The Dumbano Dungeons

Karl Robertson, John Byrne, John Paynter (Author)

Walks report – from SUBW Logbook 2 (Dec 24-26, 1961)

We are the 3 Dumbanoians

Part McOne

It was with some misgivings that I decided to go walking over Christmas. Not so much because I wanted to spend Christmas day at home nor because of the food I would be missing (ours on the walk would have equalled any Christmas Dinner) but because of the original significance of the occasion. I decided, however, that the festival would have just as much significance wherever I might be so, with the 2 others who could drag themselves away, I set out on that overcast Dec. morn.

On the Saturday morning after Susan’s party Karl, John B. & I drove in Carol’s Holden to Central. We caught the train and alighted at Clarence-in-the-bush about three hours later. Here we were met by Colin Oloman and brother Neil who kindly drove us to Bald Mt, the start of most walks in this area. Here they left us to return to their cosy Lithgow home while we set out to enjoy Christmas in the wilderness.

After following the road East from Bald for abt. 1 mile we veered N to follow the main ridge [see Wallerawang (army type) map available at Paddy Pallin price 5/-]

We were fortunate in striking a creek just below a saddle for lunch some miles further on. Proceeding along the ridge till mid afternoon we decided to descend to the right into Dumbano Ck. The overcast sky made reference to compass necessary on several occasions — this walking around in circles business is no joke. We were rather fortunate in finding a way down to the creek — through a little scrunge but without abseiling.

At the bottom we stood just above prolific ferns on a rock — below us beyond the ferns was a patch of sand and a few logs — later to become a sort of bridge and the thin clear stream. On our right only a few yards up the creek was the most magnificent ready built structure. (U.P.) Probably constructed some hundreds of years ago and untouched by human hands. A very large rock (abt 30’x30’x49’11”) had fallen across the creek forming a covered area about 20’x30′ — with a 20′ ceiling height in most places.


I did not like the idea at first — night on the creek and all that but this was to become a most welcome abode for the next two nights. The stream itself took up less than half the floor area (for the first night at least). It fornmed a clear deep pool against the far wall — good for kicking hot tins into: FISSSSSSSUUUP

Part McTwo (Christmas Day)

We decided to take a short trip down the creek with one lunch pack — wrapped in a holey plastic bag. We had gone less than 100 yds when we came upon a strange cavern leading in on the right. A small stream had eaten out a canyon 30′ deep with twisting hollowed out walls and completely roofed over with only a few holes admitting an eerie green light.

Leaving this strange feature after a short inspection & sing song (“Come Come ye Suuuns of Ant) we continued downstream. Within minutes we found ourselves swimming through a narrow canyon — very deep and often too narrow for proper breaststrokes. The slippery dark green walls offered few supports and swimming was slow going in boots and pack (or rope). More annoying was the common canyon complaint of “sand in the sox”.

We had several compulsory swims emerging into the warm sun. About midday we decided to call it a 1/2 day. Being Christmas we did not wish to over do things. Further swimming would have been necessary to continue. We returned to camp via the Southern ridge which proved easier (if not as interesting) as swimming and we came down to the creek we knew not where. Two very deep and narrow canyons joined below us. This soon proved — to my amazement — to be just above our cave.

For added excitement we decided to abseil home — via the side stream just above the above-mentioned cavern. First of all we entered a straight 2′ wide section about 30′ deep (1 foot = def = 2 boots full of water).

In the cavern itself we had to jump into deep pools of water and swim again, this time in near darkness. I cannot say which was the more wierd: the view ahead into the dimly lit cavern or behind at the two strangely clad figures (Mr Byrne simply attired in singlet and boots) wedged between the wet walls and steaming furiously from recent immersion.

Returning to camp we put on dry clothes, and began to prepare our Christmas Dinner. Space does not permit recording of the extensive menu, nor of the episode involving “Mr Byrnes of the rising floodwaters”