Baiyambora Gorge (SEQ QLD, Australia)

Party: Matthew (Matt) Tobolov, Shawn Rea and I

Boycotting Summer Falls, I ended up spending part of my morning in a tree with my wing (paraglider) 8-10m off the deck. A wing cravat and some poor decision making leading me to this novel experience. It took a while but it seemed no damage was done and I managed to get in an afternoon flight 🙂

Enjoying dinner on the launch I soon headed off and enjoyed some sunset views over the Glasshouse Mountains. Dropping out of the Blackall Range I headed towards some brewing black clouds and darkness quickly settled over the landscape. The drive was further than I’d expected (almost two hours) and I counted a surprising number of mice crossing the road in front of me. Amazing lighting shows in the distance drew closer and as the distance between the storm and I lessened, large drops of rain soon began spattering on the windshield. The road turned to corrugated dirt and cracks of thunder shook the landscape, the lightning now and then bringing colour to the night.

Turning onto a smaller dirt road I passed a 4wd only sign but reached the edge of the national park with ease. The others had not yet arrived. I didn’t have much more time to enjoy the storm and I was in a way sad to see it pass. Proper thunder and lightning storms seem much less frequent then when I was a kid. Night sounds resumed with the occasional venerable horse whiney from the nearby farmland.

Several 4wd’s passed before Matt arrived. We hadn’t met in person before and had a pretty solid chat. I hadn’t realised he was fairly new to canyoning. He’d come across as an old hand when we’d chatted online. I was happy to find someone so keen for exploration as well as the historical side. Time was getting on, and some mosquitoes hastened us to bed.

I can’t remember if I set an alarm but if I did it didn’t rouse me. It was the arrival of Shawn that did this. Memory of my dream where I’d been canyoning overseas (the Americas?) lingered… all my gear had gone missing after falling off the back of a ute 🙁
Shawn had joined later and having visited the gorge before (from the bottom) had replaced the planned Fisherman’s Spur exit with his shorter, more direct exit.

Finally settling on taking two 70s we skirted around the border of the private property quickly making our way into the creek. The river bed was very 3d and isometric. Apparently the Royal Geographical Society of Queensland very occasionally visits. The bedding plane had a strike of about 30deg (in the direction of flow), and throughout the day we saw many examples of an interesting crosshatch pattern in the rock that piqued interest into its geomorphology. It reminded me a little of boxwork you and see in caves, bit I think these cracks unlikely in the volcanic(?) rock.
There were also some interesting quartzite veins. Many quite small and squiggly as well as some very large ones downstream of the gorge that lay quite haphazardly with no discernible pattern – like in a game of pick-up-sticks. Not for the first time I thought that maybe I should study geology to answer many of my curiosities.

It wasn’t far to the top of the main falls and we quickly found the two bolted anchor options (xx CR and xx CL). We were all happy to take the wet line and after scoping it out from a convenient lookout quickly hatched a plan (with elaborate whistle signals) of leaving one of the ropes behind to retrieve from the top later. Matt went first and paused near the bottom to bundle the rope and throw it the rest of the way. Even before he threw it, it was quite obvious that the rope would reach (the drop was probably around 65m). Instead of leaving the rope we yelled down to tie the other on so we could pull it up for the pull side. Communication was tricky but in the end the pack with rope was tied to the end.

After Shawn abseiled down, I finished my breakfast beans and hauled up the pack. I should have stuffed the rope into the pack and abseiled out of the bag, but thought I’d go for the lazier option (the one that that usually turns into more work!). I tried lowering the pack down hoping the water would catch it but of course it just got stuck on a ledge. Oh well, I couldn’t be bothered pulling it up and besides there wasn’t a lot of water flow and was happy to sort it out as I went down.

The water was warm and only built up a bit of force in the chute. I stopped a couple of times musing that the others must surely be commenting on my poor rope management 🙂

It was a dry landing and we retrieved the rope with little difficulty.

A downclimb next to a large boulder that formed part of the dam for the pool followed. There was some rope left here which seemed quite unnecessary and I was in the mind to take it out, but in the end I was convinced to leave the newer fixed line and take just the tattered remains of an older rope. Looking back, the fluro yellow/green was a bit of an eyesore to the otherwise fantastic views of the falls. Some cliff jumping took my mind from this and Matt and I jumped in several times before swimming the rest of the way across the pool.

We abseiled down another small waterfall and passed through a tunnel created by some chockstones. As we approached the final drop Matt pointed out that Shawn and I had missed a small snake.

Someone yelled up from below. It was the group Shawn and Matt had mentioned would be heading up from the bottom (apart from the main falls you can scramble around everything). They soon joined us and we chatted for a time. Somehow Reynalds Creek came up and Shawn suddenly realised that we had in fact met before! In Reynalds!

There was a perfect rock to sling so we rigged the pitch using a toggle (Smooth Operator) so as to ghost down. It was quite slippery and not being careful enough I slipped near the bottom.

One final jump and swim (optional) and we were soon at the bottom of the gorge. There are some pines here and I had read that the spot was quite sacred to the Baiyambora aboriginals of the area. The cones from the araucarias were a very important food (as they are for the indigenous people’s of South America where they can also be found) and festivals to eat the nuts are still held. In fact I’d recently found out that I’d fairly recently missed one 🙁

After some creek walking we reached Shawn’s exit and processed up a fairly steep spur. Careful not to slip on the leaf litter we gained altitude quickly as we weaved our way up through the densening privet. Shawn’s calloused flooring hands conveniently clearing a path for us in a few spots.

Intersecting the old road we were quickly back to the cars. It was early. About 1pm I think Matt said.
The others rushed off. I was going to visit the adjacent property owner and have a chat if they had time, but some unfriendly signs at their gate put me off. I drove for a while to get back to a main road before picking a spot to spend the night. I’d enjoyed not having reception the previous night and was looking forward to again being disconnected – something that has been more and more difficult since starting full time work. I napped for a while, relaxed and after some writing, heeded Gina Paul’s advice on sleep (a regular bed time is very important!) and went to sleep at a similar time to the previous night.

Thanks for a fun day guys!

One Reply to “Baiyambora Gorge (SEQ QLD, Australia)”

  1. Would love to do this route at night time during the rain January/February to look for endangered/extinct or unknown species of frog.
    Should organise a nocturnal canyoneering group.
    Anyone here good at free climbing without ropes that loves looking for frogs and some hardcore adventure?
    Any barefoot climbers out there want to hit the gorge?
    My Ancestors would love to see us do it without modern technology.
    I usually just wear a pair of shorts no shirt and I drink from the creek and cook Bunya nuts over the fire. No need for ropes or bags.

    Anyone keen for a real adventure?
    Go for a tribal climb learn how to make ropes and use nature to its best.

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