Days 1-5, Exploratory: Me, T2 & Bron, Kshitij, Josh and Kosta
Day 6 (Jan 1st): Me, Kshitij, Christian, Rick & Robyn, Al, Nicole, Katy, Martin and Mum.
Day 7: Me, David, Al, Katy, Martin, Mum and Denis
New Years is the time of the year were SUBW visits Coorongooba. Boxing day for me means visiting family in Sydney, usually for lunch, but this year the Christmas celebrations where later than normal and by the time I had driven back home it was already Sunday and I had yet to pack for 8 days of canyoning! … luckily I had some foresight and had pretty much bought the required foodstuffs. Too lazy to portion the meals I threw more than enough food together, added canyon gear, bedding and finally struggled with a cantankerous computer to print out some maps and finish a job application (finished at 2:30ish). I set my alarm and hoped that three and a half hours would be enough.
Day 1, 27th:
The excitement of five days exploratory canyoning managed to overpower my drowsiness and helped avoid the numerous roos. After a lap of the campground my car being recognised for being both “a ute” and “a shitbox” was waved down to the area we would be using once we got back. (about an hours drive)
Kosta was still struggling to get out of his tent which gave me the chance to meet Josh and also gave me some time for a lame attempt at actually packing my pack.
We where soon off on T2’s first leg of our exploration loop. Heading up a lovely creek was a lovely way to start the trip. There were also lots of plants to eat like Dionella and wild raspberries. We also saw prickly Accacia, Cicads, bush tomatoes, Cyprus pine as well as many others.
I had a scary fall when a large rock I was on came loose. Luckily no one else was around and I didn’t get hurt.
Dumping packs at a tributary we bounded up to explore the hopeful constrictions. We were in luck and enjoyed a very nice canyon with a fantastic column in the side of the canyon wall. We explored further up, but it wasn’t very canyoney.
The next side creek also had some nice canyon. We had to relay some logs up to make reversing it a bit easier. This canyon was also quite nice, and unfortunately short lived.
Counting the tributaries as we continued we turned off when our count reached six. After some canyon we soon exited up onto the ridge and after returning to find my lost camera enjoyed the views at a LO.
The ridge provided surprisingly good walking and we made good time before dropping into the next creek. After snacking at the junction we decided to continue up to our high camp. We reached our goal via a packpass and discovered a goanna and what I think would be my favourite high camp thus far. We set up on the scenic rock ledge and made a fire just below us. Despite the initial wind shadow it turned out to be quite windy.
As I lay down looking up at the dark sky, I repeated my mantra that it would not rain. Wondering what price I would have to pay if it really did start (one light shower that woke me up, but only 5mins or so).
Day 2, 28th:
Everyone slept in (except Kshitij) and it was late by the time we had hoisted the lighter packs onto our backs.
We dropped back down into the creek exploring for canyon. It got a bit canyony, but it wasn’t spectacular. Though we did see a red belly.
Further down there was evidence of cattle. I didn’t really notice, but learnt that the presence of phalaris, clover, mugwort and the recolonising bracken were all classic signs.
We explored some side creeks, but the verdict from T2 who did the final push was that it wasn’t worth it. We decided to cross over to another creek rather than continuing down. Josh and more notably Kosta where not at all pleased by the mornings ‘canyoning’. On the way over we found some Snotty Gobbles (geebungs). I don’t mind them, but some thought the “Snotty Gobble” name was apt.
Lower down in our new creek, I had a look up a side creek and found a small amount of canyon, but it was warded by a Death Adder so decided to report without checking it out properly.
The next creek was very rainforesty. Not really canyon but beautiful and pleasant nevertheless. After meeting back up with Josh, who had spent some time becoming an ant, we returned to the Death Adder canyon. It was very short, but there was a nice overhang at the end. Josh tested the acoustics with some death adder song.
We had to be careful on the way back as the death adder had moved!
Back at camp we reclined on the rock, enjoying the sun, views and shapes in the clouds. Some lucky butterfly cockatoos told us we would be heading the right way on the morrow. But a rainbow heralded some ominous clouds, and forsaking my “no rain” mantra I decided to retreat to a nearby overhang for the night.
