Date: 29+30/5/2021
Trip leader: Paul Griffiths
Party: Frances, Jennifer, Samantha, Marty, Walter (Guest)
Photos: by Paul (movie)

In sunny but cold weather we met for breakfast in Blackheath before heading up onto Newnes Plateau. Sunnyside Ridge Road has lots of excellent places to visit, but usually requires 4WD. The sidetrails definitely need 4WD. Firetrail #8 brought us to Acoustic canyon, which was an easy walk-through with a few shallow pools to get around. If you can drive down the firetrail it’s only a couple of hours walk through the canyon itself. The famous acoustic chamber lived up to its reputation, and the exit up a crack in the wall is easy but spectacular. After a late lunch on top of the pagodas with panoramic views of the Wolgan Valley we drove back, found an excellent campsite opposite Birds Rock Trail #2 and set up for an evening around the campfire. Jaffles were made and both chocolate and cinnamon flavour rum consumed as the temperature dropped to zero. In the morning we had the luxury of blueberry pancakes before heading up Birds Rock Trail #2 and the extremely rough cross-track to Birds Rock Trail #1 – definitely high clearance 4WD conditions – to reach Zorro Canyon. A short walk had us scrambling down a narrow slot between spectacular pagodas before reaching the first abseil. The main constriction is high and narrow and well-worth a visit. It ends at the eponymous ‘Z for Zorro’ bends, shortly after which the canyon emerges through the cliffs. It’s mainly a walk-through, and the pools were all ankle-deep, but we used a rope as an optional abseil or handline at one climbdown. A final 20m abseil and short scramble down some very loose scree had us at the bottom of the cliffs, followed by an easy scramble back up the next gully to the tops. Lunch on the pagodas, a much easier drive back on Birds Rock Trail #1, packing up and on the road by 4.00. Some of us stopped at Hillbilly Cider in Bilpin on the way home, which is now open until 6.00 on Sundays and has a pizzeria inside.