Carra Beanga Falls Canyon
By Katie Lillyman
In early December, a few of us found a couple of weekdays free and decided to hit up a Kanangra canyon. Loui suggested Carra Beanga Falls which I’d never heard of. But, after reading Jamieson’s description – ‘This trip is an epic…’, I was sold. Although the three of us are reasonably experienced canyoners, this was to be Nat and my first Kanangra canyon.
We left Sydney Monday arvo after a quick trip to the club gear cupboard and were at Nat’s place in Mt Vic for dinner. After sorting gear, we drove the rest of the way to park at the start of the fire trail entry point. It was slightly later than we’d hoped so decided to head straight to sleep. Not so easy. We spent more than hour fiddling with the borrowed Paj’s seats without managing to form more than a highly uneven bed.
Suffice to say none of us managed more than a light dose so when my alarm went off at 5:30am we were all so relieved to no longer have to fight to sleep. We scoffed a quick brekky and were on the trail soon after, enthusiastic despite the lack of sleep.
The walk-in started out along a fire trail which led us to the top of Mt Thurat in half an hour. From here, we took a faint foot track out along the plateau which was really picturesque. The foot track soon faded out and we were left to navigate carefully to reach Burra Gunama Ridge which we follow to upper Carra Beanga Creek and the start of the canyon. We were standing atop the falls at 9:30am.
(The view from the top of the canyon, looking over Kanangra-Boyd NP)
(The tape anchor on the second abseil – backed up with a rope which had almost become part of the tree)
We scrambled around the first abseil and quickly rapped down the next three from anchors on the left of the falls. We then crossed to the right and took a while locating the next anchor from a tree 50m or so down the ridge. In the process of scrambling down the ridge I leant on a boulder which cracked in half and would have trundled into Loui if it wasn’t for a very conveniently-placed tree. Definitely raised the adrenaline levels and made us even more careful about trusting the surrounding rocks.
(The boulder that broke in half when I leant on it – thank god for that tree!)
It was a short scrubby abseil which brought us to a nice large rock above the two 45m drops. Loui volunteered to rap down first and search out the next anchor. Nat and I waited at the top for a while before we heard the reassuring whistle blow telling us to follow. I rapped down next, over a couple of ledges and through some scrub, to land on the very narrow ledge above a wider one below. Despite our concerns, the rope pulled without issue after a bit of encouragement. Rope coiled, we bush-bashed through the vegetation to the right to locate the well-concealed gum that would act as the next anchor. The second 45m abseil was sheer and brought us to the bottom of the main falls and a nice shady lunch spot. We were wary of removing helmets while eating due as we saw a few little rocks fall at random from the wall above.
(The narrow ledge between the two 45m abseils)
Instead of boosting our energy levels, the lunch stop had the effect of making us aware of how sleep-deprived and, consequently, fatigued we were. Being only around half-way through the required abseils we decided to try to speed through the next 6 or so shortish ones. We moved purposefully through the narrow gorge and made good time, leap-frogging with the two ropes we’d brought and locating anchors that allowed us to stay mostly dry, mainly on the right of the creek. We scrambled down the dodgy loose rock slope, avoiding one of the abseils, although it would probably have been quicker and much safer to have abseiled it as so many rocks shifted under our feet.
(Looking back up the main falls from the lunch spot)
When we reached what we thought was the final abseil, I rapped down from a tree on the left expecting to find an unavoidable ‘waist-deep pool’; however, the pool at the bottom was easy to avoid. Pleased to still be dry, we thought no more about it til another 15 minutes down the creek when we reached the actual final abseil. It was spectacular but there was no possibility for us to avoid a wade, and by that time we were too tired to bother trying some fancy bouldering moves to stay dry.
From here we were faced with a little over an hour of creek walking to reach the junction with Kanangra Creek and (ideally) a decent place to camp. We zigzagged the creek trying to find the easiest way through, and met with many down-climbs and one short abseil.
We were all exhausted and very quiet, so when we finally caught a glimpse of Kanangra Creek through the brush it was a relief. We crossed the creek and headed downstream looking for a decent riverside camping spot. About 100m along, we found a clearer area and fanned out looking for a spot with minimal stinging nettles, rocks and wild roses. We had amazing luck to find a perfectly-sized flat area close to the river, and set about erecting our shelter – a tent fly draped over the rope strung from several trees. After a quick dinner (yay for couscous!), with a friendly froggy visitor, we all climbed into our respective ‘beds’. Nat decided it would be super comfy to sleep on the flaked out rope, with dry bags for extra padding, which she claims was super comfy…? After next to no sleep the night before, we were all soon out to it.
(Our makeshift shelter which worked surprisingly well)
We woke after the most amazing sleep EVER – thankfully, as we had a massive 950m vertical climb ahead of us to start the day. Leaving the river, it took us 2.5hrs of steep uphill climbing, dodging loose rocks and rotten trees, to summit Mt Cyclops. From here it was another 3hrs back along the ridges and fire trail which led us back to the good old Paj.