[SUBW-A] Trip report: Danae Brook and Thurat Spires in a day (20 - 22/12/14)

Adrian Spragg aspragg at tpg.com.au
Sun Feb 8 22:30:10 AEDT 2015

A catch up report from 2 months ago ...


Trip report:   Danae Brook and Thurat Spires in a day

Date:               Sat 20 - Mon 22 December, 2014

Party:             Adrian Spragg, Kimberly Spragg, Ian Houghton, Brendan

Online (with photos):


Adrian had planned Danae Brook and Thurat Spires back in March when he was
not able to join Helen & Kosta on their trip
http://fatcanyoners.org/2014/02/22/danae-brook-via-the-spires/ . He chose
the longest day of the year, aware that it was precisely between moons, and
it had long been on Ian's bucket list. Ian and Adrian had not canyoned
together before, and had last done Danae Brook 20 and 30 years ago
respectively. The cousins Kimberly and Brendan were prepared to follow in
blissful ignorance, never having seen the daunting view of Thurat Spires
from Kanangra Lookout.


After Saturday night dinner at the Royal Hotel in Oberon, we camped at the
sparsely populated Boyd River Campground and set the alarm for Sunday
4.00am. It was 5.30 before we headed north along theMount Thurat Firetrail.
Across the Kanangra Ck fords, and up past a marker cairn onto Thurat Broad
Ridge before we turned east and descended to our target gully. Dave Noble's
notes were spot on - traversing 50m above the creek line, generally on the
right hand side, proved to be relatively scrub free.


We reached the first abseil at 7.10, and were rewarded by fantastic views
down the gorge in perfect weather. The water level was low, and cold was
never an issue, especially as Ian and Adrian were each testing out their new
Aldi full length wetsuits.  Kimberly was quite taken by the clean lines of
each of the 9 abseils which followed close on each other. No difficult
starts, all about 30m long. Ian introduced us to the cavers technique of
stuffing our 2x 60m ropes into rucksacks rather than coiling.


We of course benefited from the good notes available, and the revised anchor
points over the years.  The 3rd "chockstone abseil" anchor point is now
bolted, though one bolt is ripped out, the other is decidedly wobbly, but is
backed up by a well placed nut above. We followed the advice for 3 to abseil
inside the chockstone and the last person to abseil over to facilitate the
pulldown. The 4th "waterfall abseil' was delightful, and the 5th "Danae
Direct" anchor point has been relocated above the hole. The 6th "slippery
log abseil" has a handline leading to it, would be a decidely tricky start
in high water, but was a delight with the dry conditions we had. The swim
from the bottom of the 7th abseil was sped up by dragging the abseiler
across the pool hanging onto the rope.


Next came the infamous boulder field, and we negotiated the tricky descent
left of the beautiful clear pool that would otherwise have required a jump
and swim. Later we stopped for lunch at the first trickle of water
reemerging in the boulder field. This was too early, for just around the
corner we hit plenty of water and the final (10th) 15m abseil on the right
hand side into a pool and requiring a wade.


The long descent through the Pooken Hole narrow gorge was uneventful,
punctuated only by the occasional rasping noise of snake scales sliding over
the undergrowth and the fleeting glimpse of black tails disappearing down
some hole.  We passed under a number of birds nests overhanging the creek
bed. These hanging bottle shaped nests can pass as flotsam from floods, but
are Brown Gerygone (pronounced jerr-ig-onii) nests, though we never saw any
of these shy dainty brown grey birds.

We reached the junction with Kanangra Creek, and noted the track heading up
the opposite bank to Kilpatrick Causeway. We ate more food and drank our
fill in an effort to shake off our lethargy. At 13.00 we headed up the loose
dirt ridge - 2 steps up, 1 step back. When the ridge finally leveled out,
the map revealed we were only half way to the 1st of the Thurat Spires.
Finally the 1st Spire, and narrow ridge line of the 2nd Spire. We almost
became dizzy watching a wedge tailed eagle circling continuously above us,
and Adrian pointed out Kanangra Lookout and Kalang Falls across the valley.
We heard a few faint wild dog calls from downstream.


The descent off the 3rd Spire appeared to be towards an abyss, and we had
trouble identifying the indistinct route to the first abseil anchor point. A
rockfall had hidden the most used route, and Adrian was apprehensive at the
lofty exposure that threatened. This was compounded once we located the
anchor, and it was only on rope on the lip that he could see the trees below
with the rope dangling in foliage -  a mere 24m abseil as indicated by the
guide. Kimberly located the next belay point, a 10m abseil onto the saddle.


The track was easily found to the right of the expanse of rock in front of
us, and Kimberly led off on the climb up Spire Head. It was exposed in
places, but not too daunting (thank goodness for daypacks), and afforded
clear views of Danae Brook below us. Running out of water was a challenge,
and once we cleared Spire Head we hit the expected scrub as we made for Big
Misty. Ian was keen to follow the southern escarpment (bordering on Kanangra
Main) and this did indeed prove to be the path of least resistance.


>From Big Misty we walked on the same compass bearing all the way to the
firetrail through fairly clear terrain over a number of gullies, except for
one steeper section at Misty Gully in the middle. We came out on the Thurat
firetrail at the previously noted cairn at 19.15, and raced downhill to
slake our thirst in the Kanangra Creek fords. Ian commented that navigation
often proves the biggest test of teamwork amongst party members, and we were
pretty happy with ourselves on that point. We reached the car at 20.15, 15
hours since we had left.


Monday morning was a leisurely 9.30 start back to the Thurat Firetrail, this
time to head south to Dione Dell. Ian had deep blisters and settled down at
camp with Kimberly's kindle. A wise choice, as the 1km walk down Dione Dell
was on steep hillside and would have been painful for him. As the first
abseil was 33m, we had brought a 60m & 40m rope, and felt we probably could
have got away with just the 60m rope (as long as it didn't rain, for this
would have made the final scramble challenging). Standing on the lip of the
waterfall, we belatedly realized that the anchor point for the 2nd abseil
was above us.


We intended to have lunch at Margaret Falls, and had just finished the 4th
abseil when the rain came accompanied by peals of thunder. Brendan pointed
out as we coiled the rope that we were sheltered there and maybe this was a
good lunch spot.


As the rain intensified (it hailed up at Boyd River campground), we lamented
our lack of raincoats, wetsuits and anything else that provided any form of
shelter or warmth as the temperature plummeted. We delayed longer than we
would have liked, and finally moved off when the rain had dissipated to a
sprinkle. We decided we no longer wanted to make for Margaret Falls, but
presumed we had to go that far to pick up the track onto Pindari Tops. On a
whim, shortly after the canyon broke down, we were able to cut left up the
hill and pick up the track to Pindari Gap. Past Uranus Grotto, and up
Wallaby Pass. Our smugness at keeping relatively dry was short lived, for we
became totally soaked from pushing through the moisture laden scrub across
Pindari Tops.


On the road, Kimberly jogged off to collect the van and we drove down to the
Kanangra Walls lookout to admire Thurat Spires in the evening light.
Actually, it looks mad, and we have to congratulate those who first made the
journey over them.

On the way back to pick up Ian at Boyd River at 16.00 and to change into dry
clothes, we stopped to watch a young echidna wander across the road, and
remembered the young wombat we had watched 2 nights before.

What a fantastic 2 days it had been, and we appeared to have had these
iconic canyons to ourselves.


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