Canyoneering machinery creek

With less rain and lower water flows I knew I needed to make some trips happen that didn't involve whitewater. I had been meaning to do some more canyoneering so now seemed like an opportune time to make that happen!

Muesli bars ready for the trip
I think I had just enough muesli bars...

I decided we would need to split in to groups and make it in to a weekend trip given the 20 participants I had lined up and the fact that it is a 4 hour drive… I finished work at 11pm on the Friday and frantically threw gear in to my ute. After a few hours sleep I raced in to the sheds to meet with the small group I had roped into leading the teams and had a briefing before loading up gear and having a pre-trip chat with the whole group.

Canyoneering equipment
Given I had mostly been running whitewater rafting trips recently it's a nice change to do an activity were the equipment fits in to a couple of milk crates!

The drive up was uneventful and soon enough we were at the start of the canyon along with team 1. It’s about a half hour walk on a track and then another half an hour of rock hopping until you arrive at the first abseil, a 15 metre drop down the face of a waterfall. I rigged up some ropes and started getting people down.

Person abseiling in a waterfall
The first abseil involves negotiating a waterfall to get down. I rigged a second belay rope to ensure that everyone gets down safety as for many this was their first time abseiling!

Unfortunately one of our party didn’t manage the abseil. She hadn't done it before and decided she wanted to walk out. Rowan (the other guide) walked out with her and I pushed on with the rest of the group.

Person abseiling in a waterfall
This is one of the middle abseils, the water volume is significantly lower so it’s not as intimidating as the first drop.

Knowing I would be pushing it for time I was as efficient as possible in my rigging. I settled in to a routine; rig the abseil, belay everyone down, rig it so I can pull the rope down, abseil the rope, pack the rope and then run ahead of the group to the next abseil to rig the next one. I got some more experienced participants to assist with the belaying in the middle abseils which could be bottom belayed. This sped things up significantly which was excellent and we made good time.

Participant abseiling a waterfall

Soon enough we were at the final abseil and I managed to get everyone down in time to walk out getting to the cars moments before dark. Relieved to have everyone out in time we drove back to out camp for the evening at O'Neills Creek campground in Gowrie Park. The other group were there and had enjoyed a day of caving which sounded like a lot of fun. Rowan had got a fire going and had started some sausages cooking. I dug up the rest of the food and we had a feast around the fire before crashing for the night.

Person in the distance abseiling down a waterfall
The final 30 metre abseil in to a pool; a spectacular end to the trip!

It was a bit of a slow start to the morning, it was raining and I took a bit longer getting the breakfast cooked than I would have liked. We got there though and soon enough we were once again walking in to the canyon.

Canyoneers in canyon
The scale of the cliffs surrounding the canyon is spectacular!

This time we got everyone down the abseil which was good. I rigged two abseils and with myself and rowan running one each we made good progress. One of the girls struggled with the second abseil, she was pretty tired and managed to swing herself in to a crack off to the side of the normal abseil line. We got her out and got her down but she really struggled which made things a bit tricky.

Canyoneers in canyon
The second abseil is a 15 metre drop, the last 5 or so metres of which are free hanging.

Soon enough we were back in the middle abseils and making good progress before arriving at the final 30 meter drop. I did all the rigging and got the drivers down first so they could walk out to their vehicles and sort out the car shuttle. There were a couple of participants who were a bit more nervous on the abseils and were pretty exhausted so I decided to get them to walk around the abseil rather than running it. Little bit of a scrub bash but nothing too rough. I then got the rest of the group down and we walked out together.

Canyoneers in canyon
Back to the final abseil. With 11 people, a 30 meter drop and a top belay rigged up this one took a while!

It was a long drive back but we got there. Overall it was a fantastic trip, lots of fun all around!