Party: Anna and Felix Ossig-Bonanno
Preamble: Earlier in the year Adrian had organised a big SUBW (Sydney Uni Bushwalkers) Kanangra day (and some night) trip where we went down Kalang Falls, up Thurat Spires and down Danae Brook. Since that trip I have been recommending Danae to everyone who will listen.
Living in a family that goes canyoning on Christmas Day also means that canyons are an acceptable birthday present. And so it was decided that mum would have a guided Danae and Thurat Spires trip. April isn’t the best time for this trip as the days aren’t that long, but after watching the weather we decided an early start on Friday would work well.
We had dinner, packed and headed out to Kanangra. After pitching tents and scrutinising the gear in out packs (removing some minor items) we set alarms and left the waking world.
It was one of those nights where I refused to except that I needed to visit the toilet and my alarm woke me too soon. I had a bad feeling when I woke that Tim hadn’t arrived in the night (I hadn’t been woken). Sure enough we couldn’t see his car/tent. A little concerned I drove out to the end of the end to look for him. Returning empty handed we made the call to leave, as we were already half an our behind our set start time of 5am. It was still dark as we began the walk in. Breakfast in one hand we made our way groggily via LED light. The morning was warm and by the time the sun started to illuminate the sky we would have enough light for the bush bashing.
Yummy yoghurt breakfast!
We cached our Scurions and left the track navigating to the start of the canyon. We encountered little scrub and if it wasn’t for a small navigational blunder on my part we would have made very good time.
Looking down Danae reminded me why it was my (current) favourite trip out at Kanangra – it is a fantastic rift trough the Paleozoic granite (inferred from Wiki – I’m no geologist!), with many back-to-back exciting pitches. Our small group meant we could move quite fast by threading the next anchor whilst the rope is being pulled down – my memory from the last SUBW trip also helped!
On one of the earlier pitches when I peered down to check the ropes were touching I was surprised to see both ends about 2m from the ground! What to do? I had a look at it again and figured I’d give it a go. I abseiled to the end, and holding on tight let the rope run through my descender, getting purchase with my feet I found a hand hold and managed to climb down. Mum was a bit unsure of it at first, but with me spotting, everything went smoothly. The 60m rope we were using might have shrunk a little? otherwise the pitch is more like 32m!
As we continued down we got quite wet in a waterfall, and there were about 5 short swims to follow! It was quite cold, but wetsuits aren’t really required even for this time of the year. What we did was strip down to swim wear and then put our clothes back on once reaching the other side. I’ve been using this more and more for remote trips where weight is of more importance and there aren’t really sustained swims.
After a chimney bum smear (a very technical term), we passed a talking rock in the boulder field and later saw the water resurging. It was very impressive looking up at the sheer walls. We tried not to worry about the cracks up above where most of the boulders have probably come from.
Some climbs, smaller pitches and lots of creek walking saw us to the Kanangra Creek junction. We rested for a while watching some interesting caterpillars and a green tree frog enjoying the warm rays that hadn’t quite reached up in Danae. We had made good time – it was less than 8hrs since leaving the cars – but if we wanted to exit via Thurat Spires we needed to get moving so up and up we went. I was very close to treading on a decent sized Brown Snake, but thankfully it just looked at me and slithered into a gap between the rocks.
We passed over a baby spire before the final ascent up the First spire – using a rope on one of the climbs. And then we were up! About 500m vertically up! Some of the climbs are quite exposed and you really need to check and double check hand and foot holds.
We had some more snacks on top of the Second spire (also saw some kind of shingle back?) and then went in search of the anchors. We found a container of salt and a new anchor – needs a quick link (it wasn’t there on my earlier trip this year). Rather than abseil we scrambled down and soon located the tree we were looking for. Mum commented that the abseils off the Spires are some of the most dangerous starts she has ever done.
After abseiling down we pressed on to gain another 250m of altitude before the sun light faded. The two 60m ropes in my pack meant that my shoulders were getting very sore by this point!
Looking back at the Spires offers some fantastic views and the colours in the fading light were amazing!
By the time we were up on Spire Head darkness had pretty much closed its jaws on us. Rather than using headlamps we decided to continue via moonlight. The idea was that we would be able to better find a way through the scrub by seeing further ahead. I’m not sure how well this worked; we found the firetrail but also found a lot of scrub on the way.
We recovered our cached gear and were glad to see the cars. All in all it was a great trip! about 8 hours to the Kanangra Creekk junction, and 8 hours to exit.
On the drive back saw a spotted quoll, an owl, plus the more regulars.
Before heading to bed I checked my emails to hear if there was anything from Tim. I was relieved to find that he hadn’t been looking for us! He had just decided to pull out due to times and distance.