Canyoning in the Wolgan - Firefly and Devils Pinch - March 5/6 2011

Four of us (Dave Drohan, Bruce Barnett and Tom Ruegar) arrived at the Wolgan Camping area late Friday night. Using Dave's big beastie we crossed the river (not to be done with my  Subaru AWD) and found a nice private camping spot close to the gate.

Saturday morning had us up early ready for Firefly. As this was my first time to this canyon I followed the guide pretty diligently - being aware that navigating in and finding the break in the cliff line to be 'tricky'. As we ascended the right gully, it began to shower gently, bringing to mind thoughts of flash floods - a common event it seems in this La Nina season. We found an elderly solo canyoner, Neville, ascending the gully ahead of us who was off to do Looking Glass. We kept company with him until we got to our creek. Firefly is an open creek system with quite a few short abseils, the max being 15m. Some of the abseils into pools could be avoided.  However, as I was suffering nausea I had a few spectacular falls and thereafter handed over responsibilty for setting up the last couple of abseils to Dave. The last abseil was an optional 18m over a watefall. The ascent down the boulder field rivaled that of the boulders below slot canyon in Bungonia. Back on the track by around 3pm we steamed back to our camp. Given it was early afternoon, we drove back to the old Newnes Hotel to see what was there. Alas no beer to be had, but the fizzy lemonade was most welcome. The museum in the Hotel provided interesting historical insights into the area. Back at camp, we kept an eye open for Neville who eventually came by after 7pm. A long day for him.

Sunday morning we set off to do Devils Pinch.  We crossed the Wolgan River to join up with the Pipeline track. After reaching the watershed we took the Starlight Canyon track for a while. But then came the point where we left the track and navigated to the ridge that would take us into Devils Pinch.  A really beautiful canyon with magnificent stretches rivaling Whungee Wheengee at Mt Wilson, with big high walls on either side. The last optional abseil was 50 m over two sections with a broad middle platform. The first section had a slippery overhang, which had to be handled carefully to avoid barn-dooring to the left. At the middle section, I stopped to untangle the ropes for the next section, but found that one of my ropes got unbelievably twisty (in retrospect I think due to someone abseiling on it with a figure of 8). I called Tom down to help me untwist. Once the rope was untwisted, I proceeded over the next stretch. Tom stayed attach to the ropes with a lengthy cows tail and, after I was down, he followed. Bruce and Dave came soon after. We had lunch and followed the gully down to the Wolgan where we went upstream through the actual Devil's Pinch till we joined up with the road. Back at camp by 3.30pm then home.