Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
November 2023
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Wet and wild canyoning

As a thank you gift for services rendered, one of my now-graduated PhD students very kindly gave me a voucher to go canyoning in the Cradle Mountain area. The original plan was to do Dove Canyon, but heavy rainfall in the day or so preceding the planned trip meant that the location was changed to Machinery Canyon near Lake Cethana. I didn’t know anything about this area, and was amazed at the shape of the landscape, its geology, and the history of tin and silver mining (indeed, the creek/canyon’s name was changed to reflect the fact that machinery from the mines had been hurled into it). [A note about the photos: some of the photos were taken by the tour guides and some by me, and although my camera was waterproof we were so wet that it was hard to dry the drops off the lens, so there is some blurriness at times.]

The first part of the expedition was to walk down the creek into the canyon proper, scrambling over rocks, taking care with our footing, and being reassured that our wetsuits were actually going to keep us warm in the chilly water.

Prior to the first of six abseils, we launched into a plunge pool (supposedly impersonating Superman).

We had a choice of going down a dry route or a wet route for the first drop, and, because I’d abseiled a few times before, I thought I’d go down the wet way. I was a little nervous about how well the wetsuit boots would grip the wet rocky surface, but they felt quite secure, and I arrived at the bottom quite safely.

Between abseils there were some smaller falls and boulders to negotiate.

The second abseil involved an overhang, which was a bit of fun, and this was followed by a break for lunch.

The third and fourth abseils occurred in quick succession in a bit of the gorge characterised by the precariously positioned boulder suspended between the walls. The first drop was quite wet, while the second went over a large rock that created a tunnel for the creek.

Fortunately the suspended boulder stayed in position.

Just before the fifth abseil there was a nice deep plunge pool with a rocky ledge off to the side about 5m above the surface. I couldn’t quite summon the courage to jump when I first stepped up (I took too long and overthought it), but I came back and took the leap (although I think the photo tells that I am not totally relaxed about the whole idea!).

The fifth abseil was a fairly straightforward ramp but wet, and then we made our way to the sixth and final abseil.

There were some nice little pools above our final drop, as we waited our turn to go over the 30m Petrifying Falls (so named, because the surveyor Henry Hellyer claimed that logs that fell over it turned into stone).

It was a very satisfying end to the journey (although we still had another half-hour walk along the creek to get back to civilisation). Definitely worth doing and a great adrenaline rush (and I might go back and do Dove Canyon another time).

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