Visit impacts and canyon management in the Blue Mountains, Australia: Canyoners' perspectives and wilderness management

Nigel Hardiman, Shelley Burgin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Recreation in natural areas has been promoted for numerous reasons (e.g., health, nature appreciation, education, financial gain) and leisure time spent in protected areas has increased substantially in popularity in recent decades. However, upkeep of such protected areas represents considerable financial outlay and to recoup these costs, tourism potentially provides a self-financing mechanism for ecological sustainability. In Australia, the adventure sport of canyoning has increased in popularity in the Blue Mountains National Park (Australia), part of a recently declared World Heritage Area, in parallel with an overall increase in wilderness recreation. This study sought canyoners' perceptions of visit impacts, together with their attitudes to potential management of these unique areas. It also compares findings with American wilderness research outcomes. The results identify that the current level of traffic through the canyons was not considered to be detrimental to canyon visit enjoyment. While the findings were broadly similar, even at much lower visitation levels than American wilderness recreationists tolerate, Australian canyoners avoid heavily trafficked canyons. Although perceptions and attitudes differed with level of experience, overall, the conclusion is that the visitors encountered were tolerant of other canyoners and the discarded debris of past excursions. In this context, it is not surprising that most canyoners did not see an immediate need to implement further management restrictions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-278
Number of pages15
JournalManaging Leisure
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010


  • Environmental impact
  • Experience level
  • Human impact
  • Social impact
  • Visitation
  • Wilderness experience
  • World heritage recreation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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