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Waterfall abseil in Kanangra Main Canyon
Kanangra Main, (c) Lewis Fogerty

An extensive number of slot canyons are found in the Blue Mountains National Park, Wollemi National Park and Kanangra-Boyd National Park, all just a few hours’ drive from Sydney with the most popular and easily accessible canyons found in clusters around Mt Wilson, Mt Tomah and on the Newnes Plateau.

The first recorded descent of a canyon occurred in about 1940 by members of the Sydney Bush Walkers Club. It wasn’t until the early 1960’s when Australia’s iconic Claustral canyon was discovered that people started to realise that canyons were more than just an obstacle for bushwalkers to try find a route around. Sydney University Bushwalking Club began discovering clusters of canyons on the Newnes Plateau in the late 1970’s but still canyoning didn’t gain popularity recreationally outside university and bushwalking clubs with access usually involving long, hot trackless walks through the dense scrub of the Australian bush.

Today, canyoning has become very popular and the easier canyons have well trodden footpads, but many still require a long, hot walk both in and back out. A 15-20 kilometre round trip isn’t unusual. The less visited canyons require good navigational skills through trackless bush negotiating the criss-cross of ridges and gullies, and canyoners emerge at the end of the day covered in scratches looking as if they have been through a shredder. But smiles on the sweating, grubby faces tell the story of a magnificent day out through a wild, pristine place where you have felt like the first person to venture there.

The popularity and widespread reach of social media has caused a large increase in visitors. The canyons with easy access have seen the biggest increase; from a couple of hundred a year to a couple of thousand. It is time to become proactive in looking after these timeless places and ensure the ongoing access we have taken for granted as our right. There are a number of canyoning associations around the world, including USA, Europe, NZ and even Nepal and Crete but up until recently Australia was not amongst those. So, after many years of tireless work by a few dedicated canyoners, Australia finally has its own canyoning association to help foster safe and responsible canyoning and to be a voice for the canyoning community.

So, I’d like to welcome you to the website of the NSW Canyoning Association. I invite you to join the NSWCA and add your voice and passion towards helping to care for our special places, and make lots of new friends to share canyoning adventures with.

Julie Burton, Founder