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TR: Hunter valley and Nelson Bay

2:47:58 PM
So we had the offer of a couple of days of hospitality in Singleton from Nail's mate, in exchange for taking him climbing. Monday and Tuesday seem to be our new 'weekend' as it's the days that no-one has work on, so on Sunday night we set off with an ancient and water-damaged 'Rock Climbing In The Hunter Valley' guidebook that had been dredged from the back of the UNSWOC gear cupboard. Nov (who's a miner) turned out to be a top bloke with a great DVD collection.

Unfortunately the forecast was for storms, rain, and more rain and I can't say I was surprised when Blair and Bulti turned up with kayaks strapped to the roof. With the trip successfully hijacked, we drove to Barrington River on monday. It turned out we couldn't hire extra kayaks from the whitewater center, because the river was too high and their insurance doesn't cover it. We drove to the Steps anyway, with just the two tiny "playboats" we had, to find the river was looking very wide and very brown with uprooted trees being dragged along in the current. I had one attempt at paddling the rapid, but as soon as I went over the first little cascade, I got dragged into a whirlpool-thing and tipped over and out of the kayak, before being tumbled over the rest of the rapid and washed up on shore like a wet dog. Apparently these ridiculously tiny kayaks are designed to tip over easily to make rapids "more challenging". Blair, Bulti and Nov had fun though and styled it while me and Nails sat out the rest of the afternoon.

Anyway this is a CLIMBING trip report, and while it was still overcast the next day, it was mostly dry so we set off to try and find Morna Point and the Docks. After driving for hours (the Hunter valley turns out to be a big place) and parking at One Mile Beach, we walked up a track to the head and ignored several paths off to the left to come out at the end of the point. We started scrambling off around right only to get stranded on slippery wet slabs that dropped off alarmingly into the ocean. We battled on and through the brush around the top of a sea cave, to find an overgrown inlet that did not look right at all. Nails and Bulti went further around to investigate another slot about 100m further on, but Nails eventually came back shaking his head.

At this point we descended into argument about the directions and which way to go, and finger-pointing about the fact that despite all the fancy Apple and Samsung mobile devices around no-one had actually downloaded the updated PDF from the Rockies website. Bulti swore that the slot further around matched the description in the guidebook and that there were trad lines there anyway. We talked about bashing straight up to the top of the headland and starting again, but eventually we decided we were too far south, and reversed the slippery slabs and scramble around the sea cave and started walking back around to the north side of the headland.

We turned out to be right, and found the zawn only about 30m around left from where we'd turned right. Hooray.

Bulti and Nails started roping up to traverse over the water around to the southern slabs, but couldn't seem to decide whether they were rigging a handline, safety line or tyrolean and so I gave up, waited for a lull in the waves and jumped down and ran across the impact zone on rock shelf to safety. Blair and Nov followed.

SO. We were finally at a crag and ready to climb, unfortunately it was late enough in the day that Nov had to leave and head back to Singleton. Oh well.

We also had an incomplete guidebook and so began a fun game of "Hey that line of bolts looks climbable, whaddaya reckon?". This worked out pretty well, we climbed a short warm-up on a black slab, then took turns leading a corner that went up to a pumpy traverse along and over a horizontal break, then up a couple of layback flakes. Estimates of the grade varied from 16 to 21. Nails then went for a line on the southern wall that he reckoned would go despite being wet. I went for a good, long line up the center of a steep and 'bubbly' buttress of rock. It had some very cool bouldery moves and I doddled to the top after a fall or two.

With a grand total of three routes under our belts for two day's worth of driving, we walked back through the maze of tracks on Morna Point to the car, and drove back to Anna Bay and Boat Harbour to try and find the Docks, and warm down on some bouldering. After finding a car park on Kingsley Drive we descended into arguing once again. We started up a northwards-leading fire trail, only to backtrack and walk back to the carpark and then head down to the beach. Nails started walking out the eastern headland, while I politely disagreed and thought the area was around the western headland ("It's f&cking over there in the other direction you morons, you're wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong"). We didn't find the area in the guidebook (because it was over the western headland like I said, just sayin'), but did find a little crag and did some very fun bouldering while the sun set.

In conclusion the weather was shit, we drove around in circles for hours, couldn't find anything and got virtually no climbing done. We didn't even take any decent photos as you can see. But I had a good time. The rhyodacite rock was interesting climbing (and the bouldering was very good) so if you're in Sydney and bloody sick to death of sandstone, the Nelson Bay area could make a good weekend away, especially if you bring say a surfboard.
5:23:52 PM
relatively entertaining. especially about being right ;-)

9:24:35 PM
The climb you have the photos of is Flash your Lips (grade 20). The short slab was probably Bearded Clam (18) if it faced into the zawn and started from a ledge half way up with an overhung start.
Amazed it was dry in there with the amount of rain we have had. The old guide has about 7 routes, there are over 50 now, though only about half are worth doing.
Its not that hard to find that place. You should try navigating around Buladelah!

10:16:34 PM
sbm wrote;
>With a grand total of three routes under our belts for two day's worth of driving

Less total than a ropelength too by the look of it!*
Nevertheless a good read, and I like your easy-going attitude as well as writing style!

(*Not a critcism, as there are plenty of poxy but fun, short cliffs in my area too!)

12:16:34 PM
On 14/12/2011 vwills wrote:
>The climb you have the photos of is Flash your Lips (grade 20). The short
>slab was probably Bearded Clam (18) if it faced into the zawn and started
>from a ledge half way up with an overhung start.
>Amazed it was dry in there with the amount of rain we have had. The old
>guide has about 7 routes, there are over 50 now, though only about half
>are worth doing.
>Its not that hard to find that place. You should try navigating around

I think we decided the warm-up was Lobster Claw and the other two were Flash Your Lips and Orgasm Donor. It was a bit seepy but not too bad, the routes in sun were fine. Figured it would dry pretty quickly as a sea cliff. It is a bit of a short chosspile but it was fun just climbing somewhere a bit different.

Yeah, it's really not that hard to find, it was just one of those trips. Didn't help that no-one had actually been climbing anywhere around here before and everyone's internal compasses seemed to be pointing in different directions. Though I dunno why the guide doesn't just tell you to walk around the rocks from the beach, that would have taken all of 10 minutes and been much nicer.

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