[SUBW] [SUBW-A] Trip report: Thurat Rift (30/10/17)

Adrian Spragg aspragg at tpg.com.au
Sat Nov 11 00:53:27 AEDT 2017

Playing catch up again  http://fatcanyoners.org/2017/10/30/thurat-rift/


Trip report:   Thurat Rift

Date:               Mon 30.10.17

Party:             Leo Garnac, Adrian Spragg

Online (with photos): http://fatcanyoners.org/2017/10/30/thurat-rift/


Leo arrived at Boyd Crossing campground in Kanangra-Boyd National Park at
22.00 Sunday night, tired from guiding Malaita Wall and Empress Canyon on
each of the last 2 days. He claims to have made a lot of noise on arrival. A
large emergency vehicle (firetruck?) roared through with a short bip of the
siren, returning from Kanangra Walls lookout ¾ hour later. Adrian in his
tent blissfully slept through all of it, having done Danae Brook canyon that


We left the van at King Pin Firetrail, 3 km back from the campground, at
5.30am on Monday and passed over Mt Thurat at 6.00.With the aid of a GPS
route (thank you Adrian K.) we wound our way over the heathland, through a
100m band of saplings along Burra Gunama Ridge and SE down a spur to arrive
at Thurat Rift Creek at MGA 337398 at 7.30am.


The creek was an incredibly rich rainforest with tree ferns and lush mosses.
After 300m the hillsides gave way for the creek to plunge over the first
abseil of Thurat Rift Canyon at MGA340398. In front of us across the valley
was the amazing vista of Kilpatrick Causeway with Thurat Rift Canyon and
Kanangra Creek hidden below us.


Our track notes (with thanks to Richard Pattison) and approximate times were
as follows: (LHS = Left Hand Side = True Left = left looking down the


Abseil Nr

Belay point

Height (~approx)




LHS tree


Down side waterfall



LHS tree


Down middle waterfall



The creek became canyon and we downclimbed 2m through a hole.


RHS tree





LHS tree


Down grassy embankment



RHS tree


Abseil down cascades; 

from another belay behind boulder can go direct down cascades



RHS tree





The canyon makes a Right Hand bend and opens out. There is a pleasant 500m
walk to the next abseil. Leo was captivated by the crystal clear water of
the pool below the next abseil, expressing the desire to jump it. Adrian
steered him left to where there was meant to be a belay from a tree to avoid
the pool. The grin returned to Leo’s face when we found the belay tree with
its multiple slings torn away from the cliff and lying horizontal.



RHS tree


Abs 8m into pool (or jump), unclip, swim, reclip  


Adrian specced out the slide, but his assurances that it was only a small
lip of rock under the water proved unnecessary. Leo’s rucksack made the test
run, followed by Leo himself. Adrian had failed to notice the bulge half way
down the 8m slide, which launched Leon into the air clear of all rock.


After completing the rest of the 40m abseil over the pool lip, we down
climbed 5m to the edge of the “abyss”, flanked by rock walls to reveal 

nothing below. [It is when one can’t see the bottom below that one admires
the first canyoners to make a descent] 



RHS tree


Cross over waterfall to #9 rebelay



LHS tree





RHS tree


Scramble & short abseil



RHS tree


Clean wall beside cascade ending in waist deep pool



LHS tree





LHS tree


                   Can downclimb?



LHS tree


Thru scrub. Can downclimb?



LHS tree


Down waterfall, pleasant



Below us we saw the “to be avoided” stinging trees with their large leaves.
We stopped for a half hour lunch next to a clear pool, trying to understand
the antics of the water skaters that circled and met, circled and met
continuously. We didn’t realise that we had stopped just a few metres before
the next abseil. 





Lunch before 15th abseil

12.00 – 12.30


LHS tree





LHS tree





We passed the usual Gerygone (pron. jer-ig-on-nee) nests hanging above the
creek like flood debris, and then a most delicate nest with 3 small white
eggs. Mrs Grey Fantail flitted around us in consternation, but then

.. hopefully to reappear after our departure.


