Trips

Newnes Canyon (often known as Starlight Canyon) is an impressive canyon in the Wolgan Valley. It has a long, dark tunnel lit by glowworms, known as the Amazing Wallaby Tunnel. It was probably first discovered in 1963 by an SUBW party, but not explored fully until much later.

Entry

See here for information on how to get to Newnes.

From the main (Little Capertee) campground at Newnes, follow the track along the left bank of the river for 2km to the bottom of the Pipeline Track to Glen Davis (signposted). There are some tracks leading to the left, away from the river, and these should be ignored. Crossing Petries Gully may involve wet feet. The bottom of the Pipeline Track is reached just after the Petries Gully crossing. Climb up to the top of the hill on the track. A sign points to a good lookout about 100m walk to the south. Continue along the main track to the watershed, where there is a National Parks sign about Starlight Canyon.

Follow the Starlight Canyon track off to the right, up and around the small hill to the east. The track then heads north-east, then swings back to the east before petering out along the saddle around MGA459279 (AMG458277, Mount Morgan). Head N then NE down the ridge, and abseil about 15m into the creek at MGA465284 (AMG464282). The creek can also be entered higher up without abseiling.

Notes

The canyon starts at MGA465284 (AMG464282). There is a 25m abseil into a large cavern. The tunnel section follows. The tunnel can fill up with water and/or debris, so the first person down must go all the way through the tunnel to the end before you pull your ropes from the abseil. There can be a couple of short drops in the tunnel, though the water is usually only knee deep. Numerous parties have run into trouble by pulling their ropes before checking the tunnel. If the tunnel is blocked, it is possible to scramble over the top of the canyon and abseil down below the tunnel.

After the tunnel finishes, there is an excellent section of canyon before a creek junction with another canyon coming in from the side (Upside-Down Canyon). Continue down the pretty creek for 800m to a 15m drop. This can be abseiled or bypassed on the left with some effort. Another creek comes in from the left (Fireball Canyon). Descend down the steep creek or on the banks either side to the Wolgan River.

Exit

Cross the Wolgan and pick up the fire trail on the other side, and head right to get back to the campground, about a 6km walk.

Comments

An excellent canyon. The tunnel and glowworms are spectacular, and once the tunnel opens up there is an outstanding section of canyon.

One 50m rope (not shorter) is sufficient for up to three abseils. While the canyon is often dry, the tunnel can fill with water and make things very difficult. This is why it is very important for the first abseiler to check the condition of the tunnel before pulling the ropes.

Torches need to be carried as the tunnel is pitch black.

The canyon should be avoided in winter (May-September) due to the risk of disturbing hibernating bats. See the sign at the saddle for more information.


Tom Brennan : website@ozultimate.com : updated 2010-01-02