We at Wanderstories have spent the last few years exploring many of the creeks around Townsville, some being a hit and miss. Sometimes it can be hard to read a topographical map and look at aerial imagery and you expect to find non-scaleable cliff faces ending in an abseil but other times you end up carrying all the heavy equipment to no avail.
After doing plenty of canyoning, definitions of canyoning can change. Some think it was only when you're going down an actual slot canyon, like in the Blue Mountains, but others consider abseiling/rappeling down waterfalls and creeks canyoning, as most others do.
There are several places around Townsville to go canyoning that many people don't know about it. Several of the creeks around Townsville have been bolted where there are no safe natural anchors to rappel from.
Find your local canyoners and ask for beta on the NQ Canyoning Facebook group. Note that most canyons listed are all-natural (no bolts).
Here's a listing of canyoning places to explore around Townsville:
Bowling Green Bay National Park
Grade - V4 A1 III
This is more of a hike out there just to do the abseil. It's not really a journey like the others above. There is only one major pitch in this Alligator Creek. It involves a four hour hike out to the base and a 30 min climb to the top of the falls. The good thing is that you can do both climbing up the waterfalls and then abseiling down. No bolts have been placed.
Grade - V3 A2 IV ***
The Terraces is an idyllic trip with stunning waterfall after waterfall located in the Palm Creek area of Bowling Green Bay National Park.
Grade - V4 A2 IV
The Cascades is just that! Cascading water over rocks, waterfall after waterfall. They are located in the Palm Creek area of Bowling Green Bay National Park.
Paluma Range National Park
Grade - V4 A3 IV ***
Wow! What a beautiful place we have on our doorstep. Crystal Falls and it's gorge is one of the most beautiful creeks I've been down around Townsville. Massive cliffs and untouched, pristine swimming holes make this trip a must do. This trip starts at Paluma Dam where you walk on track to Big Crystal Creek Falls and abseil down to the Water Inlet and exit at Mango Tree Car Park (the rock slides car park). Has a mini slot canyon about mid way down. There are a few trees and boulders to rappel from, no bolts have been placed.
Grade - V4 A2 IV ***
Wet, mossy, and fully shaded! This route will take you down myriad waterfalls.
Gold Creek is very mossy and untouched. It has king ferns which, in my experience, are not so common in PRNP. As usual, you'll need to be sensitive of vegetation. No bolts have been placed as there at plenty of suitable natural anchors.
Grade - V4 A3 III ***
It is considered one of the best creeks in the Townsville vicinity to rappel down. Hike up the track and cut across to the top of the main falls to do a half day trip. It's a granite creek bed that drops quickly off and provides views of the valley below and out to the ocean. The slide into the infinity pool at the top of the main drop is my favourite part of this trip and is a must do.
Grade - V4 A3 IV *
Grade - V3 A2 IV *
One of the well-known waterfalls for canyoning and often used by Defence for training. This trip starts at Paluma Dam and ends at the Bruce Highway. None of the raps have been bolted but there are plenty of natural anchors like trees to rappel from. You will need sacrificial slings or use rope retrieval techniques to ghost it.
Grade - V1 A1 I
A beginners paly creek; easy to access and exit. Mainly a rock scramble, there's only a couple small cliffs that can be abseiled but can also be easily walked around or scrambled down. The last waterfall at the base of the range is quite a good area to hang out at. It's a good abseil or cliff jumping area and offers a few good climbs including deep water solos. Plenty of natural anchors to be used if wanting to do the optional rappels. There's only one set of bolts just above the last waterfall at the base of the range for ease of access to enter the mini-slot canyon.
Grade - V3 A2 III
This is an Ollera Creek tributary.
Grade - V2 A1 V
Hillary Creek is a beautiful creek with little flow. With a long and hard return trip, Hillary Falls abseil is not known to have been repeated.
Grade - V1 A1 I
This short waterfall is an easy walk in and great for beginners who have some experience in abseiling.
Ollera Creek Falls: Grade - V4 A2 IV
Girringun National Park
Grade - V4 A4 IV ****
Garrawalt Falls is impressive enough to look at, let along rappel down them. This majestic canyon provide long drops, rappels through water, and plenty of pack swims.
Grade - V5 A4 V ***
Flagstone Canyon is a fantastic big drop and committing canyon for advanced canyoneers. The canyon features the impressive, multi-terraced Flagstone Falls with approximately 300 metres of elevation drop in 200 metres.
Grade - V4 A3 IV *
One of the larger systems that drop off the Sea View Range.
Grade - V4 A2 IV *
Disaster Falls is a remote gem but its a mission to get to. The large drop off the range and the gorges make for a picturesque place to appreciate nature.
Grade - V4 A1 III
The now popular Raspberry Falls provides grand views across the landscape. This canyon is for those who love a good view and a open and sunny canyon.
Grade - TBA
Wallaman Falls is a 268 metre single-drop waterfalls that has also been rappel, based-jumped, climbed, and highlined. Below Wallaman Falls, along Stony Creek are several waterfalls that have also been rappelled.
Blencoe Falls: The longest drop is 230 m. There are several anchors for rappels and rope swings.
Herbert River Falls: The Herbert River is also a remote whitewater kayaking/paddle trip.