The “almost” Canyon

BLUE MOUNTAINS – 20 February 2022
I’d been on this small tourist walk about 10 years ago , and had put it in the memory bank as a “must go further down this creek, to see if it turns into a canyon”, and then Phil C beat me to it, reporting that it was indeed worth doing (once).  Another couple of years passed and finally I put it on the MSS calendar, hoping that someone would think it was a good idea to explore it too.

Initially it looked like there would be six or seven of us and then they started dropping like flies on a hot day.  By the weekend only John G and Catherine McL were left, John was suffering from a nasty cough but still agreed to go (I think he took one for the team!), so, off we went.  Beware, I had a bad camera day, the lens must have some gunk on it (never let it be said that it was the operator’s fault!).

A sign as we set out, take a look at the bottom icon, the tough man with the backpack, the little woman with the dress and scarf on. Mind you the sign above is pretty accurate, get too near the edge and you’re a gonner!

The first waterfall that we walked past, sort of looks a bit like a gorilla with long white hair.

Still on a track, walking past nice sections of rippling brook.

Then we’re off down to the section of creek we’ll be exploring – lovely rainforest undergrowth.

At creek level, very civilised, none of the scrubby creek that we usually encounter.

Roughly two thirds of today’s walk were in this lovely rainforest, the creek banks were flat, and easy walking, we criss-crossed the creek from time to time to avoid fallen trees, or when the terrain was too steep. And, NO LEECHES!

Soon enough we came to the first waterfall that we’d be abseiling down. Catherine on the abseil. Is this the start of a “canyon” section?

Me abseiling the waterfall, you can only just see the blue helmet. You can tell the difference between John’s SLR and my camera! (photo: John G)

Shortly after the abseil we’re back on flat terrain and the creek had opened out – still no “canyon”.  We did come across this log absolutely covered with fungus. it was the end of the fungus’ life as it was paper-like.

Catherine on a bit of a difficult climb-down, only roots to hold onto and a big step down.

At times the cliff closed in upon the creek on one side and it was very canyon-like but the sections were short and didn’t qualify as a canyon as the cliff was only on one side.

And then it would open out entirely with more easy walking.  Despite not being a canyon, the rainforest walking was great.

John crossing the creek – the creek is part of a basalt cap and so the rocks were very smooth and very slippery.  Early on I lost my walking stick (I think it broke), but because we were in rainforest country, all the sticks were half rotted so I had to negotiate the creeks without a stick, very hard going, you had to be so careful where you put your feet.  Further downstream where the creek was deeper and there was silt/mud on the bottom (and the previous person had stirred the silt up), I was walking without being able to see where I was putting my feet. Slowed me down considerably as I’d had a nasty fall early in the walk and had a bruise and cut on my shin, so I was trying to avoid knocking it again.

The piece de resistance – the last abseil, and finally we’re in a canyon!  John set the rope for me so I could abseil right off the end into the deep pool, right between the two sides of the waterfall. Great abseil and the canyon section was stunning too!

Nice close up, thanks John!

Catherine on the abseil.

Catherine and John packing up the gear, looking back towards the abseil.

After the abseil there was a long section of creek walking, sort of canyon-like but not quite.  We had to negotiate over boulders, logs and small downclimbs.  This section seemed to last for ages, and was my least favourite section of the creek – too many things to bump my shin on and I was very slow.  We were on the look out for our exit, the remains of an old track.

John picked it, I would probably have walked right past it. A large log had two steps sawn into it, and the rock ahead of us had two steps that had been chiseled (you can just see them near John’s hand). If it had been up to me, we’d be still walking downstream.

The track gains height quickly but it’s very, very muddy and you could easily slip and fall.

Once you gain a bit of height though, it dries out, you’re still walking under rainforest canopy but the muddiness has disappeared.  I took this photo about 60 – 80m above the creek bed.

The track led us back to the cars, it was extremely steep in places and zig-zagged up the side of the gorge, would love to know the brave sole who put the track it, would have been a mammoth task.  It seemed as though it took forever but it probably only took 30minutes to reach the top.

The million dollar question, would I do it again?  In reality, there was probably only 100m (if that) of good canyon formation, in many places it almost became a canyon but not quite, so that didn’t quite meet our expectations.  I’d do parts of it again, I loved the two waterfalls we abseiled, but I think we saw them at their best because we’ve had so much rain lately.  I will definitely do the top section that we walked past, probably about 300m of good creek that was lots of slippery chutes and pools and a couple of good waterfalls, but on a hot day, when you’d be happy to get wet, this section of creek would be like a playground – a great 1/2 day trip.

Probably the best part of this (mostly) rainforest adventure, was the absence of leeches.  However, John discovered an engorged leech on his kitchen floor the day after our walk.  Usually a leech will fall off on its own accord when it’s had enough blood, which may take from 20 minutes to a few hours, so I’m not convinced that his leech was from this particular walk, but it could have been, so I’m calling this an almost leech free walk.

So, this unfinished business can now be set aside, but like all the trips I do with John, on the walk out we come up with more ideas of what we can explore.  So, another three trips were born, two relatively easy and the other a bit harder – definitely a big day and definitely with lots of swims!  Bring on the next canyon season!  Thanks John and Catherine for coming with me on this adventure.


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

2 Responses to The “almost” Canyon

  1. Roy Cotton says:

    Thank you M another excellent report. We were in Blue Mountains last week went for a short walk at Govetts Leap not nearly as exciting as your trip. We also went to Mudgee and found a wonderful little walk called the Drip about 30 minutes from Mudgee just past Ulan.

    • marilyn says:

      Thanks Roy, yes have heard of The Drip, but not been there yet. If you go back and are on the Bylong Way to Mudgee, go have a look at the Fern Tree Canyon, it’s a walk through canyon, very pretty.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.