Canyoning involves the descent and/or ascent of geological formations created by a watercourse using a range of techniques. These formations can range from open sided waterways to deep, narrow, steep-sided valley, often have vertical walls, cliffs and waterfalls. The cleft between these walls are the result from weathering and water erosion over geologic timescales. This creates a watercourse, which can be perennial or intermittent resulting in “wet” and “dry” canyoning and the possibility of rapid changes in water level and flooding to occur.

The terrain features may include:

  • deep, narrow gorges with waterfalls, log-jams, rock-jams and cave-like structures or open face waterfalls, escarpments and/or exposed cliff-lines
  • river and water features such as dry creek beds and sections of water that may include dark, deep, cold, slow moving pools and/or fast-moving water creating white-water conditions
  • horizontal terrain that can traversed
  • tracks and/or unmodified landscapes.

Due to the terrain it is generally difficult to access, traverse and egress. A range of a techniques are used to traverse the terrain, and may including abseiling, bouldering, bushwalking, rock climbing and swimming. Swimming might use a buoyancy aid as assistance.

Depending on the terrain features, a canyon may present opportunities for horizontal and/or vertical canyoning.

Horizontal canyoning involves the ascent, traversing and/or descent of steep and narrow watercourses where any fall safety required can be achieved using spotting or a deep-water belay. This activity involves a combination of multiple skills such as bushwalking, bouldering and swimming with or without buoyancy aids.

When horizontal canyons are involved, it may be unclear sometimes if the activity is canyoning or bushwalking. The environment and the techniques used to traverse the terrain needs to be considered in determining the activity type and the relevant Good Practice Guide (GPG). Refer to Appendix 1 – Canyoning grading for additional information on assessing the difference.

Vertical canyoning involves horizontal canyoning and the descent, traversing and/or ascent of vertical (or near vertical) natural surfaces where fall safety cannot be achieved using spotting due to the fall height. Technical roping techniques such as abseiling, rock climbing and lowering (e.g. V-Lowers) are used to provide fall safety for vertical elements encountered. Vertical canyoning can involve a single section or multi-pitch canyoning.

When vertical canyons are involved, it may be unclear sometimes if the activity is canyoning or abseiling/rock climbing. The environment and the techniques used to traverse the terrain needs to be considered in determining the activity type and the relevant GPG.

This Good Practice Guide ought to be read in conjunction with any other relevant Good Practice Guide(s) for:

  • bushwalking
  • abseiling (i.e. abseil and climb GPG)
  • camping
  • canoeing, kayaking and rafting (i.e. Inland water paddle-craft GPG)
  • caving
  • climbing (i.e. abseil and climb GPG).

Who Can Participate

Open to members who are 12 +.

Some Activity Providers may have additional age or height restrictions.

Safety Rules

Must read the Australian Activity Standard Guidelines for Canyoning and Good Practice Guide re:

  • Participants
  • Equipment
  • Safety requirements

Supervision Requirements

Refer to Girl Guides Australia Ratios at a Glance

Leader in Charge

  • The LiC must ensure that all participants are informed of appropriate clothing and/or personal equipment prior to the activity.
  • The LiC must organise and collect the ADM.27 from youth members and ADM.28 from adults. The LiC must inform the Activity Instructor of any health conditions or behaviour issues with participants.
  • The LiC must have an appropriate first aid kit suitable for the activity present at the activity venue.
  • The LiC must ensure participants have water and food appropriate to the activity.
  • The LiC is responsible for all participants when they are not participating in the activity.

Activity Instructor

Many outdoor activity centres will use in-house instructor qualifications. If you are unsure if they are accepted or alternative qualifications are held, contact your State Outdoor Activities Manager to ensure the instructor’s qualification is suitable.

Activity instructors must hold the relevant qualification modules as outlined in the Australian good Practice Guide for Canyoning

Questions to be asked when looking for an Activity Provider:

  • The Activity Leader/Instructor is to brief all participants on safety and the care of equipment prior to the activity.
  • It is suggested that the Activity Leader / Instructor provide ground training prior to the commencement of the activity if relevant.
  • Obtain permission from relevant authorities for access and use of land and waterbodies. Examples are: National Parks, State forests and private landowners.
  • The ratified Activity Leader/ Instructor must have knowledge of the locality, facilities, and terrain and weather conditions of the area that the activity will be taking place.
  • Should there be inclement weather the LiC and ratified instructor will need to negotiate whether the activity should proceed or be postponed.
  • Activity Leaders/ Instructors must have a first aid kit and appropriate rescue equipment readily accessible to all participants.

Notification Forms Required


For Approval – Prior to the Activity

  • 01 Camp/ Adventure-based/ Event Notification Application
  • 56B Risk Assessment and Plan (Outdoor Activities & Events & Camps)
  • Activity Provider Risk Management Plan

At the Activity

  • Participants are required to have completed: ADM.27 for Youth Members or ADM.28 for Adults
  • Girl Guide Incident Report

After the Activity

  • 03 Camp/Adventure-based/ Event Report Form

Last Modified: 09/09/22 at 11:27 PM