Surefire Canyon is an excellent canyon in the lower reaches of Rocky Creek. It involves a number of short, tricky abseils and a long, impressive constriction. It was named after a Tom Williams comment that he knew of a "surefire canyon". The attempt on that trip was aborted due to rain and other problems. It was first descended by Tom Williams, Dave Noble, Ted Daniels and Tony Haigh in October 1976.


See Newnes Plateau & South Wolgan Fire Trails for information on how to drive to the starting point.

From the start of the Deanes Lookout track at the locked gate at MGA463142 (AMG462141), follow the fire trail N for about 1.8km to a junction. Keep left, and follow the trail for another 3km to a large clearing, where another track joins from the SE. An old fire trail heads along the ridge to the NE, leaving from just north of the clearing, although its starting point is very vague. It becomes clearer fairly quickly, and it is easy enough to just aim to intersect the ridge to pick up the trail. The trail swings around to the east and finishes around MGA472200 (AMG471198). Head E down the ridge into the creek. It is possible to get down without abseiling. The canyon begins shortly downstream.


The canyon starts at MGA476201 (AMG475199) with a 12m drop from a tree on the right, followed by a short abseil (4m) or hand over hand. A tricky 10m abseil over a chockstone immediately follows, and then a section of classic winding canyon. Finally there is a 10m drop through logs from a massive log jam. Consider your choice of anchor carefully. Then there is a short awkward climb down or abseil into a narrow section. Shortly after this, note the exit canyon that comes in on your left at this point. Continue downstream through a magnificent sustained slot, until the canyon opens out about 300m later at a large cave.

There are a number of wades or possible swims, but these are generally only a few metres long.


The exit is quite tricky, and involves a few exposed moves. The leader can lower a rope to assist in places.

Return to the exit canyon, which is a nice canyon in its own right and worth exploring. Head up the exit canyon for about 100m until you can see some tree roots hanging down on the right. You can climb here, or about 30m further up there is a slab you can scramble up. Head up to a groove, where a sling hangs down. Climb the groove with the help of the sling, and scramble on to the ledge to the right. From there, climb trees to get up the next two sets of ledges, and scramble up the scree slope to the upper cliff line.

Once at the upper cliff line, traverse along under the cliff to the W and continue up the creek eventually getting back to the fire trail at the saddle at MGA461210 (AMG460208). Follow the fire trail S back to the car.


Surefire is a great canyon with an impressive constriction. The round trip is the best part of 20km, so it is a longish day. Mountain bikes are possible although the legality of their use is questionable. Another option is to camp out on the ridge and do some other canyons as part of a weekend. Wetsuits are not generally required.

Download map