Wollangambe Canyon

After getting up at 6am on a Sunday, it’s safe to say that by the time I reach Mount Wilson, I am keen and ready to go! Today’s adventure sport of choice is Canyoning and with a week of continuous heat behind us, lets just say that the idea of jumping into the freezing water of the Wollangambe River sounds amazing.


Having gathered our motley crew of friends, friends of friends, siblings of friends and friends of siblings of friends, we start the walk in from Mount Wilson fire station, where it’s just a short 3km to the start point. Although I’ve done some more serious canyoning in the past, today’s canyon (Wollangambe 1) is a nice relaxing lilo ride. While there is plenty of rock scrambling and jumping into deep water, it’s nothing technical like abseiling and no ropes are required. A hop, step and a climb down some rock faces and we’re at the start point, it’s time to pull out our inflatables of choice.

Between us we have 2 lilos, 2 donut tubes, a giant sea turtle and a pink unicorn. We get in our wetsuits and set out to blow up our inflatables, most of which are brand new, but it’s here we fit our first snag. After a while of blowing up a particularly brightly coloured lilo, we seem to not be making any progress. Despite being brand new, it appears this lilo has not one, but 2 holes in it. Thankfully we pull together a few patch kits and manage to get it sealed. How long will it hold? Who knows. Time to get into the canyon!

It’s a beautiful day, already hot by the time we hit the water, and with a cold cider in hand I’ve got to say this is a pretty great feeling. My lilo isn’t the most buoyant, but for the $5 I paid for it I’m just glad that it’s holding air! There are the obligatory rock jumps, climbs, and general shenanigans until about half way through Wollangambe 1 when we hit the next snag.


Our beloved mascot (the pink unicorn) has taken a swim through a small water chute under a large rock and gotten stuck. With a bit of climbing down into the holes around the rocks, we manage to get a hand, then a foot onto it and shift it, but it becomes even more stuck. Surprisingly through all of this it didn’t actually puncture, but we did manage to get the valve and intentionally deflate it in order to get it out. Turns out this unicorn was surprisingly tough and after a few rescue breaths it is back to it former glory. On with the canyon!

We reach a nice little opening with a sandy beach and some much needed sunshine and decide to stop for lunch. We’ve all just started to get cold by this point too so it's a great chance to spend 30min out of the water and warm up. By this point it's 2pm and upon inspecting a map we realise we are about 80% of the way through Wollangambe 1.

While the initial plan was to attempt Wollangambe 2 today as well, we decide that at the pace we are going that would be a very late exit and it’s best left for another day. Instead we explore the bottom section of the Kelvinator canyon, which lives up to its name- it’s freezing in there!

Upon exiting the canyon at the designated exit point (read: small yellow arrow on the rock face) we pack up our gear, get into some dry clothes and start the hike out. It’s a moderate intensity walk out, with a few little climbs involved, but thankfully still only about 3km in length.


The red forester in the bushes is a sight for sore eyes as we reach for the comfort of a padded seat and the cold drinks in the car fridge. A fun day was had by all at Wollangambe 1, definitely need to come back for the next round soon: Wollangambe 2.