Hindsight is always 20-20

NEWNES PLATEAU – 13 & 14 February 2021
This turned into (yes David), yet another epic trip.  In hindsight, we should have gone with the option to exit via the Tiger Snake exit track, it would have meant backtracking 600m and then going 600m or so up to the exit track and then an easy walk out.  Instead we continued up the Gorge and then an easy pass up onto the plateau, but around 2k of off track through a maze of pagodas,  and going this way probably added an extra 3 hours to the walk out!

Our plan, which I’d been mulling over for years, was to do an unpublished canyon up on the plateau, camp in Constance Gorge and then go over to do Bigfoot on Sunday.  I was hoping to do this trip quicker than the last time.  Whilst we finished on the Sunday at 8.30pm, that was still better than the 11pm finish last time!

I have to say that the weather on the plateau was horrible, it was drizzling when we got to the jump off site, and I actually debated the advantage of just doing the one day (in the rain), but we figured, we were there, we should just go for it. Steve R, Omar S, John G, Andrew B and Bill R joined me.

Walking in to the creek we were going down, very burned out, and a lot of water on the ground.

After trudging through a deep pool we came to a constricted part, but we weren’t sure what there was after.  We sent Bill down but he found that it was difficult to get through the constriction with overnight packs on, so we sent the packs down to him at the bottom.

Shortly after this, there was a bit of wading and then more constriction, I photographed all of this but with the rain on the lens, my photos were crap.  After the wade, there was a very dodgy traverse over some logs to get through the constriction.  When I last did this canyon, it was winter and we avoided all the pools, wades etc, so this constricted part was new.

Once out of the constriction, the creek opens out, we elected to do all the abseils down the creek, rather than take the dry abseils.

Bill on the abseil.

John on the abseil.

The next abseil had a very scrubby start, and a pool, so we elected to go off to the side and ended up passing all the packs down to avoid trying to get a bit of constriction.

Me on the abseil. (Photo:  John G)

Andrew on this really nice abseil (Photo:  John G)

Rock hopping down the creek.

A pool above the last abseil. This was a tricky descent, and we did it in two stages, dropping down to this pool (which you could avoid) and then walking over to an overhang and doing the final abseil from there.

Omar on the final abseil. If I didn’t have the heavy back pack on, it would have been a brilliant abseil, but the pack kept pulling me backwards so didn’t enjoy the abseil at all.

Andrew on the abseil.

At the end of the canyon, Steve and bill went off looking for an overhang, and we were rewarded by this one, perfect, dry leaf litter to camp on, close to a water source, and loads of hardwood for the campfire.

Great campfire, we collected heaps of wood and it was toasty warm around the fire, and we were able to dry off some clothes.

Many years ago, I’d read in a Michael Keates book about a pass down into Constance Gorge, I’d tried walking down it about 10 years ago but was stopped by a drop of indeterminable height, so we turned back.  I figured though that it had to “go” so we decided to use it as our access to Bigfoot.

The creek was a mere 200m from our campsite, so we headed up with day packs for the canyon.

I obviously didn’t get this far down the pass, would have remembered this great camp cave.

The walls were closing in, so I figured that this was close to where I’d been stopped.

This was a drop, but I don’t think this is the one that stopped me, I would have found a way down this small climb.

After the climb, we found this nice ramp that took us up through another cliff-line, I think the cliff-line we walked through this time was the one that stopped me.

We walked a short way east, then looked for a way down, Bill and I liked this slot but it didn’t “go”, there was a serious drop after it.

Hunting around for a way down into the creek, or at the very least an abseil with a good anchor.

We found a good anchor and decided to just abseil in, rather than walk further upstream. Me on the abseil. (Photo: John G)

Andrew on the abseil, I loved the misty background of this.

Finally in the creek after having to walk along for a few hundred metres up on the side (in amongst the scrub).

The creek beginning to constrict (with lots of dead trees in it).

The second abseil, this one from a dead, burned log, not a great start.

Steve on the next abseil (the third or second depending on whether you could the drop into the creek).

John on the next abseil, another tricky start down into a pool.

Omar on the fourth abseil.

