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Before starting on today’s blog, I want to say that it was Kerrie who found this canyon and provided the hiking notes and I cannot be held totally responsible for the day.

We were ready early and just about to leave camp, when the jailbirds returned with 4 security guards in tow.  We thought it prudent to wait for them to leave, to make sure that they don’t play havoc with our camp site.  But for some reason they didn’t have the car keys that the police took the previous evening and they just sat down and starting drinking beers that were nicely heated in the sun, while the security guards tried to break into their car to move them on.  As there was no progress after half an hour i.e. the security guards where still trying to break into the car and beers where still being consumed, we decided to head off.

After a nice Google drive through the back-country we left one car at the bottom carpark and drove to the top to Mt Murray Road, where we started Macquarie Pass Canyon.

Crossing the Illawarra Highway exactly at Mt Murray Road we straight away crossed the little creek, as per instructions and headed off along the cliff edge.  Without having read the notes beforehand and not having a physical map with us, I had no idea what was ahead.  I had the time of my life bush bashing and following at times a faint track.  Looking back at it, I did notice that after about half an hour through thorny scrub the rest of the team became a bit quiet.  But it was not until after about one hour that there was a bit of a mutiny, where I was told that I was the only one having fun and that the others were struggling.  Kerrie insisted for me to check the GPS, which I didn’t really want to do as I wanted to find the way without gadgets, but I soon realised that it was in my best interest to do so.  To the guys disappointment we only had covered about one kilometre and had another kilometre to go before dropping into the canyon.

Kerrie started to worry about the progress we made in the first hour and the track ahead.  And when Kerrie worries, the kids panic.  After some smooth talking on my part everyone was convinced that if we shortcut the first three abseils we should have plenty of time to attempt quite a few other ones. This seemed to lift their spirits a bit and I was once again having lots of fun, until we came to the gorge.  This may sound a good thing, but not if you were supposed to have turned off some time before hand to circumnavigate the top three abseils.  The spirit of the three musketeers was at a very low point, and if looks could kill, I would have died a dozen times over.  I avoided their glances getting back to where we wanted to be, and thought things were starting to look up again, when Tash went into a screaming frenzy and we though she was being attacked by a drop bear.  It was only a leech and Kerrie took care of it.  Needless to say, Tash was not happy.  When the whole leech episode was repeated a second time Tash made it clear that she doesn’t like “leeches, spiders, dragons and things”.  Kerrie was trooping along taking things in her stride, Luke was not talking (which is a very bad sign) and Tash was minus a happy face for quite some time.  Dad to the rescue.  I found a beautiful spot for lunch in the canyon amongst some gigantic boulders.  It is amazing how a little food can lift the spirit (although Tash didn’t like the stale bread).

Ok this was the dreary part of the track (although I thought it was the bee’s knees), but all hardship is rewarded, and I went from zero to hero when we hit Clover falls.  A stunning 25 meter abseil down the fall, amongst pretty greenery and into the edge of a beautiful swimming hole.

Luke was in his element with a smile from ear to ear, Kerrie and Tash excited and I was just happy for not having been knocked off for the previous 2 hours of bush bashing and all the cut shins.

With everyone excited but still with our limited time in mind we side-tracked Mulangang Falls walking on the right of the gorge and came out at the causeway to enter the slot part of the canyon.  The causeway is the spot where you could have entered from Clover Hill park, halfway up the canyon.  This provided us with another couple of abseils with some ending up in pristine water holes.  Although we brought wetsuits, it was warm enough for us not to need them.

By now everyone was having heaps of fun and nobody remembered the start of our adventure (I certainly wasn’t going to remind anyone).  We caught up with another group of canyoners and enjoyed another abseil until we reached a set of abseils that can either be done as one, or in two stages.  We ended up doing it in two stages as the other group utilised the other anchors.  The first abseil was awesome fun down a waterfall that got us all totally drenched.

But the best was next.  A 4 to 5-meter jump into a rock pool.  Kerrie and Tash were relieved that it could be bypassed on the right, but Luke and I took the awesome plunge.

This left us with half an hour hike to jump rock pools, which was overrun by people and another half an hour out to the carpark.

Everybody had smiles on their faces and I was silently thinking about the old saying “no pain, no gain”.

After a 7-hour hike and another hour drive we got back to camp, had a quick dinner and fell into bed.  Ten minutes later Tash got a fright with a wombat wanting to get under her tent.  Luke to the rescue.  After some discussion with the wombat, he convinced it to munch grass under our trailer and everyone went back to sleep.

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