1st August 2015 Goonengerry Cliffs Abseiling Training Day.
Participants Gary W, Cathy H, Marcus P and Leader Shane
The object of the day was to instruct the newbie Cathy in the safe procedures within her tolerance for height exposure, while giving the others a chance to practice ascent and recovery methods. We assembled at Federal Park at 8:30 and drove to Goonengerry NP together except for late comer Marcus. By 9:00 we had carried all our gear to the middle falls and made our way down to the practise area with its 10 and 20 metre walls. Cathy was fitted out and instructed and made several simple belayed descents and then graduated to more and more adventurous descents. The others set up a 10m abseil to practise prussic ascents this all proceeded until lunch time. After lunch Marcus set anchors ( with redundancy) on a 25m cliff further around the escarpment and we spent the afternoon going up and down the two ropes. At 3:00 we packed up and headed for Federal Park and a cold beverage. All enjoyed the day and gained from the experience. It was suggested that it should be a regular event and we will be moving to various places in the near future. Shane
Saturday 7th November 2015 Middle Ridge Traverse
Walkers: Tim M, Gary W and Leader Shane.
With the weekend camp organized at Binna Burra I decided it was the perfect opportunity to do what I had often thought of doing. That is the Green Mountain to Binna Burra cross country, off track.
I got hold of several GPS tracks of previous traverses and stitched together my proposed track and it all looked simple enough. So on Saturday 7th we rose at 5:00 (all times are NSW time) and with Tim driving Ian's Rav4 headed for Green Mountain arriving soon after 7. Saddling up we headed down West Canungra Creek graded track arriving at Yerralahla Pool at 8:15, there the track disappeared into obscurity. We then needed to proceed 400m North to the start of the spur on our right. After 20 minutes of blundering around tangled in vines we opted for the creek bed rock hopping. It proved a good decision to bypass Bull Ant Spur. At 137-794 we headed 80m vertically up to the ridge line to our first change in direction at 144-795. Here we headed SE following the ridge for a further gain of 80m. The route so far had been peppered with the occasional pink ribbon but these soon disappeared and we were fighting our way though vines and undergrowth. At 11:00 we reached our highest mid point 835m which was also the halfway point 156-788. At this point we changed direction again and headed 300m below us NE towards Fountain Falls 161-796. Here we stopped to lunch next to the falls. After lunch it was up the very steep slope 70~80% to the top of the ridge 200m above us. We had finally arrived at familiar territory, Noowongbill Lookout 165-798. We had a well deserved rest as we were ahead of schedule. The next target was the cliff break and the track down to the Coomera River. It was found easily marked by some bright red nickers. We reached the drop off and found an intact serviceable rope hanging for us to use and soon were descending the 350m to the river. The river was crossed and then we were back on the graded tracks to the Information Centre. It was an arduous climb up to the road and then an even more arduous road walk up to the camp. All arrived by 4:30 quite exhausted. The consensus was done that no need to do that again! A lot of effort for not much reward. However we can now say that we have done that. Shane
6~8 June 2015 Mt Ballow Circuit Thru Walk
Participants: Alan G, and Leader Shane.
Day 1 Saturday 6th June
The drive up the precarious Waterfall Creek Road to the start at 'Cleared Ridge' (712m) was accomplished very slowly and at about 10am and we off on the track. There were magnificent views of May and Maroon as we walked along 'The Cleared Ridge Road' then we descended to Yamahra Creek (GDA 663-756 594m) with the 'pleasant thought' of the climb out at the end. At the bottom we forded the creek and headed directly up the spur opposite through waist high grass to the tree line then on up to our first target the Montserrat lookout (GDA 654-738 983m). There we looked back at Lake Maroon. That was the last of the views as the wind, clouds and rain set in. Pressing on the next target was Cedar Pass which is the other side of Focal Peak. The intention was to bypass the peak on the northern side and pick up a bit of spare time and look for a noted water point below the saddle. We left the previous track at GDA 644-739 and headed NW to Cedar Pass. We had an easy contour traverse and were soon reunited with the previously used track. We had in fact gone a little further than we would have liked because it was too easy. We decided to retrace 30m or so to the centre of the saddle and finding the gully off to our south we dropped down to look for water. Less than 50m down the gully we found running water at GDA 640-742 883m. This point is actually the source of Ballow Creek and if we had followed this creek we could have arrived at the confluence of Ballow, Yamahra and Barney Creeks an escape route. We topped up our water and headed for our next target which was Mt Durramlee (GDA 634-747 1180m) by that time the wind was howling and rain made it all rather hard going through the dense vines and jungle. At the summit we changed direction to the SW and headed for the camp site (GDA 632-746). It had not improved at all since the last visit and was still terrible with scarcely a single flat spot large enough to pitch a tent and completely exposed to the now very strong southern wind. The temperature was dropping dramatically and at 3:30 with just one hour of useable daylight left we decided to press on and look for a better site. We traversed the saddle SW and at 4:00 reached the start of the steep rise to the Double Peak. We had not much choice so we pitched our tents at (GDA 632-744 1140m). Tent sites were in short supply but at least it was a bit sheltered from the wind. By this time the temperature had dropped to the forecast overnight of 2. We were happy to crawl into our warm sleeping bags before dusk.
