Dave's Blue Mountains Canyoning Page - Rocky Creek


Rocky Creek - Wollemi National Park

This is a truely spectacular canyon! They don't come much better. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

The only hard part about it is the LONG drive to get to it!.

No abseiling required, but you'll need a wetsuit as there are many long swims and wades (maybe a dozen or so) and some very fun jump-in's and slippery dips. There is a "beach" at the end where you can have lunch. The water is very COLD.

It is highly recommended to turn around and go back out through the canyon as the alternative way out can be tricky and requires good navigation skills, and good rock climbing skills if you scale the totally exposed rock face on the left just after the exit of the canyon.

This canyon is as magnificent as they come, and the shafts of lights penetrating the top have to be seen to be believed. It's constricted all the way, and dark and narrow in many places.

There are a few fun jump-in's (the one at the start is awesome!), some slippery dips, and a few challenging bits. A 10m rope is handy for climbing back out at the "washing machine" if you have inexperienced and unconfident members in your party. Get the first person up to tie the rope and block off the water flow with their leg, makes it easier. Competent scramblers can easily make it without a rope.

The start of the canyon is at GR480132 Rock HIll map.

An alternative entry is via Twister canyon (see below) which is highly recommended.

Equipment required:

Wetsuit mandatory. Waterproofing for gear. Handline might come in handy. Rock Hill topographical map and compass. Li-Lo is nice for the long pools to stay warmer.

More info and pics:



Above Left - Yours truely in canyoning attire. Keep the laughter to a minimum please!
Above Right - The exciting entry into Rocky Creek Canyon, an exhilarating 3-4m jump-in. It's optional, you can climb down a tricky but spectacular spiral just off to the left. The far side is a bit shallow - beware, many accidents have happened here. Always check the level first before jumping.

Above Left - The "Washing Machine" about 100m into Rocky Creek. The pool at the bottom right is very deep and it's a fun climbdown before being dunked into the pool by the force of the water. High water level can make this very dangerous, many people have been injured here. A rope is handy to climb back up it.
Above Right - Another jump-in about half way through Rocky Creek. You can also side down the rocks, take your pick or climb back up and do both. A bigger jump in can be done from a small ledge up high on the left in the photo.


Trip Reports:

Rocky Creek (Ziggy, Anne, 3 girls, Dave) Nov 2000

I had no real idea what I was getting myself in for when Ziggy invited me "canyoning". I only had a vague idea what canyoning was, something to do with creeks, lots of water and bushwalking? Sounds like fun, so I accepted. Ziggy said I needed a wetsuit, never worn one of those before, so I decided to go all out and buy a proper "canyoning" wetsuit from Eastwood camping, the cheap K-Mart wetsuits but didn't seem "cool" enough.

I met Ziggy and the girls at a service station on the way, and they picked up a few Tuff-Stuff garbage bags. I proudly showed off the garbage bags I had bought from home - "no good" Ziggy said as he gave one the stretch test, only Tuff-Stuff bags will be strong enough to use as dry bags. It wasn't too long before I found out Ziggy was right...

We headed up the mountains, me in my old Telstar, Ziggy and girls in the Camry. Ziggy was an old time canyoning, Anne had been on a few trips, but the 3 girls and myself were complete novices. I had never even worn a wetsuit before!
It was pouring down with rain on the way up but we decided to press on hoping the weather would clear, and it did. Well, at least it stopped raining which was a good sign.
I had no idea the drive would be so long, and I certainly didn't anticipate the dusty and bumpy fire trail from the Zig-Zag to the Rocky Creek car park. Luckily I had got my shock absorbers changed the week before or my poor old car would have fallen to pieces!
Ziggy set a cracking pace up ahead and I was struggling to keep up, the corrugations in the dirt road where mind numbing… thud..thud..thud..thud..thud..
We stopped along the way to double check the toppo map, and off we headed to Galah Mountain. Never heard of it, and I had no idea where I was, good thing Ziggy did! In fact I had no idea what the canyon we were headed to was called, or that canyons even had names, only later in the trip did I find out it was the famous "Rocky Creek Canyon"

