Grand Canyon - Blackheath
This is nice easy canyon that is easy to get to and out of via a fully maintained track, and is suitable for the beginner. There are over half a dozen short swims, most of which can be scrambled around if you like. Only one or two pools are compulsary.
Abseiling is optional for this canyon. If you don't want to abseil then you can start from the end and then work your way back to the start and then back out again. You get a different perspective doing the canyon from both directions as well. The abseil is great fun though, about 15m from the tree to the floor, 5m of that is a slope and the rest is overhang. The edge is bit tricky for beginners, be careful. If you want to abseil in then there is a tree at the start which has now broken in half and fallen into the canyon (I was there when it happened!). It was still safe to abseil from this tree trunk when we did it, it seemed very sturdy.
The canyon is relatively short and takes about 45min one way at most. You can do some canyon sections further up from the main waterfall, but I haven't tried these. The main abseil point is just after the main waterfall that drops away into the canyon, you'll know it when you see it.
The water is a tad cold, and if you plan on swimming it all the way you'll need a wetsuit. If you plan on scrambling around the pools then you can get away with shorts and a t-shirt on a hot and humid day. There are several compulsary swim up to 30m and some other places where you will get wet but that's about it.
There are no jump-in's unfortunately, so you can do the entire canyon without getting your head wet if you are careful. There are quite a few tricky climbing bits with logs and large rocks and everything in the canyon is slippery so watch your step. There are many submerged tree trunks which can be nasty if you aren't paying attention.
Watch out for the bright red yabbies in the water too, try not to step on the poor little fellas!
Oh, and watch out for people throwing things down into the canyon, the track above is very popular with tourists and foolish kiddies. If you abseil in you will no doubt have a croud of tourists watching you!
The Grand Canyon and the track to it are filled with Glow worms that only come out at night, it's spectacular walking along the track at night where the glow worms just cover the walls :)
Waterproof gear. 40m rope for the abseil, or no rope required for the non-abseil version (hand line is handy). No wetsuit required although it's advisable.
How to get there:
Follow the Great Western Hwy to Blackheath and turn right onto Evens Lookouk Rd and keep going a few km. Park at Neats Glen carpark (or Evens Lookout if you want to come in via that way).
Walk about 40min down the Grand Canyon track and you will find the abseil tree (stump) with a sling around it just 1m from the track. If you don't want to abseil then keep going until you hit a sign pointing right to Evens Lookout, turn LEFT here and head along an old unmarked track and it leds straight into the canyon, keep going to do the canyon and come out the same way. You can either go back out via the Grand Canyon track the way you came in (the shortest), or you can go back via the Eveans Lookout track (the scenic route). You can short cut along the top between Evans Lookout and Neats Glen, so you can park at either.
Grand Canyon (Dave, Mark)
After my first canyoning adventure at Rocky Creek, I wanted
more, and I wanted to lead my own trip. I chose the Grand Canyon because I knew
the track, and so I convinced Mark to come along as well, canyoning wouldn't
be any fun on my own I figured.
Mark didn't need much convincing after I told him all the fun we had at Rocky Creek, so we made plans to go on the Sunday. On Saturday we went Dunlop Volley & wetsuit shopping. Mark has two different size feet, so we had to do the old switcheroony with the shoe boxes at K-Mart, and voila, custom fitted Volleys!
Mark needed a wetsuit so we raced over to Eastwood Camping as I knew they had one left.
Eastwood Camping was CLOSED, bugger, I forgot they like to go out on the weekend rather than work. Luckily it was Christmas time and they were going to open for a few hours on Sunday morning which they don't normally do. So we had to race over there in the morning, pick up the wetsuit, and then head straight to the canyon.
Luckily the wetsuit fitted, well, kind of, Mark didn't have much choice. We grabbed the wetsuit and off we went to the Grand Canyon.
We got to Neats Glen sometime after lunch and the weather was
We didn't own any abseiling gear yet, so we would have to reverse the canyon from the bottom.
The walk in from Neats Glen was short and nice as it always is. At the abseil spot we climbed down a bit to take a look down into the canyon, too bad we didn't have abseiling gear. The standard abseiling tree right next to the tourist track that has been used since the dawn of time and had all the usual slings around it. It was looking as sturdy as it ever was (more on this later!).
Off we continued to the end of the canyon which was soon reached.
We suited up, packed our gear into Tuff Stuff garbage bags, and Mark eagerly
jumped into the long pool. His first experience with canyon water was the same
as everyone else - ARGHHH!!!
