Macquarie Pass Rivulet

MacQuarie Pass Rivulet south of Sydney is a unique canyoning experience…

Canyon Magazine
Australia Trip Report
March 2015

Ever since researching wet canyons in Australia, one kept on popping up all the time, Macquarie Pass Rivulet. Reading stories and seeing images of the scenery and the abseils convinced me that on the next trip back home to Australia, was the urge to finally get complete it.

MacQuarie Pass Rivulet is one of many canyons in the area, but as a request from the National Parks & Wildlife Service that manages the area, we can’t document the other canyons or provide notes. Information about canyons in Australia is very limited and a lot has not been published. Unlike other countries, Australia manages to keep the allure of exploration still alive.

Most canyoners would not really classify MacQuarie Pass Rivulet as a canyon. It can be described as an wide river, open canyon, abseiling trip with a nice rainforest walk. Whatever you want to call it, it’s a great day out and a good way to escape the heat of summer sun! The canyon can be split into 2 sections, with an upper and lower section. Access to the upper section requires careful navigation near private land so take that into consideration if you plan on doing the whole section. This time with the help of Wilbert Alards from OZ Canyons, we did the lower section only, due to time constraints.


A multi car shuffle is the preferred method of getting from the end to the start, but you can hike up back through the park to the start point if doing only the lower section. The exit point is a small parking area just off the Illawarra Highway. there have been some stories that people have had their cars broken into, so we were pretty vigilant of not leaving anything in the car. After leaving in car here you then drive up to the start point at Clover Hill Road just 10 minutes up the hill.

Caught up with a tour group who just started their descent so we moved back up the river to one of the other abseils to pass some time while waiting for them to move on which was nice as it was a good climb and nice abseil to start the trip. One thing we noticed fairly quickly that this trip was going to be a very slippery one. Pretty much every single rock, stone, slab was covered in some kind of algae and moss.

The lower section of Macquarie Park Rivulet is pretty straight forward. You could probably descend it within a couple of hours or better. The lower section starts off with a 5 meter abseil into a nice pool which is quite refreshing in the hot summers sun. From here it’s a nice walk through the river with the canopy shading us all the way down.


A small jump or slide into one of the deep pools along the course before heading into the next abseil point. Along the way we realised that the canyon gave us a nice little present of baby leeches which managed to cling on to us after one of the pools. One of them even manage to get into the eye which we had to pull out before moving. Something new every trip!

Most of the abseils can be down climbed but where’s the fun in that. There’s a birds nest of webbing wrapped around a tree placed by several parties each adding their own unique colour and twist at some of the abseil points. Australian canyoners have a huge resistance to bolting and seeing a birds nest of webbing like this, one wonders if a set of well placed bolts would not be better?

The rest of the canyon just descends fairly easily. On this trip I was wearing the new 5.10 Canyoneer 3 shoes for testing. They proved to be the wrong choice for this canyon as every so often I had to take them off, and dump all the fine sand that accumulated while walking along the river banks.

The highlight of the trip is definitely double abseil and then followed by the 7 meter jump point. From here it’s boulder hopping and river walking to the ending section where there’s a slide and an area deigned just for playing in. Here we meet up with the canyoning tour company again have a good chat about guiding overseas and canyoning in Japan versus Australia.


The walkout is quiet simple and just follows the tourist trail from the falls to the carpark. Here we dry off, change and take Wilbert back up to his car. We part ways and head on back to Sydney to get ready to fly back to Japan in the next few days.

Many thanks to Wilbert Alards from OZ Canyons who took time out of his busy day to take us through MacQuarie Park Rivulet. It was a great day to see something different from the Blue Mountain canyons and experience some new.