Dargans Creek Canyon is a very good canyon in the Clarence area which can be done without abseiling. It is quite long and dark and has an interesting exit up spikes in a tree.
Driving west along Bells Line of Road, turn left just before the road goes over the railway bridge between Bell and Clarence, at MGA435928. Follow the sealed road right then left, and then drive along the road alongside the railway until you reach a usually locked gate after about 300m. Turn left on to a fire trail, and then right after about 100m. Follow this road for another 700m to a junction with 3 fire trails. 2WD cars may need to park here. The leftmost trail from here leads to the upper dam.
Take the right hand branch and follow it for a further 350m to a large clearing. Park here.
Follow the track E and NE over and down the hill to the bottom car park, and then turn right on a rutted out 4wd track down to the lower dam.
Scramble down into the dry creek bed below the dam and follow it through the climbing area to the right.
Follow the creek downstream. The creek slowly takes on a canyoniferous look. Sometimes the walking is easier in the creek, but mostly there will be a track on the bank. After some way, the creek drops into a canyon. There are a few climb downs, but they are not particularly difficult. There are no abseils, but wetsuits are useful as there are a few short swims. As the canyon begins to open out, you will see a small waterfall coming in from the right. There may be a rope hanging down and/or a log to climb up.
The exit first goes up the waterfall. There is usually a handline hanging down or a log that can be climbed. If there is neither then you may need to find a log and get someone up to the top. A handline is then useful to get the rest up. On top of the waterfall there is a tree with spikes that leads up to the next ledge. The ledge is somewhat exposed, although there are currently ropes to hang on to. From there a track heads first west, then up to the top of the ridge. It then turns into a 4wd track which leads back to the clearing where you parked.
If you have beginners in the group you may want to belay them up the waterfall or spiked tree. The results of a fall, particularly from the tree or the ledge that it leads to, can be nasty.
It is also possible to reverse the canyon, or to continue down the main creek. The latter option needs a long car shuffle.
- Difficulty: E
- Abseils: No
- Longest abseil: NA
- Quality: 6/10
- Time: 2-3 hours
- Distance: 3km
- Ascent: 100m
- Wetsuits: Recommended
- Maps: 8931-3S Lithgow, 8931-2S Wollangambe
Dargans Creek is an excellent introductory canyon as it has a reasonably sustained constriction, although it is not especially deep, nor is the whole canyon very long. The exit can be a little tricky, although not if everyone is confident. There are two dams, the lower of which is very popular with locals for swimming. If it is a hot day you will probably find that most of the traffic in the car park is for swimming, not canyoning. The wall on the far side of the dam makes interesting climbing, and the results of a fall are generally just a loud splash.