No Lockdown Newnes State Forest Walk around


Madie, Leo, Pippa and I.

It’s early Saturday morning my phone sounds and incoming text

Wanna do sumfink?


Well that was settled. Par for the course for our preparation and planning

Pippa needs an outing too so we decide to avoid the National Park and checkout some stuff in the state forest.

First stop Cracks of Doom.

Those playing along back home may recall my previous adventures, After first visiting these features in 1994 a return visit in 2015 saw me not finding them and subsequently not fitting through them to then squeezing through and squeezing through again well it seems like after a pretty lazy couple of months I’m back to not fitting

Leo follows me in
Well this is awkward

So I squeeze. I strip of clothing. I try bridging higher. I can’t bend me knees to get lower….. There is just 1 bit where I can’t get past. If memory serves there is one more tight bit further in so rather than forcing myself through and possibly getting stuck further in I opt to reverse out, with some difficultly and let the young skinny beautiful doggo continue through with Madie and Leo…..

At one point the crack drops sharply, here Pippa decides to take advantage of things and crawl onto Leo’s head.

I slip around and scramble down Crack of Doom 2. We then check out some of the other cracks/Canyonettes in the area

And check out a possible First Nations occupation site before reversing up Crack of Doom 2

A Short easy scramble gets us out the top

Now what?

Lets get wet. Alcatraz on the way home!!!

Winter Alcatraz Undie run comingup

At this point in time there are things I can’t feel.

TBH I sooked a bit and put a top on so that I could go first and then stay to help Madie at the bottom with Pippa and then pull ropes.

scrambling back out into glorious sunshine.

Getting back into dry clothes felt soooo good and we relished the sunshine one back up top

The following day we head into the Freezer. Despite the name its a pleasant crag out of the wind and, today at least, sheltered from the rain (mostly)

Madie leads up the delightfully run out slopperfest, Soul Sister (18). Leo then leads up making it look easy before I struggle my way up on top rope.

Then I leave them to play on the harder stuff and head for home feeling somewhat out of shape and deflated but determined to crack myself back into gear.

Your future. It awaits only you, to live it and to write it. R Hobb


Getting frothy in Kalang


Kylie, Monica, Kris, Hywaida, Jason and meeee

Hey, I know you’ve just done Kanangra Main but would you be interested in doing it again with us? says Kylie

Hell yeah. Says I

‘cpet the water levels are up.

A week of dry should settle it. says I, let’s suck it and see.

Good theory but the week wasn’t exactly dry and as the gang set up camp it pissed down then rained steadily all night. I felt sorry for them as I opted to snuggle up in my nice warm bed at home but I’m sure they were having a great time.

When I rocked up in the morning Kanangra brook could be heard gushing away in the gully. I wandered down for a look. The amount of water on the ground was concerning and the little brook below the car park trying to burst it’s banks.

If the brook is flowing like that Kanangra creek will be pumping. Say I. We can walk out to check it out but I’m thinking we need to play it a little safe.

The others agree and we opt to do Kalang Falls instead. It is a bit more open with bigger stances between abseils. It’s usually done as a dry trip but has options so we could choose to get into the flow if it was safe.

And off we went

The rocks at Kanangra are always slippery and loose and the dampness added to this so we went slow and steady, setting up a small abseil to get to the first abseil.

We start on the dry line. Mon halfway down the usual P1 ©Hywaida

But soon we opt to take the wet line.

Kristo ©Kylie
We took the semi dry line for this one. The good thing with Kalang is there are plenty of options

We were bleeding the ropes each abseil but a few drops in we core shot Jason’s 70m rope.

A few abseils later I notice a cut in my 60m, right in the centre

The quartzite that dominates the Kanangra landscape is sharp but for all the trips I’ve done out there this was the first time I’d ever cut a rope (Ever! not just at Kanangra). And now we had cut 2. Thou it should be noted both ropes had seen a lot of use.

