On Sunday Mikey and I went for a little wander out on West Head which, only an hour or so by car from the Sydney CBD actually feels so remote and wild I could have happily stayed out there for days. The national park stretches out along a peninsula and surrounded by the waters the Brisbane Waters and overlooking Barrenjoey light house.
Neither of us had ever been there, as it would be a long ride and there is basically no sensible public transport option for a day trip. So we really were surprised to find an amazing national park with tonnes of walking to be done and lots and lots of wildlife. In a 9km walk we found two echidnas, wallabies and a pod of dolphins! Needless to say I will be heading out there again.
It is not often that I start a weekend without plans, but this weekend was a great example of just how fun a weekend in Sydney can actually be. From a picnic at Black Wattle Bay watching the city lights reflect on the water on Friday night, through to snorkeling at Malabar (formerly Long Bay) on Sunday we had a most excellent weekend!
For anyone who hasn’t been snorkelling in Sydney let this be an inspiration to you, because the beaches, bays and harbours around Sydney are absolutely packed with fish, stingrays, octopus and a whole range of other exciting things. If you’d like a little more inspiration here is a video of some of the cool stuff we saw!
Sometimes you whimp out of adventures, sometimes you take risks you shouldn’t, but sometimes you make the right call and get that combination of factors that makes for an amazing day out. Yesterday was one such day as five friends and I headed down into the Wollangambe for the second of the two main lilo sections (Wollangambe 2), having down Wollangambe 1 late last year.
Friday had seen heavy rain through parts of the Blue Mountains and although not dramatic the river level was probably about 4cm higher than normal. 4cm doesn’t sound like much, but it was enough to speed up the flow of the river and submerge just a few extra rocks so that many of the rapids could be (somewhat) comfortably run without getting off our lilos. So after a rather late start we reached the Wollangambe, suited up and started making out way down the canyon with plenty of excitement.
Three of our party had never cannoned before and had bought some less than durable lilos for the trip so as we floated, scrambled, jumped and swam our way down the canyon, not only was the the usual excitement of falling off, trying to stay warm and wondering if that ominous rumbling from the sky was coming your way, but we kept tabs as lilos became 5 and then 4. Kudos to the guys for sharing lilos and then swimming the last section of with their rather disposable lilos!
Anyway we reached the canyon just as the rain and thunder became more than just a slight concern and made our way up, and up, and up towards the cars!
Thanks everyone for joining me!
Navigating rapids and scrambling over the rocks
James and Kat
An easy section.
In this section I decide not to follow my pack through the rapid, it was a little tight and I probably would;t have been able to stay on the lilo!
Thinking time, Picking a route through the rocks isn’t always that straight forward. Sometimes you also just have to admire the surrounds.
Getting started. Wetsuited up and getting used to staying on the lilos. Sam needed a bit of practice.
Canyoning can be so much hard work, especially waiting around while people try to repair their lilos.
Playing at Serendipity Junction
Sometimes a rainy day walks turns out to be awesome. I have to admit that last Sunday I didn’t want to get out of bed, but I did and caught my ferry across to Taronga before walking very slowly around to Balmoral.
Twas pretty sweet seeing scrub turkeys and water dragons within view of the Sydney CBD.
On Saturday a rather large collection of rather motley friends assembled at Mt Wilson fire station for a moderately adventurous adventure. Despite my best intentions of planning and being organised we arrived well caffeinated about 45minutes after we had intended, and hence set out for the canyon proper a tad later than 9am. In our crew of 11 were friends from scouts, friends from Alice, friends of friends and well friends. The rather splendid weather meant for an enjoyable and meander-ful trip down the Wollangambe at a not particularly rushed pace, though I must concede there were surprisingly few food stops for one of my trips!
Anyway enjoy the photos. A massive thank you to Tallia, Ez and Alison for playing photographers!
Luckily for us the weather was warm enough swimming was necessary in our wetsuits or it got a tad warm!
It was a hard life floating down the river.
The crew. Thanks everyone for an amazing day out!
My happy place!
Walking in looking decidedly spritely. It is almost always downhill to a canyon which helped!
On Sunday I re-entered the most fascinating world of canyoning. Chris, Nicole and I headed off bright and early in the morning towards the Blue Mountains and the Mt Wilson Cathedral of Ferns.
After several stops for second breakfast and coffee we arrived respectable time, loaded our packs and wandered up and down hills to get to where we thought the canyon should be. Ferocious bush fires last year, along with big storms over the past month meant that almost all sign of the once clearly defined track has disappeared and the bush was full of the sound of groups wandering aimlessly towards the creek line hoping to find the traditional abseil entry point. Having reached a creek, and working on the principle that all creeks lead down hill, we walked straight down into the water and bypassed what should have been the biggest abseil of our trip.
Once wandering down the side creek into Whungee Wheengee it dawned on Nicole that so far the trip was no different to hiking. After some discussion it was decided that really it is called a canyon when you got wet intentionally. Eventually though the water started getting deeper, and colder and we decided it was time to don wet suits and starting treating the canyon like we meant it. Scrambling through lots of fallen logs and branches would become a theme for the trip as traditionally easy walks around some pools were choked with debris, but all in all the canyon was still pretty clear and easy to navigate with the right gear etc.
The highlight of the trip was of course the glow worms. Glow worms are cool! There isn’t anything else to be said about it, and in several sections of this canyon the displays were absolutely beautiful as we swam through dark tunnels. I am told canyoning at night can be spectacular for this reason, and I have to say this canyon made me want to find out!
