After a year off our ‘traditional’ Boxing Day canyoning trip last year it was good that Tom’s body appeared to be sufficiently healthy for us to get back into it this year. We garnered a bit of interest and so on Boxing Day five of us set off into the Wollemi Wilderness.
Tom had already had to do a repack after weighing his pack and deciding 20kg was out of the question – 2kg of gear left on the floor at home – hopefully nothing he would later regret!
Our first couple of hours were on familiar territory and we helped direct another party in the direction of Water Dragon – though after we left them Tom did admit he may have sent them in a bit early. Oops. We continued on, the going on the ridges was pretty easy as the regrowth from the fires was still relatively low. We dropped into a tributary of a tributary which was pretty unpleasant – and a bit of a theme for the trip – many creeks having a lot of fallen timber in them from the fires.
Having a break in a side creek after some scrub bashing. At least the going along the tops was pretty good after fires in recent years.
Scrambling in the main creek
Negotiating a log jam
Tom on a small hand-over-hand
Sue at the bottom of another hand-over-hand
Tom in the canyon
Toni standing out in her new wetsuit
On the second day we explored a side creek. On our way in I encountered some sawfly larvae.
The tributary we explored was dark and cold. This was at the end of of a tunnel section – before I had to break the spiderweb and disturb the water!
Toni exiting a narrow tunnel section
Sue enjoying the frigid water
Tom on a small downclimb
Sue in a slighty eerie dark section (artificially lit)
We base camped for two nights, Tom and I took the ‘annex’ around the corner from the main camp cave. We did a bit more excavating after the first night to even up the ground!
On the second afternoon the others opted for a bit of R&R while Tom and I headed back into the main creek. We were looking for passes and options for the coming days. Potentially we were going to have to reverse our route so we spent a fair bit of time assessing whether we could get back up everything (or leaving a rope in place as needed).
Tom descending into the main creek
Tom negotiating a further downclimb
Further down the creek we explored a very narrow side creek from the bottom. With a bit of bridging and grunting we got a bit of a way up it.
On day 3 we decided to move camp so with full packs found a pass out onto the tops and headed over the ridge to descend an unknown creek.
Abseil in our side creek
Tom on another abseil in the side creek
Lunch cave in the main creek. Complete with newspaper from 2014 that had (presumably) been left for kindling along with the large pile of firewood. The previous day I found an old torch in another overhang.
There were lots of flannel flowers out
After lunch we headed out a somewhat sketchy pass to descend the narrow canyon Tom and I had explored from the bottom on the previous day.
Smiffy on the first impressive abseil
Tom on the second narrow abseil
Toni abseiling, while Tom enjoys the canyon ambience
Bridging over a narrow section
Then we continued down the main creek. We were hoping to find a camp cave further downstream. The creek was slow going with full packs, and some major boulder block-ups which took some time to work out a way through.
Toni negotiating a downclimb
Tom on top of one of the boulder block-ups. Now where?
More magnificent gorge
While the gorge was magnificent we were all pretty tired by the time we finally found a camp cave. Even better it wasn’t the camp cave we were looking for but a better one! (no hauling up a tree to get to it!)
A very nice camp cave, which ended up being home for the 3 nights
Continue the adventure