What happened to the Colliery?

BLUE MOUNTAINS – 9 & 10 January 2021
Our first day canyoning in Corkscrew wasn’t all that blog-worthy (apart from some nice pics) and our add on trip into a smaller canyon.  It was cold and wet! Koombanda was blog-worthy because it has been 9 years since I last did it and couldn’t remember a thing – and we were taking a new route out … that was “interesting”!  I had used this route out back in 1999 when we did Jungaburra canyon and walked through the closed Colliery buildings, so it’s not like it was totally unknown!

After what seemed like 40 days and night of rain, Trish and I decided that 2 days of sunshine at Mount Wilson warranted a short notice canyoning trip, so we put it on both the BWOC and MSS calendars, didn’t get many takers, but with only 2 days notice that was to be expected.  Ian K joined us for both days and Louise K joined us for Sunday only.

The first canyon of the weekend was a return trip down Corkscrew, Trish and I had both done it relatively recently so we expected an easy run through this non-abseil canyon.

Trish led us down a spur that she’d used a month ago, fairly easy walking after the fires.

Until we got into the creek and then it got very untidy with lots of semi-burned saplings that had fallen down.

Ian and I put on wetsuits, but Trish decided to go without, we were now in the canyon and the water was higher than normal, possibly about 30cm above normal.

This creek has lovely constricted canyon sections.

And a few swims, Ian not looking happy about swimming through the flood debris.

There are a couple of small climb downs.

Nice canyon section.

Another nice section (these photos are for my US friends who live vicariously through my blog posts).

There was a sapling that had been pushed over in the recent heavy rain event, and this small next was at a level where we could see it easily. The next would have been about 6 or 7 cm in diameter, must be for very small birds!

Eventually we’re at the spot where Corkscrew gets its name. The creek is quite wide at this point, about 50 – 60m wide, and then there is a bit rock fall, about 50m in length, the rocks have formed a barrier for the water and it builds up behind the rocks (lots of knee deep sand, mud and flood debris). The creek makes a big U-turn here, and is flowing UPSTREAM for about 20m, it can’t get through the rock pile barrier.

But after flowing upstream for 20m the water has found a way through the rocks, not a big enough passage for the flow to form a whirlpool, just a slow seeping down into the rocks.  Mind you this could be because the passage has filled with flood debris or mud.  The water then finds a way (through passages in rock) of flowing downstream again (forming a corkscrew in its route) and re-emerges to the surface about 70m downstream. You don’t often see this corkscrew in place, in times of dry weather, the water just “disappears” underground, so we were really fortunate to see this.

From here it was relatively straight forward, walked down to South Bowen Creek, though the delightful Coachwood forest and then out via a side creek.  Great day!

On Sunday the Legendary Louise joined us for Koombanda Canyon, I was the only one who’d done it before … and that was 9 years ago, so I really couldn’t remember much about it (although in 2009 it was the third time I’d done it).

I’m sure prior to the fires there was a well-trodden track in to this canyon, but since the fires, it’s long gone, you occasionally see evidence of a track, but it comes and goes. Mind you if you couldn’t find your way into Koombanda without a track, you should give up the game! We made our way down to the creek and then came to a small waterfall.  This is what we’d used in the past, but there was no evidence of an anchor, and you could easily see a nice overhang over to the right, so we opted to do the overhang.

You can just see Louise on the abseil.

Trish on the abseil.

This is the small waterfall that we didn’t abseil, but Trish also found a ramp over to the right of the waterfall, and she believes that’s the way that people go into the canyon now.

This was an interesting scramble down a slot, the trick is to stay out of the pool at the bottom, Ian decided to just get wet!

Louise did the “butt shuffle” to get past the deep water.

Looking down into the next slot, it was an awkward abseil past a log with the trick to avoid the deep pool at the bottom.

Lou bridging each side.

Ian taking a different route, he decided to just drop into the hole and pool.

Trish at our next abseil down a nice slot.

Louise on the abseil, there was a rock you could land on, but then it was a compulsory swim and the water was FREEZING!

After the abseil, it was a nice walk down a really pretty section of canyon, into the Grose Valley (the Grose River).  In the past, I had exited out to the left through Kamarah Gully, but these days it seems everyone walks downstream to an old colliery, so we opted to take that route.

It was fairly easy going along the banks of the River, but when we got close to the Colliery, we chose the right hand bank and ended up 15m above the road I was looking for and horrible scrub ahead, so we chose to abseil down through very loose rocks, it was easier than the scrub though.

It turns out that there’s an easy route over on the left bank (note for the future!).  It was then an easy walk up the old road that serviced the colliery.  From this point on I was looking for the old colliery buildings, I thought they were down by the creek near the road.  I suppose after 21 years, I should not be surprised to find that the buildings have been demolished.

Until we got to a washed out section of road, someone had put dodgy electrical wire to use as a handline to go down one side of the wash-out, and then some dodgy rope for a handline on the other side. This wash-out can only get worse!

Crossing the barrier which prevents vehicles going down to the wash-out.

From here it was just a slog up hill back to the cars we’d left there in the morning.  We did however stop briefly to chat with one of the Traditional Owners of the land who was checking out any art sites that might have been damaged in the 2019/20 fires.  Really interesting talking with him, could have stayed chatting for hours.

Thanks for coming on the trip Lou and Ian, and thanks for putting this on with the Trish.  Great weekend!

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

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