His off the rack wetsuit had a lot of slack and the cold canyon water ran down through as he stood up. He sweared that he would kill me if I got within lunging distance!
As usual, we got used to the cold and headed on up the nice
canyon, scrambling, swimming and admiring the view along the way. We ran into
a few groups coming through the canyon in the other (more normal) direction.
They joked about us heading in the wrong direction, and we felt a bit out of
place as all the other groups had helmets, rope, harnesses and proper canyoning
packs etc and here we were storming up the canyon in the other direction. At
least we looked like real canyoners in our Dunlop Volley's and new Neptune canyoning
It was a bit dark in places and we contemplated getting out the torch, but we managed ok without it.
We didn't know how much further it was through the canyon and were beginning to get concerned about the time, we agreed that if we ddin't reach the end in another 30minutes we'd turn around and head back. It turns out that the end was just around the corner, and we swam right up to the waterfall at the "entrance".
We soaked in the atmosphere and then headed back out the canyon.
On the walk back out to Neats Glen we heard what sounded for al lthe world like a thunder clap. We looked up at the perfect cloudless blue sky and scratched our heads, then as we came around the corner a couple of canyoners were standing amazed at the base of what was once the mighty Grand Canyon abseil tree. It had snapped off and fallen into the canyon right in front of them!
It's really humbling to be there when something like that happens, you really appreciate what things can happen in a canyon. It's lucky no one was abseiling off the tree when it fell, there is a good chance they would have been killed.
It turned out that this couple had bought their dog along to do the canyon (stuffed him in the pack while abseiling) and he was roaming around on the ledges without a lease. He chased a lizard down an embankment and slid about 4m downto a ledge below. The owner had to rope up and go down to retrieve the dog who was unharmed. Silly stuff.
Thus ended our first canyoning adventure on our own, it certainly wouldn't be our last.
24/3/01 - Grand Canyon (Dave, Nicole, Phil, Janelle)
This trip was originally intended to be to Serendipity, so we
started at the Cathedral camp ground. It was a cold drizly day so we decided
to suit up at the cars. We followed the Jamieson Ed3 notes and headed off. Thinking
that the track would lead us straight to this very popular canyon, we were too
busy chatting and didn't bother to keep track of were we were. After about 30
minutes of walking we figured something must wrong and we stopped to check the
toppo and GPS. It turns out we were on the track to the Wollamgabie #2 exit
- damn! We had overshot the Serendipity branch track by a long way. It was getting
close to lunch time so we decided to abort back to the cars and do the Grand
Canyon instead. I was the only one with a harnesses, and we knew the multiple
abseils in Serendipity would take forever, so we didn't want to risk it. The
Grand Canyon had one abseil and was short. It was a no-brainer we thought. It
turns out that the Serendipity description in the edition 3 guide was not the
correct one, it was fixed in edition 4!
The 30 odd minutes back to the cars (still in the wetsuits!) was tiring and we just couldn't have been bothered to get out of the wetsuits, so off we drove to the Grand Canyon in our wetsuits!
We got a few funny stares as we piled out of the car in wetsuits,
but it was very efficient, as the packs were all ready to go, so we just grabbed
them and headed off. That was the quickest deployment ever!
The walk in was as quick and nice as it always is, and we got to the abseil with plenty of time to spare for the day.
The stump of the abseil tree which Mark & I saw snap in half and fall into the canyon on our last trip was still there, complete with the original slings. The slings looked in good shape so we went with them, but to make everyone feel more at ease I also installed a backup sling which we could retrieve on the way out.
This is when our "quick trip" down the Grand started
to take a little longer than expected.
I instucted Phil & Janelle on the use of the Pitt Stop and tying into the anchor for protection.
We agreed on a rope "tug" signal that would indicate that the person was down and was ready to haul the harness back up. We figured that shouting would be useless from the bottom of the Grand Canyon and we were right.
I deployed the rope and went down first. No major drama's and the abseil was nice. I got out of the harness, tied it to the rope and did the "tug" to indicate to pull it back up.
It turns out that they couldn't feel the tug and it was a good 10-15 minutes before they started to haul it back up. Then it was another good 20 minutes before Janelle started to come down. By this stage I was getting quite cold down on the canyon floor. We hauled the gear back up for Nicole with the same delays. Phil followed quickly, but we had wasted a good hour and a half getting 4 people down one abseil! The lesson being, make sure everyone has their own gear, that was the first and last abseil trip we would do without everyone having their own gear.
The rest of the canyon was delightful, and we picked up some rubbish on the way out. We went back to Neats Glen so we could retrieve the backup tape.
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