Serendipity Canyon – Thursday 13th April 2006

Photos

Mick O’Neill and Michael Buchegger

Michael and I left Coolamon at midday on Wednesday, the day after Dee’s big 50th. We stopped at Cowra Maccas for the obligatory snack and then on to Bathurst for the night. Our plan was to explore the popular Mt Wilson and Katoomba canyon districts as we have never done any canyons in these areas. We stayed with my brother-in-law Max and his family on Wednesday night and Glenbrook at my sister’s house on Thursday before doing Juggler on Friday.

The forecast was great: “No rain for 3 or 4 days”, so much for the forecast. It rained lightly most of Thursday, but as Serendipity is a wet trip anyway and we were in wetsuits it didn't really worry us.

After a quick tour of Mt Wilson, which was full of autumn colour, we left the Mt Wilson fire station at 8.55am. 9.03am we were at the Wollangambie One entry track; 9.14am at the Wollangambie One exit track, marked by the third large termite mound. The gps was struggling here under the trees and thick cloud cover. We spent about 10 minutes trying to get an accurate fix and making sure we were at the right track intersection. At 9.30am we found the Serendipity entry track and at 9.56am we were at the first abseil, where the track first meets the side creek. The abseil is quite easy if you abseil straight down the first rock for a couple of metres then lift the rope over to the left (facing upstream) to complete the lower section. Otherwise the rope will slip along the rock and probably get damaged. We completed this abseil with a 27m rope and both ends just reached the bottom.

We reached the drop into Serendipity at about 10.50am and opted for the slippery, but quite easy, 10-15m abseil down the gully. There is an alternate abseil from a tree up on the right (facing downstream). After about 30 minutes of pleasant creek walking, we reached the next drop at 11.40am. This one is only short but has an awkward start with a squeeze beside a large chockstone and an overhung start. The last person down must keep the rope out of the crack to avoid it jamming on the pull down.

The last abseil was reached at 11.55am. The start is similar to the previous one but it ends in deep water. It is only about a 4m drop. We considered jumping but decided against it. I made sure there was plenty of air in my dry bag so that it would give me floatation for the 10m swim out. It also made it easy to disconnect in the water. I just floated on my back, leaving both hands free. The water was colder than we expected but wasn't aching cold. We were very glad of our wetsuits here.

We walked around the dark little drop at the end of the canyon and into the cave above the Wollangambie at 12.50pm. We made the most of the dry shelter and decided to have some lunch here. I spent a bit of time trying to get a fix on the gps but I couldn't get a position at all. We soon started to get very cold so we decided to head back. We waded up the Wollangambie for about 200m and found the exit we were looking for just around a sharp left bend, (facing upstream).

The climb out was harder than it should have been because we were carrying a lot of extra gear, since it was our first trip through this canyon and there were only two of us and maybe lacking a bit of fitness too. It is a relatively easy exit for a canyon. We reached the fire station at 2.44pm, the whole trip taking us 5h 50min at a slow pace.

We changed, checked out the old school house and headed for Glenbrook at 3.20pm. We are looking forward to coming back to do Serendipity again and to explore some other Mt Wilson canyons in the future.

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