There is a red plastic barrier with sign at the Park boundary, about 500m from the car park. This is in addition to the signs at the car park and the barrier across the entrance stile over the fence. There is also a detailed message in the visitor book.
Claustral canyon was closed on 17th March 2001 following two separate rescue incidents on 16.3 and 17.3. Guides from commercial canyon operators Australian Outdoor Consulting and Australian School of Mountaineering rescued private groups in serious difficulty between the second and third abseils. This section, known as the 'keyhole', was reputedly flooded due to a blockage of the normal creek channel and third abseil route. A landslide just before the first abseil route was also a concern to the guides.
* The keyhole is still blocked by flood debris so that the usual abseil through the keyhole is not possible. A high pressure stream of water is flowing through the keyhole.
* The waterfalls on the first two abseils are such that reversing these abseils by prussiking is difficult. The landslide area resulted in mud and vegetation being deposited across the access track, which is now slippery and slightly more difficult than previously. The new slope appears to be fairly stable, and is not an immediate problem. However, more rain could result in further slippage.
I would agree with Craig Flyn's comments that these things do take time and I would be critical of Dave Jansen in that although help was not sought, was it offered? I know if I passed someone in trouble or was in the area I would at least stop to see if I could help.
One of our SES trainers was also in Thredbo and he says it's a criticism (from the public) that the rescue effort of Thredbo that it took too long before the rescue began. This may well be true but they were not going to send people into a situation whereby they would need rescuing as well.
In any case take care everyone
Centennial Coal's development application for a major mining lease extension for the Clarence Colliery (reference: Lithgow City Council DA 504/00) will be determined within about 4 weeks.
It is important that further questions area raised in the local papers, particularly about Centennial Coal's much heralded water management proposals.
Redraft the following Letters to the Editor in your own words and send them off ASAP...
P O Box 91
LITHGOW NSW 2790
Central Western Daily
P O Box 321
ORANGE NSW 2800
The Blue Mountains Gazette
P O Box 62
SPRINGWOOD NSW 2777
Letter 1 on water management:
Centennial Coal's proposed water transfer scheme should be part of the current development application, not tagged on as a promise to improve its water management as some later date.
Once the mining lease extension is approved, then the colliery can operate indefinitely using the current water management system. It is also possible that the much enlarged mining lease could be sold off for a quick profit, and that undertakings made by the current owner may not apply to new owners.
The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area should be protected and the water transfer included in a revised development application.
Letter 2 on the water management:
Centennial Coal propose to mine under the Farmers Creek water supply. There are two coal seams in that Farmers Creek catchment. Water is lost from catchments when the coal is fully extracted.
The water that is to be pumped from the coal mine should not be a substitute for the water lost from supply catchment when it is mined. When the area is mined out, Lithgow would have to pay to pump water from the mine if it wanted to keep the scheme going. This is no way to manage water resources.
The Clarence Colliery should only be allowed to extract part of the coal so that pillars are retained to support the rock strata the mine and thereby protect Lithgow's water supplies.
Letter 3 on protecting World Heritage from mine subsidence.
When coal is mined at Clarence Colliery to the edge of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, the surface rocks within the national park will crack damaging the area.
The surface of the national park will sink for about 200 metres distance from the boundary of the national park. Pagoda and upland swamp areas in the Dumbano Creek area could be damaged.
World Heritage listing of the area would stop this sort of damage. Lithgow Council is unlikely to act, and so the NSW and Federal governments should step in and prevent the damage. If they don't then Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act isn't worth the paper its written on.
Letter 4 on more coal trucks in the Blue Mountains:
Centennial Coal already truck 200,000 tonnes of coal through the Blue Mountains to Sydney. Now they want to truck an addition 200,000 tonnes.
Clarence colliery has already trucked coal to Delta Electricity's power stations west of Lithgow. Initially the trucks went through Lithgow but were diverted to Mount Victoria due to complaints by Lithgow's residents.
