One of the easier Wollemi canyons, Deep Pass is a fun adventure where you can (with care) keep your feet dry – or enjoy a few water jumps and slides. As one of the access roads is closed for maintenance, I’m starting the loop at the Deep Pass South trailhead. The trail descends, sometimes steeply, into a fern-filled gully.
I’m just at the right time for an impressive display of waratahs along the trail.
Above the trail are some enormous overhangs; a path leads up to the base of the cliffs and provides access to to the long shelter.
At the bottom of the gully is the Deep Pass campsite, a large, grassy area surrounded by tall trees. There are a few people camping here, but it’s surprisingly quiet for a warm and sunny weekend.
A path continues to the west, crossing Nayook Creek before reaching a junction. I turn left to take the narrow track that follows the creek upstream.
The valley soon starts to narrow and fill with ferns, as the trail passes a deep shelter…
…then enters the creek and the start of Deep Pass canyon.
A deep and beautiful pool is the first obstacle along Deep Pass canyon; it’s a nice spot for a swim, but the water is chilly and the temperature has dropped a few degrees in the narrow canyon.
A route on the right of the pool aided by a fixed rope provides access up the creek.
The next pool is even more spectacular, with a waterfall dropping into the turquoise water. Braving the cold water, I jump in for a (quick) swim.
As with the lowermost pool, another fixed rope marks the route to the right of the waterfall.
Continuing up the canyon, therwe are a few more pools but it’s fairly easy walking along the creek.
Next is a very narrow and picturesque section of Deep Pass canyon; while the water is deep and the walls vertical, some logs have been secured with ropes so you can swim – or shuffle along the elevated walkway.
The canyon opens up a little, with a section of ferns.
Nayook Creek flows through a low cave, which form a shallow pool below a small cascade.
It’s another very picturesque section of Deep Pass!
There’s an easy scramble up the rocks next to the cascade, before the route continues under the tall canyon walls.
A small waterfall into a deep pool is bypassed via a small climb on the left, with the help of a rope.
The canyon now opens up a little; one of the features of Deep Pass is that it alternates between dark and narrow sections, and more open fern-filled sections.
The last, deep pool along Deep Pass should involve a short swim… but a complicated arrangement of ropes and logs means you can skirt around the edge of the pool and up the small cascade at the far end without getting wet feet.
There’s a nice section filled with ferns and a couple of low overhangs, as the canyon starts to widen.
The exit from Deep Pass is via a rough track that heads up towards the ridge to the north, past a low cliff line.
A short detour along the base of the cliffs leads to an informal vantage point over the end of Deep Pass.
The Deep Pass exit (or entrance) trail passes through a gap in the cliffs to reach the top of the ridge.
The trail now levels out as follows the ridge – passing a few more flowering waratahs.
The trail reaches the Deep Pass North trailhead – and yes, while this firetrail was officially closed to traffic, someone managed to get around the gates! Starting here would make the Deep Pass loop a bit shorter.
To complete the loop, I still need to get back to the Deep Pass South carpark… the route starts as a wide firetrail, before turning into a more pleasant walking track.
Once back at the Deep Pass Campground, I head down Nayook Creek a short distance to explore the cliffs and slots to the east of the campground.
It’s then back up and out of the valley to the car – a steep but relatively short ascent.
Getting to Deep Pass
It’s about three hours from Sydney to Deep Pass, which is accessed via Bells Line of Road. Turn onto the Old Bells Line of Road at Clarence (next to the Zig Zag Railway) and after about 9km turn right onto Glow Worm Tunnel Road. Follow this for just over 11km to the junction with Eastern Boundary Road. After 600m you can turn left to reach the Deep Pass North trailhead (-33.340198, 150.300012) or continue straight ahead for the Deep Pass South parking area (-33.347420, 150.306840).
Once you leave Bells Line of Road the route is all unsealed, there is a maze of trails through this area – so take a topo map or have an off-line map on your phone. Both trailheads should be accessible by 2WD vehicles, although the road condition can vary depending on when the trail was graded.