Narrowneck has a dozen or so named passes and also a few less well known. Harmils Ledge and Dunphys Pass are often walked together, one starts where the other ends. Both have logbooks. This trip added another ledge to avoid GlenRaphael Swamp.
Both of these ledges require surefootedness on steep talus and good scrambling ability with a tolerance for exposure. There are options for either an early exit or to return from whence you came.
The route synopsis -
- park at Narrowneck Gate & walk or cycle to the bushfire tower
- continue along firetrail for a further 200m and then head West downhill to the steep and obvious gully
- 20m before the top of the waterfall take the lowest of three ledges to the left
- find the logbook after 50m
- continue along ledge with little exposure
- the end of the ledge is obvious with an easy levelish walk South West to the head
- locate the tape and scramble down 10m to the South East
- continue descending (mostly on the NW) until it’s possible to descend the talus on the East side
- bash mostly NW down to below the cliff line for 500m till the first gully - this is the start of Dunphys Pass
- ascend the gully keeping East and ascent to the chocolate ledge and log book
- continue to grassy gully which is an early exit to the plateau and GlenRaphael Swamp
An exposed continuation -
- ignore the grassy exit and continue along the ledge at the same level
- follow ledge mostly East for 1km past long sections of exposed, loose & steep talus
- eventually reach Breakfast Creek and follow it upstream until the Eastern cliffs break
- ascend to firetrail and return to gate
Aerial view of the whole route. Note that the GPS tends to bounce around when close to cliffs, so some of this route needs to be treated with caution. It’s often impossible to tell which ledge the route is actually on.
This trace shows little of the 7km Narrowneck firetrail walk in. The route is anti-clockwise from the firetower.
After parking at Narrowneck gate follow the firetrail South for 7km to the bushfire tower. Continue a further 200m and then head West downhill to the steep and obvious gully. This marks the Northern entry point of Harmils Ledge.
There’s a big drop at the end of the gully, so 20m before the top of the waterfall take the lowest of three possible ledges to the left. The top one gets tights within 10m, the middle one narrows almost immediately, and the bottom one leads to the logbook after 50m.
The ledge continues easily through light scrub.
Passing some interesting vegetation and roots
And Sprengelia monticola
With only a few narrower ledges, but nothing especially exposed. As can be seen, there is nowhere to tie off a tape or safety, so care is required to get past a few sections.
Some delicate wind eroded rock formations.
The ledge ends abruptly at an obvious nose, level at first followed by a small descent, before leveling again.
There is a handy tape to assist with the first step down. Some may feel safer with a 15m tape right to the bottom.
The scramble looks a little daunting from below, but the chimney has reasonable footholds.
Leaving GlenRaphael Head, continue descending mostly on the NW side of the ridge until it’s possible to descend the tree covered talus on the East side. It is steep, but avoid the temptation to stay high - you may be lucky enough to find a vague pad.
Bash mostly NW down to below the cliff line for a few hundred meters til the base of the cliff is reached, and then continue through pleasant tree ferns.
Ascend the first significant gully keeping East to regain the lost evelation, eventually reach the chocolate ledge that marks the start of Dunphys Pass and after 10m find the log book high on the left.
This section of Dunphys Pass is benign - no exposure or life threatening steps, just pleasant and level chocolate overhangs.
The second gully is the obvious exit to the plateau - grassy, pleasant small creek and visibile unobstructed skyline.
Ignoring this exit up to the Swamp and the fire trail, the ledge can be followed all the way to the Creek and thence Narrowneck fire trail. It has long sections of serious exposure with some committing steps. There are no anchor points and consequently no second chances. Not a trip for the faint hearted, although retracing steps to the closest exit is always an option.
The ledge is spectacular, colourful, narrow and exposed. It starts with wide gentle ledges for much of the distance to the point, with good views to Tarros Ladders, Kanangra Walls and much of the Wild Dogs.
Before becoming steeper and narrower.
And ultimately to this committing step around a blind corner and into the cave with a 6m drop below it, just above a bigger drop.
And shortly afterwards the Creek appears. Walk upstream in the very shallow creek for 100m until the clifflines break and then up the hill to the fire trail.
Cycling or jogging from Narrowneck gate -
600m of ascent
This is a route that has few route-finding and navigational challenges. There is a possible early exit and every section is reversible.
All of your party should be comfortable with exposure and be especially sure footed, particularly when traversing the multitude of extended steep, narrow, loose and life threatening ledges.
A single pole or stout stick is particularly handy to provide a modicum of extra stability on the ledges to test footings.
Proficiency with scrambling is also required. A 15m tape will assist with the descent of GlenRaphael Head, however many exposed sections have no anchors rendering any aid ineffective.
And finally, this is not a Pass to be attempted in wet or windy weather.