[SUBW-A] Trip Report - Canyoning - Newnes Area 16-17 Feb 02

David Noble dnoble at ozemail.com.au
Mon Feb 18 18:45:52 AEDT 2002

Trip Report - Canyoning - Newnes Area 16-17 Feb 02

Party - Dave Noble, Martin Pfeil (from UTSOAC and SUSS), Richard Wood,
Alex Debono and Lou Pastro and Owain Williams (both from UNSWBMC)

We met up at Newnes campsite just after 9:30am on Saturday morning and
packed for a daytrip. The object was to check out some interesting
looking (on air photos) sidecreeks of a well known canyon. We left the
cars and headed out along a dirt road and then up a steep pass onto the
tops. Arriving on the top we suprised a very large red belly black
snake. Martin then found a scary, exposed pass for us into the creek. 

We left our packs as we headed upstream to look at two tributaries. On
air photos they show up as long "slots" or "cracks". In reality - both
were fairly poor - they gave the hint of having canyon potential - with
short canyon sections - but were never sustained.

It was then back to our packs and downstream to look for a lunchspot.
After lunch, we continued on our way - and had a good look up another
tributary. It was more promising than the ones we had searched earlier -
but was a poor canyon at its best. It did have a slot that went through
some pagodas - but it was just a series of short canyon sections.

It was then back to the major creek, which we followed downstream until
it eventually canyoned. Here we had some abseils (the first one Richard
jumped, the second both Richard and Martin jumped) and swims. On the
way, we explored a sidecanyon in which a former member of the club had
lost a pair of glasses years before. Martin did an exposed, tricky climb
and left a rope in place for us to climb up. We did a few more scrambles
up some of the higher waterfalls as well.

After this we had a fruitless search for a leader (oops.... I mean
"ladder") and then returned back to the camping area. Here Alex was able
to present Richard with a special trophy he had won at a intervasity
mountain bike event last year. The trophy was for "best stack".
Unfortunately, Richard hadn't been able to pick it up at the time owing
to urgent medical treatment....

Then Lou, Owain and Alex headed back to Sydney. Those who remained had a
relaxing dinner around the campfire until a thick cloud of flying ants
descended on us. The ground was covered with them, and plenty of them
got into our dinners and cups of wine. We all cursed them - but Martin
cursed a bit more when he stepped on some bull ants. Luckily he escaped
with only three bites. A little later, we were presented with an amazing
spectacle - a light show due to a rapidly approaching electrical storm.
We retreated to the tents and flys as the storm hit. Richard had to
evacuate his fly for a time as a new branch of the Wolgan River - the
"north branch" started to flow under it. The tempest eventually passed
and we enjoyed a peaceful remainder of the night.

Up early the next morning we had breakfast as many other parties camping
nearby headed off for their canyons. Richard enjoyed the remains of a
tin of tomato soup he had saved from the night before. A thick layer of
dead flying ants on the surface added some colour and texture.

We then headed up a creek back onto the tops and dropped down into a
creek we had partly explored last year. We did a short abseil through
the top cliffline and found ourselves in a broad valley choked with
ferns. It was slow going and we did not expect to find any great new
canyons. However, the creek did flow into a deep dark slot eventually.
This was a fine, but short canyon - with two abseils. After the canyon,
we climbed up a sidecreek looking for more canyon. After lunch we found
a small sidecanyon coming in - but could not climb up past a waterfall.
So we continued up the main creek. It too went through an attractive
canyon section. The canyon was not extreme - ie not dark and constricted
- but very pleasant nevertheless.

In the late afternoon, we climbed over a ridge and into a creek that we
thought would take us easily back to near Newnes. After a short section
of low quality canyon the creek went into a typical rainforest gully.
Then the unexpected happened - the creek flowed into a dark slot. We got
our abseiling gear out once more and set off down. The canyon section
was only short - but featured an impressive tunnel. A little lower down
the creek was another similar section of short but high quality canyon.
Further down we found a cave and some graffiti and then an old road
which we followed back to the car.

Our trip back to town was mainly in rain, and was interrupted by a stop
at Lidsdale to raid some apple trees (on public land!) and dinner at the
Alex Hotel at Leura.


David Noble
dnoble at ozemail.com.au

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