Wollangambe Fire trail


Access: Getting to the carpark involves a dirt road with a few rough bits. Nothing extreme but a 4WD is handy just for the ground clearance and traction

Navigation: Navigation is fairly straight forward.

Map:  Wollangambe  1:25000 These can be purchased at Lithgow Tourist information center or online for around $10

Time: Less than 2hrs with a bit of time for lunch on the clifflines at the end

View from the end of the fire trail. Mt Banks in the centre distance, Mt Wilson to the left.

Depending on which map you look at or who you talk to this is either the Wollangambe or Dumbano fire trail. Open source and google maps seem to show it as Dumbano fire trail. Wollangambe fire trail is what I always knew it as and makes more sense to me as at the end you lookout over the ‘Gambe just upstream of Wollangambe crater.

Anyhoo, whatever you want to call it, it’s a pleasant stroll with some stunning backdrops.


Getting there:

Turn off the Bells Line of road at the ZigZag Railway onto the Newnes Forest rd. Follow this along for around 4.8km and turn off to the right at the bottom of a hill below Bald Trig.

Unfortunitely the start of the fire trail looks a bit like a rubish tip where grubs seem to dump there soft drink bottles and coffee cups… But it gets better.

Set your odeometer here, you want to stay on the main fire trail but there are a couple of intersections where it is easy to take the wrong fork.

At Approximately 1km keep left (right follows the old Wolgan Railway easment around Bald trig to the sand quarry.)

At Approximately 2.5km stay right then at approximately 6.4km stay left. After a little over 8km you will come to the locked gate (GR 499952).

Park up and follow the old road on foot past the gate. The first couple of hundered meters is steep then it is easy going along a flattish ridge for 2km.

Either side of the ridge are sheer sided gullies and at the end of the ridge is a rocky point (GR 505931)  in between where these two tributaries meet the Wollangambe.

This is a nice spot of a bit of lunch (or as we did today cheese on smith chips…) there are some great views with Mt Banks straight ahead, Mt wilson slightly off to the left and Bell out to the right. And the wild Wollangambe can be heard gurgling below.

For the more adventurous this route, with some off track navigation at the end is the shorter way to access the Wollangambe crater which is usually done as a over night bushwalk from Bell. (its not a real crater but a circular depension holding a hanging swamp.  I think it is the reminants of a large billabong type feature made in a sweep of the wollangambe. It sure looks craterish from aerial photos and satelite images though.)


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Easy walking along the old fire trail.

Note: The great outdoors is an ever changing place. Bush fires, changing weather, vegetation growth and forestry activities can all effect the trail conditions and thus the difficulty of the walk. These are a rough guide only and are by no means meant to be a definitive guide . They do not replace the need adequate map reading and navigational skills

Note 1: Taking care  While reasonably well known these spots are still wild places and care needs to be taken around cliff edges and on the steep trails.  Carrying the right gear as well as having adequate food, water and clothing is important. Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to get back.

Emergency beckons (PLBs) can be hired from Katoomba Police for very little.

Note 2: First aid A basic first aid kit is essential bit of kit whenever heading into the Aussie bush. First aid training is highly recommended

Note 3: Maps and Navigation Having the right map, a compass and knowing how to read them is very important when heading into the bush. If you are new to bush walking joining a club or accompanying more experienced walker for you first few outing is a very good idea. I found practicing map reading on well defined trails was helpful when I started out.

The Maps mentioned are the 1:25000 series. They can be purchase at Lithgow tourism information center, from outdoors shops or online for around $10 each.

