NEWNES PLATEAU – 6 March 2021
Rod S put this unpublished canyon on the MSS calendar and none of us had any idea of what to expect, although, Felix O-B had told his mother that under no circumstances was the name or location to be publicised as it was a “fragile environment”. At least that’s what I think he said, it was second hand from Anna. In the end, poor Anna couldn’t come with us but I’m sure she’ll get to see it eventually.
There were 6 of us, Rod, John and Kathy G, Trish M, Penny S and me and we met up on a fire trail at 9am and headed into what for me was uncharted territory. We were doing the canyon and then exiting up one of two possible exits – we’d decide which one when we got to the end of the canyon. Very easy walk in, not too far, and before long the creek had constricted into a true canyon.
Abseil #1: Rod thought he could get around a deep pool, but we heard a crash and a splash, so the rest of us decided to abseil off a convenient tree and avoid the swim.
The small drop and deep pool that claimed Rod. Wouldn’t you love to have this in your back yard?
For those of us not already wet, the first compulsory wade.
Abseil #2 – Trish offered to go down first and we soon heard a splash, bugger another swim or deep pool.
Penny on abseil #2 – whist Trish dropped straight down the waterfall, I could see that if you carefully trended left, you could land in a spot that was only knee deep – Penny on the abseil (Photo: John G)
Kathy on abseil #2. We were careful to not dislodge the moss.
A slippery climb down after the abseil.
Trish traversing the creek to climb down on the left (where you could avoid a swim).
John doing the climb down.
Rod at another compulsory wade.
Cathy on abseil #3. This was an interesting one, there were two anchors and we weren’t sure which was the best one, and we weren’t sure that our 40m rope would make it to the bottom (a great spot for SRT Shiva!). I didn’t like the look of the second anchor as it was in water, went around a rock and you couldn’t examine it, both had tapes, but they were both quite old (evidence that this canyon isn’t done that often).
Abseil #3, down a small chute, then a swim across a pool and drag yourself up and over a ledge, that had sides to it that made it awkward – Kathy negotiating it. (photo: Penny S)
Looking back at the chute.
Penny on Abseil #3, a nice abseil, the 40m rope only just made it, we had to stand on a ledge to get off rope and then drop down another 2 – 3m to the next level, so, a 45-50m rope would have been better (lol) – Photo: John G.
Trish on the slippery ledge getting off rope. By this time I’m very, very cold, despite having a jacket on, my photos are a bit dodgy cause I couldn’t keep the camera still (lol).
John on the last abseil – #4 – there were two anchors, neither were particularly pretty, but we decided on the lesser of two evils, a rope off an ironstone bollard.
Trish on the last abseil.
Me on the last abseil, if you spread your feet apart, and were very careful, you could avoid the waterfall and not damage the moss or ferns! Stunningly beautiful waterfall. (photo: John G)
I’m with Felix, a beautiful waterfall, so many ferns and so much moss, and there is a huge potential for this canyon to be trashed, so, everyone sealed their lips and have vowed not to share the details.
After the last waterfall, there was a bit of a scramble out of the slot, up and over a large rockfall. The creek went underground at the rockfall, and from the valley you wouldn’t think there was a canyon there – a hidden treasure. We lunched in the sun on the rocks and then debated which way out.
We decided to take the route less travelled out of the gorge and John led the way. We’d been wondering where all the pink flannel flowers that everyone have been photographing, and there, on our path out were a few specimens, cute little things and only appear after a fire which is followed by a big rain event. In 25 years of bush walking I’ve never seen them before.
Took awhile to reach our gully to exit up and almost as soon as we were in it, there was an interesting slot off to the side, initially Penny, John, Rod and I were going up the slot to check it out but then Kathy and Trish had FOMO so followed. Nice narrow slot.
Scrambling up the slot.
We reached a climb, Penny was keen for it but the rest of us decided that we’d seen enough, and maybe this was a gully/slot that we could explore down (from the top) at another time.
Back down in the main gorge/gully, we started to see the tree ferns for which it is named. Very pretty.
Tiny red fungus.
Heading up to a fork in the gully, easy walking.
There seemed to be a bit of a foot pad, but then it disappeared, so not sure that this route is well used.
After a bit of a climb we walked into the most beautiful campsite that I’ve come across in a long while, absolutely flat, and great campsites in amongst leaf little and tree ferns all over the place.
More of the camp site – it was huge.
Walking through more of the big flat forest. Sadly, no water, but we figured you wouldn’t have to go far to collect it, although there was that small climb to get past.
We followed the gully until it became a bit scrubby, then decided to exit up onto the ridge and follow that back to the fire trail. Easy walking all the way, and not too steep.
We were back at the cars by about 4pm then headed over to a bush camp that we’d spotted on the drive in. Lots of fire wood, good flat campsites and we were the only ones in the area, perfect!
Lots of talk around the campfire about camp oven roasts and the rest of us salivating over John & Kathy’s dinner – which they did share with us. Apparently there’ll be a camp oven dinner on a couple of upcoming trips – can’t wait.
Thank you Rod for putting this trip on the calendar – was an amazing day and always good to do another unpublished canyon – and we chose the right exit route, thank you John! Might have to go back and check out that slot – unfinished business?
And thanks to the rest of the team – good teamwork and you were all super careful – perfect day.
There’s nothing glamorous about bushwalking, caving or canyoning, but it sure is fun! If you’re an armchair bushwalker, someone looking for new adventures, or one of my friends who just wants to see what I’ve been up to, this site is for you, sign up to get email alerts now!