Luckily the bigger drops were done as that was our two longer ropes relegated to pull cord status.

There were lot of laughs and plenty of smiles in between the serious stuff.

Kylie about to enter one of the tricker abseils of the trip. Slippery, odd angles and pumpy all at once
Mon about to get tumble washed

There was lots of highlights but I think THE highlight was this two stage drop in a good bit of flow

The final drop gave us a good show too

And reaching the junction with Kanangra creek we get back into semi dry gear, have a bit of lunch and then make the steep, slippery, scratchy, bitey haul back up to the cars.

Kylie may have swore once or twice.

The most scared I was on that entire trip was the exit. Says Mon

Good times.

Stay true to yourself, never follow someone else’s path. Well unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path then by all means follow that.

Party size: 6

Time 8hrs car to car.


It’s the Little Things in Life

Sunday 11/07/2020

Russ and meeeee. With a late inclusion of Leo and Madie

A few options were thrown about for weekend adventures but in the end it was cold and damp… Perfect weather for descending a couple of pretty little slots on the Sunnyside plateau

First stop Zorro

The road out is surprisingly clear. Of course I took the first fire trail, belatedly remembering the rough hill down the rocks. I pull up and explain my error. Madie doesn’t look too keen on testing the 4WD capabilities of her ute. Leo, in the drivers seat, looks like a kid on the way to a lolly shop but I decide to turn back and do the detour. Lucky, as looking back up the hill at the junction the link trail hadn’t been cleared for fallen trees

We find our car park and in no time we are descending between the parallel walls of the entrance hall.

And it’s not long until we get to the first abseil

Bottom of first abseil

Last year the canyon was as dry as I’ve ever seen it. Today more normal conditions saw a couple of pools, some of which required some tricky bridging to keep feet dry.

Leo contemplating the first of the little pools
Checking out the second drop. Russ pointing out the dodgy anchor some people abseil off.

I’ve always just down climbed this one. With some careful bridging you can stay dry. I missed a step and right leg went in up to my knee. That leg was too warm anyway

Have I ever mentioned how pretty the central chamber is

The soft light and mist really adding to the beauty

The exit hall was also very atmospheric today with the mist rolling in

Then it opens out for the final abseil.

Not mentioning any names but somebody <Coughitwasrusscough>may or may not have left the safety draw attached to the pull cord and had to prusik back up to retrieve it. Fun times

Then it’s a short stroll back up the hill to the car and we drive back up around the head of the main gully to some cool little features on the other side. The Cracks of DOOM!!

Finally, a quick stop at Bardens lookout where Madie and Leo romp up a pumpy little climb to finish the day off

Saturday 12/07/2020

Mandy and me

We’d had a lazy morning but decide to head out of a lunch date.

I’ve always thought this one a pretty little canyon so I was a little apprehensive as to the state it would be in post fires.

Turns out the canyon itself was fairly untouched. Some of the ferns in the main chamber were brown but that looks more a result of drought

Some people like to cause commotion. Others like to be the commotion.

I prefer just to be in motion


Random end of iso climbing


Empress with a bit of flow


Time-To-Go, Sketchy, Marcula, BeerandScotch, Justadlib and meeeee

Ah Straylia! You’ve done it again. After all the devastation of the fires it’s pissing down rain.

Driving out of town I half expect to see a line of animals marching into an Ark two by two while a crazy dude calls out damnation from god.

I have to admit I was a little anxious. Empress is one canyon that always had me worried in rain. For a small canyon it has a large catchment and a relatively tight constriction. The Falls at the end have a rep for going from a gentle trickle to a wall of water in not much time. In 2005 Matthew Donovan lost his life when his party was hit with a storm burst part way through and he failed to negotiate the second last pool, being pinned under the sharply undercut wall by the sheer force of water.

