Surefire Canyon


Julie, Madie and me.

Despite doing the nearby Heart Attack canyon a couple of times for some reason I’d never done Surefire.

Meggsie always said it was his favourite canyon, mind you that was back in the days when you could drop a car on top of the exit ridge and then drive pretty much to the start.

Now there is about a 7km walk in and a 10km walk out.

This is one road closure that frustrates me a bit. I understand closing trails that were becoming rutted out messes but this is a flat ridge top trail with little chance of rutting out. The “End of the World” Lookout at the very end of the trail where Deans Creek Merges with Rocky Creek and they flow into the Wolgan is jaw droppingly awesome. Oh well if you want to see it now it’s a 12km walk each way along a flat dull fire trail so plenty of time to enjoy your wilderness experience i suppose.



When Julie asked if I wanted to do Surefire I thought it would be a great way to finish off a big year of canyoning and I jumped at the chance. We met Madie at the Zig Zag, pile gear into her ute and head off for a big day of adventure.

The walk out along the original fire trail is as straight forward as it gets. The 1970 mineral exploration trail that branches off that and leads out to the end of the ridge overlooking the canyon is very overgrown and the start is hard to spot unless you know where to look. We lost the trail a couple of times but the ridge is easy to follow and we’d regain the trail with out too much drama.

At the end of the trail we spend a bit of time looking for the borehole put in by Coalex to confirm mineral reserves in the 70’s. I had driven out here 20+years ago and the stand- pipe at the end of the road was obvious but for some reason we couldn’t find it today.

We did find what I believe is a surveyor’s “Lock Spit” Which would have marked the corner of gridlines on the old map

We scramble down to the cliff line and needed to traverse back and forward a bit to find a ramp that would get us all the way down to the creek. Once down it was a easy stroll down a nice gully until the creek dropped into the dark canyon below.

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Looks innocuous enough

We suit up, Madie and I opting to go wetsuits, Julie perhaps smarter in just a shark skin thermal top. It was a tad warm.

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Madie on the first abseil
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Julie happy to be in the canyon

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There are 3 or 4 abseils in close succession. Hey Craig get a photo of this. Calls Madie as she turns herself upside down.

I tried a new anti fog cleaner on my camera before I came. Unfortunately it seems to have caused some issues with the focus.

Despite the focusing issues the light in the canyon was superb. I can see why Meggsie liked it so much.

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Julie at the top of drop 3

There follows a short walk inter-spaced with some scrambles along a stunning section of canyon.

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I guess with the road being closed the long walk in and out has meant the canyon has retained an almost untouched feel to it


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And then we came to a section where stick jams create a false floor and there is an anchor set up on a large log wedged across the canyon walls.

Julie on the serene 4th abseil
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Julie on rope descending into the dark chamber
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Madie at the top of the 4th abseil

This chamber was dark enough that Madie chose to put her head torch on but just as she began her descent a shaft of light beamed down to illuminate her. It was kinda magical

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it had been almost pitch black when me and Julie descended
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Fluking the light

More glorious canyon continued

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Julie in a deep narrow section of canyon

We came to another drop we needed to abseil. Tom’s track notes say it may be able to be downclimbed but we found it very slippery and perhaps the log jammed in the drop had moved… either way we thought it best to rope up.

A short, cold swim through the narrowest bit of canyon followed, the only real swim of the trip.

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looking through to Julie on the other end of the swim
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Madie in the swim
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Madie emerging from the swim, head torch blazing

from here the canyon opens up slightly but is still high quality

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And green

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And awesome
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And grand
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And breath taking
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And stuff

We eventually reach the lunch cave and stop for a well earned bite to eat.

the usual exit is to head back up stream 300m and take and side creek up a gully, perform some dodgy acrobatics to climb out, then wander up through pleasant coachwood forest to regain the ridge top and old fire trail.

I know an easier exit, Julie informs us. 400m downstream is a short steep gully that gives easy access to the top then it’s a short distance up the ridge to the firetrail. We took it 8years ago, much easier.

OK, we make our way down with some boulder hopping and route finding then head up the chosen gully.

The gully wasn’t as quite as simple as promised… Looks like the 8 years since her last visit has filled it with deadfall. Clambering over, through and up it zapped a bit of energy.

Well for me and Julie it did. Madie seems to have an endless supply of energy and positivity  so long as there is regular supply of chips and chocolate. That’s pretty… This is fun….Wow, that’s cute….

We come to a  short, “interesting” climb up through a hole. I slip up with a little bit of grunting and groaning (It’s been a long time since I considered myself a rock climber) and then drop a rope for the ladies, because that’s the kind of gentleman I am, or sumfink.

Your truly hauling his arse up the dodgy climb in the gully that avoids the usual dodgy climb photo ©Madie Paige

Eventually we find ourselves on a wide ledge and Julie leads us back toward the canyon, rather than continuing up the gully.

There’s a old bushwalkers saying around these parts “The Nose always goes… Sometimes.”

We follow Julie back to around the corner to the nose of the ridge past a narrow, steep ramp that might be doable, to a wide ramp with easy walk up access to the top. Works everytime. Occasionally.

The view from the top, down Surefire gully to where it empties into Rocky Creek is top notch and we take a moment to grab a drink and soak in the views.


Now it’s just up this open ridge to the top of the knoll and the old fire trail is just over the other side. Julie explains.

Up we go in high spirits.

Except the knoll has a false summit, and then another, and another…. The higher we go the thicker the scrub gets. I’ve got scratches all over me, Julie is cut to bits, Madie is still smiling and having a great time….

We finally get to the top of the not so grassy knoll and give a sigh of relief at finding the old firetrail.

Now it’s just a 10km boring fire trail slog back to the car.

Let me know when you see the gate. Says Madie at some stage. Oh don’t worry I’ll be whoo-hooing says i

Sometime later, it may have been 1.5hrs it might have been 40 days and 40 nights I kinda lost track of time but eventually I let out a whoohoo.

Madie pushes past me. Race youes to the car. Call she as she breaks into a sprint.

Seriously too much energy… We “let” her win

all in all a big day and a great, if somewhat short, canyon. I’m sure in another week or so I’ll admit the walk in and out was worth it 🙂


Party Size: 3 all experienced

Time:9.5hrs car to car

Doing what you want is freedom. Liking what you do is happiness.


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