(North Bowens Creek Lower Section)
Trip Report - Gobsmacker (North Bowens Creek Lower Section) 27-3-04
Our group of 6 arrived at the Wynnes Rock Rd gate, with dark clouds looming. Departing just after 9am we headed down the (private property) fire trail towards Bowens Creek North Branch Lower Section, or what we now call "Gobsmacker" (after an adventure company who market it as their "Secret Gobsmacker" trip).
We kept to the right brach of the
fire trail and by 9:30am had hit the right turn off down into the gully, which
is marked with a
large ant hill. This is just after the large hill on the right. Only myself and Nicole had not done the canyon before, but the others had all forgotten most of their last trip here, so it was pretty new to them too!
The obvious track headed off the
fire trail and into the bush, and it dropped away right at the start. This is
one steep entry gully,
it just continues to drop and drop away very quickly. It was also one the most beautiful entry gullies of any canyon we have done, and it just got better and better as we hit the creek. There was a fixed rope on one of the climb downs before we hit the creek. Half way along the bottom creek we found ourselves following a track which lead up the left hand cliff line, avoiding the creek below. The other way straight down the creek looked like it would need the handline. We chose the well defined track along the left cliff and soon found ourselves at a big abseil with some slings around a tree. This abseil is not mentioned in Jamieson, and is over 15m (my 40m rope just made it). There were also a few extra slings on another tree half way down, presumably put there by someone who only had a short rope as the Jamieson notes would suggest. It was a nice little asbeil, with an overhang swing at the very bottom. It dropped us back into the creek line. An optional abseil, but well worth it given that the whole canyon does not have any big abseils.
More scrambling bought us to the junction of Bowens Creek North Branch. Some awkward scrambling allowed us to avoid some pools, but the rocks were very slippery and wet and Lyn took a slip backwards into a small pool. I almost joined her, but the rest of us only got wet up to the knees at this point. We followed the track up on the right hand cliff line, and we soon hit a very nice looking slot below with some slings around a tree. We could see that there was a way to scamble down further along the track and avoid the swim. So it was either suit up here and have an abseil or swim, or just scamble down. We chose to scamble down into knee deep water, except for Nicole who I piggybacked across the pool!
This allowed us to keep the wetsuits off for a little while longer, but next time I think I will suit up and do the optional abseil and
A bit further down the canyon we
hit the first compulsary abseil. This abseil consists of a set of rope slings
looped around a rock
nose high up on the right hand side. It's a bit slippery to get to the abseil ledge so we set up a safety line just to be sure. The
abseil goes over the nose of a rock for about 8m, down into a gorgeous Rocky Creek type slot. You land on a large ledge from which you can unclip and jump (very akwardly), or continue to abseil down at the base of the waterfall. The abseil is a fun and safer option, but you must unclip while treading water. There are some longish swims and wades to the next section which is just around the corner.
The 2nd compulsary abseil starts from a ledge high up on the right hand side which you must climb up to. The ledge here is slippery, so take care. Some slings around a tree provide the anchor, and the abseil is your typical slot abseil down a wall, smaller than the first abseil. There is a small ledge at the bottom which you can land on and unclip and then jump in from there. The abseil is right beside a lovely waterfall down a scultured rock chute.
Both the of the abseil are in magnificent
slots, with everything very lush and green. In fact, the green moss and ferns
as intense as any I have seen in any canyon, including the "green room" in Whungee Whengee.
The slot that follows is deep, dark, green and long. Only surpassed by Claustral, Rocky Creek and Whungee Whengee. There is a fair amount of scrambling involved in the main slot, and the water was fairly murky so it was hard to see the bottom and submerged obstacles.
By 12:30 we were out of the slot and met the juntion with Bowens Creek South Branch. There is a great sunny spot for lunch on a large slab and a bit of a sandy beach, and the weather turned out to be excellent. At this point I found a rather large leech on my ankle who had obviously been sucking away for quite a while! Off he came and into the water he went. He then started to secrete a trail of (my!) blood, which a yabbie a few meters away sensed and then went beserk! The yabbie started for the leech, obviously seekeing the blood trail. With all of us cheering the yabbie on (Yab-bie!, Yab- bie!, Yab-bie!) he hunted down his prey and snatched him up in his nippers. The leech curled up in a ball, but had no defense against the mighty yabbie. Another much smaller yabbie wanted part of the action too, and tried to fight for it, but the big yabbie scuried off with his prize. We were all quite pleased with the raw show of nature put on for us!
After lunch just after 1pm it was
off 100m downstream to the exit gully. We kept our wetsuits on just in case,
and everyone waded
across some pools, but I skirted around them all barely getting my feet wet. So we should have changed at the lunch spot.
The exit gully is very steep, and
a hand line was needed in one part to get some up the slippery cliff line. Another
fixed handline is
just above this. It was then a long very steep uphill slog (300m total ascent) to the fire trail. We kept left at each cliff line encountered and this was the way to go. The exit track was easy to follow and well defined most of the way. Back to the cars by 3pm. My time estimate for the trip was 6 hours, and as it happened that turned out to be spot on, which is not usually the case!
If you were really quick and knew the canyon you could probably do the trip in 4 hours or so, 5 would probably be the norm.
It was a throughly enjoyable trip,
and none of us would hesitate to do it again.
Does it deserve the title Secret Gobsmacker? - yes, I think it does. It is a spectacular canyon which is incredibly green and lush, up there with the likes of Whungee Whengee. All for so relatively little effort too. I'd probably put it in my top 3 canyons overall.
It would be suitable for beginners with abseiling experience, and I would easily rate it over something like Serendipity which is a
similar day out on a technical level. In fact, it might be possible to do say Serendipity and Bowens Creek in a day if you started early enough. I get the impression the canyon would be even more spectacular after some good rain.
Gobsmacker is a canyon I will visit again and again.
The 1st compulsary abseil slot
Rigging the first abseil
Coming down the first abseil
The 2nd abseil
The climb out up the steep gully. Note the two handlines.
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