Author Archives: rachel

Ettrema Gorge (26-28 Jan 2019)

Another weekend, another SBW trip. Wow. I love them, but organising 2 overnight, relatively rugged trips, in the space of 3 weekends is hard work. I’d been to Ettrema two previous times, in 2007 – the first multi-day bushwalk I’d organised without Tom, and in 2010 – the first time I’d met our now good friend Rich. The two previous trips had followed the same route – down Myall Creek, along Ettrema Gorge and up Transportation Spur. This time I’d planned a different route. Despite advertising the trip as ‘largely exploratory for leader’ (apparently a definite turn-off for many in our club) and ‘Walkers must be proficient scramblers, with a head for heights’ I’d had quite a of interest. Numbers had settled at 7, which is probably as big as you’d want given the relative paucity of campsites.

Saturday started rather disastrously as my car ran out of petrol on the Hume somewhat short of our meeting point at Sutton Forrest. Oops. Eternal thanks to the other car who bought a jerry and drove it back to us, and to Tom for taking his life into his hands to fill up on the edge of the Hume with about 30cm separating him from the traffic hurtling past. With that little hiccup ironed out we were only running an hour later than scheduled. We started walking shortly after 11am. The leader demonstrated her inability to navigate and converse, by marching off down the road in full conversation, while her husband kindly pointed out we were meant to be in the bush…. Aaah. The joys of being leader.

We had a bit of scrub to deal with, and we overshot the side creek we were trying to get in by, but it didn’t take too long before we were in Bullfrog Creek. I was pleased that there were pools of water even in the upper reaches. I had been hoping for lunch by a swimming hole but settled for shade and a shallow pool.


Lunch in Bullfrog Creek on day 1

There was a bit of scrambling and the handline came out for one drop before we made it to Ettrema Gorge. Nerriga topped out at 39.9°C about the time we hit Ettrema so it was no surprise that the first semi-decent pool we got to had everyone in it!


As soon as we were in Ettrema Gorge it was spa time!

From there we made our way down the creek, scrambling, swimming or jumping as seemed fit.


Must stay in single file…

We had seen another car near the entrance to Bullfrog but we were hoping the occupants weren’t going to be at our intended campsite. We got to Isoceles Pool on a bend which I recognised from one of Tom’s trips. I got the thumbs down from Alex which I was surprised at as he had been depth testing the water and it looked good for jumping… but then I realised it was because he had seen people.


The depth-testing rock plop

But I recognised the first person I saw, we’d met at the SBW Christmas party. I knew another SBW group had planned to be in Ettrema over the long weekend, but they weren’t meant to be here today. Given the weather it didn’t surprise me that they weren’t at their intended campsite on the tops.


This is the life


Hang on a minute, they didn’t walk in with us


Tough life on a 37°C day in Sydney

Fortunately the campsite was large enough to accommodate both groups and we had a lively time around the non-existent camp fire (park fire ban and besides with the weather…). To the bemusement of the longer-term members in the other party Alex pulled out the SBW Song Book from many years ago and proceeded to provide some entertainment. Thunder and lightning rolled around for quite a while lighting up the night. Most of us had gone to bed when it started raining quite heavily. Much relief that the flies had all been put on tents!


Fortunately it was a large campsite

My group was meant to set off at 9am but I knew we were unlikely to hit that when I only looked at my phone at 7:50am. I couldn’t believe we’d slept so late – probably in part due to the overcast sky. Eventually we got away about 9:20am. It wasn’t long before the first jumping opportunity…


Early morning jumps


Not all of the gorge was waterholes


Morning tea jumping


Beautiful cascades

It was a lovely relaxing day. Rock-hopping, interspersed with swims (and jumps), and with an unambitious schedule there was no particular hurry.


Lunch time tea and float


Gorge walking


Afternoon jumping


Synchro jumping


Recently shed skin


Stunning gorge

I had floated the idea of heading down to Jones Creek that afternoon, before walking out via Myall Creek the next day. However, there was vocal support for camping at Myall Creek, and none for Jones so we stayed at Myall. There was a bit of scratching around for enough sites for everyone but I think we were all accommodated reasonably in the end. We had an excursion up Myall Creek to the swimming hole to fill the afternoon. I soon regretted it as, of course, then the questions started about how we were exiting the next day. “no, we’re not climbing the face of the waterfall” “yes, we are going to traverse across to the top of it” “no, you’re not going to die”…. Hopefully the distractions of many jumps took the focus away…?