Day 2 Sunday 7th June
After a night of howling wind and heavy rain we awoke to clearing skies. As we made our breakfasts a single hiker passed through our camp, he had apparently spent the night in the other camp site. At 8:30 we headed off through jungle up Double Peak and soon came upon the stray hiker who appeared completely lost and we provided what guidance we could. He was heading in completely the opposite direction to what he had thought. By 9:30 we reached the trig plate on Double Peak (GDA 628-741 1251m) and then began the decent around rocks and a bit of a bluff. After a 20m or so miss step we retraced to find the route SE down around the cliff (GDA 628-740) this led to a ledge about halfway up the escarpment. There is a tree of 800mm girth on the ledge that we used for an anchor for the decent down from the cliff. We used a 30m 7mm rope, 1600mm sling as a makeshift harness and a carabineer with a munter hitch as the means of controlled decent with our backpacks on. There was a large tree branch poking up from the bottom which aided the finally 2 metres or so. The whole exercise was accomplished in 20 minutes with very little risk. For future reference a total rope length of 30+ metres is preferred assuming full retrieval. The next assault was on Mt Ballow (GDA 621-728 1300m) the highest point of the hike. We arrived at 12 noon and had our lunch. There were reasonable tent/camping spots at the summit but it is too far from anywhere to be of use except in an emergency. Interestingly it is the apex of the state borders and the Nothofagus NP. After lunch we headed SSW down the spur to the saddle (GDA 623-723 1195m) cutting a sizeable chunk off the previous track. In the saddle we found another suitable campsite. Up the other side we ascended Mt Nothofagus along the border until we reached GDA 624-720 where we changed direction to due E and the saddle with Big Lonely. In the saddle we found a campsite at GDA 630-720. The going was tough all the way until after we reached the summit. On the other side of Big Lonely summit we started the descent to the camp site on Ballow Creek. We decided to stay on or close to the top of the ridge unlike the previous attempt. Once again the going was extremely difficult and there was doubt that we would make it to the campsite before dark. Haste produced several falls. At 3:00 we were finally within cooee of the river but still had to find the camp spot. We struggled on and finally at 4:00 found the previously used campsite. Relieved we set up camp next to the fast flowing creek in a rather poor not flat not cleared area (GDA 465-7527 630m). We had a well deserved wash and clean up and after a meal in the dark we went to bed. At least it was not raining and quite warm.
Day 3 Monday 8th June
We rose early but with the easiest day in front of us there was not much urgency in getting on the road. We set off following the Ballow Creek down stream swapping sides as the need arose having long ago given up on keeping our feet dry we often just waded though. Soon we were at the confluence with Barney Creek and headed for the Upper Portals. A spur came up in front of us which we decided to cut across as a short cut. This proved to be not a good move as we soon found ourselves in a sea of lantana and vines. But persisting we finally reached the relatively easy going creek bank which we followed down to the confluence with the Yamahra Creek (GDA 659-726). Here we swapped sides and headed due N along the maintained trail to the Upper Portals and were soon ascending the track to the Cleared Ridge. The walk back was most spectacular as you felt that you could touch the nearby May and Maroon, the air as clear as a crystal. At 1:30 we arrived back at the car on Waterfall Creek Road and found that the other car had gone so had apparently the lost hiker from day2. The slow and arduous drive down the 4WD track to Waterfall Creek campsite was then accomplished and with a quick stop there for a cup of tea we headed back to civilization. The track log said 21.3km and 1650m ascent which does not reflect the effort. The consensus for the expedition was to pick a different season, longer days and warmer weather, take an absolute max of 4 participants, lack of suitable tent sites, and not to be too worried about water as there is plenty available.