jim on the abseil, it had been such a nice trip that we were all happy and posing for photos.

Me on the abseil.

This was probably around 10 – 15m and we weren’t in the waterflow.

Trish on the abseil.

After lunch we moved the rope across a bit so we could abseil down the cascades (you could easily walk back up to the top).

Ali on the abseil, this time in the water flow.

Trish decided that it would be fun to sit in the flow.

Posing twice!

Thysanotus multiflorus ‘aka Frilly Knickers’ or Fringe Lily – there were lots of these as we walked out.

The walk out was dead easy, 60 – 80m up a steep hill, popping out onto this nice grassy meadow in the middle of the spur. It would be a great place to camp except we’re in the water catchment area so it’s prohibited.

Only one small scramble up the rocks through the cliff-line.

Very sad Christmas Bells on the walk out, we were a little bit late for the display.

The walk out was easy, a few hundred metres off track and then we came across the remnants of the fire trail (beyond the locked gate).  And then the rain came in, 100m from the cars, we had been very lucky all morning (no rain).

Jim went home, and the rest of us, as we were already wet, decided to visit Ironbark creek waterfall.  We’d all seen the signpost to it, but had never taken the time to visit.

Easy walk in to the base and also the top and a lovely abseil for the future. Lots of instagram photos taken, thanks everyone!

It was a great day of exploring and as is usual, came up with ideas for future trips.  The best part though is we found a couple of good waterfall abseils – of course there’s aways Gap Creek, but that takes a lot more effort than the ones we found today.  Big thanks to the team on the day, Jim, Trish, Alissa and Brad, great team work.


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