“It’s like walking through an Annika painting” mused Josh as we scrambled down the much-maligned Bungonia creek gorge.
Having spent the previous weekend at the Blue Mountains canyons of the Wollemi, and discussed extensively during the 5 hours of driving in each direction that the Blue Mountains really are quite a long way away, this weekend we opted for the much closer Bungonia. A mere hour and a half from Canberra, this area has a reputation within the Australian National University Mountaineering Club for stagnant pools of slime in a canyon that is really more of a gorge, and is thus ignored by several canyoning leaders. Yet the appeal of a single day of canyoning rather than committing a weekend during final assignment time was too much temptation for our leader Nick, and he opened up the invitation to two beginner canyoners as well.
While Bungonia offers several routes of descent, the only beginner friendly one is that of the main creek. A stroll (and at times a scramble) through the upper gorge led up to the first 35m waterfall, where our beginners would put their newly climbing-gym-acquired abseiling skills to the test. Also being tested was Josh, who had chosen to take the advice that wetsuits are optional literally. While the rest of us suffered through the cold swims at the bottom of the waterfalls, we never voiced complaint, and could only respect his absurd but stoic decision.
As the canyon progressed, past further waterfalls and incredible geography, we unanimously decided that Bungonia’s reputation was ill-deserved. While quite far removed from the quiet, dark and ferny world of the Blue Mountain slot canyons, this dramatic gorge bathed in sunlight was rewarding in its own way. It probably didn’t hurt that recent rains would have helped with the slime, and to remind us of our good fortune the weather saw fit to intermittently shower us.
The canyon finished with a final lovely waterfall.
But upon inspection of the anchor we decided to scramble around instead.
The rock scramble down the boulder field before the exit was glorious, although the punishingly steep and constant walk out was less so (on us and on shoes – the amazing looking Bestard Boots are newly arrived, and shall be explored in more detail in another post).
Still, kebabs at Goulburn aided our recovery, allowing us to reminisce fondly on the canyoning equivalent of walking through a lithograph.
Oz Ultimate guide to Bungonia canyon.
UNSW Outdoor Club write up of Jerrara Creek, an offshoot of Bungonia.