Present: Paul Griffiths (trip leader), Marty Frappell, Clint Felmingham, Ron Sandoval, Maj-Britt Engelhardt, Greg Salway
This was the reward for the old hands who helped with the beginners trip through the lower section of Macquarie Rivulet the day before. A couple of other members did the top section of Macquarie Rivulet a while ago and found it disappointing, but it comes into its own when there is a lot of water coming down, with a series of long abseils through big, crystal waterfalls. We parked at the top of the Illawarra Highway at 10.00 and followed the edge of the escarpment, at times looking down on cars negotiating the switchbacks in the highway below, arriving at the top of the falls at 11.00. The first abseil is about 8m down a small waterfall into a deep pool â€“ the quick release of the hydrobot was an asset here and only Maj-Britt, who was using a Figure-8, got hammered by the falling water as she got off the rope. A duck-under a rock arch is needed to get into the shallower section of the pool and up onto a ledge where there is a chain anchor. Macquarie Falls itself has two stages. The first is a thin stream of water, 20+ metres, where there is no choice but to abseil in the flow and get hammered. Then there is a big, open rock platform and a 45m abseil from another chain anchor down a sloping rock face over which the water streams, with a small overhang for the last few metres. With good flow on it this was a spectacular abseil and the highlight of the trip for me. The weather was perfect â€“ sunny but not too hot â€“ and the effect of the bright sunlight on the falling water and spray was magical. After the main falls we scrambled down the left bank for about 30 minutes. The creek here is extremely steep and made up of very large boulders, so not practical to treat as climb-downs but not serious enough to abseil. This brought us to the top of the fourth abseil, a perfect half-circle of cliffs with a large, circular plunge pool at the bottom. The abseil is about 35m from tapes around a large boulder and wet or dry depending on the route you choose. Shortly after this there are tapes for another short abseil, but it is more fun to scramble down through a boulder cave on the right. After some more bouldering we reached the fifth and final abseil, 20+ metres into a deep pool. From here the creek drops less steeply and we soon reached the remains of Clover Hill Road. Between here and the lower section we had done the day before a small, wet constriction runs along below the track and can be done with two short, slippery abseils. Mindful of the time we skipped this and walked back on the track, stopping for a snack at the old farm clearing, and reaching the car we had left at the Clover Hill carpark about 4.00. With good water flow this is an excellent open canyon and it is great to have it so close to the city.