Wollangambe Canyon is a (relatively) easy canyon in the Blue Mountains, requiring no abseils and basic navigation skills – bring a lilo and keep an eye out for the exit!
Leaving Sydney around 8:30am, we were parked at the Mt Wilson fire station and on the track down to the Wollangambe River by 10am. The plan was to hike/wade/swim “Wollangambe One” (also known as the Upper Tourist Section), and possibly continue on and complete Wollangambe Two (Lower Tourist Section). This section, compared to Wollangambe Two (or Wollangambe Lower Section) which I do a year later, has longer swimming sections and a little less rock scrambling. But both sections are of similar “difficulty” and both need 6-7 hours including the walk in and out.
** NOTE: This is an “easy” canyon by canyoning standards, and does not require any technical skills. But it’s more challenging and dangerous than bushwalking and conditons can rapidly change. Do not attempt any canyon before or after heavy or sustained rain.
It’s about a 45min walk down (3km) on a narrow but well-defined track; the track forks a few times and we took the left fork each time so we entered the river at the uppermost point that can be access from Mt Wilson (via an established trail!).
The first kilometre or so is easy going, with water depth no more than about a metre. Pleasant wading on a warm summer day! A beautiful tiger snake led the way for a short while and crayfish were frequently spotted, before we reached the “normal” entry point for this section of the canyon (Wollangambe MGA546914).
From here, it got very slow. And very wet. Having ignored the recommendation to wear a wetsuit and bring a lilo, it was very slow and tiring with long swimming sections. About 80% of this section of the canyon is “swimming depth”, with a few rock scrambles and a bit of wading. We reached the end of Section 1 (at MGA560916) around 4pm, exhausted and very cold – the exit here is well marked, with a large arrow marked on the cliff behind a small beach.
In hindsight, a wetsuit was not required (being a fairly warm day – although of course the water was pretty cold) – but a lilo would have made it a much more enjoyable excursion! Having to swim the many deep sections of the Wollangambe River made it a pretty exhausting day. It took us just under five hours to complete the section along the Wollangambe River.
While we only saw two groups along the way, at the exit point there were about 20-25 people, including a number of families and children. All of whom were clearly more sensible than us and had wetsuits, lilos – and waterproof bags that actually kept their possessions dry!
About an hour or do later and we were back at the car; the track up is well marked with one short-but-steep section that requires some care.
|Location||Starts at Mt Wilson fire station (off Bells Line of Road, Blue Mts)|
|Distance||Around 9km. Allow 6-7 hours.|
|Grade||Moderate (with a lilo!). Easy navigation as you’re following the river – but essential you don’t miss the exit.|
|Season/s||Ideal in summer on a warm day. Do not attempt before or after heavy rain or storms.|
|Map||8931-2S Wollangambe (1:25,000)|
|Resources||OzUltimate.com has helpful track notes|