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Jugglers Canyon is a short but pleasant canyon near the Grand Canyon at Medlow Bath. The canyon itself is not of great quality, but it is not bad. Look back up after you finish the final abseil. The walls there are very high and spectacular. Luckily the walks in and out are pretty short too. There are no swims if you are careful, so it can be done in winter.
It is definitely worth doing the Grand Canyon as well, if you are up for the swim. Even doing both of them is a relatively short day - around 6 hours.
It was discovered in 1993 by a SUBW party consisting of Stephen Bray, Louise De Beuzeville (the juggler) and Justin Blows.
Driving along the Great Western Highway, turn right at the lights on the railway bridge at Medlow Bath. Turn left into Rutland Rd, about 1km further on. If you reset your trip meter here, then:
- Stay right at 2.4km as you pass a sealed road on the left
- Veer left at 3.4km at the airport
- Turn left at 4.2km onto a narrow track - at a triangular metal sign pointing to electricity tower No 20
- Park at 4.4km at a fork in the track
The Pilcher Track is the one that heads off to the right. Follow this for several hundred metres as it passes under power lines and becomes a single track. After about 300m further, you will see a large live tree with a couple of holes burnt by fire in the trunk. Turn right here onto a faint track, possibly marked with a yellow and black arrow, which leads you down to the creek. There are more yellow and black arrows to follow, to keep erosion and new track formation to a minimum.
To avoid erosion, keep to the track that stays on the west bank until the creek starts dropping. After this the track becomes less defined. A 4m waterfall is soon reached, and can be scrambled, hand-over-handed or abseiled (12m from the anchor). About 100m further on are a couple of optional abseils in and to the right of the creek - these can both be scrambled around on the left.
Another 100m or so brings you to the start of the canyon section.
The canyon starts with a 9m drop into a pool, from a sling around a high branch. Veer right (facing downstream) at the bottom on to narrow ledges if you want to avoid wading/swimming. Immediately there is a 5m drop down a waterfall (9m from the anchor), though it is worth using a longer rope and staying on as the next section of creek is very slippery. There are bolts on the ledge on the left for an alternative abseil anchor.
Then there is a hand-over-hand or abseil of about 4m under a big log wedged in the creek. The final overhanging abseil is about 20m, from bolts along ledges to the left. It has a steep start. Alternatively, continue down a couple of short drops in the creek (rope may be used) and do a 12m abseil down the waterfall, again veering right at the bottom to stay dry.
Walk down the creek for about 100m to Greaves Creek. Cross Greaves Creek and scramble up the other side until you get on the tourist track. Turn left and follow the track upstream. Avoid a turnoff to Evans Lookout, and continue towards Neates Glen, criss-crossing the main creek several times.
Immediately after crossing a small side creek you will find more signs to Neates Glen and Evans Lookout. This is the end of the main canyon section of the Grand Canyon.
If you are doing Grand Canyon as well, follow the signs towards Neates Glen. The track climbs up a set of steps and then along a ledge above the canyon for around 15 minutes to the anchor point, a large set of bolts and chains.
Otherwise, the Pilcher Track (fairly faint) starts immediately back across the side creek from the signpost, just under the power lines. It zigzags steeply up the cliff line, crossing a section of landslip near the bottom. There are a few false leads in place, when it hits the minor cliff lines. Once through the cliff lines, there is a short side track out to a good lookout high above Greaves Creek and Beauchamp Falls. The track then continues up the ridge, then up the side of the gully (Jugglers) that you have just descended, and back to your car.
- Difficulty: EM
- Abseils: 3-7
- Longest abseil: 20m
- Quality: 4/10
- Time: 3-4 hours
- Distance: 5km
- Ascent: 270m
- Wetsuits: No
- Maps: 8930-1S Katoomba
Depending on which map edition you have, the Pilcher Track may or may not be marked correctly. The fire trail marked on all maps forks about 200m down, which is where you park. One branch heads NNE, the other NE. The Pilcher Track is the NE trail, which turns into a foot track heading N when it reaches the power lines. It is also possible to follow the NNE fire trail to Electricity Tower 20, and then pick up a less obvious track heading ENE to join up with the Pilcher Track.