Contemplative stillness before the jumping began


OK, both of you jump on 3


No, not you Alex… Sierra and Steve


Yes, Sierra!


And Patrick!


Steve finds a higher jump spot


And launches


Tom decides to up the ante and get even higher… (though thinks better of it and comes down the same way)

Tom climbing up to the top of the waterfall to potentially jump didn’t make anyone less nervous as he made it look precarious. He had a photo from his 2000 trip of one of the guys jumping from the top. I did remind him that they were a lot younger and more foolish then, and I don’t think anyone was too unhappy (except Alex) when Tom decided to return the way he’d come.


Alex very animatedly talking about hyperbolic parabaloids

Happy hour conversation was dominated by discussion of hyperbolic parabaloids (thanks to the ‘stacked flavoured chips’ aka pringles knock-offs that I’d brought). Then more song book entertainment. Eventually we banned the song book for the rest of the evening. I hope the other party enjoyed the half of the song book Alex had left for them at their intended campsite.

Day 3 dawned grey with a little rain. Not the ideal conditions for our traverse above the “pool of impending doom”. Fortunately the rain didn’t last and the rock was pretty dry by the time we got there. I quickly scooted over and dumped my pack and came back to offer assistance to those who wanted it. I was pretty happy when we were all across, except Alex who we’d left at camp still making tea. When he arrived and asked what we were doing about pack-hauling I could happily say we were already sorted.


Tom traversing above the “Pool of Impending Doom”


Steve looking very casual


Patrick traversing above the “Pool of Impending Doom”


And why didn’t you jump from here yesterday Tom!?

The ascent of Myall Creek was a pleasant combination of rock-hopping, slab climbing and the occasional trickier section.


Alex and “The Pool of Death”


Tom and “The Pool of Death”


Scrambling up Myall Creek


More scrambling up Myall Creek


And more scrambling up Myall Creek


Tom checking out the views


Alex at probably the trickiest point in Myall Creek


Sierra using a hand line to get up


A final swim in Myall Creek


Some decided to sleep instead

Despite having swims and several breaks we made good time. We had lunch in a side creek before the final ascent on to the tops, through the mandatory section of scrub, and then back to the car. A great way to spend a hot weekend.


And so endeth another great adventure


Shoalhaven scrambling (19-20 Jan 2019)

Another weekend, another SBW trip… NSW got a brief respite from a week-long heatwave so we only had a warm weekend (high 20s?) rather than a very hot one (mid 30s). Regardless we were in the right place for cooling down, a creek with water albeit not as much water as the previous time the leader visited. Initially the creek was fairly easy going with a few pools and easily negotiated drops.


Paul taking the plunge


Nic scrambling a dryfall

After a late morning tea (11:30am) we had to leave the creek to get around a larger drop. There was lots of traversing loose slopes, some scree slope descents and some hand-lining. By the time we all got back into the creek (1pm) it was time for lunch!


Sketchy shale slopes


Daniel mid way down a long scree slope (photo doesn’t really illustrate the ‘fun’!)


The final descent back to the creek

After lunch we were able to stay in the creek, with various scrambling descents. I managed to keep my pack dry all day. Most of the others didn’t bother (in one case probably with regret!).


Swarming down a drop, while Alex never misses a chance to throw rocks into water


Paul: “Alex don’t you dare jump”…


More scrambling


Partner assists down a drop (there were multiple ways down)


Damon lying down on the job


Wading time


Avoiding a swim

At some point a grass tree stem was acquired and it provided a focus for charades. Many uses were identified for it from broomstick to boom mic to butter churner. Amazing how many hours of entertainment one burnt stem can give.


“The stick” in action as a bat

We got to camp around 4pm. Our leader was lagging behind a little. Turns out he’d not shut one of his dry bags properly and had been carrying an extra few litres of water in the dry bag. Oops. At least his food was in a different dry bag.


Jump rock!


Not the sleeping bag state you want… right Paul?

Most of us took to the very warm water and stayed in for a while. Alex decided he needed some flotation, so took his bag in and happily floated around on it for quite a long time… Funnily enough when your food is just in a grocery bag submerging it in water for hours is probably not the best way to keep it dry.


Or the food state you want… right Alex?


Shoalhaven reflections


My very comfortable spot (really should return that borrowed bivvy)

The next morning we made good time along the Shoalhaven soon reaching the compulsory swim.


