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 !

Starlight Canyon
Honeywell Group
7th Oct 2002
Vert. Elev: ____
Distance : ____
Time (approx.) 8 hrs :
Shane looks out over the Wolgan
Shane looks out over the Wolgan from the lookout on the Pipe line track

Other Sources of information on this area :

The Walk ... It's probably fair to say I've had some trouble in scheduling time for anything like this of late.

Commitments to work and family have been keeping me busy, and teaming this with training (sic) for Geoquest ( ) and a changing roster of on-call duty has made planning 'free' time almost impossible. That said, we did manage to finally nail a date for this particular trip.

Leaving the car pooling arrangements to everyone else I drove from home,leaving around 04:30 and was pleasantly surprised when Patrick, Margot and Shane passed me on the road about an hour later. Andrew, Ben and Ben were already waiting at the Zig-Zag when we arrived, but they only beat us by a few minutes.

After a quick muffin break (thanks Margot, these were great !) we loaded back into the cars and drove off to Lithgow and Newnes.

The long weekend had brought out heaps of people for the weekend and not surprisingly the campground was full to over flowing. A veritable tent city spilling out along the road back towards the Newnes Hotel. Hopefully (in our favour) most canyoning groups would have their bit on Saturday and Sunday and be packing to leave today.

We found a spot for our three cars and very quickly set off towards the Pipeline Track for 'stage 1 - the ascent'. The weather had been abnormally dry for weeks now and the day looked like it was going to be hot and humid again. plenty of water required for this trip!

After completing the big ascent it's always worth walking out to thel ookout and taking in the magnificent view from the top. Not to mention the breeze to cool down again too, if you're a heat store like me ...

A quick snack and some rehydration and we're off again heading around Pipeline gully and following the track down into the scrubby creek that forms the beginings of Starlight Canyon itself. All along here I can't believe just how dry everything is... I mean, it's usually dry here, but this is just ridiculous.

Amazingy the pool that we alwasy skirt around is almost compltley dry. (We skirt around it anyway, old habits die hard).
Remembering the distances is hard and I'm quite relieved when we hit the first abseil. For me, this marks 'Stage 2 - the descent'.

In the past we have abseiled here, from a large tree on the right (looking down) and used a 40-something meter rope which just streched comfortably almost to the bottom. This right hand approach provides a very straightforward abseil with an easy start and a short 'foot free' section towards the bottom. To my surprise this time, there were no slings on the right. Instead, an equally large tree The belay slings on the left hand tree were well set up, but curiously 'joined' with a steel carrabiner and safety loop. (presumably to make retrival easier ?). I set the rope, tested the system and cautiously inspected the drop below. Slighly sideways start with the rest being foot free to the bottom ledges. All our novice abseilers needed some instruction as they rapped in, to avoid getting to far to one side as they started, and then going for a big swing after negotiating the overhang.

Having tried both sides now I would choose to set up on the right as of old, due to the more straght forward entry, ease of getting on and keeping dry for longer, (after all , this is supposed to be a dry canyon ...).

The tunnel was much drier that I have seen it in the past and consequently the Glow Worms were not as abundant as before. But there were still heaps of 'em ! The guys were suitably impressed. The bat colony seems to be going well too. Much activity could be heard above us in the center of the tunel.

The walk through the forrest to the second abseil is always nice. I love the tall trees and towering ferns. Some of the larger pools still had water in them, but it was very obviouse they were not 'running' as they usually do.

Lunch at the second abseil was bang on time ! I was starving and the Black Jelly Beans with salmon, cheese and avocado rolls really hit the spot.

The second abseil had just a trickle ow wayter flowing and was very slippery as usual, and extra care needed to be taken aporaching the lip of the overhang. Boulder hopping the rest of the way down we inadvertantly divided into several groups, each keen to find their own way down at their own pace, and re-group at the river. Pushing through the thik tangle of bush and finaly emerging into the open and then wading up the cool flowing water was a welcome relief to tired feet. Ben found a largish snake making itself comfortableon a large log at the side of the river and a few minutes later announced he had also found the road. This is the closest point I've seen to the road from the river. Literally 10m or so !!! So much for the bush bashing ! We all pushed up the bank and flopped onto the road to dry feet and put shoes and socks back on, and then re-grouped again to begin .... Stage 3 - the return walk !.

Margot really got into gear for this one and the rest of us almost had to run to keep up. At one point Ben was leading and suddenly went still as a statue wiith one one hand raised in the air to bring the rest of us to a halt. There beside the track, neatly coiled and asleep, was the fattest (Brown?) snake I've ever seen !! The rest of the walk was completed with pleasant banter to keep us going, and a short brows amongst the ruins is always educational. I opted to follow the trail the whole way this time, as in the past we've always cut through the ruins campground and crossed the creek directly to the cars. This time I wanted to see exactly where this road hit the main road. No surpirise ... It's the big washway on the right as we drive in ...Doh !

We packed up as quickly as we had unpacked in the morning and drove, tired but happy, back to Mt Vic for a well earned beer and coffee, and wedges !

This is always a nice trip, and I class it as a big day out. Mostly due to the long drive (for me) and all the walking. It's definitly not a very technical canyon and the navigation is pretty straight forward. A 50 meter rope is enough. Take head torches for the dark bit and be carefull with the glow worms....

Images from Starlight (October 2002)
All images courtesy Shane Norton

Todays Crew :
Andrew (Whanny)
Patrick and Margot
Ben Hazelton
Ben Harper

Click a pic' to see an enlargement !

Shane at Lookout Whanny at lookout
Whanny (big shillouette) cooling off
Glenn Davis from left - Whanny, Ben, Ben, Wit, Margot, Patrick
Avoiding the 1st pool final ledge into canyon
the scrubby creek Wit
Wit Margot
Andrew (Whanny) Ben
Ben Patrick