The loop bushwalk along Jinki Ridge and back via Dalpura Canyon in Wollemi National Park is not really a “new” hike, but it has gained recent social media fame for its breathtaking scenery. Although by canyoning standards it’s not that impressive (the OZultimate Canyoning site rates it a mere 4/10), Dalpura Canyon is one of the most accessible canyons in the Blue Mountains and is pretty spectacular as a “non-technical” canyon.
Although it’s not a demanding hike – and there’s a good chance you’ll see other people along the route on a weekend – it still requires a level of bushwalking experience to traverse the rugged and remote country. For other non-technical canyons to explore, have a look at A Guide to the Easy Canyons around Sydney
Along Jinki Ridge
I’ve picked up a hot day to explore Dalpura Canyon, and after parking at the exit point on Bells Line of Road, I walk about 0.6km up the road to the start of the bushwalk. I set off down what is initially a wide firetrail.
The trail narrows to more of a bushwalking track as it continues along Jinki Ridge, and there are views over the Grose Valley.
Towards the end of the ridge are the best views: pagados in the foreground, and Thord Head and the cliffs of the Grose Valley in the distance.
From here the track is less obvious, as it descends through the pagodas.
Near the bottom of the pagodas I encounter a couple from Albury, who are in the Blue Mountains for a couple of weeks and making the best of the unseasonally warm weather. We walk together for a while, as the track descends below steep cliffs to Dalpura Creek.
Through Dalpura Canyon
The start of the route along the creek is fairly obvious: there’s a steep drop to the right, and going downstream looks like an abseil is required. On the opposide of Dalpura Creek is a steep cliff. The only way is up the creek…
This section of Dalpura Creek is fairly shallow, as it flows through the cool, fern-filled gully (the temperature is at least ten degrees cooler down here, compared to the ridge above). The water is clean and clear… unfortunately this is not the case further downstream. A old coal mine is located near here, which originally operated as the Hartley Vale No 4 mine from 1956 to 1960, then until 1987 as the Grose Valley Colliery and finally from 1990 to 1997 as the Canyon Colliery. One of two tunnels discharges polluted water into the lower section of Dalpura Creek, which has extremely high levels of zinc.
It’s starting to get very photogenic, as Dalpura Creek passes below some large rock overhangs, and the cliffs on both sides of the creek get taller.
I’m soon at the start of Dalpura Canyon, where the gully narrows to a few metres in width.
This section is incredibly beautiful, with the narrow walls sculpted by water, and almost no light penetrating the canyon from above. The water is mostly a few feet in depth, and occasionally chest-high.
Dalpura Canyon then opens up a little, as the creek passes through a section lined with ferns and moss-covered rocks.
After passing a side-creek, which drops steeply from the left into Dalpura Creek, the creek passes through another set of cathedral-like caverns.
This is (almost) the end of Dalpura Canyon, as the creek emerges into a wide valley, with the track just above the creek.
But the best is yet to come…. after passing underneath two leaning boulders, and following the track across the creek and along an impressively large, curved overhang…
…is the Dalpura Canyon Green Pool, a stunningly beautiful pool inside a long cavern. A waterfall drops into the end of pool, and around the middle of the day the sun’s rays cast an intense glow in the water. Photos don’t really do justice to this incredibly scenic spot.
Back up to Bells Line of Road
The waterfall at the end of the pool is the usual entry point, via an abseil into Dalpura Canyon. There’s an alternate track that bypasses the pool and allows an exit (or entry) on foot. Head back a short distance to the long overhang, and look for a steep track up the eastern side of the creek.
The track continues to follow the creek, past the abseil point at the top of the waterfall, and up a rocky gully. The track is not very obvious here, so you’ll want to have a GPS trail or topo map to ensure you’re going the right way.
The trail is more obvious in some places than others, and it deviates a little from the creek.
Although it seems like the creek has disappeared, the trail ends back into the creek, and there are a few more beautiful, shaded sections which involve more wading, The depth is fairly shallow, except for one deep pool (which was at least chest height) that you avoid with a scramble up to the right.
The last 400m or so ascends a ridge back up to the right, initially through fairly open forest and then through fairly thick bush – but there is a good track the entire way.
The track ends up on a firetrail just below Bells Line of Road, where there is a parking area for a few vehicles (I left my car here). I’d definitely recommend doing the loop anti-clockwise, meaning a much easier and shorter exit from the canyon if it’s a hot day.
Getting to Dalpura Canyon
Both ends of Dalpura Canyon are easy to reach, with a parking area along Bells Line of Road near the start of the trail along Jinki Ridge and the alternate entry/exit ridge at the other end of Dalpura Creek. It’s about 2.7km north of Mt Wilson Road, and a 45min drive from Richmond.
- Dingo Gap – Canyon Colliery
- Michael Keats and Brian Fox, The Upper Grose Valley: Bushwalkers Business. The Grose River and Water Pollution by Dr Ian Wright.