TRIP: Bungleboori Canyoning, 26-28 Jan 2008

PARTY: Ben Kong, Ashley Burke


The weather held out for us, providing 3 days of sunny warm and very humid conditions for a great weekend of canyoning.

We drove up on Friday night and on Saturday morning headed early down our first creek and before we knew it, it was narrow canyon followed by an abseil into a small amphitheatre with tall straight coachwood trees scattered around a leafy forest floor. The only disappointment about it was that it ended all too soon, becoming scrubby creek. We crashed and bashed and crawled and lurched with our 3 day packs down this creek for a while until finally it became true canyon once more, and with another short abseil entered deeper canyon and thus became our gateway to the Bungleboori.

We wandered down the Bungleboori for a while and then up a pass and into the sunshine where we dried out and enjoyed our lunch high above the great incision that is the Bungleboori gorge. With great pleasure we offloaded all our food and camping gear because we would camp here tonight. But there was still an afternoon left and a known canyon only moments away so with much lighter packs we set off once more into the sandstone realm.

This next canyon cuts deeply into a geological layer known as the banks layer, and this provided a long stretch of deep canyon. The geology had nothing to do with the abundance of spider webs that we got caught by though, nor the inkiness of the several deep pools that we had to swim through. There were one or two short abseils, followed by some beautiful canyon formation, followed by two more longer abseils and Bungleboori Creek.

By now the sun was reaching down into the Bungleboori and recent rain meant there was water everywhere and the light caught sparkling droplets that fell off glistening walls of this impressive sandstone gorge. Then it was back up to our packs for a welcome rest and drying out of gear and gathering of firewood and relaxing camping under the open skies.

Next day we carried our full packs once more and entered another creek which started with a long swim followed by scrub. After some more crashing and thrashing the creek abandoned the scrub and disappeared into a deep tunnel, which we climbed over and then checked out from the bottom. From there the creek formed into impressive deep canyon which finally made a nose dive into Bungleboori Creek with an 18m abseil.

This was all done by 11am so we headed further downstream and climbed out another pass which included an awkward move and by then it was time for lunch in the sun. Our final canyon began as usual, with scrub, although the scrub in this creek was less obstructive than the others. We could sense something big was ahead as the creek gradually evolved as we followed it, sandstone walls on either side becoming greater, darker, more sustained. Suddenly “Crikey mother of God!” the creek bed plummeted away and all we knew of it was the sound of rushing water echoing up from below. It took 5 abseils in rapid succession to get to the bottom of this and a couple of these had very tricky starts. By the time we were at the bottom of these several abseils it was very dark, very deep, and very beautiful, with vertical ripples of sandstone rising far overhead and closing in overtop. It is on account of this tremendous cavern section that this is for some the greatest of all canyons.

It ended all too soon with a bum slide into a cold pool and a long swim. Two more abseils took us to Bungleboori Creek. We wanted a camp site and soon. Not far downstream we found a perfect spot, comfortable and dry with tall forest overhead. This would do nicely. A fire was soon lit and all was well.

On the last day we continued downstream and exited via a long coachwood gorge which was a very interesting way out and included some pleasant sections of creek that was – almost – canyon, but not really. Then finally we climbed out onto the ridge and began the very humid muggy walk back to the car. Lunch was had along the way. Every branch of scrub was networked to every other branch of scrub by a multiplicity of spider webs and even leading by waving a stick in front was not enough to prevent frequent entanglement. But we got back to the car by mid afternoon as predicted and so ended an excellent long weekend packed with canyons.

My photos are here:

Ben has his photos on Farcebook.

Ashley Burke