Pipeline Exit Reconnaissance Trip

2nd September 2006 - Michael, Karen, Dave and Mick

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Following a near disaster when one of my party slipped near the Pipeline exit track a year ago, I have been keen to revisit the site to work out what went wrong and to investigate a possible alternate exit straight down the creek to the Wolgan River.
Michael and Karen were keen to come and we arranged to team up with Dave, a good friend of Kentley's, at Newnes on Saturday morning. After enjoying a warm welcome from Max, Melicia and Amythest  in Bathurst on Friday night, we set off for Newnes and met up with Dave at the Newnes hotel at 9am. Dave's mum, his brother Michael, his partner Debbie and Jamie from a local bushwalking club were also ther getting ready to head up the Pipeline Track to Glen Alice for the night.
After setting up our tents we headed off for the Pipeline track where we ran into Dave's mum's group and stopped for a photo at the sign. After a relatively easy climb up the pipeline Track, we stopped for a short break to enjoy the view - noone really needed a break but noone complained when I suggested we stop! Since we only went as far as the Pipeline Canyon exit track and missed the steepest part. Continuing, we carefully worked our way along the base of the cliffline, almost to the canyon exit, to the site of the ‘near disaster'.
It was a bit unnerving for me to be back here as it had been a very traumatic experience. I had been waiting almost a year to return to investigate the site and work out what went wrong. As it turned out, the party had wandered off the track below the cliffline and onto a very steep, loose section of scree slope. One of them had slipped and slid down to a drop of about 15m – her legs dangling over the edge whilst she clung to a tussock of grass. Just as his happened, late in the day, a thunderstorm struck. A lengthy delicate rescue had everyone safe but very shaken.
Keen to examine the sight, I abseiled down 30m to the edge of the drop and took a couple of photos. This one shows the tussocks of grass that Sarah grabbed to stop herself falling over the edge, and the tree to which she clung afterwards during the rescue process. The drop is more obvious in the photo above.

This mission accomplished, we headed of for our next objective, to find an alternate exit down the creek that flows through Pipeline Canyon. Only about 50m below the canyon exit, we were stopped by a 40m overhung drop down a trickling waterfall. To my disappointment we found some old slings around a large tree at the top of the drop. We weren't the first to try this route after all. I must admit, I had wondered why no one to my knowledge had tried it – probably because Jamieson's book describes the cliffline exit. Obviously several groups have been using this abseil over quite some time. (see the photo page for photos of this abseil)

The disappointment was short lived as the abseil was fantastic. All but the first 2 metres is overhung and the view is great! The scramble down the boulder-strewn creek below the abseil was fun and the river was so low we could easily cross without getting wet. The road conveniently, almost meets the river at this point so it was an easy walk back to camp. We had plenty of time to explore the ruins and Dave challenged us to a bit of bouldering to fill in time as well.

The weather was perfect. We saw lyrebirds and wombats at close range and even an ‘undercover echidna', (one of our group with failing eyesight thought it was an echidna). Best of all, the company was great and everyone managed to cop their share of bagging out and dished some out as well – just as it should be.

Thanks for a very easy and enjoyable trip. I can't wait for the next one!


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