A good alternative to a traditional bushwalk on a hot day, all of the “non technical” canyons below can be done without any abseiling gear, although for a couple of them a short length of tape or rope can help navigate the trickier scrambles. While the canyons are “easy” in that they don’t require any special skills or equipment, most have no marked route and should still be treated with caution and respect. Make sure you know the exit points, and have the navigation skills to get to and from the canyons.
Blue Mountains National Park canyons
The Blue Mountains National Park offers a range of canyons, mostly in the Mount Wilson area, including the Wollangambe Canyon which has three non-technical sections. It also has the easiest (and most popular) canyon around Sydney – the signposted track through the Grand Canyon! Many of these canyons are relatively easy to get to from Sydney.
|Birrabang Canyon||6km loop||Moderate||Nice creek & canyon; some wading required||Map|
|Jungaburra Canyon||6km return||Moderate/Hard||Nice creek; has one 4m drop than can be avoided|
|Grand Canyon||6.5km loop||Easy||Easy walk through rainforest-filled canyon||Map|
|Hat Hill Canyon||8km loop||Moderate/Hard||Beautiful canyon; some scrambling & deep sections|
|Fortress Creek Canyon||9km return||Moderate/Hard||Explore the bottom of Fortress Canyon from Fortress Falls||Map|
|Wollangambe One||9km loop||Moderate/Hard||Swimming & scrambling through beautiful canyons||Map|
|Bell Creek Canyon||11km loop||Hard||Beautiful canyon; a long swim & tape-assisted drops|
|Wollangambe Two||12km loop||Moderate/Hard||Some long swims along beautiful sections of canyon||Map|
|Clatterteeth Canyon||12km loop||Hard||Creek walking & canyons, with some long swims|
|Crayfish Creek Canyon||12km loop||Moderate/Hard||Challenging canyon off Burramoko Ridge one waist-deep section|
|Upper Wollangambe Canyon||18km loop||Hard||The hardest non-technical section of this canyon|
There is a technical route down the Grand Canyon, with one 17m abseil… or you can keep your feet dry by following the signposted Grand Canyon Track between Evans Lookout and Neates Glen. The trail passes waterfalls, ferns and spectacular views – but it’s one of the most popular bushwalks in the Blue Mountains National Park, so start early or avoid weekends.
Distance: 6.5km (3-4 hours)
Grade: Easy. Steep descent / ascent but all on-track
Undertaking Fortress Canyon requires one abseil… but you can explore the bottom of the canyon from the spectacular Fortress Creek Falls, as well as enjoying a swim in Fortress Creek before it plunges over the cliff. There are some deep sections of water in the narrow canyon, just above the Fortress Creek Falls.
Distance: 9km (3-4 hours)
Grade: Moderate/Hard. Steep descent / ascent down to falls along rough track
One of the two “tourist” (non-technical) sections of the Wollangambe River, this route passes though numerous canyons requiring swimming and a fair bit of scrambling over and around boulder. Bring a lilo (and a wetsuit unless it’s a really hot day!)
Distance: 9km (5-8 hours. Allow full day.)
A non-technical section of the Wollangambe River, Wollangabe Two (or the Lower Sections) involes numerous sections with long swim, interspersed with some scrambling. There’s a fairly steep into and out of the canyon. A lilo is essential, and a wetsuit recommended. Access is from opposite the Cathedral Reserve Camping Ground in Mount Wilson.
Distance: 12-13km (5-8 hours. Allow full day.)
Wollemi National Park canyons
The Wollemi National Park has some of the most spectacular non-technical canyons around Sydney – as well as some of the most challenging technical canyons which you can do as guided tour with companies like the Blue Mountains Adventure Company.
|Twister Canyon||2km return||Hard||Tributary of Rocky Creek; requires some water jumps & a short climb||Map|
|Rocky Creek Canyon||3km return||Hard||Long & spectacular canyon; some scrambles & swims||Map|
|Dargans Creek Canyon||3km loop||Moderate||Short but picturesque canyon with narrow slots||Map|
|River Caves Canyon||3.1km loop||Easy/Moderate||Short but spectacular canyon with some shallow water sections||Map|
|Wolgan View Canyon||3.2km return||Easy||aka Dry Canyon; reached via short bushwalk off Glow Worm Tunnel Rd||Map|
|Dalpura Canyon||4.5km loop||Easy||Narrow canyon with a few waist-deep sections||Map|
|Deep Pass Canyon||6km loop||Moderate||Beautiful canyon; some deep sections can be avoided using fixed ropes||Map|
This is a relatively easy, and quite spectacular canyon off the Bells Line of Road in Wollemi National Park. After some sweeping views from Jinki Ridge, the track drops down to Dalpura Creek. The canyon gets increasingly narrow as you continue along the creek, ending at the beautiful Dalpura Canyon Green Pool, where a waterfall drops into the end of a long cavern.
