Tuross Canyon is a great family trip if you just do the top of Tuross Falls. Alternatively, it's a good challenging canyon to do if abseiling down the falls. It's about 2 hours drive south of Canberra.
Drive south towards Cooma on the Monara Highway. Just north of Cooma. Turn left immediately after crossing the railway line, onto Numeralla Road. Follow this for about 40 minutes (after going through the hamlet of Numeralla the road changes name to Countegany Road, then a little further on to Badja Road). Turn right onto Badja Forest Road, which is a dirt road. From here, follow the signs to The Cascades -- turn right onto Peters Road, then right onto Tuross Falls Road. Follow Tuross Falls road to the end, where you can either go to the camp site or the parking area.
Follow the signs to the Cascades from the camp ground or the parking area (it's less than a 5 minute walk). From the Cascades, walk downstream for about 30 minutes to the first wade. Another 30 minutes of walking takes you to the first swim and the start of the main canyon section. This upper section mostly consists of climbing over and around large boulders.
At the first swim it is possible to climb around the right hand side and jump (~8-9m drop). It is also possible to climb back up from the water and repeat this jump numerous times, but make sure someone checks for submerged debris and overall depth before jumping. Smaller drops can also be jumped from below the main jump, on the corner.
After the first swim there is a short boulder section followed by another 100m swim, then another short boulder section followed by another long swim, then one final short boulder section before Tuross Falls, and the main abseil.
At the falls it is possible to return back up the canyon or exit up the left hand side to the tourist track if you are unable to complete the ~40m abseil. This option makes for a reasonably short day and easy canyon.
After the abseil there is a difficult climb down section into a short swim. Stick to the very right hand walk to climb down an easier chimney, rather than trying to climb down the rocks near the centre. Coming around the sharp right hand corner is another waterfall and a 5m or so drop into another pool. This can be jumped, but there are submerged rocks, so have someone climb down first and find the deep points. This is another good pool to play in, with several good jumps from various heights.
A gully leaves up to the left from this pool and looks very inviting as an exit gully as it heads straight up to the tourist track and an observation deck, however the climb up is too exposed and most of the rocks are just loosely packed in. In its current state it is way too dangerous and has seen people stranded near the top of the gully unable to get out.
Continue following the canyon downstream, around the sharp bend and after 200m of rock hopping and a short swim, the exit track heads up the right hand side of the canyon. It is not obvious at all, but follows an small overgrown ledge heading up at a comfortable angle of ascent. There is a workman's aluminium ladder right near the bottom which marks the start.
Climb up the ladder and start the precarious ascent. The 'track' is easy to follow, but it is all on loose soil on the edge of a very steep cliff, so quite treacherous most of the time.
The track takes you to the top of the narrow ridge opposite Tuross Falls, and then to a spectacular viewpoint of the falls. Continue to the top of the ridge where you find yourself at the end of a narrow fire trail. Follow the trail for only a few minutes south-west and exit the track as it turns to head directly south. Start walking directly west from the track and after you drop down into a gully, you will head up over another ridge and then down the other side you will find yourself back at the bottom edge of the first wade pool in the upper section of the creek. Continue back upstream until you reach The Cascades, then back to your car.
If you are not abseiling, either reverse the canyon or exit via the tourist track leading to the viewing platform. To exit via the walking track, walk about 100m back from the falls on the northern side of the river (right hand side facing upstream) and around a slight bend there is a rocky section of hill that is easy to climb. Walk up the hill and onto the flat section for about 400m, keeping nearby the cliff and then gully on your right hand side until you intersect the lookout track, a small but well worn trail. Turn left and follow it for about 30 minutes back to the carpark.
Group of 7 people, 4 experienced, 3 beginners. A leisurely pace was maintained the whole way - total trip was 7h 15min.
- 30min from camp ground to the first wade pool.
- 30min from first wade to first swim.
- 1h 20min from the first swim to the abseil.
- 2h 50min from the top of the abseil to the pool on the sharp bend below the abseil (includes a leisurely lunch break and a short exploration up the not-an-exit gully).
- 15min from sharp right turn to the bottom of the exit track.
- 45min from bottom of the exit track to the top of the ridge and start of the fire trail.
- 1h from the fire trail back to the Cascades.