Party: Kosta, Chee, Chris, Oliver, Josephine, Enrique, Luke, Stephanie, Andres, George, Ekaterina
Normally I try to run a beginner canyoning weekend towards the beginning of the season. However, this year it got pushed back further and further until I finally decided to take literally the last weekend of 2012 to make it happen.
Going in summer had the advantage that we were able to do proper wet canyons, as opposed to the (semi) dry ones in early spring, and Tim’s trip report about Dargans Creek made me decide to use this location for the first day and then head out to the Newnes Plateau.
As usual we met up in North Richmond and decided to leave one of the cars behind before we set off into the mountains. We met the rest of the group, who were still in the mountains from another trip the day before, near the lower dam in Dargans Creek. We arrived a bit later than planned because one car, after being late in Richmond and taking it’s time to sort out coffees and bathroom visits, realised well into the mountains that they’d have to turn around for fuel. Luckily the days are longer in summer!
We set up a few ropes along the cliffs below the dam and after a short while everyone was confident with backwards walking down a cliff and abseiling safely to the bottom. So we decided to reverse things by prusiking back up.
We started by manufacturing and fitting our personal prusik loops. While doing so it was once again proven that rope does not equal rope. Well, in this case utility cord. One group brought a spool of 5mm utility cord which after closer inspection was rated for 250kg — a number that seemed a little low to me so I disqualified this rope from safe prusiking. A good call since a quick research after the trip showed that such cord ought to be rated at least twice as high or 5kN (diameter in mm squared divided by 5).
Never the less everyone had a successful go climbing up and after some late lunch we headed back to the cars to gear up for the canyon.
Dargans Creek is usually a walk through canyon but on aerial pictures we found a nice cliff that allowed for a great abseil into the valley just before the canyon part starts. To follow the spirit of the first half of the day we headed along the ridge and found a nicely bolted anchor on top of a cliff that allowed for a stunning 35 – 40m abseil. Fairly easy from a technical point of view, but the psychological challenge of a high drop wasn’t an easy one for everyone.
Nevertheless, we all made it down well and moved on into the creek. The canyon starts slowly with some canyonesque warm up constrictions and when we reached the first swim we stopped to put on thermals or wetsuits.
So far it was nice, but nothing out of the ordinary, and I started thinking Tim might have exaggerated when he wrote his report. That was until the main constriction started: a deep and dark slot like those usually found in canyons with abseiling, but not often in walk through ones.
We all went through, most at their own pace, until we gathered again at the exit climb.
Luckily the fixed rope was in place like promised and we had no problem scrambling up the rock and the spiked tree. From there the track went up the ridge and a few minutes later we were back on the fire trail and headed for the cars.
We drove to Barcoo Swamp for the night and got a good night sleep for the next day.
The next morning Ekaterina and George decided to bail. The rest of us set off for Hole In The Wall. I hadn’t done this canyon for a few years so it was exciting to revisit this classic of the Bungleboori canyons.
The walk in was easy to follow and from the wear on the tracks it was very obvious that the vast majority of people only ever do Hole In The Wall, leaving the rest of the ‘Boori canyons to more adventurous and less crowded multi-day trips. Luckily we were the last of many groups entering the canyon that day and with everyone ahead being faster than us it felt like we had the canyon to ourselves.
Like the day before, the canyon starts with a good warm up constriction which includes a couple abseils. While the first of the abseils is actually a jump, only two of us were adventurous enough to actually jump it.
After the first constriction came a lengthy creek bash that everyone did at their own pace before we hit the main part we came for.
The second half not only features a deep slot with a great abseil through a hole, there is also the famous tunnel section: a cave like tunnel to swim through with a night sky of glow worms above. A great experience made even better if you switch off the head torches most of the way. And in the middle of all that is a tight hole one has to squeeze through, making it almost like a caving experience.
Everyone made it through well and not too long after that we found ourself at the junction with the North ‘Boori (officially Dingo Creek) and headed upstream to the lunch rock.
After a quick lunch we all headed back up to the cars where we finished this very smooth trip a good hour earlier than originally planned — well done everyone!
Normally such a great day would have ended at one of the great Blue Mountain Pubs for dinner and drinks, but this time everyone headed in another direction, as a couple of us actually stayed out on the Newnes Plateau for New Years Eve. But I’m sure everyone had a good beer somewhere regardless.