About Me

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Sydney, Australia
A natural curiosity for what's over the next hill has taken me on a vast array of trips over the years, most of which involve human powered travel. There's so much more to do. All images © Darren Mckenzie.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

PACKRAFTING KANGAROO RIVER

The Kangaroo river flows through one of the more picturesque regions I have visited in recent times. For those who happen to find themselves in Kangaroo Valley, talk immediately turns to the wide open rolling grassland nestled between the towering escarpment of the Southern Highlands in New South Wales. It really is a sleepy paradise, and it seems that some of the local folk stopped only for a short visit many years before and decided to stay.

I had a call from Gus during the week after a reasonable amount of rain fell on the east coast, and he was keen to try out the Kangaroo river with his partner Mel. I was lucky enough to accompany them for the day and had a great time running the Grade 3 section just on the minimum level. When I initially checked the gauge, it was peaking at over 4m but Gus assured me it would drop rapidly as the catchment is small. He wasn't wrong!

After meeting at 7am at Hampden Bridge, we drove up to the take out and dropped a car off then continued another 4k or so upstream to put in at the last ford. The first section was quite technical and Gus became test dummy, managing to run most of them cleanly while Mel and I followed. We all had a few spills but came up smiling each time.









Gus was happy with the new spraydeck and after having a quick paddle in his boat, I have to say, there is a substantial difference in the way it tracks. An improvement on an already good product.




A big thanks to Gus and Mel for an awesome day out! Looking forward to another paddle in the not too distant future.

A short video of an almost out of boat experience....




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Sunday, November 20, 2011

WATERDRAGON CANYON


The canyons in the Blue Mountains offer a place of refuge during the sweltering heat of an Australian summer. Cool waters and deep, dark constrictions soothe the soul with a feast of absolute beauty which draw us back time and time again.

I arrived at Craig's at 5.00am, threw some gear in the car and headed west for Waterdragon canyon. I prefer the earliest start possible no matter how easy the grade or short the distance to be traveled, as it gives us more time to soak up the experience and take plenty of photos along the way.

My little Canon G9 camera stood up to the usual punishing as I repeatedly pulled it in and out of a dry bag in a cold and extremely wet environment. Canyons have proven to be quite tough to get reasonable photos as the light can be exceptionally contrasty with beams of bright light and caverns of darkness which require good equipment, time and an understanding of how to get the most from your camera settings.



The walk down to the Wollangambe river was an opportunity to take a few macro shots before the short scramble to the valley floor.






After a short walk up a ridge then down into the beginning of the creek, the first anchor appeared for a warmup abseil. There were many tree's down from a recent storm which cluttered the top section of the creek with debris.



After a short creek section the first pitch into the canyon appeared, and as we descended into the darkness, the temperature dropped and the beauty of this ancient sandstone cleft was revealed. Although this particular canyon is relatively short, it never ceases to impress.








There are sections of the canyon that are simply breathtaking with cold, dark constricted walls that sparkle with glowworms as you swim and scramble your way through.





Finally Waterdragon Canyon ends, flowing into the lukewarm waters of the Wollangambe river which we floated back downstream to our exit point. A stunning trip on it's own.



So, another great outing in good company and beautiful terrain............

Sunday, November 6, 2011

PACKRAFTING THE SHOALHAVEN RIVER

See This post for the following section of river.

The problem with upgrading equipment is getting it past the minister for finance. Justifying new gear needs to go through a process of scrutineering that shows the older piece of kit is no longer safe for it's intended purpose. Therein lies the problem with my packraft.....I can't seem to break it.

I'm amazed that it survives the continual beatings each trip. If a river is not running at minimum levels, it doesn't always mean it cant be run. The Shoalhaven river has been on my list for a while now, but just haven't had the time to run it while levels were good. The catchment received some rain mid week so after being glued to the gauge all week, I decided to run it even though it was only .72 instead of the minimum of .90.

The section was Welcome Reef to Peggies which has been the best run to date. It was a great day out and will definitely be one that gets multiple repeats at the correct levels.  There were 2 or 3 rapids that I had to portage which were hard to paddle away from knowing they only needed a fraction more water......Next time.
The bike loop was straight forward and the walk out was quite scenic which is always a bonus.


A short vid & pics