Blue Mountains National Park Off The Beaten Path Tips by iandsmith Top 5 Page for this destination
Blue Mountains National Park Off The Beaten Path: 53 reviews and 134 photos
Ever seeking new paths, I purchased the "Blue Mountains Best Bushwalks", a volume with more than 60 walks. First I headed out to Mount Victoria and did a couple of walks but, next, I chose the other end of the Blue Mountains, or rather, Lorraine chose it for me.
The Waterfall Circuit at Lawson was our chosen one; a 3 km, 1 1/2 hour easy rated walk though it does involve 135 metres descent and height gain. Even though it had been dry for some time there was still water flowing as we stepped up to view the first fall, Adelina. a watercourse shaded by ferns off to one side.
Then it's a fair way to the next named fall, though there are several inaccessible ones off to the left before you get to Junction Falls, arguably the most impressive of the four listed ones. It would be a worthy sight during wet times.
Then it's a short hop to Federal Falls and then the ascent to the aptly named Cataract Falls.
Definitely a recommended walk; good scenery, varying nature and so few general tourists about. In fact, we were there in school holidays and saw no-one. Imagine saying the same about the Three Sisters!
At the western end of Mount Victoria is a turnoff on the left into Grand View Rd. Near its end you'll come to Beaufort Ave, where you can leave your vehicle at the intersection because there's no parking and it's a dead end. From here Beaufort leads to this fine lookout over Wilsons Gully.
As suggested, if the clouds are right it's a good place to view sunsets looking across Kanimbla Valley.
I also spotted some wildlife here, Eastern Spinebill (female), Rock Warbler and Wattle Birds were among those feasting on the banksias and I saw something I'd never seen before; a bandicoot scouting in and out of a minute rock cave.
Pulpit Rock view
Having done the walk I can let you know a couple of things. I didn't include the fact that the walk is labelled "easy". Take it from me, it's definitely not! The zig-zag is steep and rocky and then the trail through the pass is almost indiscernable in places, sometimes overgrown with ferns. Then it gets hard as you slog up towards Ross Cave. It's rocky, very uneven, at times dangerous even and it's uphill.
In other places trees have fallen on the track and who knows how many months it will be before they are cleared. This is not a track like those at the more popular spots around Katoomba, Leura and Wentworth Falls. It may never be repaired.
The most rewarding for me was the undercliff section below Ross Cave; it's spectacular.
Summing up, not a walk for the fainthearted and take something to drink, as allways.
Small cascade at Wilson
If you're in the Mount Victoria area, then here's a walk for you.
"Coming from Sydney go through the traffic lights at Mt. Victoria and take the next turn left into Kanimbla Valley Rd. Take the next turn left into Victoria St and then right into Innes Rd. Continue to the end of Innes Rd which in effect becomes Kanimbla Valley Rd. Find a parking spot near the last houses and continue down the dirt road keeping an eye out on your left for the very short side track to Pulpit Rock which provides a wonderful view of the Kanimbla Valley across to the cliffs of Mt. Blackheath and beyond as far as Kanangra Walls. You may even see a hang glider or two circling in the vicinity of Mt.Blackheath from where they take off. Continue to the end of the dirt road which becomes the wide foot track known as Little Zigzag. Proceed down the hill and you will soon come to a marked side track on a sharp bend. This is known as the North Track and is mainly used by rock climbers. I've never walked far along this track so I have no idea where it leads to.
Continue on down the main track and keep a lookout for a painted rock sign on the left at another sharp bend saying "Bushranger's Cave". This is well worth a look and has been used by climbers and others as a base camp. It is quite large and opens out to good views of the Kanimbla Valley. After this short diversion continue down the main track to the bottom of the zigzag section, keeping a lookout for a track on your left as you head in a southerly direction. This side track takes you in an easterly direction and was signposted last time I did the walk. It is not indicated on either Topo map but is clear and easy to follow. If you hit a dirt road you've come too far and missed the side track by about 500 metres. The track leads you around and climbs up to the base of the cliffs. The cliffs around here are very popular with rock climbers who can be seen and heard getting their adrenaline rush on most weekends. From the base of the cliffs turn left to Reinits Pass (MW450788) and Wilson's Glen keeping an eye out for Ross Cave which is beside the track. The track eventually brings you out onto Carlisle Street. Follow this back to Victoria Street and then Innes Rd/Kanimbla Valley Rd and the cars. A more pleasant exit is to head back down the track from Ross Cave for about 300m and take the rather vague (initially) cliff top track to your right which heads west for about 400m back to Pulpit Rock."