Pack swim time


Getting around the bluffs

Then it was into another creek, which was narrower than the previous day. Lots of scrambling ensued, including a couple of drops where we needed to use the hand line (thanks Alex for getting up without it).


Nic climbing while everyone looks on


Ross on his way up


Damo’s so strong!


Up, up, up we go


Waiting for the traffic to clear


Delightful slopey dirt bank to cross

It was some of my favourite sort of terrain; lots of choices and problem-solving to determine how you were going to get up the various drops.


You take the high road, I’ll take the low road


Now where?


More route options


Swim time!


Not where I’d expect to find a wombat?!

We got to lunch at a waterfall which we apparently couldn’t get up. There was a scree slope on the true right, and a dirt bank on the true left. Neither looked great to me. Paul went off bashing up the left to investigate. After what seemed like hours later both him and Alex (who had gone right) were at the top of the waterfall. At which point Alex easily scrambled down it and we all then went up it…


Climbing the impassable waterfall 🙂

Only to then encounter a much larger waterfall!


This one looks a bit more impassable 🙁

This time we did scramble out. It was more delightful loose slopes and rocks. We got so high above the creek that Paul decided we’d just go up to the ridge and traverse rather than do any more scrambling.


Long way back to the creek

A couple of hours of easy walking had us back at the cars at 4pm.


Very open ridge walking

The drama for the day wasn’t over though! Paul couldn’t find his car key. His pack was emptied and searched, and searched again. Just as he was about to give up hope the key was located in his billy. Phew!

A great weekend in the bush.

Morong Deep Fail #3 (12 Jan 2019)

In Jan 2018 I finally had a successful descent of Morong Falls after 2 failed attempts in 2008 and 2010. Sadly Tom hadn’t been able to make that trip so I was keen to do it again so he could come along. I optimistically put it on the SBW Program for him…. Only to find he was still injured 🙁

I’d had a lot of interest in the trip, and a waiting list. But was the weather going to come to the party? I spent the weeks leading in studying the Kowmung River levels. I knew that for our successful trip last year the Cedar Creek level had been around 0.25. I had been told that up to about 0.35 was still fun and up to 0.4 was doable… it had taken several weeks for the level to get down to 0.36 a few days out from the trip. Great! Except then the days leading up had storms forecast. Shooters Hill had 28mm on Thursday but it didn’t seem to impact the river levels. (NB. Cedar Ford is >45km downstream of Morong Deep so not a perfect indicator of conditions)


Water levels up to the Friday (11th) before the trip

Not dissimilar to my Colo River walk I lost participants as the week progressed. I gave everyone the options on Thursday – should we proceed knowing that we might have to bail out? I got positive responses so we were on. Water levels were holding in the 0.35-0.40 range, forecast for Saturday was great. Fingers-crossed!

It rained heavily the whole way to Glenbrook on Friday evening. This wasn’t really consistent with the forecast. While picking up Clive & Will in Glenbrook I have a look at the radar – there’s widespread rain everywhere. Hmm. The rain continues most of the way up the mountains. We get fuel in Mt Vic and I have another look at the river levels – still sitting at 0.38, the rain gauges in the areas surrounding the Kowmung catchment haven’t had more than 10mm (compared to Goulburn and some parts of the main mountains getting >50mm that afternoon).

We get to Boyd River campground at 10:15pm. “@#&*!” I hear as we’re getting gear out the car. “What’s up?” “My shoes are in my car in Glenbrook, I only have thongs”. “oh”.

The rain starts pouring just as I’ve put my fly on the tent. I’m sitting in the tent, listening to the rain, looking at all the maps I’ve brought trying to come up with an alternative plan since Morong Deep is clearly out of the picture. And what am I going to do with shoeless Will?

I didn’t sleep well.

Woken by what sounded like hundreds of kookaburras at 5am my thoughts click back to the alternatives.

I finally meet Nic, the 4th and final member of the party. Part of the reason the trip is on the program is because Nic suggested it – but under club rules as he is still a prospective member he can’t lead trips yet. We’ve been exchanging emails for weeks but we haven’t met before. “Great day to go and have a look” he says. “Oh” I think.

Somewhat later than planned Nic, Clive & I set off for the locked gate (“giving us time for the river to go down”). It’s a beautiful day. We get to Morong Creek “that’s quite a lot of water” says Nic. Indeed. Not so much we couldn’t cross so we cross and head down to the Kowmung.


