Ongoing closure of Wollangambe One

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T2
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Ongoing closure of Wollangambe One

Post by T2 » 04 Jul 2021, 17:56

I thought I'd provide an update on the closure of Wollangambe One, which was put in place following the tragic drowning of two women in January (details of that accident here: viewtopic.php?f=14&t=812).

Given the popularity of the Wollangambe River and the fact that many people who visit the tourist section have very limited skills, NPWS is taking a much more active approach to managing the hydraulic feature. Following the accident at the start of the year, they undertook a formal risk assessment. This process identified some potential steps to address the hazard.

The whirlpool actually flows into a large, underground chamber. This is where the two women became trapped. The plan is to drop rocks into this chamber in an attempt to plug the hole and stop the whirlpool from forming at higher water flows. In recent weeks, helicopter operations flew the materials needed into the river (they are using natural materials, but there weren't suitable rocks nearby that could be easily moved). The process of placing them in the hole will take place later this month. They are hopeful this will work, but are being cautious as they haven't done something similar before.

Once this work is finished, they will need to wait for a couple reasonable rain events to monitor the hydraulic feature, and confirm the rectification work has been effective. This will likely involve physical inspections and possibly monitoring with cameras. If those examinations find the hazard is still there at higher water levels, they will need to come up with another potential solution before this section of the Wollangambe can reopen.

If all goes to plan, we may see Wollangambe One reopen in Spring, but don't be surprised if it takes longer (especially if we don't get many significant rain events during winter).

On a side note, NPWS have also employed a contractor to undertake upgrade works on the Wollangambe tracks (particularly the entry / exit to Wollangambe One). This is mostly in response to bushfire impacts, but it will also involve re-routing some sections of track to address erosion issues. That trackwork is also commencing this month, so should be finished ahead of the canyon reopening.

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T2
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Re: Ongoing closure of Wollangambe One

Post by T2 » 01 Oct 2021, 11:29

Exciting news for those hoping to float down the 'Gambe this summer.

National Parks have confirmed that the rectification work on the hydraulic feature has been completed and appears to have been successful. This is good news as the option chosen, to fill the hole with natural materials (rocks), was much lower impact than some of the alternatives.

They are planning to announce the reopening of Wollangambe One within the next week or so, ready for the easing of Covid restrictions.

Upgrade work on the Wollangambe entry and exit tracks are also ongoing. This should be completed in a few more weeks, but doesn't involve closing access.

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T2
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Re: Ongoing closure of Wollangambe One

Post by T2 » 06 Oct 2021, 13:35

And it's official. National Parks have updated the alerts page for Blue Mountains National Park, confirming Wollangambe One is no longer closed (although it can only be accessed by Blue Mountains locals until Monday, when Covid restrictions begin easing).

If you're planning a trip this summer, have a read of the new signage (see photos below) installed by Mt Wilson Mt Irvine RFS. They undertake a lot rescues in the Wollangambe -- most weekends during summer -- and most of them could be avoided with proper preparation and planning.

The signs contain some great advice for anyone planning a trip, even for experienced groups, about the kind of things you should be prepared for and take with you.

Simple things like a dry set of clothes and matches can make a big difference if your group needs to stay in the canyon overnight.

By being properly prepared, we help free up rescue resources to respond to genuine life-and-death emergencies.

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User avatar
T2
Site Admin
Posts: 363
Joined: 15 May 2018, 10:33
Full name: Tim Vollmer
City: Blaxland
State: New South Wales

Re: Ongoing closure of Wollangambe One

Post by T2 » 07 Oct 2021, 10:46

To make it easier for people to read, attached is a PDF file of all the signage Mt Wilson Mt Irvine RFS have installed:
Canyon Warning Signs.pdf
(3.62 MiB) Downloaded 8 times
Below is the text of the signs, which will hopefully make it easier for people to find when searching online.
A MESSAGE TO CANYONERS FROM THE MT WILSON MT IRVINE RURAL FIRE BRIGADE

WALK WARNING

THE LOCAL RFS WOULD LOVE TO MEET YOU, JUST NOT TONIGHT IN A CANYON, SO PLEASE READ THE INFORMATION BELOW AND IF YOU ARE NOT PROPERLY EQUIPPED TO CANYON SAFELY, PLEASE DO NOT PROCEED PAST THIS SIGN

Canyoning is a strenuous day. Getting to and from the canyon requires a descent and ascent of over 300m on a track that is steep and rocky in places. The entry/exit tracks require an exposed climb on tree roots.

The canyon involves many long, cold swims, for which lilos and wetsuits are recommended, and there is a significant amount of climbing up, down, and around house-sized boulders.

The exits may be hard to identify and can easily be missed.

Parties need to ensure that all members are capable and know what the day entails.


LENGTH OF TRIP

WE WANT YOU TO GET HOME SAFELY AFTER YOUR CANYONING TRIP. CANYONING CAN BE DANGEROUS AND WE HAVE HELPED IN A NUMBER OF RESCUES OVER THE YEARS. WE WILL BE THERE TO HELP BUT PLEASE TAKE THE NECESSARY PRECAUTIONS SO THAT YOU CAN COMPLETE YOUR TRIP SAFELY.

It is a full day activity. Expect to take 6 to 8 hours:- up to 10 hours for bigger or slower groups.

Make sure you are prepared to spend a night in the canyon, to stay with an injured party member or due to running out of daylight.

Make sure those at home have a realistic time of return and are prepared for the group to be out overnight without unnecessarily calling in emergency services.

There is only patchy mobile coverage once you leave here and no coverage in the canyons.

Know what track you are on and what canyon you are doing.

It can take 3 to 4 hours for rescue parties to reach injured people.


GEAR REQUIRED

CANYONING CAN BE DANGEROUS. IT IS EASY TO GET INTO TROUBLE. WE ARE THERE TO HELP BUT WOULD MUCH PREFER THAT YOU ARE FULLY AWARE OF THE DANGERS AND TAKE THE NECESSARY PRECAUTIONS. LET’S NOT MEET BY ACCIDENT.
  • Carry a PLB to give location if injured or lost. Please only set off if genuine injury or life at risk.
  • Map and compass, plus be able to navigate in and out of the canyon. Do not rely on mobile phones for maps as they are of no use when flat or wet.
  • Gear needs to be waterproofed in dry bags or a number of sealed garbage bags.
  • Head torch, first aid kit and matches.
  • Lilo, plus wet-suit or thermals for in the water.
  • Warm dry clothing (thermals and woolen jumper or fleece).
  • Suitable footwear for both walk in and walking in the water/canyon (good grip)

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