Holwell Gorge Falls

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Holwell Gorge Falls

Postby naturelover » Sat 20 May, 2017 1:41 pm

In the recent past, I also did a trip to Holwell Gorge Falls, not far from Exeter. I couldn't believe that I have lived near this area for long, but had never even heard of it until quite recently. We always visit Notley Gorge when we want a quick forest fix, but this gorge is way, way nicer. I am in love. The river was stunning. The falls were not bad. It was also pretty good for fungi, being lush and moist.
Below is a photo taken along the walk. In my blog (natureloverswalks.com) there are more, plus comments on the state of the track that was ruined last floods. It is no longer a route for families and tourists, but most reasonably competent bushwalkers should be able to cope with the occasional cliff scramble, etc. Wear your boots!!
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Re: Holwell Gorge Falls

Postby Son of a Beach » Tue 23 May, 2017 1:33 pm

I'll have to go back there one of these days, but I literally had nightmares for many years after my first, last, and only visit to Holwell Gorge. My family and another family went there for an afternoon stroll when I was about 4 years old. We all got lost and and eventually stumbled on a farm house at about 2:00 in the morning, covered in leaches and thoroughly exhausted.

I still have vivid memories of sitting on the ground on a small hill in the pitch dark, and noticing that the nearby gum trees, silhouetted by the starry sky, were starting to look like menacing evil monsters. I remember climbing over fences and falling into blackberry bushes. I very distinctly remember walking along a gravel road, holding my mum's hand, and she said something like "Don't walk too close to the edge - there may be deep drains there". Not realising that she simply meant the usual storm water drains at the side of the road, my 4yo imagination went into overdrive and concluded that there must be occasional random huge holes in the ground that may have gone all the way to the centre of the earth. I was terrified and kept well away from the edge of the road after that. And if I'd been more aquainted with OH&S, I would have thought the department of roads was very irresponsible for allowing a road to be constructed so close to such drains!

My only good memory of Holwell Gorge is of an impossibly tall cliff with a rather thin waterfall spilling over it. I seem to remember it being grassy, I think. Does this sound right? Do you have any photos of the water fall?

I really should go back one day. Maybe I can track down the kids from the other family that went on that fateful trip and organise a reunion walk.
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Re: Holwell Gorge Falls

Postby naturelover » Tue 23 May, 2017 2:14 pm

Funny how our early childhood experiences can play such a pivotal role in our adult lives. When I was three, and visiting a relative's farm, I got in with the sheep. No one could see me, as I was smaller than a sheep's back. The sheep pressed against me, and I was not strong enough to push them away. My screams for help were muffled by woolly expanses. I could barely breathe in there, and began to panic. Luckily my uncle was up on a tractor - and thus with a better angle on things - and noticed a patch of colour in the mob, and hauled me out. Now I have an unreasonable fear of being trapped in scrub and ending my days irreparably trapped by branches that I'm not strong enough to push away to clear myself.
But, back to the point of Holwell, go visit my blog to see other shots of how beautiful it is. It is not a nightmare-causer, unless fairies and elves give you nightmares. (natureloverswalks.com)
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Re: Holwell Gorge Falls

Postby Son of a Beach » Tue 23 May, 2017 2:20 pm

I can't see any pictures in your Holwell blog post that match my vague memory, but there are some other very nice pics there, nonetheless.

I would recommend against you ever watching the movie, "Black Sheep". I thought it was very entertaining, but I don't think it would be your cup of tea.
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Re: Holwell Gorge Falls

Postby naturelover » Tue 23 May, 2017 6:29 pm

I will avoid it for sure :D :D :lol:
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Re: Holwell Gorge Falls

Postby GerryDuke » Tue 23 May, 2017 9:23 pm

A couple of pics of the falls.

1304-HOLWELL-GORGE-069.jpg
The eastern fall. About 10 or 15 minutes walk from the eastern car park.



HOLWELL-Picture-272.jpg
Upper or western falls - Holwell Gorge


The image of the upper falls was taken in 2003. From memory, the falls are not far from the western car park. The track soon drops down to the river from the start of the track. Head down stream for the gorge walk. Head right back up river for the upper falls. Again, from memory only a few minutes away. Nick, If you were heading upstream in the gorge your parents may have missed to exit before these falls way back when. The northern car park is accessed through farm land.

A beautiful little gorge which basically runs parallel with the road but a kilometre or two north.

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Re: Holwell Gorge Falls

Postby MrWalker » Tue 03 Apr, 2018 8:39 am

Holwell Gorge has signs at each end advising "Experienced Walkers Only". But the track is not closed.

The lowest falls can be reached from the northern car park quite easily by children although there are minor track blockages, but the sign only applies to the section from the lowest fall to the upper car park.
I walked the full length of the track yesterday and there are many trees across the track, resulting in a lot of clambering over, crawling under and detours.
There is one section where you need to detour a few hundred metres along the creek bed, crossing to the far side. So although the walk would be great with a good flow of water, this section would be difficult or impossible with a high flow. If coming from the south (upper end) the track leads you into the creek and you stay there until you find a heap of cairns to let you know you can get back uphill to the main track. These cairns might be washed away in the next flood.