To meet short term orders with Delta Electricity up to 600 truck a day may pass through Mount Victoria village. Centennial Coal has done no environmental studies for the increased trucking on the tourist roads of the upper Blue Mountains. To protect the amenity of the Blue Mountains and the sanity of its residents, transport of coal from the Clarence Colliery should be limited to rail only.
Current State of Play:
As you will recall, in March 1999, Centennial Coal reported that it intended to stop the discharge of 14 megalitres of polluted water from Clarence Colliery into the Wollangambe River. The company said that to do nothing about Clarence Colliery's pollution of the Wollangambe River "is not an option that is acceptable to Centennial, Department of Land and Water Conservation, Lithgow City Council, or the Environment Protection Authority".
The lease extension development application, however, does not include new water management works to protect the Wollangambe River.
If the lease extension development proposal is approved, then the colliery could operate for an indefinite period using the current water management system that pollutes the Wollangambe River.
It is also possible that the enlarged mining lease could be sold, and that undertakings made by Centennial Coal, the current owner, to transfer the water may not apply to new owners.
A water trail
The water trail has been advanced by Centennial Coal to "solve" the water management problem.
Centennial Coal, the owner of Clarence Colliery, confirmed it is progressing plans for a new water transfer scheme that could see the transfer of water to the Coxs River system.
Centennial spokesperson David Moult said that the system would replace the current system discharging into the Wollangambe River.
The water will help to ensure a better supply for Lithgow, thus reducing the city's reliance on the Fish River system and improving environmental flows in the Coxs River, he said (Source Lithgow Mercury, March 13, 2001).
The Colong Foundation considers that the water management proposal should be part of the current development proposal.
Colong Foundation does not wish to suggest that the Centennial Coal is being misleading by proposing a water trail. It is simply the case that once a development consent is issued under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, the law operates as if the consent was issued without conditions. The mine is then regulated under the lease conditions issued under the Mining Act.
Approval of the expanded mine will not prevent Centennial Coal selling Clarence colliery or discontinuing the trail when the problems arise. The mine will be legally entitled to operate with the current water management system.
Consent conditions for mines "have no effect":
Many conditions laid down in the development consent for a coal mine have no legal force once a mining lease is granted.
At the risk of boring you, section 65(3) of the Mining Act elevates and allows a mining lease to trump any and all conditions contained in a development consent that relates to mining, mining methods, site rehabilitation, safety measures, or security to be given for those matters. Section 74 of the Mining Act declares that while a mining lease has effect, including during any interim awaiting renewal, nothing in the planning law operates to prevent the carrying out of mining operations.
It is certainly debatable that any condition requiring the transfer the mine pit water from the Wollangambe River to the Coxs River catchment will have no legal force. Also, forget about putting a limit on the development consent of a year, as once the mining lease is issued, too bad for the sunset condition that would stop mining (section 74 of the Mining Act applies).
Remember, the mining industry has collapsed hundreds of cliffs regardless of development consent conditions prohibiting the damage.
Need for an increased buffer for the World Heritage Area:
Centennial Coal proposes a buffer of 20 metres around the national park boundaries. Subsidence, however, occurs up a distance of 180 metres away from areas below which coal extraction occurs at 200 metres of rock cover.
The extra buffer is required to ensure that the total extraction of coal does not cause subsidence or anomalous cracking and the subsequent ecosystem changes within the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage area. Cracking may occur in the World Heritage property along the Dumbano Creek where Centennial Coal's exploration licence apparently touches this Creek and also in its current mining leases that also adjoin the Blue Mountains National Park. Full extraction of the adjoining lease areas will subsidence damage to the national park.
There is a risk that cracking may cause a drying out of restricted high conservation value upland swamps and the loss of endangered plant and animal species. Rock formations that appear like 'Pagodas' may also be cracked and these areas are also know to contain rare plants.
Role of Lithgow Council:
The NSW legislation places Lithgow City Council in an all or nothing situation. Lithgow City Council, on which members of the mining union, the CMFEU, are well represented, will understandably approve the mining proposal to help this economically depressed area.