Note 4: These are wild and beautiful places, respect them. If you are able to carry something in you can carry it out. Don’ be a tosser. Leaving your rubbish behind is a sure way to ruin it for every one else.


wollangambe fire trail


The Dry Canyon


Catherin, Devon and I

So after our trip through River Caves Mandy had to be back in town early but the rest of us decided to take the drive out to the dry canyon which is always a great one for showing newbies

It’s a bit pongy today, says I. Probably that dead dingo, says Catherin. Don’t know how I missed it. Poor thing looks to have taken a few wounds and sort refuge up in a little alcove but didn’t make it through.
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Standard dry canyon shots to come

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And with plenty of time in the day we decided to slip over the tops to bask in some sunlight and take in the views

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The pagodas that from the Dry canyon with Donkey Mt in the back ground
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At least here we can look down on the rich bastards in the Emerites resort

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Its a long way down into that dark cervice to where we just were
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It doesn’t feel like it arcs so much when you walk through it
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Heading back up the middle canyon section

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All in all a pleasant day in the great outdoors


“the great French climber called it ‘The conquistadors of the useless.’ Yeah, the end result is absolutely useless, but every time I travel, I learn something new and hopefully I get to be a better person.” –  Yvon Chouinard, 180 Degrees South”

Goochs Crater


Mandy and I

This is becoming out go to walk on drenching wet days. It’s pretty in any weather

Goochs Crater nice and green again


Billabong canyon
Billabong canyon with a bit of water flow
Billabong Canyon
Goochs Crater
Nearly enough water for a swim
Hi vis or no vis


Fern Tree Gully


Mandy and Me

It might be hard to beleive but the town of Rylstone has one of the best Yum Cha/Tea house in Australia (29 Nine 99, do yourself a favour). I’d booked in with Mandy for a late Mothers day lunch and we thought why not do a walk while we were there.

Dunns Swamp is the gate way to the Wollemi  and a hot spot for outdoor activity in the area but it’s a long way out of town and with the limited openning hours for Yum Cha we needed something closer and a bit more touritsy.

A quick google search told me there was a little nature reserve about 16km north of Rylstone that might offer up a pleasant walk. Fern Tree Gully

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, certainly not a little canyon, but I was in fr a pleasant surprise.

A well maintained (Not a thing out of place, 1 discarded chip pack the solo piece of rubbish we carted out.) tourist trail winds down into a pretty gully the vegetation is completely different to what I’m use to in the blues and there were lots of little information signs to let us know what we were looking at.

At the base of the gully I commented it was almost a canyon… then we rounded the corner and it canyoned up. Sweet!

Mandy making her way down into Fern Tree Gully
Fern Trees aplenty


The walls close in and a canyon appears


After a bit the gorge opens up a little as the trail ambles through the gully
Even close to midday the light was magical
For all their calling and mimicry Lyrebirds are normally shy creatures that dart off into the scrub at the first scent of humans… This one didn’t get that memo. I think he liked Mandy to be honest.
The canyon opens out and closes in a few times


The grey gums were massive

At the junction with the exit gully a short board walk lead down the main gully to a little chair where a natural spring rises

There was more canyonette in the exit gully

Did I mention the trees were huge?
Steps back up to the lookout trail

The Lookout trail winds along the top of the canyons 1.4km back to the car park and offers some very nice views


Well worth a look if you are in the area.

Party size 2.

Time: 1.5hr with a lot of photo phaffing


By George! My Uncle is Great.


Julie, Lyn, Jim and I

So I always thought it odd there were some great canyons running off the Blue Mts Plateau on the North side of the Highway but not much to the South. Sure there was Empress, which is stunning, but I thought it an oddity in among the micro canyons, steep cracks and more open V-gullys running into the valleys on the south side.

Awhile ago I heard rumours that something else had been found but was vague on details. Then the 5th edition Jamieson guide came out with a brief description of the awesomely named “Great Uncle George” Canyon and I’ve been keen to check it out but just hadn’t gotten around to it.

Hey Julie, texts I, U off on ANZAC day? though my spelling and typing is even worse on text.

Sure am, says she or something to that effect and we hatch a plan to visit Old Uncle Georgeyboy. She contacts Jim who pioneered a different exit up an easy ridge back to Ingar Fire trail which makes a very short car shuffle or negates the need for one altogether if you don’t mind a bit of boring fire trail walking at the end.

Jim and his wife Lyn are keen to come along, even better.

Ed can’t make it as he is busy doing family stuff, which is a bummer. As I know he was keen to check it out too.

Tal was keen but when I woke him up at the crack of 7:45am he groaned, rolled over and pulled his covers over his head… Um OK. Julie shows up we stash gear and head up to meet the Cooks at the car park.

