Canyon Log

The canyon log is my chronological account of the various canyon trips that I have been fortunate enough to partake, and in some cases, lead. 

Sydney is blessed with an abundance of rugged bush land less than two hours drive away, and in this bush land lie some of the most pristine and delicate environments that can be found. 
Visiting these places may require no more than a simple walk along a creek, or demand bush craft and navigation skills just to get there. 

These trips are 'canyon' trips which involves starting high in the range and following a creek or stream as it carves it's way down to the river valley. The Kanangra canyons are generally fairly open and following these is an exercise in abseiling and scrambling. The beauty of this area is the panoramic views along the Kanangra Walls and valleys. The incredible ruggedness of the area.

Blue Mountains canyons like Claustral, cut deep into the sandstone below them and over time have worn channels and gutters, deep enough that direct sunlight never reaches the bottom. Walking and swimming through these is a magical tour through a ferny green wonderland. A visit to the lost planet. 

I have kept these notes as a reminder to myself of the individual trips, as well as to provide 'some' useful information for following excursions, or to supply to others planning similar outings. 

Earlier trips are documented on my original canyons page, and other trips are indexed on my main canyoning page

As I have been hap-hazardly adding pictures lately, these pages are best viewed at a screen resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels !

Trip 31 Fortress Ck Canyon
22 Dec 2001
Vert. Elev:
Distance :
Time (approx.) : 5.5 hrs

Other Sources of information on this area : Canyons Near Sydney (Rick Jamieson)

I was going to go canyoning today regardless of where or with whom. By sheer good luck, both Stu and Liz were also keen to come and without putting too much thought into the matter, I dedcided Fortress Ck would be a good option. From my very fuzzy memory, I remembered one short abseil, and an easy walk in and out. Not to mention an absolutley stunning view at the end of the canyon, where we would stop for lunch.

Shopping and packing done on Friday night I was able to leave home at a leisurly hour and got to Stu and Liz's in no time flat, despite the double demerit points holiday season. More packing and gear sorting and at last we're off.

A quick coffee at Wentworth Falls fills in for breakfast, and 15 after that, we are shouldering packs at the start of the fire trail leading North off the Mt Hay rd. (Only one other vehicle parked here so we pretty much have the place to ourselves !) With Stu taking charge of the map we set off, admiring the view (and me trying hard to remember anything at all about the canyon ahead!... I really must do something about my short term memory !)... Following the fire trial is easy (just keep heading to the right), and it's not long before we're heading down into the swampy grasslands at the junction of two creeks beyond the firetrail end. The walk along the canyon at this point is not particularly spectacular, but there are some nice undercut sections and most of the wading is shallow. I'm surprised at how much warmer the water feels this time. (or rather, I guess, I remember it to be much colder last time). The weather and water are so nice, we still havn't unpacked the our wetties yet.

Soon the geology around us changes slightly and the walls begin to rise on each side. Occasionally the creek narrows down to become a deep gutter, and each time, it seems to get just that little bit deeper and colder. By now I'm looking forward to the famed 2meter jump-in, just to cool down. In one narrow section we find a small drop (of about 2m) into a pool, and as my memory is not working, I take this to be the jump. We all step down and around in prefference to jumping ... (I'm just not remembering any of this)!

More wades and a couple of short swims. (Nothing like the 2m jump and 40m swim promised in the guide yet!). Then, almost without warning, the creeks takes a turn and a steep drop. We bridge and step our way down into the gap and peer from the ledge behind a chockstone, into a smooth water worn channel several meters below. The water looks deep and inviting. For the life of me, I cannot understand why I can't remember such a significant place, from the last trip through here, but I just can't ! The channel ahead twists out of sight, around to the right, and for the first time I feel a little bit responsible for the others. I certainly don't want to lead them into a dead end we can't reverse out of.

After a quick discussion, I decide to leave my pack behind (with the rope) and go and have a look at what's around the corner. The cool water swallowed me whole as I dropped in from the chockstone and emerged a couple of seconds later, relishing in the sudden sensations of my imersion. I didn't touch the bottom. It was deep ! A few strokes and wriggles brought me around the corner and from there I could see that this was indeed the way we should be going. Liz came next. So quickly I couldn't even point the camera quick enough to capture it. Stu brought up the rear after passing the packs down and as a group, we made our way to the 1st sunny bend to warm up and laugh about the jumps. Now THAT! .. Was obviously the 2m jump.

In and out of the water now for a short while and once again we found ourselves swimming through a magnificent gutter. Cool, dark, deep and majestic. Not too soon we found ourselves at the brink of the final drop. Two bolts and a well worn chain on the left signifying this was the 6m rap or jump. In the dim light of the after noon, the jump did not look particularly inviting. The water was clear enough (or shallow enough) to see a couple of largish boulders on the bottom, and although I was mildy tempted, I also knew This would requires some psyc-up time, which we could'nt afford. Rapping seemed the sensible alternative. (We were all quite cold by now too). With that decided, we set the rope and rappelled into the final pool before emerging onto the wide plateau that marks the end of the canyon, just before the creek tumbles off into the giant airspace that forms this part of the Grose Valley.

This is the part I did remember!

Who could forget the panorama from the end of the canyon. Sitting here, eating a late lunch, and quietly drinking in as much of the scene as you can.

The walk out from the end of the canyon starts with an abrupt upwards scramble, which eventually leads to a more even walk back to the fire trail, along Fortress Ridge. This is a sensation walk with full 360 degree views from almost any point along it. If you stick to the ridge, you can't go wrong !.

Fortress Ck canyon is a great canyon with good swims, a jump or two, an abseil, nice walking and fantastic views. Also, it's not long, so you can do it easily in a day and still have time kick back afterwards and bask in the memory of the days achivements.