Upper Morong Falls


Upper Morong Falls

After a bit of faffing above bluffs we find our way down. A brown, frothy river meets us. Crossing looks a little challenging. If my mind hadn’t already been made up, it was made up then. We would be heading back out shortly.


Our first view of the Kowmung looking downstream

We put a marker in place to see whether the river was rising or falling and had morning tea. Nic and I managed to get across the river dry and went for a bit of a scout. After half an hour I don’t think the marker had moved, though Nic more optimistic than me thought it might have dropped very slightly.


Nic using the only dry crossing near the bottom of the spur


Savage Cataract


Nic exploring downstream on the true-right. We exit up the spur on the left. (for comparison see this photo from last year – the big boulders are the same, but the river is barely visible)

For something to do we decided to cross the river, make our way downstream a few hundred metres, cross back and head up the next spur. That was relatively straight-forward though there were very few safe places to cross the river.

My camera also decided it’d had enough, so that’s the end of my photos for the day.


More river

It was a fun, if humid and hot climb up the spur through a few granite outcrops. We had lunch at a lovely cliff-edge spot at the top with good views. It was the perfect weather for doing the trip – just the wrong water levels.

After lunch we headed back to the cars, and were a little surprised to find my car parked there as well as Nic’s. We’d left my car with shoeless Will so he could at least go somewhere from the campground. Shortly after he arrived back with a family he’d met – they’d been swimming at Morong Falls so we must have only just missed them after lunch.

I had a nap, then we prevaricated about what do the next day. There wasn’t a lot of enthusiasm for any of the options on the table. We went for a swim in the pool above Kalang Falls which was wonderful and refreshing. We then came to the democratic decision of going home that night.

Back home at 10:30pm I had a look at the river levels. Wow.


Water levels including Sat/Sun! Peaked at 0.57


Rainfall in the 24 hours before the trip


Bungleboori Canyoning (Dec 2018)

Tom and I had set out on a 4 day trip on the 27th but that lasted only a day as Tom re-injured his wrist. Disappointed we headed home and I put out a call on facebook for canyon playmates not really expecting any responses since any self-respecting outdoors person would be away on an extended trip at this time of year. Plus the forecast was for temperatures in the mid-high 30s which was a bit daunting. To my surprise Alex said he was keen (just to clarify, Alex is of course a self-respecting outdoors person who had meant to be on a 5 day trip which had been cancelled due to the heat). I’d been wanting to get back to Crikey for a while and suitable/willing canyon partners for that trip were few and far between so suggested that as my preferred option. Despite having just driven back from the Newnes Plateau on the 28th I was up at 5:30am on the 29th doing it all again. Alex was (surprisingly) early for our meeting at North Richmond, and we were away from the car at the HITW carpark by 9am. Alex hadn’t been to the area before so didn’t have the same scarring of walking the tracks into HITW previously (or maybe I’m not so much scarred from the walk in but the anticipation of the long walk out).

It wasn’t long before we were dropping into the cool recesses of Hole-in-the-Wall. As there were no other cars in the car park we didn’t see any one as we made our way through the canyon.


Alex in Hole-in-the-Wall


Alex abseiling in Hole-in-the-Wall

The squeeze in the glowworm cave was a bit strenuous with our overnight packs but eventually we were both through.


Are you sure you can fit into that hole?

It was midday when we hit Dingo Creek. We had lunch at the ‘usual’ lunch spot then headed up North-East Canyon. It was almost a year to the day that I’d done Nosedive with James so that meant we avoided any faffing about with route finding.


Monitor near Dingo Creek

It is very quick to get into Banks Canyon and I couldn’t believe it had been 13 years (also almost to the day) since I was last there. The upper section is very pretty if not particularly deep.


Upper section of Banks Canyon

Despite having done the canyon once before I had no memory of it and I hadn’t looked at the notes which made it feel exploratory (if not for the proliferation of slings). It makes things much more exciting when you’re abseiling into a dark hole and you can’t tell how deep it is!


Alex abseiling into the dark


Abseil number 3


Alex abseiling in Banks Canyon


Alex abseiling in Banks Canyon

It was 3pm by the time we were back in Dingo Creek. We walked downstream, stopping to check out the lower reaches of Fortitude Canyon.


