The Ultimate Brisbane Canyoning Guide

 

South East Queensland holds a great collection of canyons suitable for beginners and experienced alike. Canyoning is a sport growing in popularity due to its team based fun nature and the curiosity to explore the world from new perspectives.

 

If you aren’t sure what canyoning is all about, have a read of this article:

 

What is canyoning? Is canyoning for you?

 



 

BRISBANE CANYONING- THE GUIDE, AND WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW!

 

Like all other canyons around the world, they are generally one way trips and inescapable in most parts. If you can’t make it past an obstacle or abseil- you're stuck! It’s important to have the skills, team and experience to make it down canyons.

 

The Brisbane canyoning guide is intended to be used by canyoner's experienced enough to work autonomously in the canyon environment.

 

This guide does not give exact directions on entries and exits on some canyons as these should be done by people with suitable navigation skills. Using a GPS often does not work in the gorges and canyons so map reading skills are essential.

 

Using a map, compass and your situational awareness, most canyons have no difficulties in entry/exit navigation that a competent team couldn't work out. Some canyons will have more detailed information than others. 

 

If anything has changed in any of the canyons, like anchors being destroyed in floods or entry/exit tracks not as they once were, please let me know so I can update it for others! This guide has the most current information out there. Your help is appreciated in keeping the list up to date! Simply contact me to report a change.



 

S.E Queensland canyons- what you need to know!

 

► The entry or exit to a canyon can sometimes be difficult. Navigation skills are required as GPS signal will not work in some areas or canyons. Use Q-Topo to print out the suitable maps.

 

► The canyons can change! Flooding occurs in the summer months (December-March) and can destroy anchors. You should be capable at building natural anchors or carry a bolting hand drill kit.

 

► Avoid canyons before, during or after heavy rain! Flash flooding can occur and canyons are nasty places in high water and require knowledge of the canyon, as well as canyoning swift water techniques.

 

► Many canyons around the area can have sharp edges on some abseils. Ensure you watch for these and do things like; use rope protectors (except for last person down), change the rub point on each abseiler, avoiding ‘bouncing’ on the rope, use SRT rope creeping techniques, or just keep an eye on the rope sheath. Frayed or cut ropes are not the canyons fault- it’s ours! Look after your ropes!

 

 

 

READ MORE:

 

How to start canyoning

 

Canyoning Techniques and Skills You Need to Learn!

 

The Ultimate Canyoning/Canyoneering Film List. Every Film You Need to Watch!

 

 

 

 

Map overview of canyons around Brisbane:

 

 

Canyon table of contents:

 

1. Burnett canyon

2. Black Canyon

3. Coomera Canyon

4. Watsons Creek Canyon

5. Kinannas Falls Canyon

6. Back Creek

7. Bulls Falls

8. Love Creek Falls

9. Ballunjui Falls

10. Long Creek Canyon


 

 

 

 

1 ► Burnett canyon

 

 

Also known as Urbanville canyon, Burnett Creek is a nice canyon with plenty of action for its short length. The area features numerous fire trails and 4wd tracks that cris-cross the area, but one sure way to get there is to start HERE heading north along the track, making sure to go under the big power lines, across the small creek, and head up Dead Horse mountain, eventually hitting the border fence. Use the canyon location found below (using GPS) to help navigate there.

 

*Update: GPS track for entry is now HERE. Special thanks to Luke Cox for providing this.

 

At the border fence, 100 meters or so after a small wooden shelter, it forms a sharp right angle (photo above). Jump over the two fences and head NE going down the fire trail until another one comes in from the left. Take this track which heads roughly west, then near the end there is tape on some trees and a faint track heading down. Follow this until you reach the creek, follow it downstream and the canyon starts a short distance later.

 

If you are walking this track, there is quite a bit of uphill. I recommend using, or finding someone, with a 4WD as this becomes a very easy trip with one. Its a 30-45 minute drive with 4WD. Expect a walk in to take 3-4 hours if you lack a 4WD. Mountain bikes can also be used, and are very handy, at least for the downhill part on the way back.

 

Beware that even when using a 4WD, rain makes the track impassable and fallen trees are common after storms. Your 4WD will also be brushing up against vegetation like Lantana on the narrow sections. As of Dec 2018, a significant area of erosion is forming on one part of the track and may make it impossible to use a 4WD in the near future.