It will be too bad for the integrity of the World Heritage area unless we complain bitterly about the need to stop the pollution and damage arising from Clarence Colliery's operations.
Colong Foundation for Wilderness
Level 2, 362 Kent Street
SYDNEY NSW 2000
Ph (02) 9299 7341
Fax (02) 9299 5713
From what I understand first it goes through Police rescue who need to assess the situation and work out who else they need to get in. They then call out to which ever volunteer groups they think are needed. These groups must then contact their members and get them mustered and on the road.
Once at the site the Police coordinate everything. Their main priority at this stage is the safety of the rescue teams. Blindly rushing in ground teams without the follow proper procedures would just make the whole thing worse as you would have a bunch of people rushing about without any real idea of who's where. This could lead to even more people needing to be rescued.
I'm not sure why they would close the canyon in these circumstances. The keyhole was closed due to debris back in 1962 when the canyon was first visited - and has been blocked for short times since then on the odd occasion. This would make the canyon no more dangerous in my opinion. Can anybody confirm if the canyon is closed?
1. A group of 5 young guys planning to do Geronimo canyon. I asked them if they had a safety ooficer and one guy said "his Mum knew where he was". I asked them to be very careful in crossing the Wollongambe and to turn back if it looked too high.
2. A group of 2 mature guys planning to do Serendipity. I explained the possibility of getting trapped at the exit if the Wollongambe was too high, and strongly advised them to at least walk down first to the Wollongambe 1 exit point (the tree root climb)to assess the river level before trying Serendipity. They said they would do this.
3. In addition to the above, my partner met a party coming out of Whungee Wheengee at 10.30 am at Cathedral Reserve, so they obviously had overnighted from Saturday.
4. A commercial tour group cancelled a planned trip down Serendipity at 8.30 am. Good decision.
A few main points for possible dicussion are:
On our way back out, we had a break and two canyoners came running up. They said someone was stuck on a ledge and they asked us for a mobile phone. We didnt have one so they kept on going a head of us. A little after we were back at the cars (locked gate), emergency crews turned up. The emergency crews did not seem to be doing much when we saw them. It is hard to believe that they didnt send down a ground crew straight away.
I agree 100% with what Matt Waters has said about going in smaller groups with at least two experienced leaders. Group leaders should also carry some sought of EPERB device. The group that was in trouble on sunday did not have one.
I have been told that the emergency services in the Blue Mountains do not act quickly enough. I do not know if this is true or not. I also heard reports that people went into Whungee-Wheengee on the saturday and didnt come back till Sunday. Canyons that are connected to the Wallangambe should be checked in these wet conditions before entering.
On the saturday our group went throught upper section of Bowens creek and that was fine. In some areas the water was flowing more, but was not near dangerous levels. It was a great canyon for our beginners.
We have planned another trip to the Blue Montains in two weeks time and hope that the conditions are fine and sunny. We plan to do Serendipity, but only if the conditions are safe.
I wish and hope that all canyoners and bushwalkers take care during the last month or so of this season.
and, Dave later added:
The two Sydney men winched to safety by the NRMA CareFlight helicopter had endured two days in cold, wet conditions after setting out to go canyoning on Saturday.
They had become lost and were trapped on a cliff at Pierce's Corner. The pair had used a mobile phone to telephone Katoomba Police on Saturday night.
"They were disorientated because of the wet weather and the fog and could not find their way out," Insp McCallum said.
"We found them half-way up a cliff."
Police said one of the men had suffered back injuries. Mr Badham said the pair were ill-prepared for the trip.
"These guys really had no idea - only a general idea (of where they were) and they just became hopelessly lost," Mr Badham said.
"Our crew came back shaking their heads in disbelief."
As the rumours and half - facts will be bound to be flying around, here's what happened to the best of my knowledge. My partner, Dorine and I were doing our usual Sunday canyoner surveys and arrived at the grassy car park above the locked gate at the top of the Bowen Creek fire trail at around 12.30. A little later, a group of uni students came out and said they had aborted their trip due to high water but had been overtaken on the way back out by a man and woman running for help as one of their group was "trapped on a ledge" in the canyon by rising water. Shortly thereafter, the police rescue and firies arrived and we offered our help.