It’s a short walk in… if you veer through the private property but it may be best to skirt around the outside, avoiding the swamp and neighboring gully. Up top it’s a bit of an erosion scar. A trail dozed down towards the cliff edge must surely be an old fire break as it’s too steep for a standard 4WD.

Anyhoo we reach the abseil point. Jim set up on the rope, backs up and with a little hop disappears. It’s funny to watch. One second he is there, there next he is not. Hopefully I can get some video together over the next week or so as I have a good clip of Lyn doing the same.

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Jim dropping in

A nice overhung abseil into a awesome amphitheater. A tall waterfall plunges into a sited up hole which must once have been a very pleasant swimming hole.

The abseil comes down beside this pretty fall. With all the earthworks/erosion up top the pool is silted up but I wouldn’t mind betting it was once a nice swimming hole.

A set of stairs lead back up the through the cliff line and while the rope is getting retrieved I fire off a couple of photos and head up the stairs to see where they go. A lot of work had gone into making the stairs and the trail above them. It takes me up to a little cave where more stairs are carved up the rock face to no where, as the trail continues around a nose and up above the top cliff line.

click to enlarge

What followed was a pleasant stroll down a very pretty creek inter-spaced with some abseils and some nice canyon sections.

Julie abseiling the second drop
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Jim on the third drop
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Julie on the 4th drop
Julie on Camera, Jim on watch and Lyn on rope

More pleasant creek follows. It was mostly easy walking with a little bit of boulder hoping

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Several times the canyon threatens to form, swings around a corner and peters out

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Jim, Lyn and, Julie in a canyonesque section
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there were some tricky down climbs
And lots of little waterfalls

And after a bit more creek walking a canyon forms with a bit of length to it

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Jim leads Julie into the narrows of the canyon


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It opens out briefly

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But it soon closes back in with some tricky abseils
Lyn on one of the tricky overhanging starts
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Jim past the tricky start an abseiling into a very nice chamber

While never overly deep or tight it does seem to keep going for a while

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Julie disappearing down the next bit.

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And then there is more pleasant creek scrambling with enough awesome scenery to make it well worth while


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Looking back up stream to our lunch spot and exit point

The Jameison guide says to continue down stream a while then out another creek, which requires a car shuttle but Jim had scoped another option last trip and we scramble up a break in the clifflines which leads to an easy ridge back toward the picnic area near the start of Ingar fire trail and thus back to the car.

So, while I wouldn’t say the canyon itself was overly spectacular it was a very nice trip  in a beautiful creek that was, for the most part, very easy going. While a couple of the abseils had tricky starts they were all a bit of fun.

Party Size: 4 all experienced

Timing: 5hrs car to car with lots of photo phaffing, exploring, chatting and taking it easy )

All in all a great day in the great outdoors with great people


I thought the entrance chamber was so awesome I went back with Mandy and Tal a couple of days later for a picnic via the stairs


We were trying to figure out why these stair would be carved under the cave, its certainly easy enough to walk up the slope beside them then Mandy cottoned on to a likely answer, could they have quarried blocks from here to use int he stair case below?

Despite a coolish day Mandy was keen to get under the Falls


I hadn’t even notice this that first time around. Blue Mountain Historical society had a few clues to the initials may have belonged to nothing that matched completely


I think Tal is disappointed a) he didn’t come on the canyon trip and b) we didn’t bring ropes with us today
A weathered inscription on top of the cliff. Could that be WRH,  For Walter R. Hall? Unfortunately we couldn’t find an SC Hall or ED Hall to tie it in to the initials in the rock in on be of the previous photos
Looking back on to the falls from the pagoda at the top of the stairs
This chick makes me happy


Hoping to see some more water in it


Me and Mandy

Thought we’d revisit this one hoping to see a bit more water flowing through it.

There were a lot of stick jams that showed just how high the water got, which surprised me this high up in the catchment.

Also any one planning  a winter trip note the storms have scoured out some of the pools so they are now waist deep.




Kent, Ruth, Doug Doug, Camera Doug, Roy, me

Back before Steve Irwin made “Crikey” his world  famous catchphrase Tony Norman peered down into a dark slot in the Bungleboori Wilderness and, stunned at what he saw he uttered “Crikey Mother of God!”. Thus the slot was dubbed “Crikey Canyon.”

