Thurat Rift and Thurat Spires

Epic! That’s what the boys reckon. I thought it was awesome. It has everything you could ask for and more! A demanding and remote adventure with absolutely stunning waterfalls and abseils, pristine creek walking, an optional side trip to Danae Brook, the best walk out ever and a great open fire cook up with a few glasses of plonk on the banks of Kanangra Creek. But seriously very hard - Kanangra Main is a Picnic in comparison.

The start of the trip on Friday evening was an Epic in it’s own right. First I had to visit the Kenhurst Embassy to get a Visa and after about three days of travel arrived at Ben’s place and finally departed for Kanangra at around 7:00pm.

Ben and I stopped at the Kurrajong Pub for dinner. Ed and Matt in the meantime decided to take the Great Western and stopped in Katoomba for groceries and dinner. Dinner was Chilli Pizza, which proved to be slightly hotter than last time. Volcanic might be an appropriate term as by the time we hit Hartley there was definitely something bubbling away.

We only just made it to the Hamilton Pub when some serious volcanic eruptions took place including some deadly Pyroclastic flows. After the volcanic activity subsided we started off again towards Kanangra before being hit by more volcanic activity at Jenolan Caves. During all this volcanic activity, Ben was accosted by two guys staying at the Jenolan Caves Hotel who were desperate for a packet of matches. Not for a smoke. But to light the hearth! I can’t believe the hotel did not have or want to supply matches. Not a 5 star establishment I guess!

We finally made to Boyd River Crossing at 11:00pm and took advantage of the Tin Tent.

Day 1: Thurat Rift

After a restless night I woke at around 6:00am. I still had a tender tummy but was feeling better. I can’t help feeling that somehow Ben is slowly poisoning me as I remember a similar episode on our previous two day trip to the Boori.

We soon struck up a conversation with an elderly gentleman who obviously had a heap of experience and when Ben asked, “How do you rate Thurat Rift?”, he responded in an exasperated tone with something like “On what basis? Physically, emotionally, spiritually, the scenery, length of the abseils … that’s like asking someone to rate a Movie!”. Well, Ben and I both had a WTF moment and decided that asking any further questions would only lead to another diatribe.


After a fair bit of pfaffing around, leaving maps and compasses behind in the Tin Tent, we finally set off down King Pin Firetrail at 7:40. After half an hours walk we reached the end of the fire trail and the Trig Point.


The walk along the ridge is quite nice up until the high point where we started to head down the ridge where it turned into …


A full on Bush Bash! Of course this is one of the better sections. I couldn’t even get my camera out on the gnarlier sections.


The Bush Bush only lasted for a 100 metres or so and then it was a pretty leisurely stroll down the ridge to some absolutely delightful creek walking …


… with some almost Jurassic vegetation.


After about two and half hours we reached Thurat Rift Falls. Abseiling down these was absolutely joyful. They were in a pristine condition with little evidence of traffic. See the pic at the start of the Blog for the full falls.


Ben near the bottom of Thurat Rift Falls. Lots more pics in the gallery.


Ben about to head down the second abseil.


This is abseil number 4. Or is it 5 already? I dunno, with so many abseils down so many awesome waterfalls, you just don’t care any more.


How good is this abseil?


Here’s my HDR attempt. I’m getting better, but doing HDR with moving stuff and no tripod is not easy.


Yet another awesome waterfall.


Followed by beautiful creek walking.


Ed heads down the mega 62m abseil. Of course, I threw the rope over the edge and managed to get it tangled in roots and all sorts of stuff. It must’ve taken Ed a good 20mins to untangle it all on the way down. Next time it would be best to flake the ropes out in your bag, let it hang between your legs and let the ropes feed out on abseil.


Ed chilling out at the bottom of the falls.


Another shot of the falls - they were so good. More shots in the gallery.


Did I mention that there are a huge number of big abseils next to awesome falls?


Matt on the 77th waterfall abseil.


And Ed on the classy 85th waterfall abseil.


At the end there were so many awesome waterfall abseils that it just got dizzying!


Finally at around 5:30pm we found a small but flat and comfortable campsite on the right bank of Kanangra Creek roughly 600m upstream. There was also a really nice flat rock ledge in Thurat Rift that we almost stopped at a few hundred metres before the junction but after a bit of discussion we followed Ben’s lead to try and find a spot on Kanangra Creek. Campsites on Kanangra Creek are difficult to find so make sure you allow an hour or more to find a good spot.


Maaate!!! You couldn’t beat it with a stick! Snags cooking away, roasted Taters in the coals and a few glasses of Plonk. Magic.

