Exploratory Canyoning in Brass Monkey weather!

NORTHERN WOLLEMI NP – 12 – 14 June 2021
This trip had been planned for a couple of months but then a “cold snap” headed in from down south and the temperatures plummeted! There were only four of us going, and each one of us (unbeknown to the others), questioned the wisdom of heading out into the wilderness in freezing cold weather! 

In the end, despite each of us thinking we should kill the idea, we turned up at the meeting spot and set off.  The good news is that we planned to car camp (which means I could take 2 sleeping bags) and lots of good food (lol).

To mitigate the risk in possibly wet canyons I’d also bought a new wetsuit! Titanium Shark Skin wetsuit and booties – didn’t have to use the wetsuit but if it’s anything like the booties, it will be toasty warm. Check out the wetsuits and the bonus is they are located in Newcastle, they’re Australian made and they’ll do alterations!  Cannot wait until I get to use it in a wet canyon!

The aim of the weekend was to do a few remote canyons near Numietta Creek – John brought along an inflatable raft just in case we came to a pool we couldn’t get around – he carried it all weekend and thankfully we didn’t have to use it – what a man!

We weren’t a large group, just John G (L), Rod S, Diana dSP and myself, where was everyone?  Maybe canyoning in the middle of winter isn’t popular.

We headed off around 9.30am initially on a fire trail.

John tried to encourage Diana to try navigating but when John’s there to navigate, it’s a little daunting so I think she decided just to follow along for the day.

We were soon into a tributary of a main creek, none of us had been here before. Initially there was a small climb down.

And within a few hundred metres we were presented with some very fine canyon formation, already the creek had exceeded our expectations.

Very pretty canyon looked like it was just short and sweet.

But it wasn’t finished with us yet, very constricted and easy to walk through.

Still not finished with us!

A Lyre Bird’s nest built up high on a ledge, looks like an egg in it, but not sure, maybe a little early for eggs.

This canyon just got better and better, a fairly high climb down that we elected to abseil. Sadly we discovered that we weren’t the first through the canyon. A handline out of old Telstra rope was in place (very dodgy), so we cut it out and left a good handline behind that we used to abseil down to creek level.

Rod at the drop that Diana and I had abseiled, I think he down-climbed.

The old rope that we took out, very dodgy, I put it in the bottom of my pack and then forgot all about it, I walked this rope all the way through tomorrow’s trip!

Lovely section of canyon (photo John G)

The canyon became constricted again and was very, very dark. (Photo: John G)

And then it ended, not before giving us a lot of fallen trees to negotiate our way through, Diana tried to clear up some of the wood to make the way forward easier.

John at the end of the canyon, not only does he carry an SLR camera on trips but he usually brings along a tripod.

The end of the canyon a lovely rainforest section with Coachwood forest.

As an unpublished canyon, we don’t believe it has a name, but we called it Telstra canyon in honour of the dodgy Telstra rope that we came across, was very old so whoever put it in visited many, many years ago.  Edit:  The Go-To Guru for canyon names says that on a map someone sent him years ago it is called Sooty Owl.

Our next tributary was one that Rod had visited many years ago, no abseils, but worth while visiting, so we headed up the creek, a short distance from the one we’d just been in.

We left most of the packs at the end of the tributary and it was nice easy walking upstream.

Large cut out overhang gave us hope for some good slot canyon up ahead.

The canyon has now been given the name Orange Foot as Rod trod on a solid looking rock and sank down into a murky orange sludge, the “rock” was hollow. Edit:  my Go-To Guru, David N has done a bit of searching and this canyon may have been named by someone else Triassic Canyon.

Above “Rod’s Rock” was a “waterfall”, where the water flowed over a sloping rock, this too was covered in an orange/red deposit, we were all fascinated by it. (Photo:  Diana)

We walked further upstream.

And then came to the end for me – a small rock to scale.

Diana managed the moves to avoid the water, but Rod and I decided that it wasn’t for us! John and Diana explored a little further upstream, but came back to say that we’d seen the best.

We retraced our steps and then started the walk back to camp, up a stream that looked negotiable.

Not far up this creek, we made our way to the cliff base and stumbled upon some Aboriginal art, it’s obviously authentic, and in an area that you would logically find aboriginal art (an aboriginal route following ridge lines across the area).

This one was more recognisable.

As was this one. The gallery was about 15m long, and then that was the end of them.

We found a nice ramp and headed up onto the ridge and then our treck back to camp.

Whilst sitting around the campfire the next day, I looked over to one of the trees, and there was what looked like a scar on the tree, on closer inspection I was pretty sure that it was an Aboriginal Scar Tree – a tree that the aboriginals had taken off a section of bark to make an implement (possibly for carrying food or a shield). This fitted in with the aboriginal art we saw, it’s on a route that was used by the Aboriginals – a great find.

