Canyons are unique and special places to visit and explore. They have their own unique challenges however so to help minimise the risks to you as well as your impact on the environment, take the following safety precautions, practise the canyon code of ethics below and encourage others to do so. This code was developed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, and should be practiced in conjunction with the Bushwalkers Code.
Don’t let the canyons wear you down!
- Take responsibility for your own safety and be self-reliant.
- Know the route, and have adequate food, water, safety and first aid gear, maps and clothing.
- Know how to swim and self-rescue on ropes.
- Don’t climb alone.
- Avoid canyoning if rain is forecast or if the weather looks changeable. Unexpected and dangerous conditions are likely when water flows are above normal or when heavy rain is forecast.
- Test the water depth before entering.
- Teach beginner abseilers prior to canyon trips, rather than in canyons.
- Hypothermia is a real risk — wetsuits and spare warm clothes are advisable.
- Give way to faster groups.
- Avoid peak use times in well-known canyons if possible. This especially applies to Claustral in the Blue Mountains, where overcrowding can cause delays and safety problems.
- Leave details of your group, route and expected return time with a responsible person.
- Protect your skin from sunburn by using sunscreen and wearing protective clothing and a hat.
- Ring 000 in case of emergency.
Don’t wear the canyons down!
- Keep your group to a small and manageable size (4-8 people).
- Don’t place bolts, or alter rock surfaces in any way.
- Avoid leaving unnecessary slings and remove old slings.
- Keep to creek channels, to avoid sensitive creek banks and soft vegetation.
- Avoid establishing new abseil routes or footpads — keep to existing paths, or spread out in trackless terrain.
- Walk carefully in rocky pagoda areas — flaky rocks and thin ledges can break easily.
- Do not mark tracks (signs, cairns, broken branches). Each group should have at least one competent navigator.
- Don’t publicise ‘new’ canyons or those in wilderness areas, to preserve opportunities for discovery and to minimise impacts.
- Use fuel stoves — fires scars are unsightly, attract rubbish and encourage vegetation damage.
- Avoid camping in canyon environments.
- Dispose of human waste away from canyons.
- Leave crayfish and other wildlife alone.
- Carry out any rubbish.