Canyoning involves walking, scrambling, abseiling and swimming through deep gorges sliced through rock over thousands of years. They can take many forms. The Blue Mountains and Wollemi are famous for possibly hundreds of deep, dark, narrow sandstone slot canyons, at times so tight you can barely squeeze through. Further south Kanangra offers more open canyons that are also the deepest, plunging nearly a thousand metres through broken metamorphosed quartz. Bungonia, famous for its caves, houses similar deep open gorges, but here cut through jagged, cave-filled limestone.
While every canyon is different, most are dark and sunless, with moss covered walls and swirling shapes caused by the relentless scouring by water. Still others can be deep and straight, formed along fissures or weaknesses in the rock. In places rock collapses above create dark, cave-like tunnels illuminated with glowworms.
Canyoning around Sydney, like bushwalking, has a rich history, with almost all of the most known canyons first explored in the last fifty years. In more remote areas new canyons are still being discovered; places kept secret for eons by their remoteness, ruggedness and concealment in bush labyrinths.
Despite their age, and remoteness, canyons are fragile places, with carefully balanced ecosystems, unique plants and animals, and fragile soils. Damage is easily caused, not only harming the environment, but diminishing the experience of future canyoners. People who enter them should adhere strictly to the canyoners code of ethics. Keep parties small, never bolt rocks, don’t place cairns, pack out all your own rubbish (and any other filth you find) and try and leave these special places pristine for future generations.
Despite their fragility, canyons can be deadly. Barely a year goes by without them claiming a life. Never enter without the appropriate skills and equipment. Know how to navigate. Be prepared for the worst.
You can find a full list of our canyoning trip reports here.