Once at the car park there was only one other car with a couple of guys headed back up the track. They had just been to "Sheep Dip" they said, the water was great, whatever that meant...
We grabbed our gear, left some dry clothes in the car and headed off down the track.
Ziggy opted for the left hand track scrambling down the rock face, looked good to me, but I had no idea, I was just tagging along! It wasn't until my fourth trip to rocky creek would I learn that the left side rock face scramble was the alternative entry/exit, and not the standard entry/exit. It's certainly nicer and easier than the eroded gully track on the right hand side.
The walk down to the canyon through the lovely rainforest was awesome, I was impressed by this canyoning stuff already.
The scrambles down parts of the track were great fun, I thought this was part of the actual canyon, but we had a little further to go yet.
When we finally got to the "entrance" to Rocky Creek canyon Ziggy pointed down the canyon and said that's where we were going. I walked to the edge, and peered into the deep dark depths of the canyon, it was both frightening and exhilarating knowing that we were heading down there. I never thought I'd be doing something like this…
We suited up and packed our gear into our backpacks. This is when I learned several things, my cheap garbage bags just ripped putting the stuff in them, so no way was it going to keep out water. My simple 25L daypack also turned out to be too small, so I had to offload some gear into the other packs. Oh, and you don't tie off the bags and then try and stuff them into your tiny pack, it doesn't fit.
We were ready to climb down into the canyon through an amazing curved hole in the rock, I had never seen anything like it.
After overcoming that obstacle we were in the "canyon" and I was already awestruck, just 4m below were we stood before, yet the best was yet to come. I felt the water and thought it was cold but ok. Then we all jumped in and AGHHHHH! I had never felt water so cold in all my life! And it got worse when I climbed out of the pool and the water ran down my back inside the wetsuit! This is insane I thought, why would anyone want to do this?
After a few minutes I knew the answer, you get used to the cold, and canyons are the most spectacular places imaginable. It's like walking around in a new city, you keep staring up at the sky…
The next lesson I learned quickly was that I had the wrong footwear, regular sneakers were just hopeless and I slid with every step. The shoes would not live to see another day, the water destroyed what was left of them. I took Ziggy's advice for next time and got Dunlop Volleys.
We had a great time swimming and climbing through the canyon, only later would I learn that you can slide and jump in canyons too!
We got to dark "tunnel" like part and Anne asked if there were any glow worms in there, I had never seen glow worms so I started to get excited at the thought. But alas, no glow worms were to be found on this trip.

We finally arrived at the end of the canyon and set up on the "beach" for a well deserved late lunch. After lunch it started to get cold and one of the girls was feeling it quite bad, shivering all over, so we decided to walk out instead of putting the wetsuits back on and going back through the canyon. So we packed up, changed into dry clothes, and then it RAINED - HARD. It didn't look like it was going to stop so we had no choice but to start the walk out.
We used the remaining tuff-stuff bags as raincoats by tearing some holes for a head and arms. They didn't help much we were drenched to the bone and the rain was just an endless downpour. For some reason though I thought this was kinda fun, I think I might still have been on a high from the canyon.
Ziggy knew of two exits, a quicker one that involved a rock climb just above us, or a longer track out a km or two down the canyon. It was a no-brainer for Ziggy, we'd do the rock climb, it was getting late in the afternoon and we needed to get out of there.
It turned out not to be much of a rock climb, but a few exposed scrambles and ledge walks which were really scary for us first timers, one slip would spell major injury or death.
We braved the rock climb and came to the rock "slab" that we had to climb up. Ziggy climbed up without much trouble, and threw a rope down. We used the handline to scramble up the 5m slope.
Then came some more climbing and bashing up the ridge, and some tracks would faintly appear then disappear, we were scrub bashing all right…
The toppo map came out and Ziggy pointed us in the direction we had to go, the rest of us were completely lost so we just shrugged our shoulders, crossed our fingers and headed off. It was hours of endless scrub bashing in the pouring rain, when all of a sudden we walked out between the tree's and there were the cars! What a sight for sore eyes. Ziggy had guided us right back to the cars, we were all amazed. Of course the rain stopped just after we got to the cars - typical.

Thus ended my first canyoning adventure. I was tired, cut to shreads from the trees, bleeding, drenched to the bone, had blisters on my feet, and my shoes had fallen apart.
I was hooked! I couldn't wait to do it again!

Rocky Creek (Dave, Mark, Amara) Jan 2001

Mark couldn't wait to do Rocky Creek after I had told him about how great it was my first time there. The magnificent slot canyon, the pools, the jumps, the slides.
So I talked Amara into coming and we headed off.
The drive was long but non-eventful, I guided us there by memory and we didn't need the notes. A good start.
We took the route down the left hand cliff line Ziggy had shown me and we made our way to the canyon. It was already quite late in the day, and several groups passed us on the way out of the canyon.
We did the jump-in at the start of the canyon, our first real canyon jump-in, it was great fun.
We reached the end of the canyon for a well earned snack, and I went off exploring a bit up one of the side canyons but there wasn't anything to be found.
Amara wasn't too keen to go back through the canyon, but there was no way we were going to take that horrible rock climb and scrub bash out again, and I hadn't done the other exit route before. I had the guide book with notes for the alternative exit, but it sounded kind of vague and we didn't like to chance it, even with the topo map, so we opted to go back through the canyon. Progress was fairly slow and Amara had problem getting back up a few of the drops. The water level was high this day, so climbing back up the "washing machine" was difficult with the force of the water pushing us back down. I got up first and set up the handline through a hole in the rock a few meters behind, and we finally got Amara up the difficult section with me helping from the top and Mark helping from the bottom. I think Mark almost drowned in that pool, the water was relentless. With that out of the way the exit was near, and while Amara rested out at the exit Mark and I took turns doing the jump-in and taking photo's.
We pack up and headed on out, it was getting late.
This was our first time walking back out of Rocky Creek, and thought we'd have no troubles with the well defined track. We didn't, until we came to the end of the gully and started to look for the climb back out. There was very little light available at this stage and the track seemed to just vanish into thin air. While Amara rested and shook her head, Mark and I started a systematic search for the exit climb. The gully was only 50m or so wide but it proved difficult to find the exit, although it had been clear and obvious on the way in. For a minute we contemplated getting the topo out and checking our position, but after a little thought I just KNEW we were at the right spot, we had to be, there was no other place we could have been. The cars were only a few hundred meters away above our heads, but light was fading fast.
Mark climbed up on a section and finally found a familiar stump that he almost impaled himself on during the walk in. We all gave a big sigh of relief and started the climb out, we had wasted a lot of time looking for a track that was right under our noses. Little did we know that the main tourist exit track was obvious and back a few hundred meters. I later found out that many people have been caught by the same Rocky Creek "vanishing track".
When we got back to the cars it was dark, any later and we would have had real trouble finding that exit with only the one torch I carried.
Thus ended another long canyoning trip at Rocky Creek, it would never take that amount of time again.