Day 3, 29th:
I breakfasted on my private ledge and after packing, headed up to join the others who were mostly up and about.
We carefully made our way down death adder pass. I was very pleased when Kshitij discovered what turned out to be a passionfruit next to a very large Solanum. I ate it with glee and also picked a few more from the vine for later, hoping they would ripen (they didn’t – not that I needed more food!).
Continuing down we headed up a creek we hadn’t yet explored. We had almost given up on discovering canyon, but I told T2 that I would push on for another minute. After squeezing through a small hole I gave out three loud cooees – the call that something of import had been found! There were a number of fun climbs in some terrific canyon. We went as far as a waterfall, but it looked like we had topped out anyway.
We headed back down to Josh and then continued down to find a spot to camp. After startling a red belly into the Lomandra Longefolia (RTA plant), we scared another into the water. The third did not notice us and was slithering around on the beach we had chosen to camp on. It was quite interesting watching it foraging for food (at least I think that’s what it was doing), dipping its head into small indents on the ground. It eventually noticed us, flattening its head to let us know and then promptly vanished – quietly as snakes tend to do.
Dumping gear we soon headed up another creek and soon found the opening of a great looking canyon. In a fit of canyon fever, Josh bounded up, scrambling up some tricky climbs. Bron sensibly commented that the way up looked quite hard, and Josh commented that he didn’t think he could safely climb down. I climbed up outside the canyon and onto a ledge that would bring me higher into the canyon. I slid-jumped into a pool and dropped a rope down to Josh who had come up another climb. Then after a small climb and tricky traverse, discovered a sling I could use as an anchor for a handline.
We headed back out to rejoin the others. Kosta had found a scary ledge traverse, and T2 was coaxing Bron across. There was another climb at the top.
We followed the upper cliff past an impressive amphitheatre and dropped back into our target creek. Bashing downstream the creek started dropping and we were soon abseiling into a fantastic constriction. Definitely my favourite canyon so far. It was very late by the time we were finished. The day had been hot and it took seconds to get a blaze alight. Some small twigs lit up the large teepee structure created from the flotsam around me. And when the others came around the corner the flicker of flames was there to welcome them. Josh helped create an even larger pyramid – we were the only pyromaniacs in the group it seemed.
We made hot chocolate with real chocolate (Thanks Tim) and the surplus of milk powder that was being carted around.
Day 4, 30th:
Everyone woke in a layer of dew. Except for Josh who decided it was too early and would continue to snooze. At the mention of stealing his e-cigarette, he feigned deafness, rolling over and securing his treasure within the confines of his sleeping bag.
We left Josh on Red Belly Bend and reached some cliffs that required a 10m climb (maybe grade 8 or 9). Kosta top-belayed using a Munter, securing himself to the rope using a butterfly.
I pushed through the scrub, a variation of Waltzing Matilda stuck in my head:
Dropping into the creek we followed it down to the beginnings of a canyon. I wasn’t overly impressed by the canyon. It was certainly sustained, but I didn’t find it overly aesthetic as there was not really any sculpturing or greenery.
Others in the group (T2, Bron) quite liked it, probably for the abseils.
Back at camp, our gear had dried out. In the river we saw quite a large fisch. It was very still and very hard to see.
After lunch we pushed on up our next creek with full packs. Leaving gear in some nice rainforest. Coachwood? (Sassafrass?) We headed up another ridge. This one was very Kosta friendly and we didn’t use the favourite German accented quote of the trip “I hate scrub!” Maybe the lack of scrub was due to a change in the soil type as there was a notable change in vegetation. There was a lot of short tussock grass, some kind of eucalyptus we hadn’t seen much of and up a little higher some iron barks.
We dropped into the creek which narrowed into canyon. After too short abseils, the bottom dropped out, the waterfall disappearing maybe 15m below us. It was very nice, very narrow, and very fun 🙂 Tricky start.
