The Timber Chute (Wollemi NP, Australia)

Party: Kent Dwyer; Michael Blair, Owen Mistler, & I; Pete (Burto) Burton, Peter (Chardy) Chard, Sonya Muhisimmer, Krzysztof Koziarz & Roy Barlow; and Iván Littlewood.
Photos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/TR8TBxDLvEGnMmY67

With the weather looking somewhat inclement over much of the weekend, day trips seemed to be the preferred choice. I was hoping to catch up with some old friends (Tim and Owen) but they both bailed as the weekend approached, and so it was that Michael, Owen and I joined Kent’s trip to visit the historic Newnes timber chute.

I’d seen pictures, but couldn’t remember if I’d actually visited. I was just nice not to organise a trip.

After spending a night in Katoomba at Narissa and Yuri’s, Owen and I paused in Lithgow for fuel and food. Meeting the rest of the group at Lidsdale, we carpooled with Michael and soon were on our way.

With its increasing popularity, even on this wet weekend there were still many more people in the campground than when I was a kid.

Heading out along the beginning of the Pipeline Track, we soon veered of to the left to explore some of the ruins including a couple of rusting zephyrs shells, trees playing tennis on an overgrown court and the ruins of what was apparently a school. Back in its hayday when the shale oil refinery was operational, the 1911 census reported a population of 1652!

Soon we dropped back on to the old road that heads up Petries. The last time I’d been up here was probably an overnight trip with Lilian (see 2016.03.12-13.Petries.Gully.with.Lilian). Whilst a little overgrown, there was only one spot where we lost the road for a couple of minutes. Crossing back and forth a couple of times, we finally left the old road taking the larger drainage to the north of the Timber Chute.
It was a pleasant creek and fairly easy walking. Taking the left fork we soon made for a pass through the cliffs and continued through the blackened bush that had been burnt to a crisp. It had been hit pretty hard 😦

Most of the group followed Kent’s lead to skirt around the drainage to the ramp they’d used on a previous trip. Roy was quite determined to drop in on the northern side… After noting that he wasn’t joining us, I decided to find my own way in and try and link up with him. This worked well, though I didn’t actually realise how far the others planned to go. I stood around whilst Roy snacked eventually continuing downstream a short way to a 10m waterfall dropping down through a slot (~GR 4286 2733). Using Roy’s roped, doubled around a convenient tree, I worked my way down swinging over the lip of rock to one side to avoid the pool of water at the bottom. The log Roy had placed there was still in place, and he soon joined me at the bottom.

The views the others got from the top

Continuing down the creek, we soon met the other dropping down via a ramp. Taking perches on some convenient rocks, we lunched enjoying some special ginger treats Sonya had made for everyone – she’s planning on publishing the recipes in the next issue of Bushwalk NSW. They’re delicious!

We didn’t see any evidence of logging in the area, which is part of the mystery of the timber chute: no-one is exactly sure what it was used for, though supplying Newnes with fuel/building material seems like the most likely explanation. When the valley began narrowing into a slot canyon (~GR 4348 2728) we began noticing carved holes that would have housed a logs. They dropped mirroring the gradient of the creek, and as the walls pressed in, some of the actual timber was in place; the canyon protecting them from fire… though unfortunately many were lost in the last fire… I should have visited sooner.
(Burto helped Sonya through canyon)

The canyon opened out, some recently burnt logs reminding us of the damage of the recent fires. Skirting around the bottom of the cliff to the left (though not Roy) we contoured back up into Petries popping out right where the old rd crosses the ck.
(Apparently if you continue down the creek, you can find more signs of the old chute).

Soon we were back in familiar terrain and groups splintered off from each other until we finally rendezvoued back at the Newnes campground, just to say our farewells and again seperate.

Thanks everyone for a fun trip! Thanks to Kent (and Roy) for organising.

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