We walked on through the scrub to come to an open grassed (but by no means
flat) area in the sun which allowed us to get a GPS fix which placed us at
MGA353397. We believed we had just completed the last abseil, and neither of
us felt the need to push on through the entangled vegetation to Kanangra


Adrian was not keen for Leo’s suggestion to exit Right up a spur leading
over Mt Danae, pointing out that we were right next to a spur that would
lead us Left up to Burra Gunama ridge west of Burra Gunama Hill. We had both
easily exited from Carra Beanga trips from the other side over Burra Gunama
Hill, and this route would lead us back to our route in, obviating unknown
obstacles. Or so we thought!


The grassy hole in the jungle canopy proved so hot that we retired for a
half hour to the shade of the creek, drinking water like camels. Neither of
us were keen to start the hot climb out of the canyon. We heard the wind
like a jet engine above us, and hope that may be it would provide some
respite from the heat ahead of us.


Finally we headed of at 13.30 up a steep scree slope, but shaded by overhead
jungle vegetation. Finally we reached the steep ridge which took us NW on
slightly firmer terrain. The ridge developed increasing bands of rock, but
we believed we were making good progress. About 3 times Leo climbed ahead
and belayed Adrian up, but the rock showed no signs of giving way. 


At one point Leo downclimbed from a pinnacle and ascended the next. 

Leo:                 “Fantastic views.”

Adrian:             “I’m not looking down until I get to the top.”


Adrian looked ahead, and could see a larger cliff behind Leo than any we had
ascended. As he looked around, Leo’s suggested route on the other side of
Thurat Rift appeared to “go”. The narrow ridges beside us that Adrian had
discounted as likely to have cliffs (the topographical maps are renown for
not showing cliffs) appeared to “go”. It was only our ridge that did not
want to “go”. 


Adrian baulked at going on at about MGA347401. So Leo returned, and at 15.20
we downclimbed to a suitable tree from where we could make 2 short abseils
off the northern side of the ridge to where we were able to traverse loose
dirt ledges around the base of the cliffs and eventually up onto our ridge.
In fact, our back track and revised ascent proved much easier than we
expected and probably only cost us an hour.


Our ascent was not under the expected burning sun. We did not recognize that
the heatwave had chosen to dissipate at the very time we started our arduous
ascent. The Sydney Morning Herald the next day reported: “The city had its
warmest day since February, with the mercury reaching 35.4 degrees just
before 2.30pm, or about 13 degrees above the October average. Sydney Airport
was one of the hottest sites in Sydney, with 37.3 degrees reached at 3pm. It
was also amongst the fastest to cool off, dropping 11 degrees in seven
 “ The classic southerly buster caused general Sydney temperatures
to drop 10 degrees in 20 minutes, and we in the Blue Mountains had also
unknowingly benefited .


Our ascent appeared interminable, and we alternated the ead according to the
lows of our energy levels. We reached Burra Gunama ridge ~17.00, then our
band of thick scrub and saplings, the open heath, and Mt Thurat in the
setting sun at 18.30. So we were able to make it back to the van at 19.00,
making for a 13.5 hour day.


We changed out of damp clothing, cooked up a pasta and tuna dinner, and were
in bed shortly after 21.00. We agreed to make a slightly later start of
06.00am for Kalang Falls the next day.


We awoke to rain and COLD on Tuesday 31.10.17! At 6.00 each of us spied on
the other to see no movement – clearly we had each independently decided no
canyoning today. Back to Wentworth Falls to swap photos, discuss routes on
independent trips about Numietta Creek in the Wollemi, and then Adrian took
the train back to Sydney.


Thurat Rift is a beautiful canyon, and we rated it as probably more
picturesque than Carra Beanga. We had been blessed by warm weather (which
relented for our climb out), and some track notes along with Leo’s superior
ropework had allowed us to move quickly and accomplish what is normally a 1½
or 2 day trip in a long day with lighter packs.


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