…or, as Jamieson puts it in Canyons Near Sydney 4th Edition ‘Upper Bowens Creek South Branch’. I think we need a real name for this canyon, because that is just annoying. Jamiesons guide also has ‘Bowens Creek North Branch, Lower Section’, which I have heard several people call “Gobsmacker Canyon” (not mentioned in Jamiesons guide). I think we need a real ‘name’ for all of the other sections of Bowens creek too…
Anyway, this canyon was number two of the weekend after doing Yileen the day before. The weather was pretty bad. Not heavy rain, but drizzling nearly the whole time. We were soaked through before we even reached the creek thanks to brushing past thoroughly wet shrubs. Cate wasn’t happy about the weather and canyon combination, but the water level wasn’t high at all, and usually drizzle isn’t a problem - it’s the thunderstorms and sudden downpours that are problematic!
Anyway, we managed to do pretty much every potential abseil in this canyon, even though most of them can be walked around in one way or another. We were expecting a pretty long day, but it didn’t take long to get to the main couple of abseils and find ourselves at Corkscrew canyon. We came out into the Sassafras forest and started to wonder if we were near the end already. A quick check of the book told us that we had another rough section through some boulders before another canyon section.
The end of the boulder section was actually really interesting, as you had to pick a route down climbing through a number of large boulders. They were tight squeezes and required some path picking. Of course, you could just abseil over the top if you wanted, but that would be less fun! That brought us into the last canyon section, with more beautiful narrow sections, dropping into pools, and a large log slide.
We were shortly at Hobnail canyon (entering from the right) and looking out for the exit path on the right hand side of the canyon. I saw one section which wasn’t a sheer cliff, but it was still …well…almost a sheer cliff, so I kept walking. However one of the guys called me back and said that he thinks it was the exit path, as described in the guidebook. So we had a closer look, and sure enough there was a tree leading up a few meters, and what could almost be called a path above it. So we followed it. There was definitely a path-like thing there, but the climbing was on slippery dirt…on an almost vertical wall. It isn’t an exit path which I imagine many people could use because each person would wear away on the plants you are basically standing on and climbing up.
I’m still not sure if this is the actual exit described in Jamiesons guide or not (because it is a very accurate match of what he said), however I have since heard that there is an easier (better) one further downstream. Anyway, this one led us up to the first cliff line where we did notice that the path there did go further downstream than where our path met it…. We followed the cliff line, found the narrow ‘caving-like’ climb up a corner tunnel (very slippery clay), then a track to another short easy rock climb up, then around to another higher but easier rock climb (with a hand line there too).
The fire trail wasn’t much further up the hill, and a bit of a walk back along it saw us back at the car just in time for the heavens to really open up and starting dumping an awful lot of water on us. So much so that we found it almost impossible to get changed into dry clothes and get into the cars…
We were planning on camping another night and doing another canyon on the Monday, but the amount of rain we were seeing made the prospects of another canyon on the following day unlikely, so we called it a weekend and headed home.