Looking towards the Bungleboori from the bowels of Fortitude Canyon

After some discussion we decided we’d push on to Froth and Bubble before making camp. The next sections of the Bungleboori are lovely, with towering cliffs and canyon formation. It was hard work with my overnight pack and lack of canyoning fitness (only the 3rd day this season?).


Delightful Dingo Creek

We got to the Froth and Bubble junction at 5pm, and I realised I had no information about the supposed camp cave in the area. Fortunately it took us all of about 2 minutes to find a good one. So we settled in for a pleasant night around the fire (glad that we were in Blue Mountains NP and not Wollemi NP where the park fire ban for all of summer is still in place). It was fairly cool, no clues down in the creek of the heat wave which had settled over NSW.


Simple pleasures (thank goodness we’re in Blue Mountains NP where the park fire ban was lifted)

I didn’t have a great night’s sleep. I was woken from a deep sleep thinking Alex had whacked me on the elbow with sticks he was breaking for the fire… to find he was asleep and the fire was out. That somehow turned to me thinking some creature had bitten my elbow. But there was no scuttling of a creature retreating into the bush. Unclear what had been dream and what was real I struggled to go back to sleep full of thoughts of a creature large enough to bite my elbow. Eventually I drifted off only to woken by very noisy rustling near my head (which was pointed into the back of the cave). Again no tell-tale noise of a creature retreating, so I tried to sleep again. The rustling returned. This time I decided to get the torch out and have a bit more of a look around. To my surprise (and some relief?) the Bruschetta Chip packet, which had been sitting by the fire when I went to bed, was now only a metre from my head. The packet was made of foil and explained the loud rustling. I figured whatever had moved it would be back so I sat there in the dark waiting to spot it when the rustling resumed. I didn’t have to wait long before there was a rattus fuscipes staring back at me in the torchlight. It was somewhat unperturbed and stared back for a long time before eventually abandoning the bruschetta chips. I put the chips in the tree and finally managed to go back to sleep!


Our very comfortable camp cave… but why are the bruschetta chips in the tree?

I’d given Alex a sleep-in so we didn’t leave camp until 9am. The entry to Crikey initially seemed to be taking a long time but then suddenly we were in, an hour after leaving camp.




Alex abseiling into Crikey


Alex in the middle of the second abseil (or start of the third if you re-rig)


Canyon formation


Alex about to abseil into the gloom. We had our torches on

At the bottom of our 3rd abseil it was pretty dark so we were using head torches. There was a large eel in the pool which seemed attracted to our lights and hung around close to the surface while we retrieved the rope. As Alex said sometimes it’s better not to have light so you can’t see what’s in the pools!


Canyon formation


Alex silhouetted just before the long swim


Looking back up canyon


Wider canyon


Alex abseiling


Canyon formation

A bit further on Alex yells up from the bottom of an abseil that he has a snake on him. I figured I’d misheard but when I got down there was a very small snake which appeared to be dead floating in the pool. Alex assured me it was very much alive when it was on him, so we weren’t that surprised when it suddenly rolled over and stuck it’s head up. I think it was probably a juvenile mustard-bellied snake.


Alex has been offering sacrifices to the canyon gods (Check out that bleeding knee)

It was interesting to the see the ‘age’ on the rockfall at the end. When we’d been here in 2011 the fall was new.


Rockfall with 9 years of age on it (recent last time I was here)

We were back at our cave for lunch, and then started the long slog back to the cars.


Don’t spill your tea Alex!

We went up Froth and Bubble Canyon as far as we could, soaking in the cool, knowing it was going to be a hot walk.


Exploring up Froth and Bubble Canyon

To our pleasant surprise there was quite a lot of high cloud and so the heat wasn’t too bad. The car temperature gauge did say it was 34°C when I turned it on at 5:30pm but had cooled down to 29°C after a few minutes of driving. A great weekend away.

Colo Passes 11a & 13 (15-16 Dec 20018)

It was the case of the shrinking trip. A week before we had 7, by Tuesday it was 6, Thursday down to 5. 5 minutes before we were meant to meet in Windsor on Saturday morning we were down to 4 when I got an sms from Alex informing me he had just woken up… and he wasn’t parked just round the corner. Given the weather forecast (hot with potential severe storms) I wasn’t too unhappy with the small group. Since Tom was in doubt to complete the trip (after all we were due another person to pull out…) we decided to take 2 cars in case Tom needed to bail out early.

