Twas Indeed a Really Long Gully

Jul 25 2020 Claud Tomkins

It’s 6:30am and here I was standing outside ANU Sport in what felt like -5 degree weather. In comes decision one of the day; take Lachie’s car with the check engine light on, or take Oxana’s little (and low to the ground) hatchback. Hatchback it is. One and a half hours later, here we were standing on the edge of a quite rugged dirt road as Oxana’s car sat perched on the top of a hill, one wheel in the air, tyres spinning. However, with a couple of attempts, and admirable skill on Oxana’s part, we safely made it to the carpark where we would start the walk out to the Long Gully Canyon.

After a short walk that aided in bringing our body temperatures up above freezing, we reached the first abseil. However, after searching the area high and low for an anchor and coming up empty, out came the trip notes: “the first abseil is about 8m, with an anchor about 5m back on the left”. The search recommenced – high, low, left, right –… and then we found it. However, was it “5m back on the left” where it was meant to be? No, there it was, sitting at the bottom of the drop. But fear not for we had brought MacGyver. A couple minutes later Michael had thrown a rope around a pointy part of the cliff face, added a couple of rocks on top for some extra safety, and made his way to the bottom of the abseil. We were back in business. Ed: we used a 5m tape to construct the anchor, but removed it afterwards, as the main option for a natural anchor has very poor abseil dynamics. It needs bolts.

Lucky for us the remaining 8 or so abseils went at lot more smoothly. The next couple of hours were filled with a 56m abseil with stunning views, a few wet shoes, and a lot of scrambling over loose rocks. And although there was fear we would be walking out in the dark after the delay of the first abseil, we had made it down the canyon by lunch. This left us with ample time enjoy the view, soak in the sun, and do a bit of exploring. Perhaps we had too much time, as Oxana and Andy found themselves taking a dip in the freezing cold water to swim across the Shoalhaven (mad respect).

Then suddenly all the fun and games where over. The moment we had been dreading the entire day was upon us. It was time to walk out. It’s safe to say that the 350 vertical meters of elevation over 1km was my least favourite part of the day, however, after much huffing and puffing we were out of the canyon and cruising along back to the carpark. Once there we were greeted by Chris, who had taken a different route out in order to collect Michael’s handy work from the first drop, and carrots were passed around. All in all, it was a great day.