NEWNES PLATEAU – 28 – 30 December 2021
The last time I went out to the Bubble Bath area of the Plateau, I figured Crikey Canyon might be a bit too much for me to take on. After all, it was a 3 hour walk just to get to the camp cave, there’s no way that I’d be able to do the walk in and out and the canyon over a two day weekend. But then Jim C said he was going to do Crikey over 3 days (along with 2 other canyons) and I decided that, as unfit as I am, I could probably go and just do Crikey.
Anna O-B also thought that was a good idea. So we both signed in, along with John & Kathy G and Kavita.
Due to a bit of an epic that Jim, John, Kathy and Kavita had the day before (long story), we decided to take Bjelkes Mind Canyon off the table and walk in to the camp cave slowly. On the old fire trail, John explaining where we were going.
The track into Bubble Bath was very well defined (except for the small parts where it just “disappeared”.
We took a little side trip to a good look out and John took a timed photo of us all sitting on a rock, he tied his good camera into the fork of a tree to take the photo.
At the lookout – we were actually looking for the “other camp cave” that Steve R told me about, but didn’t find it.
Anna at the lookout taking a drink out of a convenient pool.
I’ve taken a gazillion shots this season of Flannel Flowers (Actinotus helianthi) but so far I haven’t seen a good display of the miniature Flannel Flowers (aka the Lesser Flannel Flower) (Actinotus minor) – they were everywhere on this ridge, this photo gives you an idea of the size of them, they are a perfect replica of the larger flower (shown here).
We had started walking at around 1pm and after a few detours got to the camp cave somewhere between 4 and 6, it had been a hot, humid walk in and we were all pretty tired, so had an early night. We started walking to Crikey at around 8.30am.
There was a bit of a foot pad most of the way until we got to what looked like the route down. Lots of Fallen trees to get over and a lot of loose rocks, so we were super cautious.
You can see how loose everything was.
John on a ledge, looking for the way forward. Nothing looked do-able. There had to be an easy way down, after all, Geoff J takes overnight walkers (not canyoners), down this route on one of his favourite walks. We decided to back track a bit and suss out a ledge a little higher.
Jim coming back up to the ledge after doing a little more exploring for a route down.
There was a footpad up on the ledge which led us to this hole between two rocks and was an easy route down to a good ramp.
Kathy about to go down the hole.
Looking up at the hole from the ramp a little ways down.
Further down the slope/ramp, was quite steep, but up to this point, aside from our minor detour, this route down was excellent.
Arriving at the Bunglebori.
The hard part, crossing the creek without getting wet feet (lol).
We then startd climbing a gully immediately across from where we’d come down. I wasn’t looking to this part, I’d heard people talking about a tricky climb, so wasn’t looking forward to that at all. However, when we got there it was pretty straight forward. Jim went up first (very slippery) and put down a hand line as there weren’t many hand holds, and as the log and rock was slippery, was much safer.
At the top of the climb, very pretty gully.
We scrambled up rocks and eventually walked along the side of the gully, easy going for the most part.
Someone with very good eyesight (can’t remember who) found this Hyacinth Terrestrial Orchid (Dipodium punctatum), this year has been very good for terrestrial orchids, or maybe I’m just more aware of them.
Almost at the end of the gully and we camp to a climb up, Anna wondering how she was going to tackle it.
I used someone’s foot as a hand hold and made it up easily, here’s Jim about to do a committing move.
We’re all up now and it’s a rock scramble to the top.
Which kept on going (lol).
We crossed over the ridge, with relatively easy walking.
Kathy loves Flannel flowers so we took this photo of her immersed in them.
And one of Kavita!
John looking for a way down into the Crikey Creek system. There was a reasonable ramp just in front of him.
A nice array of Trigger Plants (Stylidium).
In the creek now and it’s looking a bit scrubby.
With more than its fair share of fallen logs/trees.
After avoiding fallen trees and scrub for a while it was time to drop down into the creekbed.
Was a bit awkward for a while, and then a 1m drop onto sand.
