Present: Paul (trip leader), Marty, John, James, Geoff (guest)
Leaving the house on the 9C morning last Thursday I was wondering if this a good weekend for a wet canyon! However, on the day it was sunny, 20C and windless, so a beautiful day for it, despite the large quantities of 11C water coming down after the recent rains.
We talked our way past the police diversion because of a crash further up the Illawarra Highway and parked at the bottom of Macquarie Pass at 9.30. Piling into Marty’s car we drove to the upper carpark, clearly signposted ‘Clover Hill Road’, and were on the track at 10.00. By 10.40 we were at the rivulet and pulling on our wetsuits. We waited a bit while a commercial group headed past, and then did the three abseils in quick succession, the first about 10m straight down a waterfall, the second about 15 from the anchor down another waterfall, and the last about 8m down a vertical face next to a larger waterfall into a pool. The first two could be bypassed with straightforward scrambling, but that would be to miss the fun. This is the only part of the trip that is genuinely canyon-like, with vertical cliffs on both sides of the third waterfall. Although short, the quantity of cold water made the abseils interesting and this part of the canyon exceeded my expectations from photos and descriptions.
The third abseil is immediately followed by a 2-3 meter water jump, and from there it’s basically creek walking, with the opportunity to do short water-slides in several places. It’s a very pretty creek, with nicely sculpted rocks and surrounded by the tropical-feeling wet forest typical of the Illawarra escarpment – vines as thick as your arm, fern trees and epiphytes. Eventually we arrived at the waterfall at the top of the tourist track from the bottom carpark, where we found the commercial group and various people in dry clothes who had walked up the track. There is an excellent water jump, 5m from the highest ledge, into a deep pool that was the ideal way to finish off. We discovered that there is now a decent track straight back up the hill to the top carpark, so the trip can even be down without a car shuttle. We walked up this and were back at the car at 1.45, the whole trip having taken 3hr 45m.
The lower half of Macquarie Rivulet is like an extended version of Empress – minimal effort to access, enough abseiling and water-jumping to make it rewarding, and beautiful scenery. A highly recommended short day out.
Special thanks for Marty and Jenny for the BBQ afterwards!