IYDM Trip #9 – Heart Attack Canyon

NEWNES PLATEAU – 19 – 21 March 2022
This was to be an epic three day trip – Heart Attack canyon on the Saturday and then an overnight trip into Surefire on the Sunday and Monday.  Didn’t quite go to plan, but I did get to do Heart Attack Canyon – last done in 2011 and I didn’t think I’d ever go back and do it again – it’s a very, very long day!

Felix, Anna and Louise had planned the trip, Onni and I joined them.  Unfortunately, the scrub into the canyon had grown exponentially after the excess of summer rain that we’ve had.  We all knew it would be a long day, but didn’t quite come to grips with how long it would be!

We always take a photo at the start of a trip, Louise calls it the “death photo”, so that if everything goes to shit, at least those left behind can see that we were having a good time, although in this photo we don’t look all that excited. (Louise, me, Anna, Felix & Onni)

Anna trying to make her way through the scrub.

From time to time we were on a fire trail – an overgrown one at that, but then it was horrible scrub again.  It took us much longer than expected to get to where we had to drop down to the creek.

On the way down into the creek, having a bit of a chat at a pagoda before continuing.

Anna and Felix on a slippery descent of this pagoda (photo: Onni).

Louise/Felix led us right to the point where we had to abseil down into the creek. We found some old burned out slings around a burned out tree, Felix and Onni decided that this one (that they’re standing by) looked better.

Louise, on the long abseil, dropping down into scrub!

We dropped down a few metres into the creek, and this photo shows how much water was in the creek during the March rain event, all the ferns are flattened.

Onni and Louise taking the time to admire the surrounding cliffs.

We found some ghost fungus (this is actually bioluminescence at night, although you have to have a special camera to capture it.

The creek is looking very enticing compared with the ferns and sticks to trip you up.

Here we are at the main abseil (there are only 2), Onni on rope. The anchor was nothing like what I remembered from 2011!

Onni mucking around on the rope, Louise sat across from the anchor so she could take good photos.

Anna about to abseil down.

Me on the abseil, and you can see Felix further down, we had 2 ropes set up and we each abseiled on a single rope, great shot, thanks Louise.

One of us on the abseil, it was so cool abseiling beside the waterfall, last time I was here, there was hardly any water in the waterfall.

Pulling the ropes down.

Louise set up the camera for a group shot – we were so happy to be at this abseil!

And now we’re heading down the canyon, it’s looking really pretty.

A bit further down – my biggest problem was getting sand in my Volleys, I had to empty the sand out about 5 times!

We’re soon into the swims, this is a bit unusual, usually these pools are knee or ankle deep.

Looking down the creek/canyon.

Lots of logs and log-jams.

Felix in the canyon – most of the time he was way ahead of us (he’s very fast).

More nice canyon, very ferny and green.

We came to what is usually a climb down, but with all the water, it didn’t look good. Louise grabbed hold of a tape that was set up to assist the climb down, but it wasn’t all that good, by now she’s committed though.

Louise continuing down the climb – the rest of us decided it wasn’t a good climb down, so sought another route.

The other route wasn’t that great either, Felix and Onni assisted Anna and me down, was slippery and we didn’t want to get into an uncontrolled slide.

A pool we were able to walk around (not easily, there was the risk of sliding into the pool).

The next climb down was also iffy, so Felix set up a “meat anchor”, with no other source to anchor the rope to, a person ties it to themselves and wedges themself into a spot where they wont move when we abseil. Louise and Anna did the abseil (a tricky start) with no issues.

Me on the abseil, it was just a little over a metre, but it was tricky, I got down this far and then the rope slipped and I pendulum-ed into a rock, did a bit of damage to my arm, hurt lots but it wasn’t broken and no skin tear.

Felix on the down climb – you can see the rock I bashed into on Onni’s right.

A little further on we came to the final abseil, Felix set up the rope so we could try to stay out of the flow of water.

Onni on the abseil.

Anna on the abseil. I abseiled on single rope and used the second rope as a “guide” so they pulled me over away from the waterfall.

Louise on the abseil (photo: Onni). You can see the waterfall we wanted to steer clear of (by now we’re all pretty cold).

After the final abseil, there were loads of logs, plus a couple of climb downs, we were all so cold, we just wanted to get to the end!

It was then a slog downstream looking for our exit gully.  By now I’m in survival mode, tired, cold and knowing that the walk out was another 4 – 5 hours, so no photos taken.

We climbed up the exit gully, it was scrubby with little evidence of others having done the canyon recently – possibly because it’s such a big day.

We got to the top of the gully and by now it’s getting close to dusk.  Louise unerringly led us to the spot where she and Anna had cached their shoes for the walk out (and their walking sticks), and then we made a bee-line to the Surefire fire trail (which was less scrubby than the fire trail we’d walked in on).

We’re now walking in the dark and there’s lots of trip hazards.  We’re really really tired and I managed to have a couple of falls, the first one was not too bad, but with the second one I landed right on the spot on my arm that I’d injured in the canyon – what are the odds of that.  Louise and Onni went ahead and set up a tarp (by now it’s drizzling) and lit the campfire. Felix, Anna and I got to the campsite around 9pm – a 12 hour day.  I then took a look at my arm and it was swollen to half the size of a football – looks like I’m going to be missing the next day’s Canyon!

We had some dinner and fell into bed and next morning Felix and I hopped into Anna’s 4WD and drove back to Lithgow where I’d left my car. I eventually went to the doctor and he said what I thought “it’s a bruise but a bad one”.  A couple of weeks have gone by and I still have a lump on my arm, will take quite a while for that to go down!

Would I do it again – probably not, even if I was fit enough!  However, a big thank you to the group for taking me on the trip, I don’t know if there’d be any other women my age doing Heart Attack, so a big achievement!  Thanks!


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4 Responses to IYDM Trip #9 – Heart Attack Canyon

  1. Lindsay Barrett says:

    Nice to see you still managed to survive one big day. If nothing else, it’s hard to forget that massive chock-stone that you abseil down under on the main pitch.
    Well done!

    • marilyn says:

      Yes, the chock-stone is pretty much the only thing that I did remember. But, have to say, I hope that’s my last really BIG day!

  2. Kathy Leslie says:

    You continue to amaze me as you batter your body on these adventures!!
    Hope you have healed. I am enjoying another night of binge-watching your
    Adventures. The weather here in Minnesota is still drizzly , snowy and colder than
    Usual.😵‍💫. Hoping to get on some adventures of my own if the weather ever improves!!!
    Thanks for sharing!!!

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