Present: Daniel Beck, Marty Frappell, Jennifer Frappel, Paul Griffiths, Leo Gurnak, Colin Klein, Jon Urrejola, Yuxiao (Natalie) Wang
Leader: Paul Griffith
Eight of us met at Medlow Bath on a perfect, sunny morning to explore Hat Hill Creek and it’s canyons, following Tom Brennan’s excellent track notes. After some messing about we headed down the hill at 10.10, reaching the creek about 15m later. A few minutes walking down a not-too-scrubby creek brought us to the first constriction, which starts with a slide into a short swim. The constriction is very short, but pretty and a nice warm-up (‘cool-down’?). Only Marty and Jennifer wore (short) wetsuits, but there was no screaming as the water was a good temperature. After a short section of creek walking and easy scrambling we reached the second constriction, which is quite a bit longer. This was really nice, beginning with a slide down a dark hole amongst rocks covered with beautiful, soft green moss, followed by a deep wade, then shallow wading and a little easy scrambling. We were all pretty impressed with Hall Hill Canyon by this stage – better than on the label! After this the canyon really opens out – so much so that at times you can walk through the forest on the banks, which is easy going because of the closed rainforest canopy. We stopped for a snack in a sunny patch at the bottom of the exit gully back up to Hat Hill. From here a little scrambling brought us to the deep and sustained third constriction. It’s really beautiful, with lots of wading and at present a big logjam to negotiate. When we reached the open creek again we turned around and went slowly back up, enjoying the canyon once again. A straightforward 15 minute climb up the gully brought us out above the cliffs, and a few minutes later we were on the track to Hat Hill, reaching the road a bit after 14.00.
After lunch in Blackheath we said goodbye to Marty and Jennifer, who had Xmas shopping to do, and the remaining six of us donned wetsuits and harnesses for Empress Canyon. We mistakenly took the long way around to the entrance on the Nature Track (my fault) and it was very hot to be walking in wetsuits, even pulled down the waist, so we were very glad indeed to plunge into the water. Empress was the usual fun – much additional jumping at the pool before the abseil – and we were finally back at the cars around 19.00.
Hat Hill Creek is a treasure – a great way to take someone who does not want to abseil or do anything else ’scary’ into the unique environment of a canyon. Highly recommended.