While our canyoning cuzies from around the world often play in much higher water flows there are additional dangers of doing flooded canyons that don’t usually experience high flow. Canyons that see a lot of water generally clean themselves of the log jams and boulder chokes that feature in many Aussie canyons. Rising waters often pickup and sweep down stuff lying on previously dry banks creating hazards, both from solid impacts and hydraulic stoppers.

There’s definitely a skill to being able to spot and avoid hydraulic hazards, as well as speciality equipment, techniques and team work required to negotiate the canyon safely.

But I knew I was in good hands, people whose skills and judgement I trust. And overriding the nerves was an undertoe of excitement

I get to Mt Vic only for my brain to do this weird thing where it remembers it forgot to remind me to pick up my wetsuit! Some swearing happened. Passing cars probably thought the crazy dude in the ute had a bad case of road rage…

A quick phone call to Mandy and she offers to grab my wetty and meet me half way back home. She really is golden.

I’m slightly late as I pull into the car park and was surprised to see just Madie and Leo. It appears there was a little confusion over the late night change to the start time. They all know changing plans is what we do the best. Or sumfink

Anyhoo, we decide to head off for a look and if all goes well we’ll do a second run when the others arrive. But all agree it is probably going to be a none event today, we’ve had a lot of rain.

On the way down we discuss Go/No-Go indicators. If its below this rock at that point that section is good, If you can see such and such from that vantage… Blah Blah Blah. We also talk emergency exit options. The good thing about Empress is it is short and you can get many looks down into the canyon on the walk in and there are options to get out.

At each inspection point things look better. Time-To-Go’s been through at higher levels. A quick look at the radar and while there is going to be steady drizzle the heavy stuff isn’t due to hit until later. This thing looks like it is on. Woot Woot.

We are warned about which sections have siphons and whirlpools and where the water wants to force you into under cut walls and then we are in.

Usually dry side creeks are gushing
Normally a trickly requires a bit of bridging
Frothin’ on the froth ©Madie
Its hard not to have fun. My friends inspire confidence and laughter
I’m so familiar with this canyon it can bore me a little. I like the challenge of finding the path through a new canyon rather than doing ones I know well. No boredom today. It was like a whole new canyon
Contemplating the whirlpool ©Madie
Moslty you walk on down, climb up on the ledge and jump. but with a bit of flow the second last pool turns into a whirlpool death trap. Leo negotiates it on safety and sets up a traverse line for us

Me being a passenger on the guide line ©Madie
Madie negotiating the whirlpool on a guide line
New years eve it was a disappointing trickle. Last week it was a bit of a splash. Today was going to be the biggest flow I’ve abseiled in.

I’m a bit cautious as I go over the edge but I am grinning like an idiot. Dropping over the edge I get hit by a wall of water but I’m through it quick and behind the main brunt. Working my way down I’m being peppered but the main flow is to the left of me. At the halfway ledge I say hi to BeerandScotch

The halfway ledge, in the calm before the power ©Russ

and then I’m into the flow.

It’s hard to describe the sensation. White water. White noise. It’s almost instant sensory derivation as the water pounds into you, pushing you down the rope. I feel a weird mix of being a passenger, being in control, being in consequential, being alive… I’m watching for the tail of the rope as I know Sketchy set up short so she could bleed rope out as I went. I see the bottom, Well I think I do and I let go and fling myself down. What A rush.

I float there being smashed by the spray and just enjoy the moment.

I hear the others calling and It’s-Time-To-Go hurls the throw bag. Perfect throw. I grab hold and they pull me across the pool. I’m still grinning like an idiot.

Sketchy about to disappear into the beast
Spot the abseiler. Madie is just above the halfway ledge getting pumped in the best possible way. The others had arrived to watch us

The throw bag was pretty much a must

We laugh and high five and all that. The others are keen for their turn.

2nd run!

Damn phone rings and I’m stupid enough to check it…. Work. Looks like I’ll miss run 2:-(

By the time they get back to the start the water is up another 2 foot or so. Still doable and it looks like they had a ball.

