A couple of days ago, I cycled up Barron Gorge Road to check out the three little “climbing” crags that are supposed to be found up near the power station. Two were an abject disappointment – not unexpected – and one, the most famous of all, Macka's Bluff, I failed to locate. While I did not have high hopes of Macka's Bluff, I felt compelled to go back and see if I could find the Cairns crag where all the hardmen (and women) hang out. I should have been forewarned by the route names of two of the three routes on Macka's Bluff . Neither “Loose as a Goose,” nor “Slippery When Wet” are auspicious names for rock climbs.
It was another Stronglifts day so I had to recover from that first, and, by the time I got on my bike, it was hot, sticky and sunny. I didn't really feel like riding back up Barron Gorge Road and pushing my luck with psychotic-sugar deranged Australian drivers, but at least I could have a good swim in the Barron River before I came home.
I cycled past the same workmen not-working on the same weir over the river and happily thought that this would be the last time I would have to ride past them. A couple of them look like like they have done hard time and are only just managing to stay outside the pen. In these situations I'm never sure whether it is best to make eye-contact or keep your head down. I went with keeping my head down.
Looking up at Macka's Bluff
Up near the power station a big fence protects the road against rock fall and this marks the top of Macka's Bluff. I knew I was in the right place as the top of the rock had been asphalted to make a smooth track for abseiling ropes. I could not find an easy way down to the bottom of the “crag” from this location and I couldn't see anything from the top so I rode up to the power station and took an old road that goes down to the river and then rock-hopped downstream to the base of the bluff.
It's not at all clear to me how there are any routes on this broken vegetated pile of choss, or why it is (or was) thrilling to abseil down it. The best thing about Macka's Bluff is undoubtedly the water hole at the bottom where I had a swim.
Swimming hole at the bottom of Macka's Bluff