An epic canyoning weekend to a few remote and rarely visited canyons in the Bungleboori wilderness. The very original plan I had in mind was to do the Three Peaks but that was scrapped once Greg and I realised how hot it was going to be - plus Greg had come down with a bad case of ManFlu so we decided to do Wheengee Whungee in the Kanangra region instead.
I invited Ben and Ed along for extra company. All was going to plan when on Wednesday I realised that going to Kanangra would be a bad idea due to the search and rescue operation to find a missing bushwalker in the region - so we then came up with Plan B - to do some remote canyons in the Boori.
By this stage Greg’s ManFlu had developed into a severe case of Mangina, so he had to drop out.
We decided to head up on Friday night so that we could get a reasonably early start the next morning so after a quick bite at the Kurrajong Pub we made our way to the Hole in Wall car Park. As usual, I got misplaced. At least this time I had a good excuse - The Forestry Corp had decided to cut down all the Pine trees leading to the car park and had changed the roads so after 10 mins or so of backtracking we arrived at our destination and decided to camp out under the awning of The Plado, light a fire and drink some Red. A most pleasant evening indeed.
Day 1: Scatters, Luna Park and Hailstorm Retreat Canyons
After a slow start in the morning, we finally started walking at around 8:15am. By this stage two other parties had already arrived and departed - one party bound for Hole in the Wall and the other bound for Fortitude.
We arrived at our camp site, just a bit past the Hole in Wall walking track junction around 9:00 and after sorting out gear set off for Scatters Canyon. Earlier in the week we’d decided that rather than walk down the exit track of Scatters Canyon to get to Luna Park as described in the guide, that we may as well do Scatters Canyon itself. After all, it was only a grade 1, the bush bash from our camp site to canyon didn’t seem that far so how long could it possibly take?
The bash into Scatters was quick and easy - probably as a result of no vegetation due to last October’s fires.
Scatters has some pretty nice features - about an hour from our start we came across this little pool which seriously looked as though it was Man Made - the wall was exactly a brick wide and dead level at the top and almost perfectly vertical - there are a couple more shots of this in the gallery.
This first little hand-over-hand section is off a rusty fixed peg!
The Ben Power Twins walking through the shallow section of the pool. Ed and I had almost convinced Ben that he needed to swim across. So Close!
Ed heads down the really Cool tunnel swim.
The other end of the tunnel where there were a gazillion micro-moths, midges, flying insecty things. I really should find out the correct name for these things.
Maaaatttteee - that wasn’t cold at all!
As I wanted to keep my bag dry as long as possible I managed to avoid all the swims and only got wet up to my waist. The swims look really nice though especially the tunnel, so don’t be a Big Girl’s Blouse like me and do the swims! The general consensus was that Scatters is bit more difficult than a 1, more like a 2 or 3.
At the junction of the Bungleboori we crossed over and had a quick bit of lunch at a nice leafy flat spot before heading upstream 50m or so to the gully that leads to the Luna Park ridge.
Looking across at Scatters and Hailstorm Retreat. Scatters on the very left and Hailstorm Retreat is the very lush vertical green band just left of centre. Our campsite is at the highest point just left of the middle.
A classic Canyoning Bum Shot showing the incredibly awkward first abseil of Luna Park. Luckily I had a wide angle lens otherwise I might not have been able to fit it all in.
The next abseil is easy but very nice indeed. I think it was around here that we thought we heard voices of a party behind us.
Beautiful canyon formations.
Ed drops out of the Luna Park hole to the Death Defying drop below.
Yay. Here we are the Bungleboori. The 4 star camping cave is in the background.
Even the exit canyon of Hailstorm Retreat had an awesome feature - here Ben attempts to squeeze through the tree roots to the other side.
Holly Crap! Are you sure that’s what we walked down?
Waratahs on the walking track back to camp.
Finally, we’re back at camp after a full 11 hour day of canyoning. We were all so pleased that we decided to do Scatters as the pre-cursor to Luna Park otherwise it would have been a huge amount of effort for a very short albeit spectacular canyon. The canyon section of Luna Park itself only took about 1.5 hours to do, so I highly recommend doing Scatters first, but keep in mind that it is a long day so you need to be fit, your navigation skills need to be excellent as there is NO defined track at all, and you need to be able to deal with difficult abseils.
Later that night a Helicopter flew over the top of us towards Luna Park - our immediate thoughts were that there was in fact a party behind us and they gotten in to trouble.
