I just loved being here! I was so grateful to the team that accompanied me and made it possible:
Cris Brazzelli, Louise Weaver, Kier Gillam, Glenda Pickersgill, Steve Burgess, David Stehbens.
Cris, Kier and Louise climbed Caves Route on Mt Tibrogargan with me, in preparing me for the necessary climbing.
Glenda and Steve had led the environmental battle to protect this river system from the construction of a large dam that would have devastated the aquatic ecosystem of the valley.
David had accompanied me when he was only 9 years old in an exploration of the valley below the falls (24kms of hiking in a single day - not bad for a 9 year old). We had set out hoping to reach the falls but couldn't so when he was standing here, he remarked, "I've waited 30 years for this!", then after a moment's reflection added, "And Dad has waited 60." And it was David who flew the light plane into this gorge that enabled us to realize what was there, and enabled us to plan our approach. Together he and I had seen the lower section, Stehbens Chute and Owen Cascades, from the steep slopes of Black Gully Pocket, 4 months earlier. To achieve even that, we had crawled beneath dense lantana scrub for 300m just to get into one of the side valleys.
And while I am at it, I should acknowledge Winn Stehbens and Valerie McLean who catered for the team at the beginning and end of that special day.
The owners of Old Yabba Station, Annette and Marshall Cooke, granted us permission to access the gorge through their property. Owen Bassingthwaighte was my advisor on a possible access route into the gorge, for in his youth whilst living on Yabba Station he and a mate had descended into the gorge and seen all sections of the falls. And I must also acknowledge a regional aboriginal elder who gave us permission and wise cautionary advice.
I will always be grateful to my grandparents, Bob and Kate Stehbens, who shared their knowledge of the Falls with me, that became for me special oral tradition. And those who accompanied me on earlier occasions (1963, 1972, 1973) to see and photograph the Falls from the rim of the gorge: my school buddy Noel Bundy, my Dad, Robert Stehbens and my wife, Margaret Stehbens.