Macquarie Pass Canyon, or Macquarie Rivulet, is largely a scenic waterfall abseiling trip, though there are a couple of short slot-like sections. Being on the south coast, the water tends to be warmer than the canyons in the Blue Mountains.

Entry

There are several access points off the Illawarra Highway (A48) as it passes through Macquarie Pass. Coming from the coast, turn right on to the A48 from the Princes Highway (A1) at Albion Park, and right again, after 2.7km, staying on the A48. After a further 9.5km, just after crossing a bridge over Macquarie Rivulet, the bottom car park can be found on the left. This is the usual place for leaving a car for a car shuffle. A further 2.3km up the hill on the left is the Clover Hill Rd car park. This the best access to the middle section of the canyon, but only has space for around 6-8 cars. Another 5.3km up the hill there is a parking area on the right hand side of the road at the junction with Mt Murray Rd.

From the parking area at Mt Murray Road, cross the road, cross the little creek, and skirt the edge of the property, near the cliff. There is a pad for much of the way. For some of the way, the pad traverses below a minor cliffline. In theory, this keeps outside the boundaries of the property, though the landowner appears to have extended a couple of electric fences beyond their property boundary. As you near Macquarie Rivulet, descend a minor ridge to the E of a little gully, and then cut back W into the main creek when level with the top cliffs you can see in the creek. If you continue going down, a zigzagging pass gets you to the foot of the falls (below abseil 3), but you miss out on the first three drops!

Alternatively, from the parking area at Clover Hill Rd, follow the road around past the abandoned Clover Hill property, and then sharp right at the last clearing. A track and then old road takes you down to the Rivulet at the causeway at top of Rainbow Falls, about halfway through the canyon. From there it is also possible to cross the creek and follow a vague track upstream to the top of Clover Falls, missing only the first three falls which are right at the upper cliffline.

Notes

First abseil is 10m into a pool - a pothole, wet, and tricky to get out of. Alternatively a tricky dry abseil along the left with potential for a large swing. Another alternative is to abseil from the cliffline above.

Next is a 19m drop from chains on left, down the waterfall, to a large platform.

On the left side of the platform are chains for a 34m abseil down the falls. Also slings to the right for a similar length drop.

Then follows a long boulder scramble. It may be easier to walk down ridges/slopes well to the left of the creek, as the next drop is not for around 400m (120m vertical).

The next abseil is the beautiful Clover Falls, which is 23m from slings on the left, down the falls. Wade around the pool on the left.

A short way down there is a boulder section, with a series of drops and falls. These start with a short (2m) abseil or hand over hand, and a slippery walk down a sloping waterfall. Head to the right of the falls, for an 8m abseil, and then a 15m abseil down to the right of Mulangang Falls. A couple more scrambles bring you to the causeway. This whole section can be bypassed on the right above the creek via a faint track.

Immediately below the causeway is the first slot section of creek, and Rainbow Falls. There is a chain on the left (8m abseil) and then chains on the right in the creek (6m abseil). Some wading and/or a short swim in this section.

Then there is a 500m creek walk to the next set of abseils. There are some smaller falls and slides, which can be climbed around if desired.

The next set of abseils starts with a 10m abseil from chains on the right.

Then an 18m drop in two stages from chains on the left. It can be done as two drops by stopping at the top of the lower falls, and walking across to more chains. However, this would probably give a floating disconnect. A short swim gets you to the top of the next drop, which is a 3m jump that can also be bypassed on the right.

Finally there is a long section of pleasant flat creek walking to the jump rock and slide, where tourists regularly visit.

Exit

At the next creek junction on the left, a track leaves following just above the rivulet, heading back to the car park at the bottom. There is also be a track that leads up to Clover Hill Rd.

Comments

Macquarie Pass is an enjoyable day out. There is a reasonble amount of getting wet, though in the middle of summer, the water is not that cold since the canyon is near the coast.

If you do the canyon from the top, there is a considerable amount of creek walking and boulder scrambling to reach the end.