 

The canyon itself is quite nice with 6-7 abseils, with one of them being an optional jump. And there are a few cool slides as well. All abseils are bolted, but still carry anchor building material just in case as high water levels can affect or destroy them. 

 

If you would like a guided trip, see Green Frog Adventures.

 

Length of rope required: 1x 60 meter

Highest abseil: 23 meters

Jumps: 1 (4 meter) which can be abseiled.

Abseils: 6-7

Wetsuits: Yes

Anchors: All bolted

 

Trip length: Long day if walking in, a short day if using a 4wd.

Difficulty in normal water flow: Medium

Commitment level: High

Navigation: Medium

Notable things to watch out for: Take a wetsuit, even in summer. Avoid taking large groups through as there are limited spots out of the water through the middle section.

Quality: 8/10

 

Canyon location: -28.312907, 152.556709

 


 

2 ► Black Canyon

 

 

Black canyon is on the left branch of Albert River and is accessed from the Albert river circuit track from Green Mountains in Lamington National Park. It's a big day out with the walk in and out taking up a big chunk of the effort. The upper part of the canyon is average but as it narrows towards the end it is the last two abseils that make it worth it!

 

To start, follow the Albert river circuit track until you hit the creek the canyon is on (use topo map) and enter the creek!

 

The track out is quite possibly nonexistent if you cannot find it. Its approximately 1km downstream on the true right, from the last abseil. Head uphill until you hit the graded track again. If you are not experienced in off-track navigation you may find this very difficult. Many parties have been benighted so please take a topo map and GPS! You can download the exit track GPS file HERE.

 

Length of rope required: 1x 60 meter

Highest abseil: 30 meters

Jumps: 1 (optional)

Abseils: 5

Wetsuits: Yes

Anchors: Natural with some old rusty pitons

 

Trip length: Long day.

Difficulty in normal water flow: Medium

Commitment level: High

Navigation: Hard

Notable things to watch out for: Anchors may be in bad state, take material to replace old pitons and plenty of webbing. No bolts in the canyon. 2 pitons for the last abseil.

Quality: 7/10

 

Canyon location: -28.269425, 153.159282

 


 

3 ► Coomera Canyon

 

 

Coomera Canyon, also known as 'Coomera Crevice', is my favourite canyon. Unlike many other ‘canyons’ in Queensland, this is a proper canyon! It has high walls, is visually stunning, and has decent water running through it most of the time. The canyon is now bolted throughout with most anchors high up on the sides to survive flood events, but always carry anchor building materials just in case. 

 

To access the canyon, walk along the Coomera river circuit, passing Coomera Falls lookout, and enter the creek when you cross it. You have a few swims early on and it is reversible up until the large log slide/jump. After this point, it becomes impossible to reverse or escape until the very last 60 meter abseil!

 

In anything but average water levels, at least one member of your group should have high flow canyoning experience. Be aware that this canyon has water hazards that form in very high water levels. The topo PDF (download below) has a picture for reference, but always use your own judgement and check the preceding 2 weeks for precipitation amounts.

 

 


Interested in getting the detailed topo for Coomera Canyon? Click here for more info!

 

 

 

   

 

 

For the exit of the canyon, there are two options:

 

OPTION 1) Rock hop 1Km downstream, which takes roughly 1 hour for most parties, and start searching the creek side (right side, facing downstream) for some pink tape amongst the rainforest. There is also an old wooden marker in amongst the trees somewhere as well (Approximately 10-20 meters away from the creek). This is quite hard to find and will take some time if you are doing it for the first time. Once found, there is an easy scramble up a small 3 meter cliff with plenty of tree roots to grab. From then on the track often changes direction around bluffs and many people become lost here. Take your time, stop, and go back if you have lost the way. If you do know the way, expect the exit to take 2-3 hours after the 1Km rock hop from the base of the falls. This exit is highly recommended to be done with someone who knows the way out.

 

 

**You can find my GPS track on Wikiloc HERE*** 

 

 

 

OPTION 2) Follow Coomera creek all the way until Gwongoorool Pool and then head up the track. This requires a car shuffle and takes longer (4-5 hours) but is easier in terms of effort and navigation. This way is recommended for those not familiar with the exit route of option 1.  

 

Length of rope required: 2x 60 meter (no shorter)

Highest abseil: 60 meters

Jumps: 1x 4m (plus 2-3 small ones)

Abseils: 5

Wetsuits: Yes

Anchors: All bolted

 

Trip length: Long day.

