On March 10 as part of the Blue Mountains Extravaganza, our carload (Mika, Colin, Floyd, Emma and myself) departed early for the drive to the Newnes Plateau to explore Tigersnake Canyon - a seldom-visited location. It's far into the Newnes forest, but in fact only about the same driving time as Rocky Creek - just follow the Glowworm Tunnel Road and turn off to follow the Old Coach Road all the way to the end. About 1 hour 15 mins from Blackheath. The access trail in turn is well formed, about an hour from the car to the canyon start, and easy going. The exit track comes into the trail on the right just as you start down the hill, but keep following the main trail down into the gully to the start.
The canyon: Tigersnake is known as a "dry" canyon and is often reserved for winter trips. With the recent rains, a little water was running through and there are pools up to hip-deep, and this ensured it was by no means lifeless - but we certainly didn't need wetsuits. Access is straight into an incredibly narrow fissure in the earth; while sling anchors are there it's far better to drop a handline and bridge one's way down about 5 metres, rather than trying to abseil (it's too narrow). A couple of climb downs and short (4-5 metre) abseils follow - the abseils are not in waterfalls though you can be splashed by water or land in a pool unless you are careful.
Then continue through a narrow canyon, and you emerge to a big shelf in the sun. Here's a 17 metre abseil off a tree, partially overhung, making a great mid-point to the canyon. You then creek-bash about 500m before the canyon begins again. There's another short abseil, then the canyon becomes super-narrow again and you're removing packs so you can slip sideways through the passage. There are excellent and atmospheric rock formations and tall chambers with light streaming in from above. Finally you emerge into the sunlight and you can have lunch on rocks just outside the canyon or a cave about 100m down on the left. The canyon proper took about 2.5 hours for a party of five.
The walk out is about 200m from the exit on the cliff-line to the right. The trail is reasonably clear to follow all the way up through the cliff lines and then a fair way along the top snaking back in a right-hand direction toward the start of the canyon. It's about 45 minutes before you rejoin the entry track, and the same again along the track and fire trail back to the cars, for 1.5 hours total walking-out time.
So rough timings could be:
Leave Blackheath ~ 8.30
Park car 9.45, walking at 10
Canyon start 11am
Lunch spot 1.30pm; start walking 2pm
Back to car 3.30pm
This allowed us enough time to drive to Rocky Creek where we also did Twister Canyon. Started walking at 4.15 and we were back at the car by 5.30pm. A very nice addition to our day and helped make the long drive to Newnes all the more worthwhile!
Or of course I could recommend this as a winter canyon, because as well as not requiring swims, you would be back to the cars and driving in the daylight even on short winter days.