Bells Folly (Blue Mtns, Australia)

In Feb, 1979 Tim H was to lead a trip through Tiger Snake Canyon for the Catholic Bushwalking Club (CBC). However, after an injury the week before, Laurence Bell took over leading the trip. On the day, they wondered into the wrong creek and discovered what is today known as Bell’s Folly canyon (a report of their trip can be found in The Waysider, No 156, Mar/Apr 79).

I’d been wanting to try and find this canyon for some time and was pretty sure I’d found it by studying online aerial imagery. Furthermore, I found online that «the creek is the only likely looking one in the area on the aerial photo». So after leading a club trip through Tiger Snake the day before I met up with my brother in Lithgow to see if my hunch was right…

We left the car park at around 9am taking the firetrail to where it ends at the now obvious (bushfires) mining prospecting drill core samples. Continuing along the ridge we paused at an outcrop of rock to look out over the drainage we were to descend. It looked fairly open after the fires, and after dropping through a band of scrub we continued down making good time.

Quickly we approached a point where the creek dropped through a tight constriction. At first it seemed to be an abseil, but Lukas skirted around the ironstone ledges to the right to where we could climb down. We’d found the canyon! (it matched with the photo I had).

The ck opened briefly immediately entering the tight constriction I’d identified on the aerial imagery. Simply walking through we would have been wet to the thighs, but some careful high stemming saw us through dry. Lukas set a cracking pace. I could barely keep up!
Approaching another spot where the ck cut down steeply through the sandstone, we traversed around the waterfall using the available ledges. Walking through the tunnel created by a large boulder, and some careful balancing over unsturdy sticks to stay dry we reversed up to the bottom of the would-be abseil. There were some interesting ironstone formations and Lukas commented that one day he could make a car out of the iron. We dubbed the stalagmite «Lukas’s car embryo».

The canyon opened up. We explored a side canyon that looked interesting finding a lyre bird nest and a second descent overhang (CC) that would offer a dry place to lunch if it was raining.

Continuing, we dropped down a small drop that would likely intimidate most and assessed the next drop which was by far the largest and marked the end of the canyon. It also looked easy to avoid by using either of the ledges to our right and left. But the drop looked quite nice so we decided to abseil down.
We figured it was about 30m, so our rope should just reach. There were various anchor options including a large tree out a long the ledge on the right. This would keep us dry, but we decided to abseil right down the centre. Lukas threw down the rope and down I went. It turned out the drop was about 30m, but with our anchor set back from the lip, in effect it was more like 35m. We were short!
A convenient ledge let me disconnect from the rope. Grabbing some pull cord from my pack, I extended one tail before equalising the rope and continuing down. This took a little longer than I’d expected due to all the knots in the rope!

I was almost pulled into the pool when Lukas let go of the tape tied to my harness. We were having a small fight to retrieve the rope. Finally, with Lukas pulling on a large tree with one hand, the other pulling the tape attached to me, it began to move; getting easier as the angle of the rope slowly improved.

We lunched in the sun and soon continued down Constance Gorge exploring some large sandstone overhangs with sloping floors. There was lots of good camping amongst the Coachwoods. With the thin vegetation we made good time, passing large vines, an interesting resurgence and small quagmire just before the confluence with Deans Ck. We headed upstream utilising some log bridges before taking the Tiger Snake tributary up to take its exit back to the approach ridge.

A quick pace arriving back at the car at around 2:30 making the day about 5.5hrs. Thanks for a good day Gumbshoe.

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