Mares Forest Canyon

The Tinted Cave (itself carved by an underground waterfall) looks out onto the limestone canyon.

Mares Forest Canyon

Mares Forest Canyon is a wet limestone canyon normally full of small waterfalls. It is a fun, swimable, wild place. Even in drought, there remain pools of water in the canyon: crystal clear, deceptively deep and cold. When taking these shots in mid 2018, both the nearby Wombeyan Falls and the numerous smaller falls in the canyon were sleeping.

In winter and early spring, it is best to look at the cold water from a distance. Here the vantage point is the Tinted Cave, itself carved by an underground waterfall.

The limestone - and marble - walls of the canyon are breathtaking (second only to the brown snakes) - and the water has to be seen to be believed. It is a nice place but is a bit tricky to get to (and you need waterproof cameras inside the canyon). You will encounter poisonous snakes here. Normally they get out of the way. But i have come across the odd large brown snake enjoying the sun, unprepared to move off a path. I do not know how common this next one is, i have only come across it the once - a mid-sized brown, in a couple of inches of water, wrapped along a stone shelf.I now watch each time i enter water.

The canyon extends a long way, with high marble walls, and many (natural) faces and figures. A courtier with peaked hat and waistcoat. A mother and child. A pickpocket at work in a crowded street. All around the shavings from a chisel and blocks yet to be carved.

'Step' of a waterfall inside the limestone cave

Here is a slightly distorted, color enhancement of the deep shadow in the original scene. It shows what might be a 'step' of a waterfall inside the limestone cave. It is dry at present, but the the shape of the cut into the limestone (bottom right) is similar to those found under active falls (in this case, perhaps, originating from a chute in the ceiling of the cave).

Let me leave you in the care of one of the larger 'white' dragons

The road from Sydney to Wombeyan is probably one of the most dangerous tracks in the country, and best left to goats. The road in from Taralga is sort of ok. Still, the views along the canyon are worth the effort and this (and the dry canyon at Wollemi) is probably a good experience for anyone thinking of doing a bit of canyoning. And most of the waterfalls are human-sized :)

Note: Ok, not everyone will find this a fun canyon to swim. A wet suit and river shoes are recommended. There are three long cold pools to traverse and lots of rocks to climb over.


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