This is a short but enjoyable series of waterfall abseils down a small rugged mountain creek in the Brindabellas, near Canberra. There is a total abseil decent of about 160m over a horizontal distance of about 150m. The walk in is short and climb out is pretty hard going, but not a great distance.
One day is required to complete the trip from Canberra and a 4WD is recommended for the drive in, as the road has many sections of steep hill with a loose rocky surface that 2WD cars would probably not make it up.
From Canberra, head out Cotter Road to Uriarra. Turn left onto Brindabella Road. Follow it for approximately 5kms before turning right into Uriarra State Forest at Blue Range Road.
Reset your odometer here:
- After about 1.2km turn left onto an uphill road with a very rocky start.
- At about 2.3km at a T-intersection, follow the trail around to the right.
- At 3.6km there’s an intersection with a track going off to the right, keep heading straight here.
- At 3.8km find a T-intersection called apple tree corner (signpost on left). Turn right and continue following Blue Range Road up the hill.
- At 5.2km you will now be out of the pine forest and across the NSW border into the Brindabellas.
- At 7.2km there’s a 4 way intersection, drive straight through following Blue Range Road.
- At 9.7km, continue straight ahead at a T-intersection with Two Sticks Road.
- At 10km ignore the small road going down the hill to the right.
- At 10.1km there is a mud pit on the road, after heavy rain it can look like a trap but should still be easy to cross in a 4WD.
- At 11km follow the main road under some powerlines, don’t follow the track up with the power lines.
- At 12.4km follow a small fire trail heading off down to the right into a valley and back up the other side. It’s signposted as Baldy Range Road if you look down the trail on the right a bit. Its easy to miss this turn.
- At 12.8km find a roundabout looking intersection with a tree in the centre. Drive straight through the roundabout following Dingi Ridge Trail.
- At 18.7km is a T-intersection with Webbs Ridge Trail. Turn left here.
- At 19km find a T-intersection with a large tree in front of you. Turn off to the right around the corner here following the Waterfall Fire Trail (signposted).
- At 22km arrive at carpark on a small bend going around to the left with a small patch of dirt to park on.
From the car park there is not much of a trail leading to the canyon, so you will be bush bashing most of the way. You want to drop into the creek above the start of the first abseil. You will need to walk for about 700m at a bearing of about 25 degrees through dense scrub, trying not to drop down the hill on the left too much. You will reach a small running creek, which you can follow downstream, over a few climb downs and reach the start of the fist large drop.
The abseils, particularly the last two, have many loose fragments of rocks on their upper half. Be careful to ensure the lay of your rope does not dislodge rocks onto you, and watch your footing. Anyone belaying from below should be careful of falling rocks, helmets are highly recommended!
First Abseil: From the top of the canyon, follow the cliff line to the left for about 15m down to a tree with slings. Abseil down the rocky face for about 20m.
Second Abseil: Climb down a bit on the left of the creek and then cross over the creek to the right side. Continue down the creek on the right, climbing down a few drops until you reach the next big drop. Find the anchor just back from the drop. This is about a 45m Abseil. It is possible to abseil 30m to a ledge and down climb the last section, although it is a little tricky and exposed.
Third Abseil: The anchor for the third abseil is just to the right of the creek and can be seen from the second abseil.
Abseil about 25m onto a small ledge.
Fourth Abseil: The next abseil is from the small ledge, with the anchor up on the right hand wall. From here, abseil about 25m to a large platform below. This ledge is slightly exposed and will probably not fit more than three people, attaching a safety line to the anchor is recommended. If your party is large you may need to send the first person down the third abseil with a 60m rope to set up this abseil so your party can come off the third abseil and continue down the fourth without crowding the ledge.
Fifth Abseil: The Fifth abseil is from an anchor on the right of the creek from a long rope extending to the edge of the drop. This is about a 45m drop to a shallow pool below.
From the last abseil, walk about 40m down the left side of the creek. From here there is a scree slope heading up the hill to the left. Just after this the creek drops down and becomes full of large boulders. Follow the scree slope uphill until it becomes hard to follow and chocked with stinging nettle. Drift up out of the right side of the scree slope and continue climbing uphill until eventually the slope starts to ease, head on a bearing of about 190 degrees until you eventually intersect the fire trail your car is parked on.
This exit is quite a difficult climb with no formed trail. Abseiling Gloves are very useful for protection against stinging nettle.
Alternatively, continue following the creek downstream for about 1.4km until you intersect a fire trail that the creek runs across. Turn left at this fire trail, follow it for about another 1.4km until you get to a T-intersection. Turn left and follow the firetrail for about 2.4km up the winding hill until you reach your car. This exit will also be difficult as the creek will likely be chocked with blackberry bushes.