Benighted at Kalang Falls

A hat and a waterfall
A hat and a waterfall

Having recently become addicted to the perhaps peculiarly Australian sport of canyoning, I jumped at the chance of a midwinter abseil down the Kalang Falls. Situated in the Kanangra-Boyd National Park in the Blue Mountains near to Sydney, the falls drop for a vertical distance of about half a kilometre into a deep canyon, after which you have little choice but to clamber the same distance back up along the aptly named Murdering Gully.

Cath, Carol, Andrew, Maria, Annie, Reinhard, Andy, Steve, Allan
Cath, Carol, Andrew, Maria, Annie, Reinhard, Andy, Steve, Allan

Thus it was that early one Saturday morning, a group of Kanangras black cattle, waiting patiently for the first dawn rays of the sun to evaporate the frost from their backs, were surprised to see nine enterprising adventurers heading out into the still darkened wilderness. Led by the highly experienced duo of Andy and Andrew, we planned to tackle the eleven abseils of up to sixty metres each, and then begin the three-hour scramble up Murdering Gully in the fading afternoon light, finishing up back at the top by mid-evening, hopefully still in posession of an eclectic selection of silly hats.

Annie goes over the edge
Annie goes over the edge
Abseiling down the side of the Falls
Abseiling down the side of the Falls
Murdering Gully from above
Murdering Gully from above

The sun lifted gorgeously above the canyon as we clambered to the head of the falls and began our first descent.

The falls drop in a series of steps, with enough room on one side or the other to abseil without actually getting wet; a so-called dry canyon, handy for tackling in the middle of the winter without the need for wetsuits and swimming. No problems with the cold here, however; soon we were stripping off the early-morning layers, chattering happily and basking in the sunshine during the inevitable waits for the ropes to become free.

A rest pause near the top of the Falls
A rest pause near the top of the Falls

On the third drop, we couldn’t find the anchor point. It soon became clear that an earlier landslide
had changed the shape of the canyon, and it took an impromptu food break, some precarious hopping from rock to rock, and a good deal of sliding through uncertainly shifting underbrush before, about an hour later, we eventually found it and could continue down to the visitors book which was bolted to the cliff – previous entry, about one month before.

Andy and his Thai hat
Andy and his Thai hat
Andrew (pic by Allan)
Andrew (pic by Allan)

Steve
Steve
Reinhard and Carol (pic by Allan)
Reinhard and Carol (pic by Allan)

Allan
Allan

Annie
Annie