Libby Smiles for miles ©Madie
Guided abseil needed this time around. ©madie

The heavy rain hits a few hours later pushing water way up past safe levels. I’m glad we got in when we did. It was a great experience.

As usual there are a lot of opinions on the socials as to whether people should be out in these conditions.

Should people be encouraging others to do so. Most definitely not.

Personally with this group, at that time, in those conditions I felt perfectly safe, or as safe as usual when canyoning.

As stated earlier I trust their skill levels and their judgement. I think they are amongst the most safety conscious groups I have ever been out with. There is a level of skill across the group that we have worked to achieve and a level-headedness that I admire. I wouldn’t suggest others try to do it without building those attributes up first.

Was it risky? Yeah sure. But it was a calculated risk based on skill levels, knowledge of the canyon and escape routes, team dynamics, keeping a close track of weather apps and always being prepared to back out.

500 people die on the roads in NSW every year. What risk analysis did you do last time you hopped into a car?

“It’s in those quiet little towns, at the edge of the world, that you will find the salt of the earth people who make you feel right at home.” Aaron Lauritsen . Substitute “quiet little towns” for adventures and it captures this group prefectly


Empress Falls and Sweet Dreams


Madie and meee

I’d strained a tendon in my arm so hadn’t climbed for ages but with 99.99% of canyons closed due to the devastating bush fires that are raging across the country I was going a bit stir crazy.

I text The Mad One to see what she was up to over new years.

Want to go climbing now?

It’s like 6pm Monday afternoon. Sure

There’s an easy climb at Mt Boyce that I use to really enjoy that she hadn’t done yet so we decide to go give it a crack.

A quick look at the guide. You need bolt plates she says.

I have plates.


We meet at the car park. a quick check of the guide and we drive around to the new car park…. It’d been 20+ years since I’d climbed this one.

Mandy 2/3s the way up the Eyrie, circa 1996

So we abseil in, and leave a rope in place. Good call

and head around to the start of the climb.


I can’t see many bolts, says she

I remember it being run out, say I

And up she goes to clip the first bolt 6 or 7 meters off the ground.

Um, Flynny. I can’t see any bolts above me.

I lock her off while she pulls out her phone to check the online guide .

Um this is a mixed route….

We didn’t pack any trad gear. Ooops

A delicate retreat was made and by the time we ascend our abseil line it’s dark… Bugger! shall we try something again tomorrow?

It’s New Years Eve and we skived off work early to see if we could find somewhere open.

Pulling into the car park we step out of the car… holy crap it’s hot.

Wanna do a quick run through Empress to cool off first?


Changing plans is what we do the best

Back in the car and out to the conservation hut

Entering the cool confines of Empress Canyon ©Madie

Back at the car we check online to see what crags are open then head off for the classic Sweet Dreams. A climb I’ve never done before

I totally sooked it and “let” Madie lead every pitch but I thoroughly enjoyed the climb,

Cheers 2019. you have been eventful.

Here’s to 2020


Natural Amusement Park


Geoff, Gabby, Kent, Ash, Gemma, Mick and meeeee

So before Christmas I had organised a trip to Luna Park canyon. It was suppose to be a big trip for a soso canyon but it’s one I wanted to check out.

Then Thing 1 and Thing 2 surprised me with tickets to see Paul Kelly at the Domain on the same day and I had to pull out.

Kent graciously offered to run the trip, they copped a stinking hot day and the majority of the group swore they’d never do that F$#%ing canyon ever again.

But I was still keen and so when Geoff asked me if I’d join him for a trip I rearranged some other commitments, scored a leave pass and jumped at the chance.