Difficulty in normal water flow: Medium

Commitment level: High

Navigation: Hard

Notable things to watch out for: Large rain events cause this canyon to become extremely dangerous with re-circulating hydraulics and potential foot entrapment's. Give the canyon 7 or more days after a 50 to 80mm+/12 hr rain event. This canyon is inescapable in the entire lower section. Make sure you have the skills to continue no matter what you find! Bolts can get mangaled from floods through the canyon so be prepared with anchor building materials. NEW: R1 abseil on topo (the big log), no longer has anchors. Slide down the log or jump (after checking its clear).

Quality: 10/10

 

Canyon location: -28.235435, 153.191445



 

4 ► Watson’s Creek Canyon

 

 

A short but sweet canyon, the walk in is over before you know it. It gets more traffic these days, and has a narrow lower section which is the highlight. It can dry up in the winter months, so the best time is after the new year or after some rain has been. As usual, if the water level looks high, don’t do it.

 

Park your car around HERE somewhere and look for a gate in the fence.

 

For the exit, head up the slope as soon as you exit the canyon. There is a faint track there made by me on over several trips.

 

Length of rope required: 2x 60 meter

Highest abseil: 50 meters

Jumps: 0

Abseils: 3

Wetsuits: Yes

Anchors: Natural & bolted

 

Trip length: Medium day.

Difficulty in normal water flow: Medium

Commitment level: Medium

Navigation: Medium

Notable things to watch out for: Rock can be sharp and loose in the canyon, watch rope placement and pull downs.

Quality: 6/10

 

Canyon location: -28.280460, 152.535448



 

5 ► Kinnanes falls

 

 

Similar to Watson's canyon, Kinnanes falls is open and exposed. The abseils are high with two 50 meter drops. The walk in and out are relatively short so for a bigger day, combine this and Watson's canyon together as they are not too far apart with a drive. It can dry up in dryer months, so the best time to go is in the new year after some rain has been. As usual, if the water level looks high, don’t do it.

 

Length of rope required: 2x 60 meter

Highest abseil: 50 meters

Jumps: 1

Abseils: 2-3

Wetsuits: Recommended

Anchors: All bolted

 

Trip length: Short/medium day.

Difficulty in normal water flow: Easy

Commitment level: High

Navigation: Medium

Notable things to watch out for: Rope pull-downs can occasionally be tricky if you don’t plan it properly.

Quality: 6/10

 

Canyon location: -28.237750, 152.506618

 

 

 

Other abseil trips around brisbane

The following trips are also worth doing as practice for the bigger ones if you are building skills, or you just want something fun to do. They are not proper canyons, but can still have their own dangers, so please be cautious.

 

 

 

6 ► Back creek

 

UPDATE: As of January 2018 the area has significant restrictive boundaries in place. Lip falls is off limits but the first waterfall still remains open. As I have heard this has been because of a few incidents, none of which were because of canyoners (thank goodness). Please check signage if thinking about doing the trip and remember to LEAVE NO TRACE. If you do decide to do the trip, approach it without being obvious to deter the public from exploring further. A huge impact was made lower down at Killarney Glen from the publicity of the 'heart pool' which led to hundreds of the public being in one place. See picture below for more about the boundaries. If anyone has further information in addition to this please let me know. 

 

 This is a fun one to do and introduce others into the sport of canyoning. It is an open gorge, with some creek walking in between each drop. Finding the start is easy. Just enter the creek as you cross it, heading downstream, or walk along the trail for a few minutes until a fire trail appears on the right. Your car will be parked here: -28.113244, 153.190360

 

Exit is a well worn track on true left of the creek, and there are multiple tracks now that can be followed. With private property and the creek funnelling you back to your car, you'll make it either way, it shouldn't be too hard to find your way back. A bit of scrambling can be involved.  

 

If you would like a guided trip, see Green Frog Adventures.

 

Length of rope required: 1x 60 meter

Highest abseil: 20 meters

Jumps: 1

Abseils: 3-4

Wetsuits: Optional

Anchors: All bolted

 

Trip length: Short/medium day.

Difficulty in normal water flow: Easy

Commitment level: Low

Navigation: Easy

Notable things to watch out for: Rock can be sharp in certain places. Watch bouncing and rope pull-downs.

Quality: 6/10

 

Canyon location: -28.110826, 153.192189

 

 

 

7 ► Bulls Falls

 

Located at Mt Mee in D'Aguilar National Park, this is a fun abseil trip in an open gorge type setting. A 4WD is not necessary. Start at the lookout, and away you go!

