Definitely “Bang for Bucks”

MT WILSON – 20 May 2019 and 9 January 2021
Pretty much every single trip I’ve gone on (well, that’s probably a slight exaggeration), I say I’m going to see everything there is to see “so I never have to return”, but what do you know, I miss something and end up having to go back to either finish the canyon, or make sure I didn’t miss any of it.  This is the story of yet another canyon that I’ve now been to three times – and finally I’ve seen it all!

PART 1:  Back in February 2019, Marcia K and I went on a trip in the Bowen Creek area, we exited up a nice track next to a little unknown canyon with a name that indicated that there were no abseils and that you could reverse it.  In the canyoning guide, all there is, is a grid reference, no notes whatsoever.  This is a good thing, as it means you have to figure it out yourself.  We peeked up from the bottom of the canyon, it was a slippery climb and we didn’t want to fall, so Marcia and I decided to go back  on another day and check it out from the top.

PART 2:  So, in May 2019 we headed off.  With its name indicating that you could get up or down the canyon using a hand-line, we figured there weren’t any abseils, so we only took one rope (just in case) and one harness between the two of us (just in case).  I’m pretty sure too that someone said to me, there aren’t any abseils.

Straight away we were in impenetrable scrub finally deciding it was awful and dropped down into the creek (too far upstream).  The creek meandered along, at times it was easy going in the dry creek bed but then at other times we had to get out because of the scrub.

Eventually, when we’re almost at the end of the creek (probably 100m from the end), there was a bit of constriction, and then a nice section where the creek had cut under the rockface – it was starting to look interesting.

Next was a small drop (which we could reverse) and it’s looking even better.  There was a small pool and then we were at the top of a 2 or 3m waterfall, and it looked like it was an overhang.  We could see that there was another small drop after this.  Neither drop was what we’d call a “hand over hand”, it was too sketchy for us, we’d have to abseil it.  We looked around and found that we could climb up out of the canyon to see if there was a way around this drop.  Marcia went off to check it out, then she called me over.  We had a good scout around but we could see no way to bypass the waterfall.

We decided to be cautious (after all we only had one rope, and one harness) and agreed that the best course of action was to force an exit out of the creek,  and come back another day with all our gear to do the whole thing – after all, it did look rather nice.

PART 3:  Fast forward 18 months (where did that 18 months go?  Well, bushfires, floods, COVID and winter.  After weeks of rain a weekend was coming up with good weather at Mount Wilson, so Trish M and I put a short notice trip on both BWOC and MSS calendars and decided on a non abseil canyon.  Being so close to this “unfinished business” in the Bowen Creek system, I suggested to Trish that we make a attempt on getting this “unfinished business” off my wish list.  Over the past 18 months, I’d received a little more information from Philip C (he’d done the trip recently) I needed to know if the hand-line on the exit route was still in place, he didn’t use it but said you could use a gully, so I knew we’d at least be able to get out.

Ian K joined Trish and me and after completing our first canyon, we headed up a side creek.  I have to admit it was further upstream than I remembered! No-one wanted to check out the end of the canyon, so we bypassed that side trip and headed up on the remnants of the track I’d used in February 2019.

Half-way up the climb, we dropped our packs, and put all the gear we’d need for the trip into one (lighter) pack and headed off. The first gully I went down ended in a waterfall and 4m drop, so we went over to the next gully and found the route that Marcia and I had used to exit in May 2019. When we got down to the canyon we discovered that the fire had dropped down t0 the creek/canyon, … scorched.

We made our way through the canyon section, Ian found an easy route down into a small pool.

Trish decided to wade the pool.

And here we were, the waterfall that had stopped Marcia and me. This looked like two “drops” but it’s deceiving, the water level between both pools is exactly the sam. However, it would be difficult to get out of this “keeper pot”, as the pool is quite deep. So we decided to do what Philip had done, look around for an anchor on the RH side that we could use to abseil in beyond the 2 pools.

We found a good anchor, but the route into the slot/canyon needed a bit of gardening to get rid of sticks and branches that would make the pull down of the rope problematic.

Gardening completed, Trish is on the way.

At the bottom of the abseil, Trish belaying Ian.

Philip had told us that you could actually “duck under” this rock bridge (that Trish is holding onto). So Trish decided to find out how low down the duck-under hole was. Turns out it’s way down near her feet – she estimates 1.5m, none of us would be happy doing this duck-under, you’d need a weight belt to get you down that far!

However, 2m downstream of the abseil, was a Coachwood growing on the side of the canyon wall, and you could use this to do a dodgy down or up-climb to get in and out of the canyon – in fact it would appear that this canyon could be reversed.

A short swim/wade after the abseil, Ian scrambled around up high on the left of Trish to avoid getting wet.

A scramble down beside a 1m drop, using some convenient roots.

And another 1m downclimb using some more roots.

Ian on the downclimb, with his long legs it was easier for him!

We abseiled this, but 18 months ago John G and Anna had climbed up this small waterfall, mind you, there was just a dribble of water going over the rock at that time, it was really slippery this time.

Ian on the abseil.

A small scramble down very slippery rocks at the side of the creek, and voila, we’re at the end of the canyon.

It took 1.5 hours from where we’d dropped our packs, to getting back to them, however, we’d wasted 15 minutes going down the first gully, then another 15 minutes with some gardening and checking out the depth of the duck-under.  So, short but VERY sweet and such a small amount of effort, good “bang for your bucks”.  Thanks Ian and Trish for joining me on the trip!


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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.