Rocky Creek & Twister Canyons (Dave, Nicole, Matt, Sonia) - 26th Jan 2002.

Australia day proved to be a popular day for canyoning.
I promised Matt & Sonia that the Twister/Rocky Creek combo was not to be missed, and they eagerly agreed to go. Nicole wanted to finish off Rocky Creek that she missed last season, and was keen to do Twister again. Mark & Neil both bailed at the last minute, so it was down to the four of us.
We got to the Rocky Creek carpark in dismal weather, it was overcast and sprinkling rain, we figured it was not going to storm so we felt it was safe to continue.
There were certainly no shortage of cars at the car park, and we knew we'd have to fight for space in the canyons.
We got to the start quickly, and on the way the rain had stopped. As we suited up the clouds started to clear and we felt we were in for a good day.
In we went, jump, slide, jump, jump, slide, jump…
Matt & Sonia were having a ball, and Nicole & I were doing jumps and slides that we missed last time being so cautious. There were plenty of photo opportunities as we took turns jumping, Nicole and I even did a hand-in-hand tandem jump!
We arrived at the Big Jump, and Matt was keen to do it. He climbed to the top and decided to take off his helmet as he thought it would make the impact difficult. He tossed it down into the water and it floated off to the side. He was ready for the jump - 3-2-1 AGGHHH!
Sonia cringed as he leaped out and soared through the air. It looked as though he had jumped to far and was headed straight for the far wall… but in the end he missed it by a few feet. It looked like a close call to us, but Matt said it was no problem. By the time he got to the side of the pool he started to look for his helmet, and it was no where to be seen. Did the waves push it into the next pool we thought?, a quick check revealed it was not there. Matt & Sonia stood around for a wile scratching their heads when it dawned on them that the only place it could be was at the bottom of the pool!
Bugger, the pool was deep and Matt dove down to get it. Sonia gave it a go too without success. Matt finally recovered it on his third attempt, and said it was resting on a ledge of another deeper pool at the bottom which he could not reach nor see the bottom of. A few inches more and it would have dropped into the abyss for good.
Nicole and I once again climbed up for the big jump, but again wimped out, we just weren't cut out for the big jump. "Next time" we vowed…

We were passed at that point by the biggest group of canyoners I had ever seen. We ran into another group at the exit and they were doing abseil/rescue training on the final drop. They warned us about a "huge" group that had passed them earlier that had headed on to Rocky Creek.

On we went to Rocky Creek and the traditional lunch at the entrance. We expected a few people, but were surprised to find a group of what we later counted to be 18!, plus there was another small group there as well!
Luckily the big group was getting ready to head into the canyon which left a little room for us to eat some lunch. The practice group soon turned up as well, and it must have been 30+ people at the entrance to poor old Rocky Creek canyon!
We spoke with a few of the big group and it turned out they were almost all beginners with one obvious "leader". Here we were in our wetsuits getting quite cold, and the "leader" had nylon shorts and a loose tank top. To top it off he had bare feet!, oh, and a big SLR camera too.
Most of the group had no wetsuits and many of the teenage girls were getting very cold, it was obvious they were not told what they were getting themselves into.
We shook our heads in disbelief as they left some rubbish at the entry and headed off into the canyon. We hoped they would come back to collect the rubbish.

We enjoyed the extra space at the entrance and took our time eating lunch. It was then into the canyon we went. Jumps, slides, scrambles, swims, Rocky Creek had it all. Sonia, Matt & Nicole were impressed. The big group had left the SLR camera and gear sitting on a rock in the middle of the canyon, we figured they'd come back out to collect it.
Someone on the way back out the canyon told us about a "2 dead kangaroos" further up the canyon, and we'd smell them before we saw them - great. As we started the swim section we did indeed start to smell the kangaroos, and it wasn't pleasant. It got worse as we went along, and almost unbearable in parts. We went as fast as we could, no time to stop and admire the view on this trip!
We reached the end of the canyon and debated wether to go back through the canyon which was our plan. Time didn't seem to favour us so we had to brave the kangaroos once again. I think we set a record for doing the reverse half of the canyon!
A few more slides and jumps and we were out of there.

We met up with the