Peter Tresider has since claimed he visited the canyon on a solo trip in the 70s…. David Noble has some comments on that claim in his guide book critique.


Of the Blue Mtns canyons with published track notes Crikey is a bit of a holy grail. It’s remote. It’s deep. It’s dark. It’s technical. And it’s beautiful.

It’s one I have wanted to do for many years but for one reason or another I haven’t managed to get to. When a mate appeared in photos of a trip out there I mentioned it was one I was keen on doing. Oh they’re going again next week. Says he.

Only problem is they are doing a 4 day trip mid week and we are a little busy at work.

I confirm which day they plan to do Crikey. A quick chat to the boss (work) and I pull a favour and get a day off at short notice. A longer chat with the real  boss(home) and I get a leave pass.

Now whether to get an early start and do it in a day (doable if you know where you are going and have no issues along the way) or walk in and met them the night before. I go with the latter and Roy decides to come out with me as a guide despite having injured his ribs the week before. I get away from work around 2pm, do some last minute packing and swing by to pick Roy up, then off we go.

The trip in was fairly uneventful, the track starts clear then comes and goes a bit before disappearing altogether. A slight navigational hick up saw us miss a turn on the main ridge as we follow a spur a little out of our way. Eventually Roy say he doesn’t recognise anything and we decide to check the map, realise our mistake and back track to the correct heading.

We reach the camp cave around 6pm where I meet Kent, the trip organiser, Doug No 1, henceforth known as Doug Doug, Doug No 2, aka Camera Doug and, Ruth. The group were enjoying a meal and cup of tea after a day in Bridge canyon aka Steep Creek. We chat and laugh and as the sun goes down bunk down for a early night around 9.30

Making ready for bed.
Early morning stirrings in the camp site

We weren’t planning to leave camp until 8.30am so I take a wander up the bottom of Froth and Bubble canyon (aka Bubble Bath) for a bit of a look while others are slurping tea and cooking breakfast.

Looking up the exit portal for Forth and Bubble
Forth and Bubble canyon
the end of Froth and Bubble canyon

And then we were off. Crossing the Bungleboori we scamper up an easy pass and then with a bit of navigation, follow a ridge down to enter the creek not far above where it drops into the canyon.

Time to suit up

The abseils come thick and fast and we have several ropes to leap frog each other and keep things moving. Most of the abseils have tricky starts, some of them in dark sections. It’s everything I love about canyoning, problem solving on the fly in a truly stunning environment with good company.

The first abseil is the easiest. Ruth on rope with Roy offering tips
Is that an odd coloured glow worm? No a light in Roy’s pack the only indication he is abseiling down through the hole on the second drop
Roy in the dark section. Image captured by using the TG4 in live comp mode then using my head torch to light paint Roy and the canyon walls
How tenacious is this tree? Growing through the dark and stretching 50m up into the light before the hint of a branch or foliage
Kent in a narrow section
Camera Doug disappearing into the dark abyss
Deep and dark
The play of light was magical
Eastern Water Dragon
The canyon opens out a little and Doug Doug slides down next to the water dragon
Ruth and Doug negotiating a boulder/log scramble
Lower section Crikey canyon
Looking down from the top of the second last abseil
Roy on rope
Ruth wading down the canyon. you may be able to make out Camera Doug on abseil and Doug Doug and Kent looking on from the top of the abseil
Looking up from the bottom of the last abseil with Roy disappearing into the glowworm cave

Shakey shots of the glowworm cave. The connection screw for my tripod had fallen into the bottom of my bag so I had to make do with hand held, braced against the wall. Click to enlarge.

Looking out of the canyon to a large land slide near the junction with the Bungleboori
Ruth and Kent scrambling over boulders while admiring the canyon walls
Working our way upstream on the Bungleboori
Working our way up stream on the Bungleboori


Boulder scrambles R us

Scrambling back up to camp. Click to enlarge

We are met by John who had walked out int he morning but missed us before we left so spent the day exploring the ridge tops. Here me and Roy say our goodbyes and head out with John while the other have another night under the stars.