In contrast to the other group our day was cool and drizzly making perfect conditions for big day in steep terrain

Before long we leave the trail and head off into untracked scrub

Kent is the ultimate mentor. Here he is in the s̶c̶o̶t̶t̶i̶s̶h̶ ̶m̶o̶o̶r̶e̶s , I mean Aussie bush giving Ash some Navigation tips. “Just head for that big rock. You can’t go wrong”
First big rock

Now, Ash, all we need to do is head for that other big rock. ©Gabby

It’s a big walk in, you have to drop down a steep ridge, cross the Bungleboori and climb an even steeper break in the cliff on the other side but the day was pleasant and the company was great so it didn’t see that big an ordeal. In fact I really enjoyed the walking.

Some 4 or so hours later we arrive at the start of the canyon, suit up, have a bite to eat then drop on in.

The first abseil has an awkward start into a small chamber. I go first, belay Gabby and Kent down and then me and Gabby go ahead to set up ropes on the next drop

In the rain it was a really pretty section of canyon but the moss was very slippery and a few of the down climbs needed some creative thinking

Kent holding 2 logs steady for Geoff, Well I say logs, sticks really
Ash modelling the latest trends for the fashion conscious canyoner

And then comes the abseil Kent had been warning everyone about. Crowded start. Sharply over hung lip. I offer to be LPAR and wait at top with safety rope just in case.

Kent has no issues but most others have some difficulty. Geoff (a very experienced and capable abseiler) gets the rope jammed badly between device and the rock and needs assistance. Ash goes upside down off the start. Gemma almost gets into the same predicament as Geoff but manages to free herself. Mick gets a finger of his glove stuck under the rope and for a bit I thought we’d need to cut it off.

All this is made me a bit nervous but I go over without drama only to get through the difficult bit and then slip at the very bottom, ungraciously ending up on my butt under the water fall.

One of the most awkward starts I’ve done

The canyon below this might be short but with the atmospheric drizzle adding to the ambience I thought it was outstanding

Gabby under the first arch. TTFH pointed out the photo makes it look like a kangaroo head

And then comes the “Luna park abseil” so called because the arch you abseil through is meant to look like the Luna Park Mouth. I don’t see it.

Maybe if it’s rotated 90° left it might look a bit like the clown mouth, maybe… Ash on rope


And then we have a long but pleasant walk up a magnificent section of the Southern Bungleboori.

Gemma is a bit of a fungi appreciator and had mentioned finding some rare blue specimens on a recent trip in the blue mountains. I don’t have a clue about fungi, or most things really, but told her I had seen blue mushrooms on a couple of trips in the bungleboori

And sure enough

Not the best shot but
Entoloma virescens ?

Gemma assured us they were very rare but the seemed to be popping up everywhere along the banks of the ‘Borri today.

Before long we are changing back into not so dry clothes and making our way back up through the broken cliff lines back to civiliation

We’ve been going for about 10.5hrs at this stage. It’s been drizzling all day. I haven’t been dry since I got out of the car but I’m smiling like a simpleton.

I turn to Gemma and Mick, People must think we are insane. Say I. But I love this shit.

They laugh and agree. It’s been a great day

Part Size: 7 all experienced

Time: 11hr car to car steady pace.

Do what makes you happy and be happy with what you do


draft Canyoning Good Practice Guide

The draft Canyoning Good Practice Guide (“the Guide”) has been released under the Australian Adventure Activity Standards (AAAS).  Feedback or submissions on the document are due by 12 November 2018.  


While the standards are currently voluntary, they can be adopted by land owners, regulatory agencies such as National Parks and Wildlife Services, insurers, etc.  They are also a bar against which a Court or Judge can compare a provider’s or leader’s negligence. 


The Guide is clearly written by and intended for commercial providers, yet it applies to Clubs and any recreational trip with dependent participants.  Most club members on a canyon trip would be considered dependents under the Guide.   


