We shot down to Bungonia late Friday night and set up camp for the weekend. There were 5 of us in total - Me, my fiance Catherine, flatemate Ryan, and two guys from the UNSW Outdoors Club - Stewart and Steven. We woke early Saturday and four of, after signing in at the Ranger station, headed off down the yellow track towards Jerrara Creek Canyon.
We took a few photos from the lookout at the end of the yellow track, then headed past the little sign which tells you that the track has already ended down into the gully which drops you down into the Creek. We got into our wetsuits, climbed down the first little rock face, and set up the first abseil. We all repelled down it without problems, swam around the corner, climbed over some rocks for a while, jumped in some more pools, and before we knew it, we were at the second abseil.
The second abseil is pretty easy really. Its fun because it is 40m so you have plenty of time to enjoy the sights as you slide down the ropes, plus as you near the bottom you really feel the stretch of the ropes, but the whole cliff has a positive slope so it isn’t scary or difficult at all. You land in a large shallow pool at the bottom, and it is easy to get some nice photos of the waterfall from a rock over the side of the pool.
Climbing over that rock onto another rock, down the side of that into a pool, which you swim through to the chock stone which makes the 3rd abseil. This part was my favourite part of the whole canyon because I really wanted to jump it. Steven abseiled down first to do a depth check. I know from the previous time that I had done it that the natural depth is deeper than you can reach, but of course you always check the depth each time in case new logs or boulders have fallen down into the water. We then sent Ryan down with the camera. I then got ready to jump… Now this is quite a scary jump. 7m is pretty high anywhere, but I have no problem with anything up to around 10m - the problem with this jump is that the canyon gets narrower and narrower as it goes down. The water surface is only about 2m wide, which means that if you are slightly off when you jump you could hit the wall instead of the water. In fact, when I jumped I managed to land pretty well, but I still found myself scraping down the wall surface underneath the water (after the water had slowed me down greatly - no harm done) as the wall continues to slope inwards. Anyway, you’ll see it all yourself on the video which I will hopefully upload tomorrow.
From there the end is really just around the corner. We took our wetsuits off, had some snacks, then started the perilous ascension. Damn slate-esque flaky rocks. You spend half your time climbing up rock faces which could come out if you pulled too hard in the wrong direction, and the other half of your time dodging the rocks pulled out by the people above you. Needless to say, we all wore out helmets as we climbed up, but Ryan still managed to cop a small rock in his cheek (small rocks still hurt after falling for a while). The climb out is really quite exhillarating though - every now and then you need to stop and look around. There is a huge drop to your right, down into Jerrara Creek Canyon, and there is an even bigger drop to your left, down into Bungonia Creek Canyon - but That’s OK, just don’t fall and everything will be fine…..
I’m sure it isn’t really that bad. It is all a trick of perception (I hope…). We were climbing a ridge, not a sheer cliff, so if anyone did fall, you could easily grab a tree or something well before you fell any great distance. There was always ground immediately below you - just steeply sloping away from you ground… The real danger was just the rock slides. If you do accidentally create a rock slide into the canyon below, make sure you call out as loud as you can. “Below” is what I was always told. I think some people call out “Rock” or something. Just make sure you do it in case you are create a very deadly rock fall onto a group of canyoners behind you!
Anyway, we eventually got up the top, caught our breath, took some more photos of the view, then wandered back to camp.
The next day Cat, Stewart and I went for a quick trip down into B44 Grill Cave. I have done Grill about 3 times already, and yet still couldn’t get past the Squeeze - Mud Slide section (it kept taking us back to where we had come from!) . Anyway, spent a few hours down in there, out of the heat and away from the flies (I hate flies), but eventually had to head back up to pack up our gear and head back to Sydney for an early exit.