From TDMSKP Australian Outdoor Sports Guide
Gaping Gill is a bushwalk/canyon south of Bells Line of Road near Mt Tomah. Parking for the canyon is at the end of Charleys Road - Map. From the car park, head south along the ridge until you reach the spot height at NGR604833 (Mount Wilson map), at which point you should start heading almost directly south-west towards the top of the Gaping Gill gully. Simply follow the gully down to the first abseil (~20m), then continue to a second abseil (~28m) which is a few hundred meters away from Thunder Gorge. At Thunder Gorge, head upstream to the Claustral Canyon exit track, easily identified by the last swim of Claustral Canyon just upstream of it - there should be no need to swim while walking to the exit track.
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- Two 30m ropes, or one 60m rope minimum.
Drive to the Bells Line of Road, then head towards Mt Tomah. 900m past the Mt Tomah Botanical Gardens (west bound), at the top of a rise is a rest area at the intersection with Charleys Road - turn onto Charleys Road, and follow it to its end - Google Map.
Follow the large grass covered track south along the ridge past where the Claustral Canyon path turns to the right and heads down the hill. Shortly after this happens you will reach the end of the large ridge-top track and you will have to start bush bashing - head directly to the south-west, aiming for Gaping Gill gully at NGR 602831 on the Mount Wilson map.
On approach to the gully there are some patches of lawyer vines to be negotiated, but once in the gully the going is pretty easy as it opens out into a fern filled rainforest setting. Follow the gully down.
After around an hour worth of walking you will reach the first abseil. The anchor is a tree to the right side of the gully, and the abseil is down over a large boulder overhang. The abseil is about 20m. The second abseil, about 28m, is from a large obvious tree in the middle of the gully and will be found very shortly after the first abseil. This abseil drops down a narrow chute in the middle of a waterfall - you will get wet in the shallow (knee-waist deep) pool at the bottom.
Below the second abseil there is only a very short walk to reach Thunder Gorge. At Thunder Gorge, turn right and head upstream for about 45 minutes towards the Claustral Canyon exit track. There are a couple of deep wades throughout this section, none of which should be deeper than chest height. Immediately upstream from the Claustral Canyon exit track is a 20m swim - if you find yourself swimming, you have gone too far.
Follow the exit track straight up to the first cliffline, where a cairn will mark where you should turn left, and walk around under the cliff to Rainbow Ravine. Follow Rainbow Ravine all the way up. There are a couple of tricky climbs on the way up, but many of these have been modified so as to make it easier (handholds cut into the rock, sticks and logs wedged in to provide steps etc).
At the top of the ravine, simply follow the well worn path all the way to the top of the hill, down across the saddle, then continue up the hill on the other side, back up the ridge where you started. The track is well worn at all stages, and if the going starts looking uncertain, go back and find the path again.
- Group of 6 made up with 3 experienced and 3 beginners, setting a slow pace. Total trip time 7 hours.
- 40min from cars to the top of Gaping Gill Gully
- 1h 15min from top of the gully to the first abseil
- 45min from top of first abseil to top of second abseil
- 1h from top of second abseil to Thunder Gorge
- 45min from Thunder Gorge intersection to Exit track
- 2h 20min from bottom of exit track back to car (includes lunch)
- Add your group time here
- There have been no reported accidents for this canyon.
- Claustral Canyon meets up with Ranon Canyon before it meets up with Thunder Gorge, which is the Canyon Gaping Gill enters into, albeit downstream from the main canyon section.