Whilst the Guide is not legally binding at present, we can foresee a time when canyoning will be so popular that a permit system will be applied to many of our most visited canyons, like Empress and Claustral.  If this document was enforced by National Parks and Wildlife Services for example, no Club trip would meet the standards for us to be able to visit these natural beauties freely.  Canyoners would have no other choice but to pay a commercial provider to attend these canyons.  For example, to comply with them the Club would be required to own, maintain, store and retire all the equipment used on canyoning trips such as harnesses, ropes, descenders, carabiners, etc.  Leaders would have to be qualified in various units / courses and know the canyon being visited beforehand.  It would effectively be the end of exploration and the bush would be covered in more unwanted red tape. This would of course be detrimental to every canyoner, member of a Club or not.  


We believe canyoners, recreational organisations, clubs and its members should oppose the Guide.  

We note that Bushwalking Australia recently issued a policy opposing the Bushwalking AAAS  (link:   


The same would be a desirable outcome from Clubs and Associations regarding the Canyoning Guide.  


Commercial providers have a higher duty of care to their paying customers than volunteer groups.  The Guide should only apply to them.  


Below are Craig Flynn’s and my submissions on the Guide.  If you agree with our objections, please copy (amend if you like) and paste the submissions in an email to: (RE: Submissions on the Canyoning Good Practice Guide) 

Here is the link to the full Guide:



It would be extremely difficult, daunting and in some cases even impossible for volunteer groups such as Bushwalking Clubs to comply with the provisions contained in the Canyoning Good Practice Guide.


The Guide has the following MANDATORY requirements for example: 


1)    Equipment MUST be checked that it is serviceable before each activity or before being used (Rule 6.5);

2)    Appropriate procedures MUST be in place for inspections (Rule 6.5);

3)    Equipment and inspections MUST conform with the law and regulations (Rule 6.5)

4)    Equipment MUST be stored with reference to the manufacturer’s recommendations or instructions (Rule 6.6)


Analysis:  On Club trips members purchase, provide and look after their own equipment, including storage. These provisions would be impossible to comply with.


5)      Requiring certain Competencies from leaders (Rule 7.2)


Analysis: Requiring accreditation in certain units or courses to lead a canyon could only apply to Commercial Activity providers.  Most clubs are constituted by volunteer hobbyists with no formal accreditation or qualification.  This requirement would make leading a canyon by a recreational group extremely difficult.  


6)    Requiring knowledge of the site (Rule 7.5.2)


       Analysis: This provision fails on 2 fronts for recreational groups:


   a)    It refers to factors the provider should consider when allocating activity leaders to a trip.  However, in Clubs the trips are organised or volunteered by the members and NOT allocated;

 b)    While commercial groups are expected to have previous knowledge of a canyon, recreational canyoning frequently involves exploration.   Again, this provision is an example of a requirement that cannot apply to a recreational group. 


7)    Unprotected climbing MUST only be used where the risk is acceptably low of a fall from height indicate the climb does not require the use of a fall protection system or spotter (Rule 7.6.3)


Analysis:  Many climbs in canyons in the Blue Mountains involve exposure and unsafe heights.  A fall protection system or spotter is many times not possible.


8)    To reduce the potential for falls from height, procedures MUST include designating what areas that are not to be entered (Rule 7.6.7)


Analysis:  Recreational groups would not be able to limit the members’ mobility in certain areas, even if unsafe.  


9)    Abseil belay systems MUST use at least one belay method to protect the abseiler if they lose control of the descent and the belay method used MUST be a releasable top belay system, unless other considerations indicate another belay method is more appropriate.(Rule 7.6.8)


Analysis:  Requiring a belay system on every abseil is very onerous.  Recreational groups may not belay the first person or use a top belay over a bottom belay in many instances.     




An exclusion clause in the Guides would be appropriate, such as:


“The Canyoning Good Practice Guide does not apply to Independent (Non-Commercial) Participation in Canyoning Adventure Activities in NSW”  


By Gabriela Faura





If you rated the Good Practice Guide ‘I cannot support this’, please provide your reason:

The document is poorly worded (It’s “voluntary” but you “must”) with no scope to define exactly who it applies to.