We got details from the two who had raised the alarm - they were a husband and wife, late 20s, very experienced canyoners. Their two friends, also husband and wife, had come along on their first canyon trip. The four of them had got down to the main creek, seen the water was quite high, and decided not to do the canyon, but just to walk along for a couple of hundred metres and then come back out. Apparently, they went as far as just above the first abseil (down the slidy log) and then started to reverse out. At this point, the rain, which had been constant all morning (we'd been at Mt. Wilson Fire Shed since 8.30 am), got even worse and the water began rising extremely quickly. The leader solo rockclimbed up the wall, put down a rope with prussik loops and managed to pull up his wife up. He got the other husband out of the water but not fully up the wall, while the wife could only get as far as a ledge and was standing in waist deep water when last seen. The leader did his best and managed to get a rope for her to clip on with so she wouldn't get washed away. Her husband couldn't get up further and had to stay where he was - he could hear his wife from where he was but not see her. The leader and his wife then climbed up and out and ran for help.
We all drove down to the anthill by the top of the walk in track and waited as we had been told the police helicopter was coming in. Frustrated at the decision not to send in a ground crew immediately, we watched the chopper circling. It took some time to get the right position (we were shouting instructions to radio relay to it as we watched, as both the leader of the party and I could envisage exactly where it should be), but when it got there it radiod it could only see the man in the water, not the woman. It finally had to retire for fuel. The Careflight helicopter was called but the weather was closing in and it called in it couldn't get through. The ground crew finally started in - I volunteered to go as only the party leader and one firie were experienced canyoners and knew the route - but wasn't needed. They radiod up that the water in the creek was extremely high and difficult but managed to get to and extract the husband. They also got close enough to verify the woman was deceased but couldn't reach her and it was too dangerous to try. A second party, including an ambo rescue man and myself, then walked in to assist the first group up as everyone was exhausted, especially the leader and the poor chap who had just lost his wife. The plan was to extract the body today by helicopter, but conditions today are if anything worse than yesterday, so I don't know what the plan is now.
Dorine and I spent some hours with the leader and his wife. They seemed experienced, sensible and responsible people and are obviously devastated by the death of their friend. Whatever the thoughts on whether they should have ventured even part way into the canyon (as I said, they had already decided they weren't going to go through), the leader did well to prevent one death becoming four.
There was apparently also another problem over at Yileen Canyon. Last I heard of this accident was that the victim had an injured back but that he / she was up on top of the cliff line, warm and stable.
Thankyou to Nigel for this sad and disturbing report.
The last month or so has seen some high water in the canyons - and many weekends have been wet as well. Last weekend was particularly wet. I was in a party that was planning to visit some pretty wet canyons on Saturday. Due to the rain we planned instead to visit some drier canyons. The first one that we visited was the "Dry Canyon" (also known as "Wolgan View Canyon"). After this, the weather improved somewhat - as we decided to visit Twister and Rocky Creek Canyons. Twister was high and the water a bit turbid - but was perfectly safe. Rocky Creek was quite high - and some in the party went through to investigate the "washing machine" - "whirlpool" section about 60m after the constriction starts. We considered this a too dangerous to take a party of canyon novices through - so we returned to the carpark for some abseil practice. Other parties too had wisely backed off. At least two parties had gone through the canyon on that day - one down it (with considerable difficulty getting through the tricky section) and one going up it. On Sunday, after rain all night - our group decided to do a daywalk instead of canyoning. On this walk - we looked into a small canyon in the Wollangambe Wilderness - and it was a raging torrent - and it would have been suicidal to go into it. In times of storms and long wet periods when the ground becomes saturated - as well as the danger of flash floods - there is also the danger of rocks dislodging in soft dirt.
