Kanangra Walls - Plateau

The First People of the Oberon Plateau, the Gundungurra, knew things we do not. 

The Gundungurra knew the ancient name of the rivers and the falls, they knew how to survive in impossible conditions, and they knew a medicant that, rubbed onto the body, protects it from extreme cold.

"Having previously made a large fire, they all went to sleep on the lee side of it without any article of covering... They appeared to suffer little or no inconvenience from change of weather, for they continued fast asleep during a violent shower of rain that lasted three hours, the thermometer standing at 39 (4 degrees centigrade)." - W Wentworth, 1824

Today, we still use an ancient word to name this place: 'Kanangra'. The word 'Kanangra' is said to be the ancient word for 'beautiful view'. To my own mind, I find this place beyond beauty. Another once described this as the philosopher Kant's 'sublime': the overpowering impact of the uncertainty and magnificence of nature tinged with terror. 

Last time I came here last two days before fire claimed this place. It was full of the menace of smoke and as I descended into the Kanangra Gorge, a terrific wind began, threatening to spin me off into the void. I survived by clinging spreadeagled to the cliff wall, and eventually crawled back to safety, one step at a time during brief lulls in the wind.  

The combined drop of the multitude of the segmented falls of the plateau is about 370m (1200'). After heavy rain, every gully hosts a fall. This week's visit took me along the escarpment above Kanangra Gorge to allow me to catch images of waterfalls around the top of the Gorge and Thurat Spires. I will forever remember that first time I saw the sun rise above the plateau.

The waterfalls of this part of the world run at different clocks. Even a day or so after heavy rain, the top of Kanangra Falls showed a great deal of water (Kanangra has a series of nine falls). There were many other mid-level falls in evidence.


Those that run off the knife edged Thurat Walls run fast and exhaust after a couple of hours. Here is an image of one such fall from a couple of years ago - shortly after a sustained downpour. On that occasion, the top of Kanangra was raging, but the mid level falls had yet to fire up.  This spire fall had already run its course by the time I arrived for this week's shots. 

The trail to the Dance Hall Cave (the Plateau walk starts shortly afterwards) is far more stable than I recall (here is a view back to the track from the plateau).

At the cave itself, I had the pleasure of watching a lyrebird dance (center of the picture, I have included a close-up) - a beautiful echo of the past. I once used the cave as a setting for a short story about a bush wedding - Hanora.


Atop the plateau, the views into the gorge are awe-inspiring - although late afternoon light is needed to capture the majesty of the spires above.



Anonymous said…
The word "Sublime" is so over-used that it has lost all its meaning and charm. Use it in front of me and you can count on a giant eye-roll.
Peter Quinton said…
Dear Anonymous (Eye-roll)

Agreed. I cringe when I hear a football player or a cake being described as sublime. So too, the word 'beautiful' seems to be applied to all things, often without any thought. Despite the imputed meaning of Kanangara, I am not sure I see 'beauty' here. Instead, language fails me, and I find myself without words.
Thanks :)

Popular Posts