“Dependent” and “Activity Provider” are grey terms which the document fails to clearly define.

It appears written by commercial interests for commercial interests. Under current legislation it would be unenforceable towards volunteers and recreational groups however I foresee a time when canyoning becomes so popular a permit system will be applied to the most popular canyons and this document could then be used as a minimum requirement by land-managers when issuing permits.

Unfortunately, several sections of the document become completely impracticable in a recreational or club setting which may then exclude such groups from obtaining said permits.


3.2 Canyoning emergency management plan. A documented emergency plan is impracticable for recreational groups. Specific clauses such as escape route mapping are not practical when exploring rarely visited canyons.

6.2.1 “Training in the use of equipment used MUST be provided to activity leaders and participants”. In my recreational group who provides this training to the leader and participants? This is clearly written towards commercial parties or youth groups/clubs offering skills instruction.

6.4.5 “A procedure regarding participant supplied equipment SHOULD be developed.” Completely irrelevant to recreational groups

“6.4.6 Rescue systems Anchor systems and belay systems MUST be rigged for a timely and effective rescue. Abseils that involve running waterfalls MUST use releasable rigging” Again, less practicable for recreational groups where the level of “dependence” is far less than in a commercial setting

6.5 Maintenance of equipment Again, completely impractical for recreational groups where each person is expected to look after their own equipment.

6.6 Storage of equipment Again, completely impractical for a leader of recreational groups where each person is expected to look after their own equipment

7.1 Naming conventions. This is clearly written towards commercial parties or youth groups/clubs offering skills instruction with no relevance to recreational groups.

7.2 Competencies. Completely irrelevant to recreational groups

7.4 Supervision ratiosIrrelevant to recreational groups

7.4.2 Supervision of belay systems Less relevant to recreational groups

 7.4.3 Assistant canyoning guides and supervision ratios Irrelevant to recreational groups

7.4.4 Single activity leader – all canyoning Irrelevant to recreational groups

7.4.5 Single activity leader – vertical canyoning Irrelevant to recreational groups

 7.5.1 Progression through a canyon Procedures MUST be used to reduce the potential of: This is clearly written towards commercial parties or youth groups/clubs offering skills instruction and completely irrelevant to recreational groups

7.5.2 Knowledge of site Completely irrelevant to recreational groups who may be doing an exploratory trip or visiting a canyon for the first time (whether using a guide book or beta from others). If this clause was in play previously canyons would not have been explored in the first instance.

7.5.3 Canyoning activity information for participants This is clearly written towards commercial parties or youth groups/clubs offering skills instruction and less relevant to recreational groups

7.6.5 Deep-water belays Procedures to assess the suitability and safety of deep-water belays MUST be developed and used. This is clearly written towards commercial parties or youth groups/clubs offering skills instruction. Procedures are completely irrelevant and impracticable to recreational groups

7.6.7 Abseiling and Climbing To reduce the potential for falls from height, procedures MUST include: This is clearly written towards commercial parties or youth groups/clubs offering skills instruction. Procedures are completely irrelevant to recreational groups

7.6.8  through 7.6.18 While offering a handy guide of what should be done the use of the word “Must” limits it relevance to recreational groups who may choose to use different methods and systems.

7.7 Aquatic canyoning activity management.  As above This is clearly written towards commercial parties or youth groups/clubs offering skills instruction. Most of the clause are less relevant/impracticable for recreational groups. Procedures are completely irrelevant to recreational groups


Are there any topics that should have been included but were not? 

If the document is to be adopted in any from it requires a scope that clearly defines who it is intended for. My suggestion would be something along the lines of “This guide applies to Commercial groups, youth group such as scouts, rovers, guides, recreational clubs (but only when the primary purpose of the trip is skills instruction)…… While it is a handy guide for recreational canyoners it is not expected to be applied to independent or co-dependent recreational groups”

I also feel the definitions of “Dependent group” and “activity provider” provided in the core guide are vague at best and clearer definitions need to be developed.