I was loaded up with much of our shared gear as well as my packraft which made navigating the off-track sections awkward. As there had been storms the previous two days the rocks in the creek were wet and walking on them was akin to walking on ice. The slippery conditions made for slow progress in the creek.


Treacherous conditions in the creek

We had various forays up onto the sides to get around some of the larger boulders, ultimately ending up above the junction of our first creek and the main one. Sweat was pouring off us with the humid conditions so after a drink and some scouting we backtracked a bit and found a way back into the creek.


Almost canyoning

I managed to pick up a couple of footpads on the true right which eventually brought us down to the Colo River around 12:30pm.


Preparing to launch


The crew on the water early on

After lunch and inflating the flotilla launched. Bill was quick to get some fishing in – obviously having practised casting from a lilo a few times before. It wasn’t long before he had a reasonable sized bass but decided we had a bit too far to go in the heat to keep it for dinner.


Bill fishing from the shore

We were in no hurry to get down to Canoe Creek so we drifted where we could, enjoying the flow particularly in the earlier sections.


Early rapids


Bill of the king of the lilo!

The lilos probably had the better run through most of the rapids – there seemed to be lots of lilo sized gaps and not so many pack-raft sized!


It’s a hard life

The promised storms developed and hit us briefly. After about 5 minutes of heavy rain it cleared to a lovely afternoon, and we were feeling pretty happy with our decision to be out there.


The storm about to hit us hard

Talk turned to who would be at Canoe Creek – we were meant to be meeting another SBW group, but it was unclear from a series of text messages that morning whether they were still coming. Alex had said he might catch up with us later in the day. My money was on no one being there, but second choice was just Emmanuelle, Vivien & Justine.


More victorious lilo rapid-running


Not quite as smooth for the pack-raft!

The last section of the river as we approached the Canoe Creek junction seemed to take a while with the series of rapids growing longer and requiring more clambering over. Sadly Bill’s lilo decided it had enough at this point and popped. His fishing rod & reel not wanting to miss out also decided to malfunction (snap / fall off).

Eventually we came within sight of the corner and I could see Emmanuelle standing there waiting for us. After some good-natured castigation at our late arrival (51 minutes after happy hour!) we set-up for the night, then settled down to happy hour at the somewhat controversial time of 6:30pm. Vivien’s group had similar shrinking issues to mine having also gone from 7 to 4 (only Andrew had made it in addition with V, E & J).

We had moved on to dinner by the time a distinctive figure with his classic-felt bush hat appeared carrying a boogie board. Alex had indeed eventually caught up with us – after 7pm! We had a pleasant evening, but not around the campfire due to the ongoing park fire ban.

With only a short walk out the next day there was no designated get-up time and Tom & I managed to sleep through till 8:30am. The morning was whiled away with swimming, napping and general laziness. After a cooling swim we set off at 11am. I’d forgotten how steep the Canoe Creek track (Pass 13) was and with my heavy pack I needed a couple of boosts from behind to get up the steeper sections.


Cooling swim before the steep climb-out


Taking a breather after the steep section

We finished off the weekend with a late lunch at the Colo Riverside (with air-conditioning! 36°C outside according to the car). An excellent weekend in the bush. (And Tom survived).

Galong Creek (8 Dec 2018)

It was a beautiful day, if perhaps a little hot for most Wild Dogs walks with the forecast predicting 28°C. We got our climbing out of the way early. Caro wanted to show Warwick the iron pots of Ironpot Mountain so we went up before hanging a right and heading down, down, down. We were treated to views of a wedgetail eagle soaring just above us. The spur we took was easy going and we enjoyed morning tea on the banks of the Coxs River (once the cows had wandered off)


Easy spur down to the Coxs River

The initial sections of Galong Creek were pretty standard creek walking. A few snakes here and there, a pig and a fairly active echidna. Despite walking along (or in) the creek it was still pretty hot, and a few of the party members took the opportunity for ‘swims’ (probably too generous a term) as we went.


Caro having a dip

After lunch we hit the pink granite, with lots of small waterfalls and scrambling.


Granite gorge walking


The blue brigade heading towards me


Think we might have a compulsory wade coming up


Scrambling up one of many waterfalls


Alex tackling the same waterfall


Climbing around the next one


Looking down


Time for a swimming break


More granite walking

One of the highlights was a Powerful Owl which flew under the canopy not far above my head. We were able to watch it for a few minutes before the smaller birds chased it off.


