Martin G Dalitz
Sabrina (‘Jasmine’) Füchsle
Steve (‘Justin’) Cox
… and I
This will be a full weekend adventure, 3 canyons over 2 long days. All are tributaries of lower Rocky Creek. Contradiction and Thunderstorm are seldom visited due to difficult access.https://www.meetup.com/Wollemi-Wanderers/events/272249030/
3km+ walk-in to our wilderness bush camp on a ridge, where we’ll camp Friday and Saturday nights.
Day 1 – Contradiction, dark and cave like with abseils of ?m, 10m, 15m, 14m & 10m. A magnificent canyon with deep wades and a few short swims.
Day 2 – Closet with abseils of 10m, 15m, 3m, 12m & 40m and a few deep wades/swims, followed by Thunderstorm with a single 40m abseil.
After visiting Heart Attack and Surefire earlier in the week I was back up onto the plateau for several more canyons I hadn’t visited in some time. Phil had invited me along hoping I would have a better recollection of my last trip there… but it was so long ago I barely remembered a thing.
After a BIG weekend exploring canyons on the Bungleboori I was keen not for a repeat experience (in two senses) – as last time we got benighted on the way out by a phantom cliff-line that didn’t appear on the maps. To shorten the day Phil reworked the trip leaving out Galah, and using the Closet exit to bring us to an easier way out of Rocky Ck.
I woke at about 3:30am and was driving up to the plateau at 4 and walking to the GR the others were camping at around quarter past 5. I arrived roughly on the hour and found Alex on his phone by the fire – apparently there was phone reception! (I’ve noticed more and more ppl using phones on trips – in the past it seemed digital technology was more separate from outdoor exploits.)
Most of the group was familiar to me but Alex and Steve where new faces. Hopefully I could cope with two new names!
At about 1hr behind schedule we dropped down off the ridge following a spur down to the Closet exit. As it turned out Alex and I had some common acquaintances and experiences and we talked for a while before I got to talk a little with the quieter Steve. I also got to talk to the familiar faces. Phil has put together a really good group of ppl!
Our way down into Rocky went without hitch. Nothing really came back to me and writing this post trip I’m not actually sure I’ve ever visited Closet or used the pass. The crux is an easy climb down some tree roots in the gully. Once in Rocky creek we wandered downstream past Thunderstorm soon finding an easy pass out. Reaching the ridgeline we followed it for a time before dropping down into the ck via a ~30m pitch. Phil led the way and I went last, the others providing a meat anchor from the bottom allowing me to abseil down single rope on the other end.
The creek soon dropped unexpectedly and abruptly down beneath a boulder. I managed to downclimb and bridge across the pool that followed but there wasn’t really much point as the next drop landed in deep pool = short swim. A handline was set-up on the first drop to assist those who wanted it and we all chimneyed down the next, the slippery walls sending us sliding into the water with small plop.
A tiered abseil (abseil 1) consisting of two short drops followed closely afterwards. Then I think there was a pitch I can’t really recall…
There were two closely spaced larger pitches (P3&P4). Alex set up an anchor somewhere on top of the chockstone and Martin dropped down first. I went through a hole below the chockstone and grabbed his foot to surprise him. Then used the rope I had to abseil of a log. The next was into a elongated pool you had to swim across. The anchor was around the large ring of rock created from an old pothole CL.
A darker tunnel-like section followed some light occasionally finding its way in from above. Then canyon then opened. Moving quickly through a sheep dip a pool dubbed the ‘poo pool’ (though Martin managed to climb over the top), the canyon was at an end. Much shorter than I recalled.
Passing a tiger snake, there was one more abseil into a deep pool before reaching Rocky Creek. Instead of trying the climbing exit (like we did last trip) we walked a couple of ks upstream to the Galah Exit… However, Once up the roped climb we took an alternative route I hadn’t used before. Apparently T2 had mentioned it. Instead of going back up through Galah you just follow the cliffline to the south and take an obvious exit just after a small amphitheatre.
Back at camp, I quickly got a fire going using a borrowed lighter before it became dark. I enjoyed the cheese party (courtesy of Sabrina and Alex) and cooked up some rice on the fire – I think everyone else brought gas stoves.
Closet and Thunderstorm:
In the morning we followed the same route, but instead of taking the Closet exit, dropped of the other side of the spur to run through the canyon. Dropping in via a ck on the north side to avoid an abseil we geared up in the pretty side gully with overhanging rock wall.
A couple of hand-over-hands brought us to what might have been the first abseil, though I’m very likely forgetting something. It was fairly long and landed in water… however I found that you could just get onto a ledge and crawl around to avoid swimming. Whether or not it is worth it is another matter 😉
A downclimb into a swimmer followed, but again a dry option presented itself via a tricky high-bridge and then down climb down a log. I slipped at the bottom and plopped into the water not staying much drier than if I’d swum.
The canyon then opened up. I think you can follow the cliffs around to the exit… but the long spectacular abseil in the bottom constriction is not to miss! It was about 40m but there was an intermediary anchor maybe half-way down if you wanted to bring less rope.
We lunched at Rocky and making two rope backpacks left most of our gear and wandered downstream to explore Thunderstorm. Originally we were going to visit the canyon from the top, but as far as we know, it only has one waterfall abseil, so we decided to simply reverse the canyon to this pitch.
The canyon wasn’t really a slot canyon, but it was still quite pleasant and the terminal waterfall a worthy destination. Some of us climbed up the lower falls, but those higher were pretty much impossible to scale. An anchor allowed us to set up a handline for the scramble down.
Returning to our gear we took the familiar exit and returned to camp to pack up. We were soon on our way. I fell behind when I had to repack a couple of things at the top of my pack but wasn’t concerned, navigation on the way back was easier being predominantly uphill. When I hit the old road and then the next larger old road I was a little concerned as there were spider webs across the path… I thought maybe I passed them and they were waiting for me. I hadn’t been using a GPS and was staying a little to the side of the ridgetop to avoid a couple of spurs that could have pulled me the wrong way… I decided to drop my pack and jog the ~500m to the end of the rd. Once there I cooeed but received no answer. Maybe they weren’t taking the road? I wasn’t sure but decided to hurry back to the cars. It wasn’t far, but time dragged on… just before getting there a cooee for me rang out, I answered and hoped it was them. It was! As it turns out they hadn’t used the old roads at all but come over the top of Galah Mountain.
We soon said our farewells. They’d be meeting in Blackheath for some drinks and a feed, but it was a little out of the way for me.
Feeling like some faster driving and putting my offroad tyres to the test I past a number of cars on the way out. I hope noone was annoyed at me.
Thanks everyone for a fun weekend, and again a special thanks to Phil for organising everyone and