A Quick Dip in Sheep Dip Canyon

Tallis and me


OK so first up let’s try to address the naming confusion of this Canyon.

Around the mid 70s a party consisting of SUBW  and UNSWBWC members, which included David Noble, did an exploratory trip following Rocky creek from it’s source. They came across a small canyon reasonably high up in the creek. It had a lot of little slides and jumps into deep pools and they so they named this canyon section Sheep Dip (This is the canyon shown here). Later in the day, a few kilometers down stream they came to the larger section of canyon now known as Rocky Creek canyon

All good so far, no confusion.

Then in the 80s(?) a party including another Dave Noble, having heard a basic description on Sheep Dip descended a tributary near the Rocky Creek Canyon car park  and found a canyon they thought matched the description. This is understandable, both are more shallow, open style canyons. Both have lots of slides and jumps into pools. Both have a larger water fall at the end and  both creeks drop down into tunnels below boulders near the exit… So they thought they had done Sheep Dip but they called it Twister among their own group.

When Rick Jamison published the first edition of the Canyons Near Sydney guide book in the early 90s he repeated the mistake and  he wrote the description and directions to Twister under the heading “Sheep Dip Canyon” with a comment along the lines of the second party preferring the name Twister. All the guide companies that have sprung up since have repeated this mistake offering trips down Sheep Dip and Rocky Crk which actually do Twister and Rocky Crk.

It’s wasn’t until the early 2000s when the 2 Davids were talking that the younger Dave realised his mistake and Twister had in fact been a new canyon.

The Fifth edition of the Canyons Near Sydney corrects this mistake and now has the description of Twister under the heading “Twister (sometimes known as Sheep Dip)”

But it then adds to the confusion by adding a description of Sheep Dip canyon under the heading “Death Trap Canyon (AKA Sheep Dip or Upper Rocky Creek canyon)”.

There was already a canyon named Death Trap but it is not in the Rocky creek system. It was first explored by another party (Including the first David Noble) in the early to mid 2000s.

Now in the Gardens of Stone guide books the Bush Explorers repeat this second mistake and compound it by naming a some of the nicer features near Sheep Dip after Death Trap. eg The water fall they have labeled “Death Trap Falls” flows into Rocky creek near where Sheep Dip canyon opens up…. No where near Death trap canyon


So Twister is the one near the Rocky Creek canyon car park. It is in a small tributary that runs into the creek you walk down to access Rocky Creek canyon.

Sheep Dip is in Rocky Creek itself, a few kilometers up stream.

DeathTrap is another small canyon altogether.

No doubt this confusion will continue into the future but I hope that clears some of it up.


Anyhoo. It was one of those weekends where there was a bunch of plans discussed but nothing firm set down.

Mandy was keen for something but then Sunday morning decided she wasn’t up for a canyon trip. Well I might drag Tal out for something shortish says I.

We shook Tallis out of bed around 10:30 and rolled out of town at the crack of 11.

No real issues on the way in other than maybe dropping off the ridge a bit early. There are a few spots where you can scramble down through the cliff lines, the one we chose was a little higher up in the creek than we needed to be and meant we had a little scrub to get through before the canyon started to close in. But it also had a couple of nice pools..

This is another trip we could have done without wetsuits but I s’pose there is no point leaving them at home and then finding out you needed them halfway through..

Eastern Water Dragon, Intellagama Lesuerii Lesuerii (formally Physignathus Lesuerii)
Tal suited up and looking forward to the cool water

The canyon formation in Sheep Dip is never very deep, constricted or dark. It’s more a series of small cascades tumbling through a cliff lined gorge but it has some nice bits and is a lot of fun

Tal bridging out over the first little slippery dip


click for larger images

There are a lot of fun slides and little jumps and then this slightly larger jump. All the holes should be checked before taking a leap as they do have obstacles such as  rocks and logs you need to avoid. Today with the mid day sun over head it was hard to see to any depth so I down climbed each one to double check before Tallis slid or jumped.

click for larger images

Towards the end of the canyon is a larger cascade and even though it’s not vertical or over hung it’s very slippery and most people will need to abseil it. (very good scramblers may be able to go around it on a  high ledge to the true right then down a steep gully but I wouldn’t count on that)

Tal on rope
Tal on rope

The pool at the bottom is beautiful. It’s not that deep but it is home to some nice sized yabbies

Giant Spiny Crayfish, E Spinifer. Like Budgies they come in a range of colours. These Blue ones with the bright orange highlights are my favourites
Looking back up the falls

The canyon opens up a bit here but just down stream is a very pretty section. It’s not very narrow but the deeply overhung walls and dappled light is very nice indeed

click for larger images

And then you come to a deadend, or what seems like it. The creek drops down a dark tunnel and in front of you is a blank wall created by a massive fallen boulder. Presumably this is what Jamison considered to be the death trap as at first it looks like there is no way out.

But there is a secret passage.

Tal enters the nether world
Is that the mouth of an Evil clown? Is it the Bat signal? or is it just our way out?
The big cave up in the walls as the canyon opens out
Tal dwarfed by the scale of the cliff, contemplating a way out.

After a bit of route finding down stream a break in the cliffs is spotted the from there it is a relatively simple scramble up the hill to intersect the old logging trail along the ridge. The scrub on the way up wasn’t all that thick but as Tal pointed out every thing seemed to be sharp. Razor grass and tea tree. Legs will have a new coat of skin on them shortly…

Party Size: 2 both experienced

Time: 3.5hr car to car with a fair bit of photo phaffing.



6 thoughts on “A Quick Dip in Sheep Dip Canyon

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