So the track is passable, but difficult, and I agree it is only suitable for reasonably fit experienced bushwalkers. It would be really nice if someone would head along there with a chainsaw before more branches fall on existing falls, forcing more detours. Most of the problems are just thick branches not huge tree trunks.
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Re: Holwell Gorge Falls

Postby billshep2 » Sun 20 Oct, 2019 11:10 am

I have done a few days work and the track is easier and safer now. The narrow ledge has been widened and there are safety ropes. The creek section here is a nicer option unless the water is high. I have amended the time on the sign at the lower falls. It is at least 45 minutes one way to the Upper Falls from the Lower Falls. Nice to meet people walking the route every time I have been in there. A few sections and logs still need to be taken with care.
The creek and forest are a delight in places. Look carefully and you might see wee trout.
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Re: Holwell Gorge Falls

Postby Chris » Mon 21 Oct, 2019 9:52 pm

Thanks Bill that's much appreciated.

With trepidation after reading Naturelover's report, we tackled some of it from both ends last July. Some others who had walked through told us we had done the worst of it. However a few friends did the through walk in September and disputed that assessment, particularly after one of the (shorter) members of the party had a narrow escape from the fate Naturelover feared - sliding down a log into the river. Many thanks to the rescuer.

Now very much looking forward to returning. There is certainly some superb country and vegetation there.
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Re: Holwell Gorge Falls

Postby billshep2 » Tue 22 Oct, 2019 6:11 pm

Thanks Chris, I have finished my Holwell work after 5 solid days. The dodgy logs have either been cut or stepped. I have put ropes on a couple to hang onto. There are still quite a few big logs to go under but this is not dangerous just tiring!
The two sections where there are short detours along the creek have high level routes for when the river is high. Some sections are still a delight with a good mossy path. I have kept flagging tape to a minimum ,on the detours only, now that the track is well defined.
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Re: Holwell Gorge Falls

Postby billshep2 » Sun 27 Oct, 2019 9:35 pm

I took my wife on the through walk south to north today using e bike as a shuttle between the carparks. We took 1 hour 45 mins visiting all the falls and short lunch break. She thought it was fine for experienced walkers. One or two logs at northern end need more work, otherwise all well.
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Re: Holwell Gorge Falls

Postby billshep2 » Tue 29 Oct, 2019 6:13 pm

I have fixed the remaining log hazards at the northern end and clipped back overhanging vegetation. The track is now suitable for most capable walkers although it still needs care in a few places
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Re: Holwell Gorge Falls

Postby Chris » Tue 29 Oct, 2019 10:00 pm

On my list for the holidays Bill, and I'm sure the walker who nearly ended up in the river last time will be happy to come.
Thanks again for your great work.
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Re: Holwell Gorge Falls

Postby slparker » Thu 31 Oct, 2019 9:15 am

Just down the road from my sister-in law's and I usually visit every couple of years - thanks for your work Bill.
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Re: Holwell Gorge Falls

Postby billshep2 » Fri 08 Nov, 2019 10:23 pm

Fixed the big log at the foot of the side track to the Upper Falls, and cleared some flood logs below the Falls so that you can sit and gaze up serenely. Tried to drain a wet patch on this track. The track from Kerrison's end to the Upper Falls has all been raked, and should be a pleasure to walk until the next stuff falls down. One short steep section is landslide damaged but ok if taken with care. Made a few steps in the dirt. Lots of orchids, caladenia, bird orchids and the odd greenhood.
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Re: Holwell Gorge Falls

Postby MrWalker » Tue 12 Nov, 2019 7:50 am

billshep2 wrote:Fixed the big log at the foot of the side track to the Upper Falls, and cleared some flood logs below the Falls so that you can sit and gaze up serenely. Tried to drain a wet patch on this track. The track from Kerrison's end to the Upper Falls has all been raked, and should be a pleasure to walk until the next stuff falls down. One short steep section is landslide damaged but ok if taken with care. Made a few steps in the dirt. Lots of orchids, caladenia, bird orchids and the odd greenhood.

Thanks Bill, the track is in great condition compared to last time we went through. The clearing work is amazing.

Clearing the logs below Upper Falls made it much easier to see the falls without scrambling over the log heap. Thanks for that. However, my wife was unable to get down the landslip section (bad hip and one bad arm, so steep slopes are a problem in either direction). So she went back to the car and drove to the bottom end, getting to the lower fall about the same time as I did walking along the gorge.

We found five varieties of orchids, but if that is all people want then most of them are within 200m of the ends of the track, so you don't have to go the full length of the gorge.
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Re: Holwell Gorge Falls

Postby billshep2 » Tue 12 Nov, 2019 9:39 am

That is so good that you enjoyed the walk. I might fix the landslip section with boards and star pickets as has been done elsewhere along the track when it was first built.
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