Given the lackadaisical navigation efforts on our recent Kanangra Main trip and the serious reputation of Carrabeanga with deaths, multiple overnight epics, and othere shenanigans, I decided I should get my shit together and at least plan a route beforehand and get a bit of Canyon beta. I even polished the scratches out of my GPS unit!
We decided to head up on Friday arvo so that we could make an early start on Saturday morning. I know this may be hard to believe, but we did not have dinner at the most awesome Alchemy Pizza place as Bec was, Shock, Horror, all Pizza'd out! Instead we stopped at the Pub in Blackheath where in a most bizarre coincidence we bumped into a guy who was a close acquaintence with the unfortunate Newcastle Uni group that suffered a couple of deaths on Carra Beanga back in 2001 - http://ozultimate.com/canyoning/carra_beanga.htm
To ensure we could make a quick start in the morning we simply camped out under the side awning on the Plado. Here we are at the ungodly hour of 5:30am getting ready to depart.
Mike seems to be taking this trip somewhat casually, causing major exasperation for Bec. At least we know where we are - the Trig at Mt Thurat.
Or maybe not? There is a faint trail along the ridge between Mt Thurat and Thurat Tops, which is easily lost due to the thickets of Banksia and other thick copses of green stuff. I pretty sure I've never followed the same path twice in the five trips I've done along this ridge - as long you simply keep moving and try to keep to the logical track you'll eventually find it again - maybe.
There's a small stance of trees along the ridge with some amazing mossy clumps on them.
About 2 and a bit hours later we arrive at the beautiful Carrabeanga Brook.
Which is soon followed by a stunning little waterfall.
Enough with the photo pfaffery - it's time to start scrambling down to the first abseil.
Bec on the first abseil.
Looking out towards Mt Stormbreaker with Mt Cloudmaker back left.
Looking down at the gorge part way down a huge abseil down Carrabeanga Falls. Think I'll aim for that Gum Tree I see on the right down there. The Gum Tree has a really small stance - It'd be really tricky with more than 3-4 people and it is very exposed here.
Mike on one of the overhanging sections of Carrabeanga Falls.
Looks like Carrabeanga hasn't lost it's reputation for dealing out epics. Here Mike attempts to retrieve a rope that is well and truly stuck on the left hand side of the falls. Good job he didn't manage to retrieve it - it would've been a nightmare carrying that back up the hill!
Mike abseils into the canyon section.
This is a lovely part of the canyon.
By this stage it was 1pm, we'd done 12 or so abseils, so decided to have a bit of lunch at this lovely little waterfall. By now we were all pretty relieved that in all likelihood we would not get benighted or have an epic as we only had about 3 abseils left and figured we'd get to the campsite in good time.
And here it is again - just cause it's so nice. I had to do some serious HDR pfaffery with these two shots given the massive lighting contrast.
Not too far after this was a nice little abseil into a pool. There were a couple of sketchy options you could take to avoid getting wet feet - which I must admit to taking one. In fact there are generally alternate options for most of the abseils - so you just need to keep your eyes open.
And here we are, the one we've all been waiting for - the spectacular final big abseil into the waist deep pool.
Looking back up at the final big abseil.
If you look carefully, you'll see that this used to be an anchor somewhere higher up. Must've been a while ago given that it is hawser laid rope.
Bec avoids an optional abseil by doing the sliding slab sidestep.
And of course no canyon is complete without a snake somewhere. It was around here that the canyon opens out into a bit of a scrubby affair - I reckon that if you were keen you could probably skirt around to the ridge and head up Gunama Steeps around this point if you were keen to do it in a day.
We weren't keen, so arrived at our campsite on Kanangra Creek about 100m down from the junction around 4:30pm feeling a bit knackered after just under 10 hours on the go - but I think that was because, despite being in a canyon full of water we didn't hydrate enough. Funny how that seems to be a common problem. I must've drunk at least 3 litres of water once we stopped. Overall it felt pretty cruisy - but the big abseil down Carrabeanga Falls is definitely serious - if you don't pick your stances correctly it could definitely not end well.
As usual I brought some Snags and par-boiled Taters for Din Dins over an open fire. You just can't beat it with a stick!
Day 2: The Slog up the Ridge to Mt Cyclops
The weather forecast for today was 31 degrees. I was not keen to walk in that heat so we woke at 5:30 am and departed the campsite a bit after 6:30 am to begin our two and a half slog up the hill. As this was a training trip for NZ I really didn't worry about pack weight very much, even so 20kg was a far cry from my usual ultralight pack weight of 7kg.
However the good news was that walk up the ridge was way better than I expected. Sure the first little bit is the usual steep Kanangra scree slope covered in Stinging Nettle but this soon turned into a nice sharp rocky ridge - admittedly I did almost crush myself under a couple of loose blocks but otherwise it was sweet!
Yay! Mt Cyclops! And it's only 9:30am!
And yes, even though we did manage to stick to the faint track for most of the way we still lost it about 100m from the fire trail!
We got back to the car just after midday - so overall it took just a bit under 5 and a half hours to walk back. We were totally knackered but I think we're fit enough for NZ.
I'd say that for me personally Carrabeanga is not as good as Thurat Rift or Davies. There heaps of beautiful waterfalls, but a lot of the abseils are pretty scrappy scrubby affairs mind you IMHO the walk up the ridge to Mt Cyclops was way better than any other walk outs I've done.
Of course we forgot that the road to Jenolan is closed for while around midday so instead of heading back via Jenolan we took the route via Oberon and had a well deserved lunch at the local.