Day 2: Bjelke’s Mind Canyon
If you don’t know anything about Joh Bjekle Petersen ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joh_Bjelke-Petersen ) you should have a quick read to get an insight into his straight and narrow views.
Reading the guide may make you wonder why you need a 50m rope for 5 fairly short abseils? No? Well, we certainly wondered about this contradictory statement.
The walk out to Bjelke’s Mind does require a bit of navigation and it is easy to head down the wrong ridge even with GPS and compass. There is a vague track at times but it is mostly bush bashing.
We dropped down into the canyon a little bit higher than the suggested Grid Ref of 546029 figuring that if it wasn’t right it would be easier to head downhill rather than the other way. So we struck the cliffline at around 546030 and then headed down to a tree that seemed to be close the edge and also near a shortish drop - which as it happened was pretty close to where the guide recommended! Most of the cliffline around here is much higher than 25m, hence the need for the 50m rope.
We needed to walk down the scrubby creek for a fair while before we hit the first canyony bit. It was either abseil into a small pool or find another way down. I found another way down. It’s not the most conventional way down and Ben did have a bit of a WTF moment, but at the end of day, who can resist a bit of Tree Hugging?
Ed looks pretty relaxed here, but getting over the log jam to this comfortable position is awkward.
The first very nice and tight squeeze into the canyon off a dodgy looking but solid log. As Ben abseiled down this, the tape slowly slipped down the log, getting tighter and tighter whilst making these creepy I’m-going-break-apart-into-a-million-pieces noises. Perfectly safe. Solid. But a little bit creepy.
Yet another tight and awkward abseil. We had to dangle our packs off our harnesses to get down the slots and even then they got stuck. Ben’s pack had obviously done something very bad as Ben punished it at every chance by hurling it down the slots.
Looking out towards the Bungleboori - I guess Bjelke had a bit of a dark mind as well?
I guess the big log referred to in the guide is long gone as we had to use this anchor that was a good 10m from the slot. Someone had put these lovely blue and purple slings here before us but did not seem to know the first thing about knots as they had used overhand knots instead of tape knots.
To date, this would have to be the tightest slot I’ve had to abseil down.
The final awkward little abseil that leads to a short tunnel and the Bungleboori. As soon as we stepped out of the tunnel we were hit by a blast of hot air. Bjelke’s Mind is only rated a 4 but it does deserve a grade 5. Every abseil is awkward and unfortunately it was dry for us, it would be way more fun with some water flowing but also more difficult due to the tight slots.
We stopped for lunch on the Boori, where I decided it was time to test out a gift that I was given at the 2013 ORIC conference - a single serve of Back Country Cusine Berry Smoothy. It sounded pretty good me:
“The Back Country Cuisine Freeze Dried Fruit Smoothies are nutritious as well as delicious. A combination of 100% freeze dried real fruit mixed with ice-cream powder. Just Add Water - and you have a delicious gourmet smoothie on the go. Perfect for kids, or a quick and easy snack for your next adventure.”
And it did in fact taste pretty damn fine. The only problem being that for the next three hours my every second footstep was accompanied by the trumpetting of a Berry Flavoured Fart.
Ben demonstrates the correct technique for the application of sunscreen. For most of the day he had been applying it to his nether regions in order to salve a bad case of grape sack chaffing. Needless to say Ed and I chose to get sunburnt rather than apply Ben’s sunscreen.
5:15 and we’re finally back at the car. Covered in soot from head to foot from the burnt scrub from last year’s fires, legs shredded from Saturday’s Bush Bashing, knackered from two 11 hour days with heavy packs and a lot of effort for a small amount of time spent canyoning it was nevertheless a great trip with a fantastic wilderness feel to it. If you’re bored with following highways to canyons and are looking for something more challenging, then this is a great area to visit.
If you’re headed here it makes sense to make a weekend out of it and camp out either near the Hole in the Wall junction or at the end of the Bubble Bath Fire Trail which will turn those very long days into something a bit more reasonable.
We stopped by at Kurrajong pub on the way home and bumped into Tom Brennan and Richard Pattison whose YouTube video provided the inspiration to do Bjelke’s Mind.
And I’m reading the OzCanyons Facebook page. Two canyoners missing in the Wollangambe area near Du Faurs creek. How weird is that. Our trip has been punctuated by people going missing. Thankfully they found the two missing canyoners around lunchtime. No news of the missing bushwalker however.