We met in Imbil on Sunday morning (the 8th, this post has been held up quite a bit), and after introductions and some chit chat, decided to take 2 cars. There was some uncertainty from the others over my choice to drive the Lancerghini but I breezily assured them the old girl was more capable than you would think, and we set off.
Despite my display of confidence, I was a little concerned, as at the start of the year Bella Creek Rd was in a diabolical condition. To my great relief, it had recently been graded and was in the best shape I've ever seen it, so we were able to enjoy the scenery and "admire" the rather mangy wild deer.
(Note, all photos with a time stamp by Jeffrey Budden, those few without are off my phone)
Even though the road was in great condition, that's relative to the usual nightmare inducing rocks and ruts, and I still had to stop twice to reattach my exhaust (at which the others were somewhat shocked). In due course we reached the top of the plateau, and set off for Weaner Rock.
After taking in the view and giggling about the name (which comes from a stampede of weaners, all of whom perished), we set about making our way down into the gorge. There being no tracks of any sort (the terrain is far too steep), the descent simply involves hurling oneself into the lantana and hoping for the best.
The correct way to descend is to sit down with one foot tucked back, the other stretched out, and simply slide down. Once the initial fear is overcome, it's an extremely quick and safe way to cover terrain like this. It soon became apparent that my demonstration was not convincing enough, as the others stuck to the more traditional method of gingerly inching their way down. On the plus side, the extra time taken allowed me to enjoy the scenery more than at my usual breakneck pace.
While most of the ~1hr descent consisted of just lantana and rocks, there were some unexpected sights, in the form of an abandoned machete (I happily took it home and started crafting a new handle for it)-
-and the remains of an unlucky bovine.
In due course we reached the bottom of the gorge, and had some food and rest while Jeffrey took a swim in the barely-better-than-stagnant Yabba Creek.
Enthusiasm renewed, we continued up the gorge towards the falls.
After an enjoyable rockhop up the gorge, we rounded Corner Pools to face Stehbens Chute.
After another bit of food and rest, I gingerly asked the others if they would like to have a crack at Part 2 of the hike. "What's that?" they asked. "Well you see that whopping great 650 foot high ridge over there...." I started, and before I could finish I received a resounding NO. They were, however, quite happy for me to attempt it while they stayed at Owen Cascades resting (or in the case of Jeffrey, swimming and shimmying underneath boulders.)
I was happy with that arrangement, so scampered off towards Black Gully Pocket.
Unfortunately, the "nice clear line" up the ridge turned out to be clear because it was so steep nothing could grow on it, not even lantana! To put it into a cycling perspective, a steep climb is about 10%, the steepest you can ride is up around the 40% mark. This ridge (at my best guess) was about THREE HUNDRED PERCENT or 70 degrees. Obviously that kind of gradient is NOT a safe climb without crampons and what have you, especially when it was just loose bare dirt, with no rocks or tree roots, or handholds of any sort.
I got about 50m up, and then beat a hasty retreat (turns out sliding on your bum is just as safe and efficient at ludicrous gradients like this).
Although I only managed to get about 50 metres up, the view was still very different, and shows the scale of the falls better than any other photo I've taken (the tiny white specks at the bottom of frame are the other hikers!)
After explaining my misfortune to some bemused faces, it was time to head for home. I had (to my astonishment) found the case that had contained my ill fated drone on my last trip out near the base of Stehbens Chute, and as climbing out with it was near impossible, but not wanting to leave litter behind, when we found a waterfall on the northern side of the gorge a short way down from Corner Pools, I tied the case to a tree well above the flood level as a marker for future expeditions.
While the waterfall was exceptionally steep, it was relatively clear of lantana and the rocks and roots provided excellent footholds.
After a lot of hard work, we left the waterfall to cut across the slope of the gorge towards Weaner Rock. This didn't mean the going was any easier, it was just a different sort of very hard work!
Jeffrey and Nicole scampered up quite easily, but it was tough going for Adam, and as the guide I felt obligated to stick with him. Also, truth be known, after my attempt on Black Gully Pocket, I wasn't exactly bursting with energy either.
Eventually we reached the top of the bank, and cautiously followed the ridge back towards Weaner Rock, staying as far as possible from the Old Yabba Station boundary.
It was then just a straightforward drive back to Imbil (my exhaust stayed in it's place this time! I've since repaired it) where I raided the general store for liquid carbs before heading home for a well earned rest. My feet and legs were extraordinarily sore the next day!
Thanks to Jeffrey, Nicole, Adam, and Ken for their company on this trip, until I've seen the falls in their entirety I won't be satisfied though, so I'll be heading out there again soon to attempt Black Gully Pocket from the northern end.