It takes a healthy dose of bravado mixed with a cupful of stupidity to attempt many of the popular canyons in the blue mountains during winter. Thankfully, there are a few dry canyons in the area. This enables one to get their canyoning fix during the colder months, lowering the risk of inducing hypothermia. With this in mind, a group of us set off to the Newnes plateau on a chilly weekend in June to visit Tiger Snake canyon.
We rendezvoused late on Friday night to camp at the Bungleboori picnic area, around 10km out of Lithgow. There was no desire to hang around – the campground is covered in a carpet of rubbish and glass (a thoroughly unpleasant place to camp), so we quickly made tracks in the morning to the trailhead of the canyon. Here we encountered a NPWS ranger, who informed us that there was a decent amount of water around due to the recent rainfalls. For this reason, we set off along the access track with a good deal of trepidation – cold swims certainly did not fit the bill of a day of dry canyoning! There was some relief when we reached the creek, which was flowing at merely a trickle.
The canyon itself is a lot of fun – a mixture of scrambles and climb downs (some of which have optional abseils), as well as a few small abseils in a spectacular constriction. After a 17m abseil down a vertical face, the creek opens out for a while before narrowing up again in the lead up to the highlight of the trip – a 25m abseil into a very narrow slot. This would be one of the more impressive abseils around – after a tricky overhang is negotiated into the slot, you find yourself suspended in the constriction far above the bottom – incredible.
A (comparatively) short walk out through some magnificent pagoda country makes for a thoroughly enjoyable winter’s day (some members of our party even managed to keep their feet dry!).
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Essential Gear Required
- Canyoning gear (ropes, harness, descender, helmet, prussiks etc),
- First aid kit
- Headtorch (recommended on final abseil)
- Warm clothes
- EPIRB (recommended)
How to get there
Tiger Snake Canyon is accessed from the end of Old Coach Rd on Newnes plateau. The canyon is a tributary of Deane’s creek. Use Ben Bullen and Mt Morgan topographic maps
A shortish day of canyoning with a ~3km walk in and out. Our party of 5 completed it in ~6 hours at a leisurely pace