Party: Ben, Clint, James, Kosta
We made it to the mountains early enough to score a prime park and buy three books from some guy selling them out of a trailer near the fire shed, which international students might be interested to know is the Australian retail equivalent of Amazon’s ‘Black Friday’ sale.
I’d been down to De Faurs before so was able to pretend my navigation was rock solid, and we were soon down the short fixed rope into the creek. We took the ramp leading up the wall on the other side, which took us over a short airy traverse then up a few steep slabs before we gained the stinking-hot, fly-ridden, burnt-out ridge.
There doesn’t seem to be much of a track here, so we picked our way over the big knoll before contouring into the head of the creek that purportedly holds ‘Little Bell Canyon’. If this canyon does exist, it’s short and probably crummy, as in the course of sticking to rock to avoid log jams we somehow missed it and found ourselves at the start of the constriction in ‘Belfry Canyon’.
We suited up here and got straight to it with a five metre jump into a deep pool. Belfry was a nice surprise, green and tightly constricted with a few little swims and drops, one of which involved sliding down a log with the aid of some tape and what looked like lawnmower cord.
Bell Ck had decent-sized walls on either side but was fairly broad where we met it. Not too far downstream however, the walls closed in and it became sustained A-grade canyon almost all the way to the De Faurs junction. The definite highlight was a ten minute long swim through constriction with sunbeams coming in, being in the middle I got to hear both Kosta’s updates on what was in front of him (“still going”) and Ben’s updates on electing to leave his wetsuit top behind (“can’t feel my arms… can’t feel my chin”).
We didn’t find much use for the hand line, although it’s a good idea to carry one as some of the tunnels used to get through the drops in the creek are also the site of some furious log jams that could move around a bit.
At the De Faurs junction we turned downstream into a fairly average section of creek, pausing for James to have a lie down in the much warmer Wollangambe, before stripping down and slogging uphill to the car. We detoured via Katoomba in the hope of an ice cream, but what sort of tourist likes ice cream, so we grabbed some Paddle Pops from the servo and sped back down the M4.
A very good canyon. If anyone’s wondering “is the water warm enough yet?”, yeah, it’s fine.