The attached draft interim managment strategy for Sydney South region raises some serious concerns for those of us who like to practice our self rescue & other abseil skills as private individuals or members of clubs. I downloaded the document from the Confederation web page, but I notice that they have taken it off (or at any rate I can no longer find it there).
I have heard (from a reliable source) that the NPWS plans to implement this strategy at the end of March. If we can generate some feedback for them it would be a good thing.
The document Lynda refers states that organisations such as bushwalking clubs will need to pay a hefty fee before being able to hold abseiling instructional activities in the Georges River National Park. As well, instructors would need formal qualifications. If implemented - this policy would set a very worrying precedent. The policy can be downloaded from this page.
The responsibility rests with the group leader/s to screen their participants before proceeding with a trip and further ensuring that each participant is carrying emergency space blanket/dry clothing, torch, matches, spare food and water. And of course, preferably a dry bag to keep it all that way!! The group should also carry at least one comprehensive first aid kit and have people trained in first aid. I have seen so many groups setting off with virtually none of this equipment. It is a real worry.
The higher number of accidents also seem to occur in the "easier" canyons, such as Twister, Rocky Creek, Serendipity. This further indicates that beginners are more susceptible to the accidents and not adequately prepared.
Canyoners doing trips such as Kanangra and Danae Brook, and other more remote canyons, "usually" have the necessary skills and equipment to avoid these incidents.
I would like to see more private and commercial group leaders taking more care and doing more planning regarding the above. Even though there will always be some accidents, I'm sure this would result in a reduction in some of these. Canyoning would then remain a more inviting activity and maintain a better reputation.
Perhaps some of the above may provide some helpful tips for some of us getting out there.
Something needs to be said about ill-prepared private parties in canyons. eg. a party of 9 in Serendipity with only 2 harnesses, holding up 3 other groups. Outland passed them, but BM Ropewerx had to go back upstream 300m and wait (having early lunch) as 3 members of group were getting quite cold. Complaints to NPWS are useless!
From Cathi Humphrey-Hood (Oz Canyons):
"I came to work this morning to find 2 of my collegues, who have never been canyoning before , went to rocky creek (separately) on Saturday and Sunday. The Saturday group (a party of 10 people with 4 first-timers) had one of their group airlifted out of the canyon with a broken ankle. The 'victim' was actually one of the experienced people in the party. They didn't have space blankets with them but had plenty of food and clothing. A leader from a tour group provided a space blanket. The 'victim' jumped down a hole about 100 metres into the canyon, caught her leg on a log and the flow of the water carried her down stream before she had a chance to dislodge her ankle from the log, so that her ankle broke under the pressure. She was airlifted out by careflight about 5 hours later (the poor buggers also suffered from a broken drive shaft on their car on the way in - they sure did cop it that day).
The other girl (who went on Sunday) twisted her ankle much like you did at Bungonia. I feel pretty lucky. These people now consider canyoning a guaranteed accident."
From Alex Debono (SUBW Trip Report):
And another pertinent perspective from Craig Flynn (Oz Canyons):
The vast majority of it's members are neither canyoners or climbers yet time and again they put themselves out coming to the aid of injured adventurers.
It surprised me then when I was told that out of all the canyon rescues they have attended in the last couple of years they have never received a word of thank or a kick back from the rescued parties.
Now while they don't do it for the thanks and they don't expect kick backs it's quite an expensive job to maintain rescue equipment and keep the truck on the road. Time and time again these people are risking themselves to save others. The least you could do if you've been rescued is to drop a carton at the shed (It's in Mort street, on the right hand side opposite the petrol station before you come to the lights if you've come into Lithgow from Bell) and say thanks. I think the guys are there Tuesday nights.
If the rescue involves a professional tour operator these people should be obliged to donate some gear. Ropes, ascenders, pully systems... they all come in handy just ask them what they need because I think they can only use certain brands.
These people are doing a great job how about we show a bit of support.