Thanks to Chris for leading our little party through the canyon, and thanks for Tom from OzUltimate for making his notes available on the canyons. It is a nice comfort for the slightly out of practice to have a reliable source of info!
Nicole in the green. Spot the track!
Side Creek, we kinda missed the abseil entrance by a bit…
Nicole and Chris in the canyon.
No matter where you are there is always time for tea and hot chocolate!
I spent this weekend on my second Sydney Bush Walkers walk. The training walk was designed to give new bushwalkers an introduction to the wide range of skills necessary to hike around the country. Covering navigation, bushcraft and first aid the whole gambit of other things our instructor Brendon covered the basics of well everything and I was quite happy wandering along for the adventure and getting back into swing of off-track bushwalking. I have to admit that although I consider myself to be reasonably fit I was struggling with the pace of the group up some of the rather hilly hills we climbed.
The clouds are darkening, falling towards the ground. The sky, earlier so bright and promising, is fading towards twilight many hours ahead of its celestial scheduled. Panic sets in about finding a dry, warm place to spend the night out in bush, away from everything except for the dulcet tones of the Pacific Highway.
The thoughts of how to stay dry and warm starting creeping into my head early on Saturday afternoon as the first showers of what the BOM promised would be a night when the heavens would fall down upon the earth. These thoughts plagued my mind as we ambled happily towards Pindar Cave on Saturday afternoon. Pindar Cave is a very large overhang just 6km walk from Wondabyne Train Station, and even with the weather forecast as bad as it was the night was set to be a whole lot of fun as some good mates and I strolled through the bush laden with copious quantities of food.
Now before we go to far, I’d like you to think about the last meal you cooked while hiking. I am going to hazard there was probably only one course, and that the best selling point was that it was nutritious. Got that in mind? Well here is our menu for four for this weekends walk.
Saturday Lunch:- Rare roast beef and humous sandwiches on soy and linseed bread.
Nibbles:- Salami, spinach dip and humous with an option of three breads/crackers
Dinner:- Freshly handmade meatballs in a tomato sauce with a chorizo, capsicum and green bean cous-cous
Dessert:- A selection of chocolates, tea, biscuits and a most excellent bottle of port that taste like maple syrup
Breakfast, course 1:- Museli with cinnamon oat milk and banana
Breakfast, course 2: thick cut bacon on fresh bread
Breakfast, course 3:- home made waffles with rhubarb compote
You get the idea, we ate well.
Now back to talking about weather. As we arrived to camp the slight mist that had been gracing us with its presence intensified into a persistent drizzle. Dropping packs we scampered into the bush collecting what kindling and firewood we could collect without depriving the surround bush of habitat or any of the ample fire-load that has built up over the past few years.
As we pulled in the last branches the skies opened in earnest, with rain failing as if it meant business. Watching around us the track we had walking in on became a flowing stream, and the slow drips along the overhang edge became streams, then torrents of water cascading down in front of us and closing in our little overhang as a true cave.
After a very pleasant night of eating and pretending it wasn’t raining in our comfortable living room, we woke up to find the skies clearing and walking out in bright blue sunshine!
All up I think we have to thank the weather gods for looking after us so well this week, we couldn’t have asked for better weather. The rain really emphasised the value of camp caves and why they have formed such an important part of hiking culture around the Sydney basin.
This weekend I had basically no plans. Unfortunately this has been a relatively common state of affairs lately as I have been travelling, which if I am honest is a rather lame excuse I am using instead of the term lazy.
Anyway like most under planned weekend I went with the flow and figured something would work itself out. A spectacularly uninteresting start of the weekend showed little promise with a significant amount of time spent in queues, but a trip to my parents to help them pack up their house proved the catalyst for things to change.
My parents, who from previous posts some might know as The Grey Wanderers, have been re-arranging a few things and decided it would be good for me to take a few things I clearly needed for my car (actually needed (there is no sarcasm there Dad)). As well as the things I needed we re-discovered their inflatable kayak in the back of the shed, so my Sunday morning was set!
So after an uneventful evening I awoke bright and early on Sunday, then rolled over and went back to sleep.
So after an uneventful sleep I awoke bright and not so early later on Sunday morning, and went in search of coffee!
Coffee in hand I pack the car and headed for the Lane Cove river where I knew there was water, mangroves, car parking. Somewhere in the back of my mind I also was aware there was access to the water from the car park from attempts at fishing with my brother years ago. I have no idea why we would have tried fishing with a dog and no bait, but that is off topic.
So I inflated this kayak with much scratching of head, substantial impatience and the help of an electric pump which produced inconsistent results.
Eventually I hit the water (not literally) and paddled merrily up stream to see what I could see. As usual that is about where the written part of the story ends, so look at the photos and make up your own tales or daring-do and adventure!
On Sunday I went for a walk. Walking is pretty cool, sometimes it even seems like it is what we are supposed to do. Sitting at a desk looking at a screen sometimes feels like the opposite.
Anyway, after a morning riding out to La Perouse where it appears there are some very cool markets everyone should check out I rushed madly to make it to Central Station in time for the train. Mt Kuring-gai is a long way away (sorry school friends) so when I got to the station and my train wasn’t on the intercity schedule I started to panic. Turns out it is actually on the suburban network and much closer than I thought.
The walk itself is great. I’d never walked down to the area of Appletree Bay this walk takes in, and it was spectacular with the rain and drizzle falling almost constantly.
We saw stingrays, crabs, some birds and fungii and plenty of boats adding to the serenity.