Party: Todd Harford, Sky Reidy, Victoria Benz, Monica Wang, Tim Spencer and Dave Evenden – Todd’s Photos
The two days prior leading up to the weekend were very windy, but with the promises of blue skies and warm days, our party decided to get a jump start on the official canyoning season.
I arrived at Newnes at around 10pm on the Friday night, with Sky, Vicky, Dave, Tim and Monica arriving not much before midnight. The campsite was blowing a gale, and the creaks of swinging gum trees echoing across the cliffs did not give us much sleep for our planned early start.
We headed off in the sunshine up the Pipeline Track at around 8am (an hour after out planned starting time) which did not help one bit on the evil push up the Pipeline Pass. For anyone who has not done this before, on first attempt it might seem fine, but the prospect of doing this 3 times over the weekend did not sit well with any of us.
After a quick look over the Wolgan River valley we pushed on to the start of Nightmare Canyon, bashing over the top of the ridge, hoping we would not accidentally drop into Pipeline Canyon (which some unnamed party did twice in one day this year!).
Nightmare Canyon may not be deep, dark and mysterious, but it sure has some fun abseils including the 4th (really dark tight slot) and the last one (32m of awesomeness).
By the time we followed the cliffline back to the bottom of the Pipeline Pass, we were running several hours late on our deadline for Devils Pinch Canyon, so the group decided to push back up the hill for a quick run through the lower section of Pipeline Canyon. Sky was feeling a little ill, so she chose to head back to the campsite and gather firewood (how lovely) and recuperate for the Sunday.
Lunch for the remainder was had at the lookout at the top of the hill, before dropping down into the side gully leading into the best part of Pipeline. Even in dry weather, Pipeline is still a simple, yet really fun little canyon. It has plenty of neat abseils and conveniently drops you out only a short distance from the walk back down the track to the campsite.
After a short little mosey back to the safety of our tents and warmth of the fire, it was still light and allowed plenty of time for gasbagging, rumormongering, and consumption of food and booze. After we farewelled Monica, who was heading back to civilization, everyone hit the sack reasonably early, most probably helped on by the return of the cyclonic winds, which seemed to blow our fire completely horizontal and threatening to set everything within a 2m radius on fire.
Sunday morning presented slightly overcast, with the hopes of blue skies, but that did not dampen our spirits for the promise of Starlight Canyon was too great.
Up the pipeline track and pass once again we travelled further over the ridge until the track ran out, and headed down to the cliffline for 2 abseils into the upper part of the canyon.
A quick few hundred metres down the dried up creek came the signature abseil into the underground section of the canyon. Thankfully the tunnel was not blocked, and everyone dropped into this magnificent canyon, fully aware that the bats may be hibernating, and that we needed to keep our footsteps light, and voices down.
It was hard to keep it in though, due to the amazing light show that the glowworms put on for us. It was something beyond Spielberg! Next came the mossy section, and down the creek further to reach the final 15m abseil down the slippery waterfall.
A short romp followed down the boulder chute to the river where a late lunch was had. All that remained was the fire trail bash back to the campsite, and to the ice-cold beers and ciders to refresh our bodies.
I arrived back in North Richmond by a respectful 6pm, but spared a thought to the others driving all the way back to the eastern suburbs, which I quickly forgot on downing a few more ciders!!