“Every great adventure starts in a rusty bus,” says Frankie, an agile Sydney-sider whom we later rename the Mountain Goat.
It’s a clear, June day in the Blue Mountains – Sydney’s playground and God’s canvas – and five of us have signed up for a full day of abseiling, canyoning and bushwalking through this magnificent landscape.
The next five hours are a mesmerising blur of abseiling, scrambling, hiking and moments of scenic wonder.
Established in 1984, Blue Mountains Adventure Company (BMAC) is one of the region’s original and most respected outdoor guiding companies – and that experience shows. Our chief guide, Marty, has nine years of experience with BMAC and he personifies everything a good outdoor instructor should be – clear, relaxed and informed. Support guide Phoebe is equally as professional – providing humour, encouragement and exceptional advice.
After meeting at BMAC’s office in central Katoomba to load backpacks and grab our pre-ordered lunch from Altitude Deli, we take a short drive to Narrow Neck where a shroud of fog sits within the surrounding mountains, like a massive white lake.
We test out our abseiling skills on a four metre high rock before tackling the next step – a 15m abseil not far down the track, which by this point is facing fully into the howling wind.
Warm up over, it’s back into the bus and on to Blackheath and nearby Juggler Canyon – our main destination for the day. On arrival we enjoy lunch – it’s only 10:30 am but the outdoor air has given everyone an appetite – and then head into the bush. Less exposed and full of what must surely be the Blue Mountains most delicious sandwiches, we shed fleeces and jumpers as we descend into the rainforest below. Winter? You’d barely know it now.
The next five hours are a mesmerising blur of abseiling, scrambling, hiking and moments of scenic wonder as we traverse slippery rocks, waterfalls and muddy puddles, always under the careful guidance of Phoebe and Marty.
After another three amazing abseils, moments of crawling in and around rock, squeezing through a crevasse and a fair amount of sliding on our bums, a 45-minute walk takes us up and out of the canyon. Everyone is happily exhausted – and it’s not long before Phoebe passes on her best advice of the day: “head to the pub, have a pint of cider and a pizza and you’ll be in bed and asleep by 7.30 pm.”
By Tess Fisher
Blue Mountains Adventure Company
t: (02) 4782 1271
a: 84a Bathurst Road, Katoomba, NSW 2780