Are there any topics that were covered that you do not think need to be? 

Grading system.

There are 2 simple grading systems already in use in Australia, Jameison’s 1-5 and Brennan’s Easy,Medium, Hard

I feel these are more than enough to cover the relatively small diversity of difficulty in the Blue Mountains and the introduction of a new, more complex grading system only adds confusion.


What are your key concerns regarding the activity Good Practice Guide, if any?

A cynical person might suggest the guide is written by commercial interests to make it harder/less appealing for Recreational clubs and youth groups to compete with them.


My concern is if land managers decide to adopt the guide as a minimum standard for allowing recreational groups continued access to canyons. This decision could well be made by persons with little actual knowledge of canyoning who assume that as there is a published guide it would be applicable to all canyoning groups.


Other concerns include the document having an over use of the word “must” in a guide that is meant to be “voluntary” and the fact it tries to aim itself at groups and organisation that current legislation would view as exempt from it. Thus it is an impracticable document that exists for the sole purpose of existing.


Issues with the core guide

Incident reporting Not always practicable for recreational groups

Planning Management and approval of activities. Less relevant and practical for recreational groups

Activity plansLess relevant and practical for recreational groups

Purpose of activity. Less relevant and practical for recreational groups. I’d like a clear purpose for this document though.

Emergency management planning Refers to procedures. Documented procedures are completely irrelevant to recreational groups

Reporting notifiable incidents Completely irrelevant to recreational groups

Work health and safety Completely irrelevant to recreational and volunteer club based groups

Activity leader required documentation Irrelevant to recreational groups

Consent Less relevant to recreational groups

Trigger points. Documented T.A.R.P.s and trigger points are not relevant to recreational groups

Equipment and logistics Less relevant to recreational groups with some clauses being impracticable.

Naming conventions and roles Less relevant to recreational groups with some clauses being impracticable.

Competencies Less relevant to recreational groups with some clauses being impracticable

By Craig Flynn


Flynny and Gabby 

Walls Lookout

Access: A short walk to a great view over the Grose Valley.

Navigation: Navigation is fairly straight forward once on the trail

Map: Mt Wilson 8930-1N 1:25000

Time: It’s only 15-20min walk out to the look out from car park but the views are worth spending some more time at.

Looking across the Grose with Hanging Rock and Baltza lookout just left of center and Burra Korain head right of center

Walls Lookout is a nice spot near the Pierces Pass track that offers great views Down the Grose Valley

The trail out

Getting There: Turn off the Bells Line of Road on to Pierces Pass road (In between the Mt Wilson and MT Banks turn offs). Either park at the Top and follow thew signs for Walls Look out or go down to the  bottom car park (A bit steep and rough in places)

There are basic picnic facilities and toilets at the car park.

From the top the trail is sign posted. From the bottom it’s not but walk back up the road a few meters and go right towards the toilet block. The trail goes right before you get to the toilets.

Once on the trail it’s a pretty easy walk out to the end .

Return the same way


Got Views



Note: The great outdoors is an ever changing place. Bush fires, changing weather, vegetation growth and forestry activities can all affect the trail conditions and thus the difficulty of the walk, or even the drive to the car park. These are a rough guide only and are by no means meant to be a definitive guide . They do not replace the need for 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.

Cliffs in the area are seldom fenced off and are often under-cut. Fragile ironstone ledges can extend out a meter or more yet be only centimeters thick. the rule of thumb is no closer than a body length and a half to the edge without tying into a safety line.

On pagodas this is disastrous in a different way. It’s taken millions of years for the distinctive Platey pagodas to form but one careless footstep can damage the formation. Platey pagodas are unique to our area. Don’t ruin them from carelessness.

Emergency beckons (PLBs) can be hired from Katoomba Police or Blackheath NP office 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 your first few outings 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.