Two people feared drowned in blue mtns canyon

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Two people feared drowned in blue mtns canyon

Postby wildwanderer » Sun 03 Jan, 2021 6:55 am

Search underway. Two women got caught in surging water and haven't been seen since. :(

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/two ... 56rcr.html
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Re: Two people feared drowned in blue mtns canyon

Postby FatCanyoner » Sun 03 Jan, 2021 8:03 am

Not looking good. Police divers being brought in today.

From what I've heard the group was from a well known and regarded bushwalking club, so there may be some people on the forum who know them.

A tragic reminder of the dangers of canyoning, particularly with all the recent rain.
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Re: Two people feared drowned in blue mtns canyon

Postby Ms_Mudd » Sun 03 Jan, 2021 12:07 pm

I just read that the two women's bodies have been recovered.

How very sad.
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Re: Two people feared drowned in blue mtns canyon

Postby wildwanderer » Sun 03 Jan, 2021 12:44 pm

Rest in Peace. Terrible outcome.

ABC is reporting they were part of a 10 person guided tour aka a commercial trip. Although I also heard (as fat canyoner mentioned) there was or was planned to be a club trip in the area.

According to the reporting they were on lilos and the first person was sucked into a whirlpool, the 2nd person (a off duty police officer) tried to save the first but was also caught by the whirlpool and couldn't escape.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-03/ ... s/13028364
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Re: Two people feared drowned in blue mtns canyon

Postby yellowdog » Sun 03 Jan, 2021 2:35 pm

Sadly it wasn't a "guided tour" or commercial trip but was a bushwalking club activity and the membership has been advised. I'll let the club make the information public in due course.
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Re: Two people feared drowned in blue mtns canyon

Postby FatCanyoner » Sun 03 Jan, 2021 5:29 pm

Yes, the "guided tour" references in the media are completely wrong, as are some of the other details apparently. Journalists with no understanding of canyoning or the outdoors are trying to piece together stories based on very limited details. You need to consume them with a healthy scepticism. I say this as an ex journo who understands exactly how it all works.
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Re: Two people feared drowned in blue mtns canyon

Postby Wollemi » Tue 05 Jan, 2021 3:33 pm

"Despite some rain, the water levels were not unusually high, maybe slightly above normal. It wasn't running dirty and the rest of the canyon was normal."

https://www.bluemountainsgazette.com.au ... CMUs7RHQiQ
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Re: Two people feared drowned in blue mtns canyon

Postby ribuck » Tue 05 Jan, 2021 7:19 pm

The video of the whirlpool in your link is really interesting, Wollemi. At first glance it looks quite minor, yet if someone was in it they could be "sucked" down and jammed into the constriction below. A tragedy, and perhaps not an obvious danger at the time.

It seems to me that this whirlpool could be "fixed" by dropping a big boulder into it, which would disperse the flow into several smaller flows.


[edit: Just because I wrote that it could be "fixed", doesn't mean I think it should be "fixed". And my use of quote marks was meant to show that "fixed" isn't how I think of it. See my subsequent post for clarification. Sorry for any confusion.]
Last edited by ribuck on Wed 06 Jan, 2021 8:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Two people feared drowned in blue mtns canyon

Postby Wollemi » Tue 05 Jan, 2021 7:43 pm

ribuck wrote:It seems to me that this whirlpool could be "fixed" by dropping a big boulder into it, which would disperse the flow into several smaller flows.


It will be interesting to see what will be done as 'Wollangambe 1' is a big income source of Katoomba Street Adventure Companies. Plus it is one of the few non-abseiling canyons, hence it's enormous popularity by many other clubs and families for the next three months - now curtailed.

A bloke I did a little WW kayaking with some years ago got trapped across rocks on the upper Murray River, and chose to/had to swim down and through a submerged gap between rocks to save himself - it occurs to me he would have had to take his life-jacket off to do that.
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Re: Two people feared drowned in blue mtns canyon

Postby mandragara » Tue 05 Jan, 2021 8:51 pm

Hi all,

Here is a video I shot of the structure that produced the deadly whirlpool, recorded on the 1st of March 2020 in regular conditions.

EDIT: New link: https://youtu.be/exD8QRWtPp8

I think a boulder could easily plug it.
Last edited by mandragara on Wed 06 Jan, 2021 7:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Two people feared drowned in blue mtns canyon

Postby Warin » Tue 05 Jan, 2021 9:31 pm

It would be respectful not to publicly discuss this.

Please take it to PM.
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Re: Two people feared drowned in blue mtns canyon

Postby mandragara » Tue 05 Jan, 2021 10:25 pm

Warin wrote:It would be respectful not to publicly discuss this.

Please take it to PM.


It's already all over the news and social media.

I think discussion is OK, just not criticism.

If I died in the bush I wouldn't mind people trying to learn from my misfortune.

This accident reinforces the importance of vigilance, especially in dangerous\remote places that we are familiar with.
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Re: Two people feared drowned in blue mtns canyon

Postby ribuck » Tue 05 Jan, 2021 10:56 pm

Warin wrote:It would be respectful not to publicly discuss this.

I don't think any of the discussion here has been disrespectful.