 

To exit, after the last abseil, walk downstream for 1km OR bush bash your way to the top again. Walking downstream, you will hit the dirt 4WD track. On weekends, the 4WD tracks are very busy, so I have often just hitched a ride back to the top to save the uphill slog.  

 

Length of rope required: 1x 60 meter

Highest abseil: 30 meters

Jumps: 0

Abseils: 3-4

Wetsuits: No

Anchors: Natural

 

Trip length: Medium day.

Difficulty in normal water flow: Easy

Commitment level: Low

Navigation: Easy

Notable things to watch out for: Rock can be sharp in certain places. Watch abseilers bouncing and rope pull-downs.

Quality: 5/10

 

Canyon location: -27.082625, 152.696350

 

 

 

8 ► Love creek falls

 

Don't be put off as you walk past the crowds at the Cedar creek swimming hole, they rarely venture where you will go. Head upstream from the water hole, taking the right branch (facing upstream) when it splits until you hit the obvious Love creek falls, a 3 tier waterfall. Scramble up the right to get to the top. Now has bolted anchors to make things easier. Another good one for beginners.

 

Length of rope required: 1x 60 meter

Highest abseil: 30 meters

Jumps: 0

Abseils: 3

Wetsuits: No

Anchors: All bolted

 

Trip length: Medium day.

Difficulty in normal water flow: Easy

Commitment level: Low

Navigation: Easy

Notable things to watch out for: Rock can be sharp in certain places. Watch bouncing and rope pulldowns.

Quality: 5/10

 

Canyon location: -27.315278, 152.766895

 

 

 

9 ► Ballunjui Falls

 

 

With a high cascading waterfall dropping over 100 meters, it's well worth taking a look at this one if you like adventure and want to explore the less travelled paths! Head to the Ship's Stern circuit and take the detour to the top of the falls as noted. To exit after the last waterfall, take the lower Bellbird track back up to Binna Burra.

 

To add extra adventure to this trip, you can enter the creek much earlier for an extra 2-3 abseils.

 

Length of rope required: 2x 60 meter

Highest abseil: 60 meters

Jumps: 0

Abseils: 3-4

Wetsuits: No

Anchors: Natural

 

Trip length: Medium-long day.

Difficulty in normal water flow: Easy

Commitment level: Medium

Navigation: Medium

Notable things to watch out for: Rock can be sharp in certain places. Watch bouncing and rope pulldowns.

Quality: 5/10

 

Canyon location: -28.212973, 153.202579

 

 

 

10 ► Long creek canyon

 

Unlike the name suggests, this is not a canyon but rather an open gorge with 3 abseils. I would not recommend this trip unless you enjoy lots of uphill/downhill along the QLD/NSW border track.

 

If you are still hell bent on checking this place out, park at the border crossing along Lions road. Head uphill along the border and follow that for 4-5 hours. You will be close to death at this point, so summon just a little more energy to do the 3 abseils, then look forward to the entire trip back along the border from where you came.  

 

Tip 01: Take mountain bikes.

Tip 02: Don't do the trip. 

 

Read the story of our trip to Long Creek Canyon HERE.

 

Length of rope required: 1x 60 meter

Highest abseil: 25 meters

Jumps: 0

Abseils: 3

Wetsuits: No

Anchors: Natural

 

Trip length: An extremely long day.

Difficulty in normal water flow: Easy

Commitment level: Medium

Navigation: Medium

Notable things to watch out for: Dehydration on walk in and out.

Quality: 0/10

 

Canyon location: -28.320338, 152.893292

 

 

 

 

And there you have it! Brisbane's ultimate canyoning guide!

 

While this list covers 90% of the best places to go canyoning around the Brisbane area, they are in no way the only trips you can do. There are plenty of single waterfalls to abseil, and maybe if you look hard enough, you might still discover another hidden canyon!

 

Keep exploring and have fun!


 

 

 

Disclaimer:

Rope sports are dangerous. Mistakes can be fatal. The information in these pages for the most part is provided by me, and is based on my own opinion, experiences and research.

 

No responsibility or liability is taken for any harm, death or loss of property that may result in what you read on this website or these pages.

 

The track notes are at best, a guide, an indication of the canyon at the time they were written or updated. They can become rapidly outdated. They are no substitute for appropriate experience. Parties that venture into these canyons need to be prepared for changed conditions.

 

 

 

 

 

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