Was just reading your canyoning news page about the Grand Canyon belay tree that snapped. I was there when it happened and it wasn't caused by a storm, it was a perfect cloudless day. We were walking back along the top of the canyon and heard a god almightly crash, and ran around the corner to find the tree missing. All that remained was the stump with a sling still around it.
Your guess is as good as mine as to why it snapped. But there was no storm and no wind.
Thought you might be interested.
BEFORE 28 FEBRUARY.
Letter 1. your address
Lithgow City Council,
PO Box 19,
Lithgow, NSW, 2790,
Re: CLARENCE COLLIERY - LEASE EXTENSION PROPOSAL
Lithgow City Council DA 504/00
I object to the mining lease extensions and oppose its impacts upon the proposed extensions of the Gardens of Stone National Park. The proposal is within NPWS identified wilderness and will cause continued damage to the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.
The mining has diverted groundwater to drain vertically through the rock in some places coming out in the middle of the cliff face. The proposed lease extension of the Clarence Colliery will lead to more water being pumped out into Wollangambe River.
The development application needs to stop pollution of the Wollangambe River, and protect the surface features of Gooches Crater and other environmentally significant features in the mine area. This will require exhibition of an environmental assessment of surface features including pagodas, cliffs, swamps and creek lines in the existing lease areas, as well as an amendment of the water management system. I ask that the protection measures from subsidence damage are consistent with the Mount Airly colliery,owned by Centennial Coal, which protects pagodas.
I also request that Lithgow City Council ensure that the proposal is capable of complying with statutory obligations under EPA licences or approvals as required by the EPA before development consent is issued.
Letter 2. your address
The Hon Andrew Refshauge,
Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning,
Level 9, St James Centre
111 Elizabeth Street,
Sydney, NSW, 2000
Re: Clarence Colliery Lease Extension (Lithgow City Council, DA, 504/00). Development Application and Environmental Impact Statement.
I request that Centennial Coal revise and resubmit its development application for lease extension to address omissions in environmental management that have never been addressed by environmental impact assessment processes under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act.
The environmental impact statement is incomplete for the following reasons:
The current EIS omits proposals for an improved water management system so as to meet EPA water licencing requirements. I understand that Centennial Coal, DLWC, Council and the EPA acknowledge that the current water management is not acceptable and the effluent to the Wollangambe River is exceeding the EPA licence.
Key areas in the area intended to be mined have not been considered by the current EIS or in the 1974 Dames and Moore EIS or the 1993 EIS by R.W. Corkery & Co. for the northern lease extensions and these omitted areas are within the NPWS identified Wollemi wilderness, contain significant biological diversity and landforms, and is known locally as 'Gooches Crater'.
The twenty odd page 1974 environmental impact statement by Dames and Moore does not meet current environmental impact assessment requirements and current lease area and the 1993 EIS by R.W. Corkery & Co. for the northern lease extensions did not address surface subsidence, flora and fauna, and visual impacts of the original mining lease area. The original lease area should also be subjected to a further environmental impact assessment, public comment and review process under current planning legislation to identify if there are further shortfalls in environmental management at the mine that should be mitigated.
Letter 3. your address
Senator Robert Hill,
Minister for the Environment,
CANBERRA, ACT, 2600
Re: Clarence Colliery Lease Extension - Protection of World Heritage Area.
Centennial Coal, which owns the Clarence Colliery near Lithgow currently discharges 14ML of polluted water into the otherwise pristine Wollangambe River that flows into the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.
As a World Heritage area is being affected. I ask that any Commonwealth approval under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999 for the development application extending the mine be contingent upon Centennial Coal's compliance with State laws, as well as any additional requirements that Commonwealth may wish to impose.
The river is a major recreational resource used by many wilderness tour companies to introduce Blue Mountains visitors to the sport of canyoning. Many thousands visit the Wollangambe's canyons each year but their enjoyment may soon be spoiled if this damaging mining operation continues.