Bushwalking has dangers, and discussion of accidents helps us to understand the nature and degree of the risks.
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Re: Two people feared drowned in blue mtns canyon

Postby puredingo » Wed 06 Jan, 2021 7:02 am

ribuck wrote:The video of the whirlpool in your link is really interesting, Wollemi. At first glance it looks quite minor, yet if someone was in it they could be "sucked" down and jammed into the constriction below. A tragedy, and perhaps not an obvious danger at the time.

It seems to me that this whirlpool could be "fixed" by dropping a big boulder into it, which would disperse the flow into several smaller flows.



I do not agree with this one bit, ribuck and from the posts you have submitted over the years I’m surprised you would consider this a feasible option?

To me this just another step in environmental vandalism to handle the general population in kit gloves rather than enforce the promotion of common sense and safety first ideal.

Tragities will always occur in most adventurous lifestyle choices but altering the landscape to lesson the risk of bad luck choices only detracts for others and future generations who will be robbed of the opportunity to witness places in their natural creation.
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Re: Two people feared drowned in blue mtns canyon

Postby Walk_fat boy_walk » Wed 06 Jan, 2021 7:26 am

puredingo wrote:
ribuck wrote:The video of the whirlpool in your link is really interesting, Wollemi. At first glance it looks quite minor, yet if someone was in it they could be "sucked" down and jammed into the constriction below. A tragedy, and perhaps not an obvious danger at the time.

It seems to me that this whirlpool could be "fixed" by dropping a big boulder into it, which would disperse the flow into several smaller flows.



I do not agree with this one bit, ribuck and from the posts you have submitted over the years I’m surprised you would consider this a feasible option?

To me this just another step in environmental vandalism to handle the general population in kit gloves rather than enforce the promotion of common sense and safety first ideal.

Tragities will always occur in most adventurous lifestyle choices but altering the landscape to lesson the risk of bad luck choices only detracts for others and future generations who will be robbed of the opportunity to witness places in their natural creation.

Yeh I tend to agree, would be akin to building rock walls at the top of cliffs to minimise falling hazards, but at the same time I understand why the idea would be floated (being a bit of a tourist spot and all). The incident is just very sad and a reminder that the places we frequent are wild. Hope the families, colleagues and friends of those concerned are doing OK. I personally think we can, and in fact should, talk about these incidents in an outdoors forum though (without levelling criticism as someone else said).
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Re: Two people feared drowned in blue mtns canyon

Postby wildwanderer » Wed 06 Jan, 2021 7:42 am

Seems the you tube video has now been taken down. Which is a shame.

This is a forum and respectful discussion on outdoor topics is what this place is all about.

mandragara if you have a private youtube link you would be comfortable to share via PM I'd would be grateful to receive it.

Re engineering for safety.

I don't have a problem with a limited intervention to keep a location open especially if that intervention is using natural materials and would be unnoticeable from any other part of the waterway.

I do dislike many of the over engineered safety fences etc that seem to be cropping up in more popular areas of the bush. However considering the foot traffic (grand canyon a good example) I can see why it's done.

Most people seem ok with it when npws clear rockfalls to reopen a trail so I'm not sure what the big difference is in this scenario.
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Re: Two people feared drowned in blue mtns canyon

Postby ribuck » Wed 06 Jan, 2021 8:07 am

puredingo wrote:
ribuck wrote:It seems to me that this whirlpool could be "fixed" by dropping a big boulder into it, which would disperse the flow into several smaller flows.
do not agree with this one bit, ribuck and from the posts you have submitted over the years I’m surprised you would consider this

I absolutely agree with you, puredingo. I do not support "improvement" of wild places, whether it's by means of rockwork, trackwork, signage, etc. I consider those "improvements" to be environmental vandalism. Nature does not need to be "fixed".

Nor do I support closure of wild places by the authorities. NPWS has closed the Wollangambe until further notice. So the question now is: which would be the lesser of two evils? Closure of access to the Wollangambe, or letting them "fix" it somehow?
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Re: Two people feared drowned in blue mtns canyon

Postby mandragara » Wed 06 Jan, 2021 7:39 pm

wildwanderer wrote:Seems the you tube video has now been taken down. Which is a shame.
mandragara if you have a private youtube link you would be comfortable to share via PM I'd would be grateful to receive it.


New link here: https://youtu.be/exD8QRWtPp8

I edited out the old audio as I made a comment in the video that wasn't respectful to leave in now an accident has occured there. Hence new video.

I think that if a modification can be made to the river to plug the hole, while looking completely natural (e.g. plugging it with a nearby boulder), I would be in favour of it. While it is a wilderness area it is also an area frequented by the highly inexperienced, even families with an entourage of small children. I think in light of this we can slightly compromise, in the same way that we permit the odd cairn in wilderness areas.
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Re: Two people feared drowned in blue mtns canyon

Postby FatCanyoner » Thu 07 Jan, 2021 12:23 pm

For those interested in a more detailed examination of where this occurred, the hydraulic feature involved, etc, I've written up something here: https://canyoning.org.au/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=812&p=1417#p1417

There has been some good discussion on social media among canyoners that has outlined more of the details. I have also included photos and videos of the syphon responsible for these deaths, shown at low water early in 2020, and the day after the accident. It looks incredibly innocuous -- possibly even more so on the day after the accident -- and most people would not have even noticed it.
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Re: Two people feared drowned in blue mtns canyon

Postby GregG » Thu 07 Jan, 2021 1:12 pm

Well done FC, a good analysis.
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