Great campfire that night!

Rod had a problem with his thigh on the walk out the day before so opted out of Sunday’s adventure.  The plan was to go through Greenup Canyon then cross the creek and explore a slot that John had noted a few years ago, which we christened Lost & Found Canyon for ease of reference but the canyon name Guru says that on his map it’s named Instant Canyon – not as good a name as Lost & Found.

So, the three of us set off around 8.30am and eventually came to our route in. Easy walking up the ridge and over to the saddle which you use to enter Greenup.

Beautiful day for canyoning, photo of Diana just before the saddle with Mount Coorongooba in the distance. (Photo John Gray).

Heading down in the Greenup Creek.

And then we hit this horrible scrub, this went on for a few hundred metres, head height with a noxious smell.

Finally we were at the first pitch, so happy to be rid of the scrub. Diana on the first abseil.

John on the second pitch.

Me on the second pitch (photo Diana).

Diana on the second pitch (I think).

Interesting scramble to avoid a pool f water.

Chimney to avoid another pool – we’d do anything to avoid getting wet!

Another scramble.

I’d forgotten all about this traverse. Rod must have reminded John of it and possibly said “Marilyn wont like this”, so without even asking, John set out a traverse safety line which both Diana and I used, although Diana really didn’t need it!

The final abseil ended in a pool of water. I’d abseiled down first to a ledge and told John that I didn’t think I’d get across it without getting wet, so he abseiled down and managed to get across the pool with only a wet leg to the knee.

Diana came down next and managed to chimney over with some direction from John as to where the small ledges were to stay dry, and then I followed, made it almost to the end and then got my leg wet up to the knee. The slot was too narrow to use John’s blow up raft!

We were then out of the canyon and found a spot in the sun for lunch, then there was the tedious walk downstream with many boulder sections, so pleased to get to Numietta Creek and some nice easy walking on some flat ground.  We then found our next destination, an unnamed tributary that John had walked up a few years ago.

John at the end of a slot that’s not marked on the map, surely there’s canyon section above the drop (a long abseil). So we headed up a stream which is marked on the map and that John had walked up before … we walked a long way upstream with a lot of bouldering and eventually found a ramp up to the ridge.

Walking over the ridge and down into the stream above the slot.

There was quite a bit of water in the stream and then we came to a drop of undetermined distance and quite a way back from the slot we’d looked up – about 100m away. This was very exciting.

We decided with limited daylight hours and with only 2 x 40m ropes, it wasn’t a good idea to drop down into something with no idea of anchor options.  We’ll return in the summer with longer daylight hours, longer ropes and LOTS of rube tape for anchors, so we re-traced our steps, and rather than the tedious route downstream, we found a few likely anchors and abseiled down the cliff-face landing a mere 50m from our exploratory slot.

A good view of the slot, it does look like a canyon doesn’t it?

We decided to take a likely ramp close by Greenup to see if that was good route to exit.  Was a fabulous route, took us all the way up to the saddle above Greenup and then we headed back to the fire trail and eventually to camp.  Another cold night but a great fire.  Diana had to leave on Monday morning, and the rest of us decided that we’d do a daywalk up Mount Corongooba via a nice easy route from the fire trail.  So, after waving Diana goodby, we headed to a saddle just off the road and set off for the summit.

We suggested to John that he should carry that inflatable raft on the trip up the mountain, just for a photo-shoot, but he decided against that!

John and Rod on the way up. Fabulous weather.

There were a few scrambles on the way up, one easy, the other no so!

It was about now that we spotted a wedge-tailed eagle soaring on the thermals – bonus! You can see it in the banner above.

Coorongooba in the distance.

Rod on a dodgy traverse.

Rod, finally on the summit (a small cairn). We then retraced our steps and were back on the fire trail by 3pm – a great fitness walk.

Thank you so much John for putting this trip on the calendar and thanks to Rod and Diana for joining us, wouldn’t have been able to do the trip without you both.  So, great weekend, we found some interesting finds, and as always there’s some unfinished business that we’ll need to get back to.  And we finished the trip without any injuries – bonus!

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

4 Responses to Exploratory Canyoning in Brass Monkey weather!

  1. Lindsay Barrett says:

    Interesting area! Years ago, Geoff S led a trip (exploratory) in the same area as Greenup / Midwinter canyons – but, all we found back then were some extremely sketchy pagodas which we had to climb up in order to exit the area.
    I would be interested in having another explore – but only in warmer weather / longer days than are available at this time of year.
    Well done though – some nice photos.

  2. Kàthy Leslie says:

    You see the most amazing places. LOVE seeing the aboriginal art!!!
    Thanks again for sharing your adventures!

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