Distance: 4.5km (2-3 hours)
This picturesque canyon can be done in either direction, as a loop walk. It passes a couple of deep swimming holes, some beautiful cascades and a few narrow slots. You can – with care – keep your feet dry by taking advantage of some fixed ropes, or if it’s warm day jump and slide into the pools if you’re going down the canyon.
Distance: 6km (3-4 hours)
Kanangra-Boyd National Park canyons
The canyons in the Kanangra-Boyd National Park are generally more remote and require two or more days, as well as abseiling gear. There are multiple routes down to the Kowmung River, best done as overnight or multi-day bushwalks, and a great view of some deep canyons via relatively short walks from the main Kanagra Walls carpark (Kanangra Falls and Kalang Falls). The distance of Kanangra Walls from Sydney means that even the short bushwalks are best done as part of two day (or longer) trip.
|Bulga Denis Canyon||27km||Moderate/Hard||Passes section of the Kowmung through Bulga Denis canyon|
Mugii Murum-ban SCA (MMb) & Gardens of Stone (GoS) canyons
The Mugii Murum-ban State Conservation Area and Gardens of Stone National Park are west of Sydney, past Lithgow (which is the nearest major town). Bushwalks here mean a fairly long – but doable – day trip from Sydney. The area is renowned for its rock pagodas, sandstone cliffs and canyons, so many of the routes through the two parks will traverse narrow valleys and slot canyons.
|Valley of the Dinosaurs||4-8km loop||Moderate||Narrow & deep canyon filled with ferns||Map|
|Valley of the Kings||5-9km return||Moderate/Hard||A deep gorge with waterfalls at southern end|
Valley of the Dinosaurs (and Ultimate Slot)
Named for it’s prehistoric appearance from above (it was formerly called Hidden Valley), the Valley of the Dinosaurs is a narrow and deep canyon, filled with huge tree ferns. It can be accessed via off-track routes at both ends. Nearby, the incredibly narrow & tall Ultimate Slot is also worth a visit.
Distance: 4-8km (3-6 hours). Varies depending on route & start point.
Bungonia National Park canyons
There are a few technical canyons in Bungonia National Park, which is a couple of hours south-west of Sydney (via the Hume Highway): the park contains over 200 caves and numerous gorges and canyons. The spectacular Bungonia Gorge can be done as a (non-technical) bushwalk over one long day or overnight.
|Bungonia Gorge Circuit||10km loop||Moderate/Hard||Steep descent/ascent to slot canyon||Map|
You can do this as a day-trip, or camp along the Shoalhaven River at the bottom :the very steep Red Track and White Track provide access to Bungonia Creek. Between these two tracks is a route along Bungonia Creek and through Bungonia Gorge, where you need to negotiate large boulders.
Distance: 10km loop (allow full day, or can be done as overnigt walk)
Grade: Hard (very steep descent & ascent, scrambling along creek)
Recommended Gear for canyoning
There’s not a lot of special gear you need for these non-technical canyons, although expect to get wet shoes for many of these walks. Even if there are no swimming sections, it’s a good idea to get a reliable, waterproof backpack that will keep valuables dry.
- Dry bag – a 100% waterproof backpack, like the Overboard 20L Classic Waterproof Backpack. Don’t rely on the smaller dry bags that will let water in if submerged (but these can be useful inside a waterproof backpack for extra protection).
- Wet suit – recommended for canyons like Wollangambe where you will be in the water for much of the canyon
- Li lo – invaluable for canyons with extended swims (eg. Wollangambe), the industrial-strength, rubberised ones can be hard to find. Try XHunter for a Heavy Duty 5Tube Lilo Inflatable Single Airbed Mattress. But, even a pool toy is better than no flotation device…
- Camera – a waterproof camera will let you get some photos while you keep your normal camera or phone safely inside your backpack.