After a couple of hand over hands, we abseiled down into a large room where I found the others examining some bones.
The chamber then constricted and we had a cold swim – maybe the first of the trip? There were more climb-downs. It was very nice and very green, an excellent trip. Though Kosta didn’t seem too sure that the scrub made the trip worthwhile 😉
Day 5, 31th:
When I woke, Josh was lying down creating clouds of smoke above him. We breakfasted and broke camp continuing upstream through an ‘at first pleasant creek’. It then got scrubby, and then very scrubby and then very scrubby and hot. I seem to have effectively excised much of it from my memory, but do recall being startled by a snake.
It then got nice again, we followed a creek down that had a great bit of canyon and an impressive “Silent Night” overhang – sorry Kosta.
There were some great looking abseils at the end, but we decided to save time by bypassing this using a ledge and then down a spur.
We were soon at Coorongooba campground were we met others from the club who would be joining in for the following days of adventure.
There was much talking, food eating and merriment. There was also an abndoned tent… it had been there when we had started the trip. After some creative theries a small group when to inspect the tent. The group approached quietly, and then with a reluctant hand pulled down the zip to the front door… the smell was gut wrenching! Luckily it wasn’t a body we found inside, but rather someone’s camping rubbish. (We later dumped it in the back of a ute and took it to the tip).
Day 6, 1st:
I was woken by Olly and Benji’s effective alarm clock vocalisation. Despite the planned time it looked like we would have an earlier than planned start – maybe my body had adjusted to the natural daylight clock?… But by the time everyone had breakfasted and packed it was ~8.
I was fairly confident I could find the pass even though I had only done the trip once before. The ridge was hot and scrubby and Kristian and Nicole had some amusing “Scrub Offs”, trying to find the best way!
We weren’t sure were the canyon started, end ended up entering a very scrubby creek; we were much higher than we should be and lost perhaps an hour because of this. After scrambling around a waterfall we finally reached the start of the canyon were we enjoyed lunch.
We abseiled in. A couple more jump/abseils followed. We stopped to watch a mountain dragon… amusingly it jumped from its perch and ran up Nicole’s leg!
We continued down the canyon which has one of the longest constrictions around. Kristian I probably looked quite immature with all our mucking around.
Unfotunately Kshitij lost his camera around were a side canyon entered. We spent some time looking for it, but to no avail 😦
I think Rick and Robyn were the only ones without wetsuits and they were happy to enter the sun at the end of the final constriction. It was then a shortish walk back to camp… not quite as noisy a camp as the New Year’s night 😉
We also discovered that a goanna had cut itself a door into Katy’s tent. It must have gone crazy trying to escape as the interior of the tent was ripped to shreds… unfortunately this wouldn’t be the last goanna incident for the trip.
Day 7, 2nd:
In the morning a smaller group pressed on for another day. We would explore a ‘canyon’ none of us had visited before, this one on the other side of the Capertee River.
We scrambled up the cliffline enjoying the spectacular views of the Capertee Valley. At the top we continued around to the creek we intended to descend. In an alcove on the way we found a leaf tail gecko, there was also some fantastic tree sap that had managed to ensnare a number of unknowing ants.
We climbed up high into the catchment and then decided to abseil down into the creek. It wasn’t much of a creek at the moment as it wasn’t really flowing on the surface. We continued down through an open section and then abseiled into a small constriction. It was difficult but possible to avoid the water at the bottom and I think we all(?) made it around safely.
We then had several impressive pitches to drop down through the cliffline.
On the way back, we received the bad that Cheeks, Rick and Robyn’s Cockatiel had been killed by a goanna. I think everyone was a little upset as the bird had a strong and likeable character and he had certainly been a centre part of the camp the afternoon before.
Day 8, 3rd:
Adventure plans for day 8 pretty much dissolved as the morning went on. Most of the group had dispersed; some for other commitments and some to perhaps flee the storm we had been warned would flood the levy.
Thanks to everyone who came! I managed to achieve one of my goals on the trip which was to “forget what day it is” 🙂
Hope you enjoyed it!