A little gem – exceeding all our wildest expectations

BLUE MOUNTAINS NP – 29 December 2023
Some time ago, when walking down a creek, John G and I spotted a side creek with a waterfall.  We agreed that it was definitely worth exploring, so I put it on my Wish List.  A year or so went by and finally we’ve committed to the trip, not expecting too much.  I thought it might have a 60m abseil, but my estimations aren’t that great, it could only be 30m.  So, it’s day two of our MSS Canyoning Extravaganza and we’re ready to rock and roll.

Beautiful sunny day and we had a good crew, MSS members Nicole B, Andrew B, Liz McC and Stephie B joined John and me for the adventure.  As with any exploratory trip, the plan was a little fluid! It’s possible that the words “we’ll just” were mentioned regarding both the entry and exit points – one always has to be prepared for anything with a “we’ll just” trip.

The walk in was relatively easy, but underfoot it was quite wet and muddy, and the decline was quite steep, so we were very cautious about foot placement. Nice ferns though.

We had to cross back and forth a bit, and on occasion some of us were on one side, the others on the other side, never knew which side was better and both sides were quite steep.

Liz and Steph ahead of me. Even if there weren’t any abseils to do, this was shaping up to be a very nice creek walk.

We got to our first drop, and suited up in our harnesses. Stephie decided that the pitch was too muddy for her and you could walk around it. I think after watching us Liz followed suit.

Andrew and John checking out the waterfall and drop.

A small waterfall just before the pitch (which we could negotiate around).

Andrew on Pitch #1. was probably only 3-4m (if that).

John on the pitch.

Me starting the abseil. The waterfall, it doesn’t look like much, but it was about 3-4m, and we were here to canyon, so we decided it was worth the abseil. (Photo:  Nicole B)

Wasn’t long before we were at Pitch #2 (Liz on rope).

Steph on rope (having a lot of fun).

Nicole on rope.

Me on the pitch, not a big waterfall but very pretty, we took pains not to disturb the moss (Photo: Andrew B)

Looking downstream. By this time, we’re very impressed!

John on Pitch #3.

Nicole on Pitch #3.

Me on the pitch (photo:  Nicole B).

Looking upstream at the waterfall we’d abseiled by, this pitch was probably 10-15m.

Andrew on Pitch #3. You had to negotiate your way through the tree ferns.

The next pitch looked good, but from the trees available, you would abseil down into the creek and there were no anchors available for the next waterfall pitch. So, we decided to traverse across to a section of the cliff that had more trees and would enable us to drop down beyond the waterfall with no anchor. This meant that we had to do a very nasty traverse and downclimb. Here’s Steph on a ramp that, if you lost traction, you’d have a nasty fall into the creek.  If you had 2 x 60m ropes, could probably go all the way down the 2 waterfalls. (Photo Nicole).

Liz negotiating the down ramp.

The nasty traverse then led to a bit of down climbing, again, a slip and you’d be a gonner.

Andrew at the tree we’d use, John tentatively making his way down to Andrew’s level, to the right of him was a drop off into the creek.

Pitch #4 is rigged and John is checking out whether the rope (knotted) reached the floor. It did, so he continued down – this was probably a 20-30m abseil.

Stephie on rope, we put a safety anchor in so that we could attach ourselves to it in order to safely get on the rope. I would be the last person and de-rig the anchor.

Nicole on rope.

Andrew on the Pitch, looking down at John (Photo:  Andrew B)

Me on the final abseil, was a really nice pitch and definitely “made” the canyon. This is probably the waterfall that John and I saw from the main creek. (Photo: Andrew B).

John at the bottom of the pitch, looking out into the main creek (photo:  Andrew B)

One of Andrew’s shots in the creek (he does much better with his camera than I do with mine LOL)

From Pitch #4, it was a short downclimb to our main creek. Very pleasant walking, the ferns were stunning.

More nice creek walking. We were fortunate that the walking downstream that was planned was very easy, with only a few boulder sections.

Up until this point in time, we were having a great trip, a canyon – with 4 abseils (bonus), beautiful scenery, easy walk downstream, no leeches, no more mud, and we’re making good time.  We’re all really happy and the canyon had exceeded our expectations.

Then we came to the “walk out” that I’d selected.  I was hoping for a halfway decent track – “we’ll just walk up to the road”!

But, no, it wasn’t meant to be, it turned out my exit route was 5-600m of off track scrambling up a 200m elevation in nasty scrub – here’s Steph and Liz not having fun.

Whilst on the map it only looked like 5-600m, it seemed more like 2-3k as we’re walking it!  I hate it when the end of the trip is disappointing, you forget the great parts so quickly!  Eventually we made it to the top and the walking was easier, although probably about 3k to our vehicles.

Really good find, definitely exceeded our expectations.  Probably wont do it again though, if too many people know about it, the potential of a muddy track through the canyon is too high, plus the approach to Pitch #4 would become even more dangerous if the canyon was “loved to death”.

Thanks everyone for coming with me on this adventure (apologies for the walk out), and for carrying the ropes on the exit, you were a great team, I had a ball, even on the walk out.

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

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