Day 2: Thurat Spires


We kinda woke at around 6:00am and after a very relaxed and casual start we finally broke camp at 8:00am and started up Kanangra Creek.


This was the day of the Wild Things. First I found a Wild Strawberry and later on we heard a Wild Dog and much much later on we saw Wild Dog tracks. I shoulda taken a pic of the Wild Strawberry, but hey. Anyway, we did find more than one Wild Strawberry later on which the boys tasted. I’m not sure they were all that keen on the Wild Strawberries so to quote Crocodile Dundee - “Well, you can live on it but it tastes like shit!”


After two hours of rock hopping we arrived at the junction of Kanangra Creek and Danae Brook. Ben studies the creek carefully to ensure we’re on track and given that we felt so fresh we decided to take a detour up Danae Brook for a while. Hah. If only that were true!

Question: How many decades of navigational experience does it take to walk straight past the obvious creek junction where the walk out up Thurat Spires start?

Answer: Check the embarrassing fine print in the disclaimer at the bottom of this Blog.


Hey Look! There are Thurat Spires - we’re obviously heading in the right direction! Doh!!!!


After our little one hour detour we arrive back at the junction and head up the steep, steep ridge. The first 20 or 30 mins are the steepest - after that it eases up a bit but it’s still hard work. The good news is that there is no Stinging Nettle.


Danae Brook. It’s inspired me to do it again after viewing it from up here.


After a solid two hours climb we reached the top of the First Spire and stopped for lunch. The walking and scrambling up and along the narrow ridge is simply spectacular. Every step presents you with an even better view.


Ed about to cross the Bridge of Death. Only a metre wide with a 300m drop on either side, you need to take it slowly and carefully especially since we were all feeling tired by this stage.


OMG! There’s a blank wall ahead of us with no visible way up! Or is there? Ed sneaks up the hidden corner to get to the top of the second spire.


It’s really hard to tell from here but getting to the abseil point where Ed is perched is treacherous. The walk down is a steep scree slope with lots of loose rock. We were all running low on water and feeling fatigued, so we were all extra careful as a simple mistake around here would have been fatal. It also took us a good 30 mins to find the correct abseil point. There are various ways down the Second Spire which require advanced route finding and abseil skills - you can do a two or three abseil variant. You just need to able to work it out. There is also a lot a loose rock which we managed to dislodge. So you need to keep out of the firing line.

Finally, after our three abseil variant we got to the pass and headed up the steep scramble to Spire Head which whilst difficult, provided stunning views all the way up.

Thurat Spires and Kanangra Walls Partial Panorama - 8 Feb 2015 - 53 MPixels

This megapixel panorama of Thurat Spires and Kanangra Walls will give you an idea of the stunning views.

We started up the Spires at 11:20 after almost 7 hours we reach the firetrail. From the top of Spire Head to the firetrail, the walking was not that pleasant with a fair bit of bushbashing. We were also dehydrated and fatigued which didn’t help. We skirted around Big Misty, but as we later found out there is easier walking if you head up to Big Misty near the cliff line. On the way back I managed to poke myself in the eye with a strand of Australia Grass.


We finally arrived back at the cars at around 7:00pm after bumping into an Echidna that was a bit camera shy and seeing a lot of Wild Dog tracks. I guess it makes sense given that the Wild Mountains are only 30kms away. How good is it having a fridge full of cold Cider after a full on weekend!

We decided to have dinner at the Hamilton Pub but alas we left it too late so headed to the Pizza Place at Little Hartley which was thankfully open. The Pizza was sooooo good. So was the second Cider.

Ben drove back due to me being poked in the eye with a sharp stick and I finally got home at around 11:30pm - So perhaps the boys were right - Epic! I just can’t wait for my next Kanangra Adventure. Wheengee Whungee????

Disclaimer: Yeah well. Ed and Matt were moving rather fast through Kanangra gorge so we were pretty much in sheep mode just following the leader. So after a quick photo Matt and Ed shot off again and Ben and I played catchup. After about half an hour we caught up and I thought, we really should have been there by now. So I checked the GPS and then we realised just what a bunch of Numpties we’d been. This is a basic 101 navigational error and despite our huge collective experience we still stuffed.

Personally I found it hilarious that we’d made this mistake, not sure about Ben though. It just proves the point that no matter your depth experience, follow that basic tenet of navigation and make sure you know where you are at all times. Don’t rush and don’t get into Sheep Mode regardless of who you’re with and be aware that when you’re tired it’s easy to make mistakes and you need to be diligent with your navigation.

Our navigation error cost us an hour, which meant that I ended up getting home at 11:30pm. 10:30pm would have been heaps better.

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