Me on the last abseil (photo: John G)

After the last abseil, the creek opened out into a lovely coachwood forest which had been untouched by the fires. (Photo:  John G)

More of this lovely rainforest section (Photo John G).

We were through the canyon in about 3 hours, and because it took us longer than expected to reach the canyon, we were about an hour behind schedule.  We had a quick lunch at Deanes Creek and then headed upstream.  I’d estimated the upstream walk to take us about 2 hours, and it was pretty much spot on.  We got back to camp, then took a well-deserved rest before packing up.  It was at this point that I nixed the idea of going down to Tiger Snake exit (suggested by John), bad decision on my part, but I honestly recalled the walk out via the pass I’d used in the past as being relatively easy and quick.   So we set off up Constance Gorge to the saddle.

I didn’t see the pass that I’d used in the past, but John knew of one that we headed for.  We didn’t like the look of the slippery climb up a pagoda (even with a handline), but Andrew headed around the cliff-line and found a better pass.

The pass we used, a climb up a ramp onto a big rock then climbing up a gully, actually very easy, but by this time (5pm) I was stuffed.

Once up the top of the pass, we headed cross country towards the Tiger Snake track.

Looking back over the terrain we’d covered after we reached the top of the pass.

It took ages for us to finally reach the Tiger Snake exit track, every time we crested a rise, I thought to myself “this has got to be it”, but no, there was yet another one.  It was with relief that we finally reached the track and we could each head back to the cars at our own pace.

I was absolutely stuffed by this time, my pack was heavy (wet abseil gear and clothes), and I hadn’t had any good food for quite a while (I had some in the pack but couldn’t stomach it).  Bill stayed at the back of the pack with me, making sure I was ok, for which I’m eternally grateful.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt as shattered as I did at the end of this walk, but, it was a 13 hour day (we reached the cars at 8.30pm – just on dark) so was not a big surprise!  I was so stuffed, that I left my car at Zig Zag and Steve drove me to Marcia’s house, thankfully she was still awake when I called her so that I could stay the night at her place and drive home the next day.

I’d always wanted to do a wet trip through the unpublished canyon, have done it now, never have to go back (lol).  Not sure that we were able to do the trip through Bigfoot any quicker than the last time, although I know people who do it as a day trip (would be a lot easier walking out without an overnight pack).

You’ll all be pleased to know that I looked at my wish list after this walk and crossed off a whole lot of trips that I’ve decided will be just TOO HARD.  Still a lot on the wish list though.  Thank you so much guys for coming on this adventure with me.



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

10 Responses to Hindsight is always 20-20

  1. John L’Estrange says:

    That’s an excellent photograph of you on the “last abseil”. It also looks as if the two snaggly teeth chockstones are about to snap shut!

  2. David says:

    Love the one of you abseiling mum! You are amazing!

  3. Lindsay Barrett says:

    Better you than me, M – in some of your crazy adventures.
    I recently did Tiger Snake (Sat 6th Feb) with some friends; it had more water than I’d ever seen in it in the past – very definitely NOT a ‘dry’ canyon at present – we all got pretty wet, but ultimately made up for that with yummy pizzas from a shop in the old main street in Lithgow.
    It is interesting to see the area now a year after the bush fires with the green shoots & regrowth – but, unfortunately some areas (think mining ruins at Newnes) are totally covered in weeds; and so – may never be the same again as we once remembered them.
    But – make the most of what we still do have – it’s very hard to beat.

  4. Betty McCleary says:

    Another great adventure. Wonderful scenery. How many more trips on your bucket list?

    • marilyn says:

      haha, the bucket list is on the “What’s coming Up” page, down the bottom, there are still a lot of trips on it, but I took most of the HARD ones (“In Your Dreams M”) off after this last weekend (lol). I am booked in for a four day trip in March and I said to the leader last night “maybe I should go on this” but he pooh poohed that and said we’d do the trip in a way that I’d be capable of – don’t like people dumbing down a trip just for me though! We’ll see, taking it easy this weekend though!

  5. Shirley Hampton says:

    OMG Marilyn – bet you’ll still be doing this when you are my age🏋🏻‍♀️ – or lots of happy ‘dream times’ !!!

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