The creek got narrower and steeper


Wouldn’t want to be stuck in here in a flash-flood


The group contemplating the next climb


More climbing

Eventually the granite relented and then we just had a short walk back to the cars. We finished the day with refreshments in Blackheath. A great day out.

The Pondage (27-28 Oct 2018)

It had been over 6 months since Tom & I had done an overnight bushwalk around Sydney*, so we chose something fairly easy to get back out into the bush.


Tom pagoda scrambling near Baal Bone Gap


What do you mean I have to go down there?


No I don’t want to hold this position while you get your camera out


Beautiful fern gully


Where on earth are we? and how do we get around this pagoda?


2 hours of walking… definitely in need of a snooze


Beautiful part of the world


Sunset viewing


Camp. It was a bit cooler on Sunday


Impressive cliffs


Feeling small


Tom & J in a field of native irises

*I had done K2K in 2 days, but this was the first one we’d done together since April.

Traverse of the gods (29 Sep 2018)

I’d been plumping to do this walk for most of winter but the weather conditions hadn’t come to the party. Finally on our last weekend living in Blackheath we got a reasonable forecast so off we went. We hadn’t managed to get out much in recent weeks so it was nice to be striding out along the Mt Banks firetrail in the sunshine. It wasn’t long before we were at the spot where we needed to descend to the half-way ledge.


The half-way ledge we’re planning on traversing


Early days and pretty easy going


A slightly slopey/loose section… at least for Tom! Apparently he was “careful” (and therefore I wasn’t)

Early on things were pretty obvious. There weren’t too many choices – just keep following the ledge. Generally it was fairly easy going, only one slopey section that made Tom nervous. Then we hit a big gully where there were many options.


ok, so that’s where we’ve been… now where are we going?

We got to explore many different ledges before finally hitting the logbook (and therefore hopefully the right height!).


rock formation

Entering the “Devils Throat” and the narrowest ledge of the route to date. We may have done some other narrow ledges unnecessarily while we were trying to find the correct level.


Finally we’re at the ‘devil’s throat’ at the right level… now it gets narrow


Lovely views of the Grose Valley

On the other side of the Devils Throat was a narrow ledge. The easiest (?) way across was to sit on your bum and ease yourself over. It was more awkward than it looked but dry for us so no great drama.


Tricky narrow bulging ledge to get past (is more awkward than it looks)

From there we scrambled up on to the tops for lunch – somewhat later than it might have been had we picked the correct route to start with.


Yes Tom you need to mantle!


Well-earned lunch!

From there it was a relatively easy traverse around onto the Mt Banks summit track. A great short day out.

K2K in two days (8-9 Sep 2018)

I have walked the Kanangra to Katoomba route twice before – once as a 3 day trip back in 2007, (& photos) and then last year in 1 day. To complete the set I needed to do it in 2 days. The idea was conceived only a few weeks earlier when Jo & I were doing another SBW trip, and so it ended up on the SBW Spring Program. We had hoped to get enough people to do it in two groups, walking in opposite directions, with a car swap. We got up to 9 at one stage but in the end we had a party of 6, so only one group. Which was fortunate since that meant we all fitted under the shelter shed when we arrived in the rain at the Kanangra Walls car park on Friday night.


Misty Kanangra Walls car park early on Saturday morning

We were rudely awoken by a fellow SBWer “Kanangra Bill” who was up before the birds (or at least well before my alarm). Nicci & Bill were off even earlier than us. Our group got away at 7:20am. It seemed the bulk of the rain had bucketed down in the early hours and we were hopeful the cloud would lift during the morning.


Enjoying the views from the plateau

Thick low cloud and wet vegetation made for a fairly quick pace (as there was nothing to look at), countered by needing to take care with the wet surface underfoot. There was no question of stopping for too long as the cold quickly set in.


We got very excited as we could briefly see something


Gordon Smith Pass was a little slippery


Coming into Gabes Gap

Geoff & I had similar motivations for doing the walk. We’d both done K2K in a day in recent years and had loved the ridge walking but wanted to redo it with more time to appreciate the views. The others hadn’t done the full route so were just wanting to experience it for the first time. We’d all been as far as Cloudmaker before so I wasn’t too upset about the cloud since we’d seen those views before. My dreams of having lunch in the sun near Mt Moorilla Maroo taking in rarely seen views was not to be. With the cloud still very low we settled on lunch at Dex Creek. Our spirits were buoyed when we saw glimpses of blue sky in the direction we were heading – the cloud was lifting! We were so cold though that most of the party was packed and ready to go before Jo had even finished eating her lunch.


