Sand Pools Canyon (Newnes State Forest, NSW, Australia)

Party: Mum & I, Monika and Bruce

Monika emailed Mum and I at the end of 2021 to maybe plan a trip together (with Bruce) in mid January. They’d contacted me to join a canyoning trip I’d posted for SUBW, the dates didn’t quite line up but we still managed to meet in an unlikely location above Numietta Ck on a trip in Nov 2020. I hadn’t seen them since.

After some back and forwards we managed to line up a Monday trip after they’d spent the weekend in the Wolgan. They stayed the night at my parents, and we eventually settled on the plan to visit Crystal Pools. It was one of the few trips that seemed to fit the requirements of being relatively short, having abseils, and no one having visited it (though mum initially thought she may have).
The description in the canyoning bible is:

«GR 453977 (Wollangambe map). One 30m rope needed for 3 abseils. One short swim and some wades. Exit at the Bungleboori.»

We sort of planned what to do but it was really in the morning where everything happened: we all packed (Bruce packed a 30m rope, I put one in just under 30) and on the way to Lithgow I looked at the satellite imagery and decided that the road to the north would make a better (shorter) loop. The creek upstream from the book coordinate also looked interesting, but we decided to trust the book… a sometimes dangerous thing!
The Yarramun FT was rougher than I remember seeing it before, and the side FT was even worse, but no trouble for Mum’s Cruiser and Bruce’s new Hilux. We parked exactly where I planned: right opposite the FT that drops all the way into the ck from the South. The gully provided easy access and after inspecting a great overhang we were quickly walking in the ck.

It wasn’t long before we reached the first drop, it wasn’t huge, and could probably be carefully negotiated without a rope, but after I climbed down the first bit, it was obviously very slippery and with the flowing water it was hard to tell exactly how deep the water was: it looked like a swim. After the rope was rigged I abseiled down, the bottom pool was only belly button deep. It looked like it had been filled in with sand.

Still fairly open we reached the second and largest drop we encountered. We abseiled by slinging the rope around a cantilevered log, it was tricky to reach underneath to reach the rope. We tried some things using a prussic loop, but I ended up dropping it. When Monika abseiled second I could hold the rope in place at a knoll fairly easily. Mum clipped the rope into her harness to hold it for me, and she came down last. The pool at the bottom was very shallow, it seemed to have filled up with sand.

After some more ck walking, another abseil with a similarly cantilevered log followed. It required a little bit of excavation before the rope could be threaded, but I got it in the end. Mum abseiled down third and got her hair jammed in her descender. I thought it a little unusual, and indeed it turned out that her hair band had snapped. She managed to self rescue by bridging across the canyon walls and pulling her hair free bit by bit.
This pitch (like most of the ck) had a shallow sand filled pool at the bottom.

The ck turned a corner through a nice constriction before we reached the top of what turned out to be the final drop. There was a circulating current in a small pothole that was actively being carved out.
There weren’t any super obvious anchor options. I ended up looking up high on CR by traversing a ledge, but the rock was too fractured. Bruce climbed up on the opposite side. In the end we put a tape around a bush that whilst recovering from the fires had a substantial root stock that Bruce said was solid. We all made it safely down the winding chute. There was a nice little enclosed area at the bottom followed by a wade. There was an interesting side creek coming in from the right. I drank some water from it and was surprised to find sand in my mouth; it must be still washing down!

Some more canyon-like sections, some scrambling and negotiating boulders and the ck was obviously opening up. We quickly reached the Bungleboori passing several logs (and a stump) that had obviously been cut. I’d seen similar stumps in the upper Boori.
The Boori had good flow and started with a nice rock base. Instead of heading up the spur that led to the car, we decided to continue walking upstream. We lunched and lazed on a rock that was initially in the shade.

Continuing up the Boori for a time, we soon began our hot climb up. Luckily it wasn’t very far to the FT, we also lay in the river to get fully wet before leaving the river. It was a straight forward way out and we soon popped out onto the FT and then only had a few minutes to the car.

All and all a good day out. I think that the recent rains made the trip more enjoyable than in lower water conditions.

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