Participants: Matt Muehlenhoff, Jonno Downes
Leader: Jonno Downes
I have visited the Kedumba River many times, but always as a brief waypoint on the way on or off Mt Solitary. At the usual crossing points, unless it is flooded, the river babbles gently over small rocks, rarely reaching as much as a metre in depth, and with wide banks dotted with eucalypt and casuarina trees that allow for easy navigation.
So I thought it would be fun to follow the river all the way down from Katoomba Falls. I had a few new members express interest in the trip, but after a few clarifying emails, Matt was the only intrepid adventurer who stepped off the train at Katoomba this morning.
We parked at the Solitary Kiosk carpark (above Fern Bower) at 9:30 and barged our way past the dawdling tourist groups that seem incapable of walking less than 3 abreast on Prince Henry Cliff Walk. By 10:30 we had descended the Furber Steps and backtracked on the Federal Pass to the base of Katoomba Falls, then with one last tightening of the laces, it was off down a steep rainforest gully to the creek. Having gingerly worked our way down a mini cliff line to reach a lovely little waterfall and pool, I glanced across to the opposite bank and saw an obviously eroded track that went 40m down from the federal pass, just a little further on from where we had left it.. Oh well, we were after adventure, not efficiency.
So follow the creek we did. Mostly. The upper sections were full of big mossy boulders, so it was easier to walk on the bank then rock hop, eventually we came to some waterfalls and had to get up on the ridge which we stuck to for 500m or so, the rainforest there was relatively easy going though. Once we rejoined the creek (just after it looks to have gone past an orange quartzy gorge) the rock hopping was very easy,and we stopped for a short lunch at about 12:30 having descended a total of about 2KM from the Federal Pass.
After lunch I was thinking we were making such good time that we may have time to exit via Sublime Point Ridge (Copeland Pass) which was obviously tempting fate because when we hit the 300m contour, where an unnamed creek comes in from the west, about 200m upstream from the Causeway Creek Junction, we were faced with a waterfall. Actually, more of a waterslide, the thought of slipping down it was very tempting, but without a rope it would have been impossible to ascend, and we couldn’t see if there was another drop just around the bend, so we climbed up the ridge to avoid the waterfall. As we rounded the nose of the ridge the sheer granite walls on the other bank told us nope – you ain’t getting back down here.
Indeed, the only way forward from this point would involve ropes, harnesses and possibly wetsuits. None of which we had. We did consider briefly reversing the route we’d come but I didn’t have the strength for further tourist wrangling, so the only alternative was to beat our way up the ridge, through banksia and other scratchy bushes, then slushy ferns and lawyer vines, till finally (oh the joy) we collapsed onto the Sublime Point Firetrail. After a guzzle of water, we powered on past the old sewerage plant, then up past the several interesting waterfalls on the Fern Bower track, before finally reaching the car again at 4:20.
Matt got his train and I got the best lime milkshake ever.
All in all, a fun day, although I doubt I would choose to repeat the same route, if I ever get the urge to go exploring Kedumba River again I would probably join it further down. But I guess that is the joy of ‘exploratory off-track’ bushwalks, you never know if what you’ll find is awesome, but even when it’s not it’s still a lot of fun. And – no leeches!