We’re now in the canyon proper and it was looking quite nice.
Small scramble down.
And another scramble.
Kavita who was first down on the first abseil. (photo: John G)
Jim on the first abseil.
There was a small pool at the bottom (thigh deep), and then immediately after another abseil.
Jim in the pool after the 1st abseil.
Kathy on the abseil.
The abseils then came thick and fast. The first pitch was a nice easy start, and then we had two or three pitches that were really awful, a great case for bolting if ever I saw one. This was the only photo of mine (possibly the 2nd pitch) in the dark section which turned out. John’s photos with his big arse torch follow. We were held up on the second pitch because I was nervous about the pull down but as it turned out, was uneventful.
Kathy in a really dark section with Jim and me in the distance.
Further on in the dark section with me in the distance.
After the really dark section there was a 10m swim. When you stood at the end of it, the water was so still you couldn’t see where the reflections started/ended.
Jim on the second last abseil, I actually thought it was the last one.
Anna on the second last abseil, again, this had a nasty start.
Nice section of canyon in the daylight section.
Kavita on the final nice easy abseil, someone had put a nice new anchor tape on it. John didn’t recall this abseil, there was a manky anchor to Kavita’s left that may (or may not) have been a hand-line to get down.
Anna on the last abseil.
After the final abseil it was a short uneventful walk down to the Buglebori.
And then a nice walk upstream, sometimes in nice Coachwood forests.
And sometimes we were forced into the creek for some rock scrambling past waterfalls.
And then we had nice long stretches where it was just easier to walk in the creek.
We were forever scrambling over flood debris which was trying.
And before long we were at the spot in the creek where we’d crossed earlier in the day. Time to wash the sand out of our shoes.
Probably took us an hour to get back to the camp cave and set the fire to cook dinner. The first night I was very cold in bed (despite wearing my wet suit legs to bed), and so on the second night, John very kindly offered me his you-beaut sleeping bag as he doesn’t usually need it, he used my light weight summer bag. We all had a good night’s sleep after a strenuous day. We were up reasonably early, packed up and headed up the gully to the saddle.
There, John, Jim and Kavita got their canyoning gear out and went off to do Bubble Bath.
Off they go! Kathy, Anna and I lazed around – prepared for a 3 hour wait for them and they were back in just over 2 hours, must have run through the canyon!
We started our walk back to the cars at around noon and I got back to the cars at 3.30pm.
So, after 25 years of canyoning, I finally did Crikey, and the climb up wasn’t as scary as I’d imagined. Did it live up to my expectations – hell YES. The dark sections were stunning, probably some of the best canyon sections I’ve come across. The abseil starts were technical and challenging – made more challenging when you were abseiling through a waterfall. If this canyon was easily accessible, everyone and their dog would be doing it, so I’m sort of pleased that it’s a long way out.
Thank you so much Jim for putting this on the calendar and to John for making life easier for us by navigating where it was required. Great trip! can’t wait for the next one.
THE RIDE HOME
As you can see above, the walk out for me was 3.5 hours, and it was very, very hot in full sun. I drank plenty of water and had Hydrolite as a supplement. What I didn’t do when I got into the car and started my drive home was drink more water (big mistake). I got to Richmond and called into Maccas for something for dinner + a chocolate milkshake with a shot of coffee (to keep me awake on the drive home).
20 minutes later, I my heart started racing as I was driving, it was oscillating between 90 bpm to 160, 165 bpm (as per my FitBit) and I felt like I had indigestion, I thought maybe I might be having a heart attack! I stopped after about half an hour of this and called a friend who used to be a nurse. She suggested I get straight to the hospital, so I drove to David S’s house (5 minutes away) and he drove me to Hornsby Hospital (another 5 minutes). Three hours later, an EKG, chest X-ray and blood test, the doctor decided that I was good enough to be discharged and my heart rate was back to normal.
Seems that the combination of dehydration and a shot of coffee caused the irregular and raised heart beat – so, lesson for the future, rehydrate on the drive home before you drink coffee!
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