According to Centennial Coal, NSW Environment Protection Agency, Department of Land and Water Conservation and Lithgow City Council and even itself consider the current pollution of the Wollangambe River is unacceptable. Centennial Coal has not addressed the unacceptable pollution in the environmental impact statement to extend the life of this colliery. The EIS states 'it must be stressed that the proposed new water management system is not part of this EIS
proposal'. 'In terms of the existing proposal, there will be no changes made to the existing management system and therefore the impact on water quality is the region (on the ongoing mine) will be neutral' (page 4-7 of the EIS).
That 'neutrality' encompasses continued unacceptable pollution of the Wollangambe River by the Clarence Colliery. Back in March 1999, a Centennial Coal report stated 'If the current system is allowed to continue indefinitely, the discharge of such water into the Wollamgambe would be considered a breech of the the colliery's (licence to pollute) rendering the mine liable to prosecution. It is therefore evident that this is not an option that is acceptable to Centennial, DLWC, Council, or the EPA.'
Followed up these letters with this suggested course of action:
Let people know of this mining damage in the Wollangambe area.
Take people out there to Gooches and Wollangambe River and explain what is happening to them.
Write to your local newspaper a letter expressing concern about the threat from of coal mining to the Wollangambe River.
Write or ring your local State and Federal Members of Parliament and rely your concern to them. Ask them what steps they will be taking to stop the pollution of the Wollangambe River and mining without adequate environmental assessment of the Wollemi wilderness (this will ensure you get a reply).
Colong Foundation for Wilderness
Level 2, 362 Kent Street
SYDNEY NSW 2000
Ph (02) 9299 7341
Fax (02) 9299 5713
Don't publicise 'new' canyons or those in wilderness area to preserve opportunities for discovery and to minimise impacts
it might be worth mentioning that the new 25k maps are in the new datum GDA94 not AMG66, so people will have to adjust any grid refs they have to suit these new maps.
This is true - but the new grid is only slightly different to the old grid. The maps contain information about converting between the grids. GPS devices should be able to do this automatically.
Comment - Some people, as reported in the press, have criticised guidebook accounts of the canyon. In my guidebook (Wild magazine supplement 1993) I describe Carra Beanga as being "similar to Kalang" (this is true) and say "it should only be attempted by parties experienced with finding belay points,route finding and scrambling". I deliberately included a minimal description of the canyon with this in mind (I didn't want to spoon feed people) - but did mention that the main drop is best abseiled on the true right. I have graded the canyon as "medium/hard" (compared with Kalang being "medium" and Danae being "Hard") Rick Jamieson's description is similar and to me seems quite accurate and perfectly satisfactory. He grades the canyon as "moderate to hard" and gives it a numerical grade of 4 (out of 6) in his grading scheme.
What did the NUMC party do wrong? Probably nothing in particular. The party size may have been too large for their collective experience. For a party this size - I would have thought they would have needed at least 2 sets of ropes (ie 4 ropes of at least 45m length) and at least 4 people out of the 9 who are experienced and competent at quickly setting up the abseils and pulling down the ropes afterwards. This way they can leap frog down - and no one should get too cold standing around waiting for an abseil. Most of the drops in the canyon need only single ropes. Two ropes tied together are always harder to rig up. A suitable knot has to be tied (double fishermans or double figure of 8), the ropes have to be coiled carefully and thrown off carefully to ensure a knot doesn't form. This is a particular danger on overhangs when the rope cannot be seen from above. The last person down the drop needs to ensure the knot can be moved down when the rope is pulled from below and that the rope is free of twists. So experienced people that know what they are doing need to be at the front and back of the party.
On the night in question (the saturday) - I was in a bushwalking party near the Kowmung River - not too far away. We finished walking that day after 6pm (in darkness - the sun set shortly after 5pm) - but there was a bright nearly full moon. The temperature was cold - but it was not extremely cold, nor windy or wet. Carra Beanga would have been colder and the party may heve been subjected to spray from waterfalls.
It seems likely that the two guys that died were the most experienced in the NUMC party. As well as being in shock, this would help explain why the remainder of the party took a long time to walk out after the accident.
You are visitor number since 12 February 1998