On the Sunday of the Australia day long weekend, I tried my best to cram some family friendly canyoning in so that everyone with us could come along. The plan was to head out to do River Caves Canyon in the morning, then come back and do the Glow Worm Tunnel and canyon…it sort of worked out that way.
I organised to meet Penny at Zig Zag at 9am, and so had to leave the camp site at 8am. Well it turns out that after a night spent up drinking around the fire until 4am, most people don’t like to get out of bed! So we lost quite a few of the participants from River caves, and ended up heading out with just Carmen, Ben and myself to meet Penny.
We met up, then drove to the canyon, walked down the ‘Natural Bridge’ saddle into the gully. Walking along the gully (through the billion spiderwebs!) we actually managed to walk a short distance past the canyon before I stopped to check the maps and Jamieson directions, only to look up and notice the incredibly narrow crack in the cliff face covered up with bright green trees. So we walked back the 50m to the bottom end of the River Caves canyon, and upon walking into it, the change was just awesome. A ‘Canyon’ is a hard to define concept when it comes to deciding whether you are bushwalking, canyoning, or maybe you should be paddling - but instances like this make the difference oh so obvious. The difference between the gully we were walking in - a gully with cliffs on both sides of it, and a flowing creek in the middle - and the canyon that we just walked into - also with cliffs either side and a creek in the middle - left no doubt in your mind that one was really a gully, and the other was a canyon.
River Caves Canyon leaves no doubt in your mind where its name comes from either. The high walls are incredible, and the overhanging caves at water level are really quite awesome. We enjoyed the change from the hot open gully to the narrow, cool, dark canyon. Walking up the canyon (against the water flow) was very easy and the scenery was beautiful - if there was any complaint to be laid against this canyon, it is simply that it is over too soon. If you blink, you will miss it.
So after we got back to the car we dropped Penny off back at Zig Zag, then drove all the way around to Newnes again to pick up the masses for the second canyon of the day - the Glow Worm Tunnel Canyon. My plan was to drive a short distance down the road, then walk up the hill to the tunnel, but there was concern that the kids wouldn’t be able to make it (being an 8km round trip), so we decided to drive to the tunnel. Someone knew a shortcut across to the top of the plateau (because I knew the drive out to Lithgow, then back up Glow worm tunnel road took a long time) so we decided to go with that option. We crammed about 8 or 9 people into each of the two 4wd’s we had…we had to, the shortcut apparently was a 4wd track - and off we went. 3 hours later, and 18 very bored, sore people got out of our 4wd’s at the Glow Worm Tunnel parking lot. The short cut wasn’t nearly as short as I expected, and we ended up needing to go all the way along the Glow Worm Tunnel road anyway.
Oh well, we made it, and most of us decided that we would simply walk back down the hill this time, rather than go back via the 4wd track. So we walked through the tunnel - I don’t want to ruin anything here for people planning to do the tunnel, but there’s something pretty cool in the tunnel, and it rhymes with Flow Terms. Actually, to be honest, they aren’t the most impressive display of Glow worms that you can find - but to be fair, it was in the middle of the day with many many many people walking through the tunnel constantly. So the poor creatures were probably trying to hide for the most part.
Once on the other end of the tunnel, the plan was to then go back up via the canyon beside the tunnel - thus completing the Glow Worm Tunnel Canyon. But because we were walking back down into the valley below, we didn’t head back up to the cars via the canyon - so we missed out on the canyon
We did however, not miss out on the walk down into the valley, which was pretty spectacular. The walk was a very easy gradient the whole way back down to the Wolgan River, and the views from the beginning were really very nice, looking down over the valley.
We all eventually made it back to our camp site, and had a much more relaxed night than the previous one.