DEEP PASS EXPEDITION REPORT

9th-11th October 2001

Anna, Bimble, Bullfrog, Emu, Goat, Weasel and Wombat

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This trip was full of surprises, the first of which was everyone turning up early at Goat’s place and leaving on time at 8am. After a quick snack at Cowra, we launched an assault on Woolies in Bathurst, to pick up last minute fresh supplies, (the significance of this word was missed by Bullfrog and Weasel who planned to do their fortnightly grocery shop). When bullfrog finally emerged from the checkout, we hurried to Wombat’s burrow for a feast of marinated chicken and rice. Emu felt a bit uncomfortable eating her feathered cousins but managed to clean up her plate.

Leaving Bathurst about 1.15pm, we headed off towards Lithgow and Wollemi national Park. Bimble obviously didn’t have much bush experience as he started getting excited at the bushy back yards of the residences in the outskirts of Lithgow. His "Big Kev I’m excited fits continued to get more severe as we entered the national park.

The Rooey’s superiority over the TOY-ota was obvious as we hit the dirt. Wombat was attacked by a barbequed chicken and became buried under the luggage from the boot as the Rooey flew over an unexpected hump on the way to the Deep Pass campsite. Unfortunately our progress was abruptly halted by a barrier at the top of the steep hill leading down to the campsite. A sign at the top read "Deep Pass 500m". For the next hour or so, the not-so-magnificent seven trudged up and down the longest 500m of steep, rugged, firetrail in existence, lugging everything but a beer fridge to the campsite. Fortunatley, the campsite was well worth the effort.

While some set up camp, Wombat, Anna and goat took the Rooey to Rocky Creek car park, ready for the end of the next day’s walk. Back at camp, Bimble, Bullfrog and Weasel began the challenges that were to continue late into the night and throughout the following day. Goat herd about the antics and soon joined in.

After a feast of sausages, noodles, chicken, noodles, chicken and noodles, the not-so-magnificent seven hit the sack. Bimble was still grumbling about being hungry, as he gulped down the last of the leftovers, moments before starting a very unpopular snoring competition with Wombat. The only blessing was that Bullfrog was too far away to be heard.

Most of us woke early, bright and refreshed after a great sleep. Emu must have been a bit slow making breakfast, as Anna was last to emerge.

We threw on our packs and after a bit of deliberation, we decided to head up the creek, rather than the ridge, towards Natural Bridge. The going was quite easy and we made good time to Natural Bridge. Bullfrog took a fancy to the many flowering waratahs and weasel had to restrain him a few times to stop him from picking them for his many lady friends.

The view from Natural Bridge to River Caves Canyon and Galah Mt was pretty daunting. It looked very steep and rugged. Anna and Goat checked the view then the map then a compass and then the view, the map, the compass, the map…until a decision was finally made that we were in fact at Natural Bridge and we were looking at Galah Mt in the distance.

So we headed down the track, into the gully, towards River Caves Canyon. We briefly lost the track in the gully and had to plough through some jungle-like undergrowth. Weasel was up to his tricks, hiding in the scrub and leaping out at a startled Emu.

At one point, we thought we should have reached the creek junction near the canyon, so the group waited while Goat went ahead to check. Sure enough, the junction was only a few metres further on.

We headed west up the side creek and after only 50 metres or so, the creek closed in and a cave on the right marked the start of the canyon. We dropped our packs here and headed up the darkening creek, full of expectation and excitement. Bimble couldn’t contain his enthusiasm and didn’t stop talking for the next half hour.

The walk up the canyon was "sensational!" as Daryl would say but the water was unbelievably cold. Bimble found a large slab of rock that made the most amazing drum. You have to wonder though, why a bloke would walk along drumming on every rock he passed, just to see what noise it made.

Soon after the drum rock, much to everyone’s disappointment, the canyon ended and noone was looking forward to wading through the knee-deep pool on the way back. Only the not-so-magnificent seven would attempt such a feat.

High on a hill a Goat herd a lyre bird, but it was impossible to keep an excited troop of ferals quiet, so he didn’t get it on film.

