NEWNES PLATEAU – 7-9 January 2020
I was driving up to Newnes with Trish on Friday afternoon, but we needed to make a stop at the Salvos at West Gosford to drop off some stuff. Unfortunately, the donation of Henry the Alpaca was declined, so he joined us on our weekend of canyoning with John and Kathy G.
But first Trish and I paid a quick fitness walk on the Wollangambe Crater Tourist track to see if we could sniff out some terrestrial orchids.
We were very lucky, we only walked a couple of k on the track and found the Horned Orchid (orthoceras strictum), Hyacinth orchid (Dipodium punctatum), Minor Flying Ducks (Caleana minor) and a Yellow Leek orchid (Prasophyllum flavum). Sadly, my camera took crap photos of them, next time I’ll be taking my phone!
Once back at the car, we headed over to Barcoo Swamp where we were camping. This proved to be a hellish drive, the Glow Worm Tunnel Road is a mass of potholes and washed away fire trail. Took us much longer than normal to get there, but once we arrived we picked out a spot for Trish’s tent. Kathy and John arrived shortly thereafter and we had a lovely campfire with dinner and drinks.
The forecast rain started around 9pm and we were all in our tents. If Peter (Trish’s partner) had been with us to set up the tent, I am sure he would have picked a better spot. As it was, the rain was much heavier than anticipated and we were soon in a lake of water with dribbles starting to form in the tent. Luckily Trish’s vehicle had a platform that you can sleep on so we quickly decamped into the car. “Where’s Henry?” the cry went out … “it’s ok, he’s in the car!”
This is where we camped – just look at the silt, should have known better.
Henry, safe and sound in the car.
Ready to start the canyon, Henry’s enjoying the scenery, although we were concerned he wouldn’t fit in our dry bag and might drown, so we decided to give him a rest day.
Henry much happier once we moved the tent and he’s all set up for his rest day!
We did a bit of a car shuffle and then headed off on this dis-used fire trail (locked gate at the start).
We seemed to walk for ages and then John took us to our first point of interest.
Approaching our target creek. with the burn off from the 2019 fires, we were able to see well into the creek.
At our target, the Celestial Chamber, with the hope we could abseil down the waterfall.
John and Trish checking it out. Unfortunately there were no suitable anchors at the waterfall (probably not a bad thing, we didn’t want to get too wet lol).
John across the chasm deploying our rope from a suitable anchor. Trish, Kathy and I went around to join John once we’d determined that the rope reached the bottom.
John on the abseil.
Trish on the abseil – she’s a bit nervous, this is her first abseil after 6 months off her feet after Achilles surgery.
Great shot by John of one of us abseiling.
Me on the abseil, I took my time gong down, it was spectacular abseiling into the amphitheater (Photo John)
You can just see me as I get to the overhang in the Celestial Chamber.
The bottom of the abseil just before we pulled the ropes down.
Photo taken from behind the waterfall of John and Trish coiling the ropes.
We then walked some distance to this overhang – with aboriginal art in it. One wonders why some spots are used for art – no idea why they were chosen.
Bit of a climb down to our creek, with a nice waterfall and pool upstream.
Initially the creek was really pretty with loads of tree ferns.
But eventually we were over trying to make our way through them, on a positive note, the clouds had moved on and we had bright blue sky.
Convenient log to cross the creek. For much of the time we were walking in the creek which had a nice sandy bottom, but then when there were log jams, we exited out and battled the ferns.
We found a merangue cake (a pavlova) in the creek. it was a bit of a whirlpool and foam had accumulated.
A fern tunnel in the creek.
After many hundred’s of metres the canyon is starting to form.
Very slippery on the rocks, this spot had a small channel to avoid.
“Down this way M, it’s only knee deep”.
We’re now seeing long sections of rock base in the creek (much easier walking – but slippery).
We’re now in the canyon proper.
But slippery and treacherous.
A 1.5m climb down, John was just off to the left helping us down safely.
Short swim after the climb down, we were expecting this, this is where John turned back when he was doing a recce – he didn’t want to do the swim.
And 30m after the swim we came to a slot. This photo doesn’t do it justice, there is a slot full of water, descending about 2m and then the water pounds down into a small pool, with a possible 1m drop. And we couldn’t see what happened next. We thought about setting up a hand-line or an abseil, but there was no avoiding the pounding water and with no guarantee that you’d get out of the pool without drowning, we decided that we’d turn around at this point and come back when there wasn’t so much water – maybe tomorrow?
So, back through the pool and up the small climb.
With no hand-holds, we used John’s foot to get up the climb.
Trish coming back through the pool.
“I probably don’t need a hand John – think I can do this by myself!”
Backtracking 100m up the creek and there was an easy exit and a ramp up to the top, from there it was an easy 1k through good open country.
We were soon back at camp to a happy, rested Henry the Alpaca and built a good fire to enjoy during happy hour (see the thumbnail pick of Henry and me enjoying a glass of wine with fly nets on our hats). We decided that if it didn’t rain more overnight we’d return to Henry’s Canyon on Sunday and finish it off. At 9pm it started raining again, actually bucketed down, not as bad as on Friday night, but definitely a downpour.
We broke camp on Sunday morning, and decided that with a bit of rain hanging around that we would give the last section of Henry’s Canyon a miss and come back when there wasn’t so much water around. Quote for the day “there’s nothing wrong with taking 2 days to do a canyon.”
Great trip John, Henry really enjoyed it and has a lot to tell my grandchildren when they meet him this weekend. Thanks for joining us Kathy & Trish!
As a postscript to this blog, we actually had three others who were going to join us, one got sick but the other two didn’t trust our faith in the weather forecast (we don’t usually use the BOM app, but use a number of other ones), as it turned out the weather on Saturday was fabulous!
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!