A challenging bushwalk in the Kanangra region. Originally I had planned to do a three day walk from Kanangra to Katoomba for the Silver Qualifying Walk but alas the logistics of the car shuffle proved to be too complex so I settled for a three day circuit starting at Kanangra Walls, down the Gingra Ridge to the Kowmung River, up to 100 Man Cave via Compagnoni Pass and the Ti Willa Plateau before returning to Kanangra Walls via Mt Cloudmaker and Rip, Rack, Roar and Rumble.
We left Sydney at what we thought was reasonably early on the Friday afternoon but even so we still managed to get stuck in crappy traffic on the M2. As it turned out Martin left about an hour after Steve and I, managed to miss most of the traffic so he even had time to stop at Maccas on the way!
It was good that we did leave early in the afternoon as by the time we got to the Boyd River Crossing campsite, there were only a couple of campsites left.
The topo map shows the recorded track - Day 1 is green, Day 2 blue and Day 3 red. The overall distance covered was 43.5km which included the side trip to 1000 man cave. The graph below shows the track elevation with close to 1200m of vertical ascent and descent over the three days.
Day 1: Kanagra Walls to the Kowmung River via the Gingra Ridge (18km)
Since this was going to be a long day of walking we woke early at around 6:00am and promptly got stuck into a healthy and nutritious breakfast.
By 8:00am we’d arrived at the Kanangra Walls Car Park and started our walk towards the Coal Seam Cave. Our route took us up onto the Kilpatrick Causeway and via Maxwell Top. An alternative route is to skirt around the base of the cliffline via the Dance Cave.
We got to the Coal Seam Cave at 9:20 and had a 15 minute break before heading down the long Gingra Ridge which has six “bumps” along its length known as First Top, Second Top, Third Top etc
Unfortunately the Ridge had been burnt out recently, so the walking was hot and not all that pleasant. The latter quarter of the Ridge did have some tree cover which made for much more pleasant walking. I’d say the walk would be normally be quite OK with a bit of cover.
Even so it was nice to see the new growth pushing out from underneath the burnt trunks. The navigation for the most part was pretty straight forward, except for the last few hundred metres where we lost the track and ended up bashing our way through Razor Grass and Stinging Nettle.
We finally reached the campsite …
and the pristine Kowmung river at around 3:00pm after seven hours walking.
This time around the boys were quite well organised and took note of what light weight hiking was all about. Since my pack was verging on being Ultralight (4.5kg) I thought I’d better add some weight, so what better heavyweight item to bring than an Espresso Coffee machine!!! Here it is being powered by my home-made Metho Stove.
Of course some of the boys also made their own Metho Stoves with a few different models being tested.
About an hour after our arrival around 10 members of the Sydney Bushwalking Club arrived. The leader of the walk, a 71 year old by the name of David, had fallen on the walk down from the Coal Seam Cave and had broken his left wrist. Rather than turn back at the Coal Seam Cave, which is only an hour an a bit from the carpark, he decided to press on and complete the three day walk. Tough!!! Well, I suppose he should be as he is the oldest person to successfully complete the Three Peaks Walk , which starts and finishes Katoomba and traverses the three peaks of Mt Cloudmaker, Mt Paralyser and Mt Guougang - 90km and 4000 vertical metres which must be completed in under 48 hours.
Day 2: 100 Man Cave via Compagnoni Pass and the Ti Willa Plateau (7km)
7 clicks doesn’t sound like much, but the walking was steep and hot along a negotiable route - meaning that there wasn’t a defined track and some bushbashing was required.
It was a bit of a slower start today so we didn’t get away until around 9:30am. Navigation on the second day was more challenging right from start as we had to find the faint track up Willa Buttress which starts at the junction of Gingra Creek and Willa Creek.
After 2 and half hours slog up Willa Buttress which featured some difficult bush bashing through dense scrub for the last few hundred metres we reached the little cave at the base of Outer Ti Willa Walls. Some of the boys didn’t find the walk all that hard as they had a heap of energy left to do a bit of bouldering on the conglomerate walls.
The walls also had these lovely little orchids as well.
After the bouldering session it was time to saunter over to Compagnoni Pass and climb up the Outer Ti Willa Walls to the plateau above using a number of spikes and chains embedded in the rock.
At the plateau there is a fabulous lookout with views of the Blue Breaks to South where we stopped for a lunch for about an hour. The walking along the plateau was quite nice but again we lost the track for the last few hundred metres of walking and had to resort to more bush bashing.
When we finally reached 100 Man Cave, we discovered to our dismay that the usual water source was dry. The Sydney Bushies told us that we had to walk about 40mins downstream along Ti Willa Creek to find a tiny puddle to fill up from. Here are a cast of thousands filling up from the puddle which even though small, was clear and flowing.
By this stage everyone had enough walking for one day but I was dead keen to visit 1000 man cave which I had been told was impressive and was only short walk away but difficult to find.
The cave is situated on the southern side of Ti Willa Walls. There is a nice conglomerate tunnel that you can walk through to reach the cave, which is actually an overhang, but the biggest overhang I’ve seen. It is truly impressive. But - despite it’s gargantuan scale, the floor slopes and so you’d be hard pressed to sleep more than 10 or people. Plus it faces South so it get the weather and there is no water source. Dotted all along the caves and other overhang are deposits of Gypsum which is water soluble, so this is a good indication that it stays dry in wet weather.
Day 3: 100 Man Cave to Kanangra Walls via Mt Cloudmaker and The Kilpatrick Causeway (13km)
6:40am and the boys are grudgingly waking up - a tough call for teenagers who prefer to sleep until midday. We needed early start today as we had a three hour drive back to Sydney ahead us. At the least the walking today was along well established tracks so navigation was easy and the walking was easy.
8:20am and here we all are (except for Martin who was ahead of us) on the top of one of the iconic peaks of the Blue Mountains - Mt. Cloudmaker - at 1150m high, it’s not the highest peak in the Bluies but it’s close.
This is the vista looking back towards Kanangra Walls. Our route follows the ridgeline down past Rip, Rack, Roar and Rumble (which are not visible) then Mt Stormbreaker, Mt High and Mighty, Gabes Gap, Mt Berry, Crafts Walls, The Kilpatrick Causeway and finally Kanangra Walls.
More bouldering - this time at the base of Crafts Wall.
Wildflowers on the Kilpatrick causeway.
Kanangra Walls from Mt Brennan Top.
Looking across to two iconic Blue Mountains Waterfalls and Canyons. In the middle at back is Kanangra Falls - the canyon is known as Kanangra Main which features a stunning 150m abseil to start with and then follows the creek past a number of other stunning abseils - some through waterfalls. The exit is up Murdering Gully - a hard two hour slog up a ridiculously steep gully - it is last gully in the photo which you can just make out. Kalang Falls - another popular canyon is the gully to the left of Kanangra Main - you can see some of the falls near the bottom of the photo.
At 12:40 we stopped at the Dance Floor Cave for lunch and arrived back at the carpark at around 1:00pm.
The general consensus was that the last day of walking was fabulous but the first two days were not great.