Apart from the climb out of the gully, the walk back was very easy and rewarding. We followed a firetrail (not shown on the map) along the ridge top towards Deep Pass campsite. We stopped for lunch on the southern end of the first knoll, enjoying stale rolls and a fantastic view to the south. Goat and Bimble noticed a pagoda nearby so they scampered up it. Not to be outdone, Weasel soon followed and posed for several photographs before being convinced to come down.

We pushed on along a scrubby little track, hoping it would lead us off the ridge and down to our campsite that we could see in the distance below. Sure enough, it lead us to the southern tip of the ridge and down through a small break in the cliff line. Bullfrog charged ahead when he saw the camp, not because he was bursting with energy, but because he couldn’t wait to sit down. Much to his shock, the rest of us were keen to head off in search of Deep Pass canyon, which we did.

Goat, realising that it was only early, decided to fill in some time by visiting Deep Pass itself on the way to the canyon. This was a very exciting and interesting trip through unexpected landscapes and vegetation. Goat assured the group that they were indeed very fortunate to have visited this area as not many people would have bothered in the past. I’m not sure that the group appreciated Goat’s little detour that lead us back to the camp again, before discovering the canyon only ten minutes from camp up a different gully. Anyhow it certainly made the canyon look good!

Deep Pass canyon was a hit. Bimble nearly wet himself as he turned each corner and discovered several "best swimming holes ever!" on consecutive bends. Bullfrog had the obligatory fall, just so that he would have some bloody wounds and bruises to impress the staff back at school. The canyon was like a wet-n-wild adventure course with tricky little rope climbs, slippery log walks and hairy climbs around the edges of very deep and very cold pools. As Daryl would say "Sensational!". Sensational it was. The boys got very excited at one spot where a waterfall plunges into a beautiful deep pool, just beside a small cave and below a towering, overhanging cliff. There was talk of all sorts of amazing feats that would have been performed —IF the water was warmer, or IF there was more time, or IF we had wetsuits on, or IF we had a rope — but none eventuated.

The easy walk out became a bit of a worry for a moment when we lost the track and wandered through the scrub for a while. Goat in his great wisdom decided to consult a map and compass, designated the direction to follow (along the track we were already following) and marked a spot on the track so that we could find our way back if necessary. Wombat could smell home and would have none of Goat’s dithering. He waddled along the track for about 50 metres and spotted the car at the car park at the top of the hill. From here we trudged down the longest 500m in the world, again, and arrived back at camp after about two hours.

Now everyone was ready for a beer and a rest. Weasel and Bimble tossed to see who would get to drive the Rooey back from Rocky Creek carpark. Weasel won and Anna, Wombat and Weasel headed off to retrieve it.

Bullfrog crashed into a chair with a beer and kept Emu company while Goat set up an abseil for the group to try out their new equipment. An elderly couple arrived in search of a "split rock" that was supposed to be near the campsite. Goat offered to help and disappeared into his beloved rocks, happy to find an excuse to climb. After some time he returned triumphant and excited after finding an amazing split in the cliff.

Meanwhile Weasel thought he had done a gearbox on one of the humps when the Rooey’s infamous radio decided to work producing a terrible noise at full volume. When they returned to camp, there were abseiling challenges and prussiking challenges with many disputes over who was the best.

Soon the campfire was lit and we all collapsed in a variety of chairs around the fire. In a rare moment of silence, a rustle was heard behind us. Goat grabbed a torch to investigate and spotted a small "rat-like" animal scampering off. Bimble got excited and bravely stood behind Goat, peering over his shoulder. Suddenly, the beast leapt from the bushes, launching itself groin high at Bimble. Bimble screamed and leapt into the air before running back to the campfire and Emu’s protection. The rest of the group burst into uncontrollable laughter and the monster was never seen again. In his excitement, Bimble struggled to think of the word "Bilby", calling it a bimble — and that’s how Bimble got his name!

The next morning greeted us with light rain, so we wasted no time in packing up our gear and hauling it up the huge hill to the vehicles. Most of us made at least two trips, but there was one couple that went missing for quite a while and there was much conjecture as to what they might be up to. Emu claimed she was just resuscitating Anna after his struggle up the hill, carrying his lounge chair.

Emu couldn’t wait to get back in the car and on the 2-way again.

Emu can’t fly but I’m tellin’ you,

She can talk the ears of a kangaroo!

What a trip! SENSATIONAL!

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