All in all a great 24hrs out in the Aussie bush. I had built Crikey up in my mind over the years and was a little worried it wouldn’t meet my expectation but it was every thing I thought it would be. Deep, dark, technical and very rewarding

Big thanks to Kent and the others for allowing me to tag along on this part of their adventure out near the junction of the ‘boories

My Go Pro was freezing up this trip and I have check the footage to see if it got anything worthwhile yet. if there’s anything decent I’ll put a video together shortly.

Party Size: 6, all experienced

Time: 24 hours car to car or 7hr camp to camp at a fairly relaxed pace


Dargan creek Canyon


Mark, Dan, Me

Dargan creek canyon is a short, easier but still very pretty canyon down stream of the Railway dams at Clarence.

Even in the years when we weren’t right into canyoning we would visit this one once or twice a year. It’s one of my favorites to take beginners down, just because it is short and easy to get to and has the added bonus of the dams for a cooling swim after the walk out.

It is also one of the first canyons we took the kids down.

Today was just a quick trip afterwork as a reckie for Mark, who was looking for a trip to take some beginners down to gauge their outdoors ability.

Daniel in the first of the canyon like sections


There were a lot of juvenile Water Dragons scampering about
Mark and Dan as the wall close in and the water gets a bit deeper
The slot. it might be “easy” and short but it has some very pretty sections



Several years ago we took Marks brother and his Scottish girl friend through the canyon. Just as we go to the narrow section where Dan is a Brown snake popped its head up out of the water and made a bee line to the nearest heat source… Me. Mark quickly push his pack in front and the thankful snake curled up in his back pack..


Yours truly enjoying the relatively warm water in the last of the swims
Dan and Mark and the canyon


My preferred method of exit is to just reverse up the canyon but the scramble up the waterfall and tree is the quickest way out


Some time in the distant past someone nailed a series of spikes into the tree to make a ladder. As the tree has grown the spikes have been somewhat enveloped but it is still fairly straightforward. Beginners may need to be belayed with rope and harness.


Party size:3 (1 experienced canyoner. 2 experienced bush walkers)
Time:1.5hrs car to car





Grand Canyon Loop

Access: Tar road to car park.

Navigation: Navigation is fairly straight forward if you stay on the trail

Map: Katoomba

Time: 3-4hrs

The Grand Canyon loop is a sign posted tourist walk from Neates Glen to Evens lookout and back. The 7km walk involves a lot of rough hewn stone steps into and out of the valley. In between is a nice tourist trail winding through rainforest, a small tunnel, long overhung ledges and waterfalls.

Below the trail Greaves creek cuts a deep slot canyon and you may catch sight of canyoners either at the abseil point or down in the canyon from a few vantage points along the trail that offer views down into the depths.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Getting there:

Turn onto Evans Lookout rd at Blackheath. Follow this 3.5km and park in the Grand Canyon loop car park on the right (Note: When doing the loop use this car park rather than those at the Lookout or further back at Neates Glen.)

Follow the marked trail back toward Blackheath to the Neates glen car park and then down into the valley on the marked trail.

The trail follows a smaller creek to where it meets the larger Greaves crk. Here the trail crosses Greaves on stepping stones and then follows it down on the right hand bank. The trail passes under a picturesque waterfall and through a short tunnel.

Greaves creek soon carves itself into  a deep canyon while the tourist trail continues high above it. There are several spots along the trail that give views down into the slot. The best is at a small bridge over a steep side creek.

Once the trail descends back down to creek level it is possible to head back up stream and visit the bottom of the canyon. Not far in that is a deep 20m section that is a nice spot for a swim on a hot day.

The trail continues down, crossing the creek a few times in the next couple of hundred meters before reaching another intersection. Take the left up toward Evans Lookout  with very nice views into the Grose  Valley where Govetts and Greaves crks join.

The follow the trail along side the road back to the car.


The trip through the canyon proper is a great experience too, if you have the gear for the abseil or you can, with some scrambling and cold swims reverse up aways and then return back down

Photos from in the slot     Grand Canyon 29/01/17