Lunch at Dex Creek

Sadly the lifted cloud didn’t last long and we were soon back walking in the midst of it. The navigation between Dex Creek and Mt Amarina was surprisingly straight-forward. The foot pad was pretty clear to follow other than one spot near the Eastern end of the Cloudmaker summit ridge. Possibly everything being wet made it easier to see on the ground.


Pretending we can see anything


Atmospheric ridge walking

By the time we got to Mt Strongleg we were no longer walking in mist so we had a break to take in some views. Then it was the steep descent down to Kanangra Creek. Reports from the previous week had said there was no flow in the lower section of the creek. We deliberately aimed off on the spur to the NW at the bottom so we’d hit the creek high up where it was more likely to be flowing.


Taking a break before descending Strongleg


The cloud started lifting as we descended

We hadn’t needed to worry – Kanangra Creek was flowing strong and clearly right until the junction with the Coxs River. I was quite surprised, as while there had been a bit of rain in the previous week and a dump the night before, the creek gave no indication it had been dry only a few days earlier.


The trials of being chased by the bushwalking paparazzi


Well-equipped camp at Konangaroo Clearing

The other reason I’d wanted to do this route was to camp at Konangaroo Clearing which I hadn’t done before. It’s a very large space but fairly undulating so a few people took a while to find the right spot for their tent.


Sunday morning at camp

We got away from camp at 8am on Sunday with crossings of Kanangra Creek and Coxs River to immediately challenge us.


The crystal clear water of Kanangra Creek meets the murky Coxs River

Unusually for me I went for a crossing with shoes on as the Coxs was murky and knee high at the deepest. I’d spent all of the previous day with wet feet so I figured my socks and shoes were already damp. Half the party gamely went for the bare foot option.


Crossing the Coxs River

1.5 hours later we were all at the top of Mt Yellow Dog happy to see the sun and feel a bit of breeze. The large cairn which had existed there last year was no more.


Jo on Mt Yellow Dog

From Mt Yellow Dog the route was straight-forward if becoming more painful by the kilometre. A day and a half of wet feet wasn’t doing my feet any good and I was looking forward to lunch and a chance to dry them off.


“only” 15km to go

We decided we needed some views for lunch since we’d been so deprived the previous day. So we had a late-ish lunch above Tarros Ladders. Everyone handled the ladders well – even the one party member who didn’t like exposure and didn’t realise he had to climb spikes until I mentioned it at morning tea…


Jo on Tarros Ladders


Jo & Jon with our route stretching out beyond them

I should have done something with my feet after lunch but didn’t so the Narrow Neck fire trail bash was not the most fun I’d ever had. Final count was a bleeding left heel, blisters under 3 toes and weird blotchy swollen ankles. I was in a much better shape after K2K in a day! Nonetheless we all survived and had a good time despite the weather.


Geoff, Rachel, Yoon, Jo, Jon, Michael

Tom came down to meet us as due to a traffic snarl in the Harbour Tunnel on Friday night we hadn’t managed to get two cars out to the locked gate. We were happy to get into the packet of chips he produced! Then we reconvened at the pub in Katoomba for a celebratory beverage and some well deserved food. We were an amusing (?) site leaving the pub as we hobbled in our various ways back to the cars. A fun weekend but I think I’ll be doing a bit more training before my next K2K endeavour!

Embracing the wind! (19 Aug 2018)

While we’ve been living in Blackheath it was been very windy a surprising number of weekends. Our general approach has been to try and find walks to do on Eastern facing slopes but none of the things on my to-do list met that criteria. So we bit the bullet and headed off to explore Blackmans Crown.


Rock Arch

The exploring of the outcrop was definitely made more exciting by the very strong gusts of wind. Having to pause half way through a somewhat delicate move while the next 50km/h blast passed made things a bit nervy.


Narrow sidling


Is that the way?


Almost at the summit


Tom’s lying down in this shot because it was too dangerous to stand up with the wind gusts!


Lovely views


Is he going to fit?


Or is he stuck?!


Quick trip to Utah 🙂


And now what?


Then we went looking for a cave in the snow


Results of several snow showers


Another snow shower


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