Mt Wilson Canyoning

“Geronimo!”
So screamed Glen Robinson on the third abseil of this Wollangambe River canyon, as he sailed past in a single jump. Our own trip there had much lower water, so we all chose to forego this tradition,* but we appreciated the sentiment of enthusiasm.

We’d actually been a party of five members, driving two cars north from Canberra all the way to Luddenham (that is, about three-quarters of the four-to-five hour drive) until the driver of the second car realised that she must have left her wallet in Goulburn. We shuffled gear, and continued on as a party of four, the fifth member having turned around for the long return drive. In the Friday night darkness we pitched our tents at the Mt Wilson campsite and slumped to sleep.

It was a drizzly day, walking through the very pretty bushland recovering well from the October 2013 bushfires.

The Canyoning Officer of the ANUMC, Nick was practicing his leading over the course of the canyon (a skill which he then used the next weekend at Newnes). My role, self-nominated, was semi-experienced canyoner distracted by taking photos, which I performed quite well.

This canyon was packed full of yabbies (freshwater crayfish), several of which Nick managed to catch successfully.

We also found a tiny tiny maillon left by the Melbourne University Mountaineering Club.

It was a lovely canyon, full of greenery, though the drizzle frustrated many of my photos. We made it through in good time, and walked down the Wollangambe to the start of the Wollangambe 1 canyon for our exit. Back at camp we were joined by another group of ANU Mountaineers who had been liloing down the Wollangambe River, and we celebrated birthdays with them, sharing cake and port.

Sunday morning enthusiasm was dampened considerably by the rain and darkness when our alarms went off at 6am, and the two tents – declaring their thoughts through the tent walls – unanimously decided to forego the more difficult Water Dragon Canyon, and sleep in a bit longer. When we did get up an hour later we decided to tackle the easy Serendipity Canyon (originally known as Why Don’t We Do It In The Road, taken from the Beatles song. While a more inspired name than Upper Bowens Creek South Fork, it is just as ungainly, especially compared with the neat Serendipity). This was another pretty canyon, with easy abseils and scrambling across mossy rocks.

We had so much time we decided to faff around with a lower controlled by the belayer.

When we did emerge from the canyon we decided to try waddling the Wollangambe in the opposite direction: upstream. It was a struggle in some sections, but an enjoyable one. The continued drizzle meant that our tents never dried, so we packed them up damp and set off for the long drive back to Canberra. It may not have been a “Geronimo!” trip, but it had turned into a serendipitous one.

*Having grown up on the Murray River, my schooling curriculum was regularly punctuated by speakers telling us how jumping off ledges/bridges/trees into water will leave you permanently crippled. I am slowly overcoming this training, acknowledging that if someone has actually checked the water depth (and checked for snags in the Murray), and that if the jump isn’t actually very high, and that you jump in a safe way, the chance of breaking your legs is actually quite low. The Border Mail is seemingly unaware of this, and continues to gasp with horror each time a youth jumps into the river.

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