Continued next tip
Sunrise at Govetts Leap
The tale of Govett and his 'leap' belongs more to mythology than to fact. It is romantically claimed that a bushranger named Govett, being chased by the police, spurred his horse on and died rather than surrender as he disappeared off the waterfall which falls 450 m into the Grose Valley. Sadly, even though the colourful story would be an interesting part of Australian history, it is more likely that Govett's Leap was named after William Romaine Govett, a young surveyor who arrived in Sydney in 1827, and who spent many years surveying the Blue Mountains and the Hawkesbury area before returning to England in 1834 after the government had reduced his surveying establishment.
The evidence for the 'leap' being simply named after Govett is compelling. In the early 1830s the Three Sisters were known as Govett's Point, suggesting that he was well known and had a general presence in the area. Also, in 1835, Govett wrote 'The bold broken nature of the country on either side is peculiarly grand, and the streams which at first commence in swamps soon make their way into inaccessible gullies, until they arrive at the cliffs of the main channel where they fall in cascades....The most remarkable of these cascades is the one near the Weatherboarded Hut [Wentworth Falls] and that which falls into the head of the Grose River; which the surveyor general named 'Govett's leap' from the circumstance of my first having come upon the spot when surveying with Mr Rusden.'
The falls pictured here are on either side of Govetts Leap.
I ventured down a couple of hundred metres and had to strip off to ford the river and get down another couple of waterfalls; scaling slippery rock faces with the utmost caution. It’s not a place for the faint hearted or uncertain of foot but I like to think I got some nice shots of the falls.
I tarried a while, around 45 minutes, totally entranced by the whole scene and thinking how lucky I was to have seen it all when I was going to give it a miss at one stage.
The return ascent I managed in just under 50 minutes, shirtless and sweating like a proverbial pig; although they hardly sweat at all in point of fact, unlike my body at the end of a hike. It had been immensely satisfying and it caused me to change my plans for the morrow.
View from the top
"I was so tired after golf I had lunch and wondered about my decision to go to Victoria Falls so I read the guide book again. “Although the return journey from Victoria Falls is rather gruelling (a whopping 380 metres ascent) the waterfalls themselves are so beautiful that the trip is well worth it.” I concentrated on the last bit but it was around 2.30 when I finally reached the remote carpark at the end of a one and a half lane dirt road about 5kms in.
I couldn’t face it and slept for an hour; when I awoke I didn’t want to go but eventually put on my backpack and thought I’d see how I went. After returning once to get my other tripod fitting I started down on the listed 2 ½ to 3 hour walk. I wasn’t looking forward to over 1,000ft of descent but plunged on anyway.
It was a stony trail that soon zigzagged down the cliff face, under ledges and along precipitous drop-offs but in less than 40 minutes Silver Cascades were in view. I thought hard but couldn’t recall seeing a more wonderful cascade in all my walks in Australia. I could see why people rate the place and I hadn’t even seen the main falls yet.
Victoria Falls themselves are another few hundred metres further down. A spectacular overhang is itself worthy of viewing but with water going over it’s even more special and then, there’s beyond, down the Burra Kurrain Trail. If you think you’ve done some tough bushwalking and look forward to more, then that trail is for you. It takes you to the Blue Gum Forest deep in the Grose Valley where you overnight and come out at Govetts Leap.'
There would be around 250 species of birds scattered around the Blue Mountains, these are but a small sample to hopefully tempt you to keep a keener eye out next time you go hiking.
If you don't want to go far then try Govetts Leap lookout at Blackheath. There's a tall tree and some banksia serrata on the left just past the toilets and, if you're there in the morning, say half an hour after sunrise, and wait for another hour I guarantee you'll see lots of birds. Spotted pardalotes, New Holland honeyeaters, thorn birds, crimson rosellas, flame robins, various wrens, pied currawongs and cockatoos just to name a few can be seen here.
A cute waterfall
From my email at the time:
"Surely not, fluffy clouds interspersed with blue sky told otherwise yet the noises persisted so I decided to do the adjacent Waterfall Walk immediately after lunch.
The steep path followed the course of a streamlet splashing its way over sandstone outcrops. Fern groves followed its direction while further out coachwood predominated, reflecting the poorer quality soils away from the gardens.
The rumbling continued so when I reached the bottom of the loop I hastened uphill as best as I could. My opening of the motorhome door coincided with the first droplets. The droplets didn’t last long; no, they quickly turned to hail and nearby trees that had looked benign minutes earlier suddenly had an ominous appearance. Wouldn’t do to have a branch crash onto the roof we thought so we moved around to where we’d camped and rode out the storm over the next two hours."
Azalias in bloom
The Campbell Rhododendron Gardens (nee Bacchante Gardens, the street they're in) cover eighteen and a half hectares of sclerophyl forest. As well as the whites, pinks and reds more common in coastal areas, the colours here include yellow, orange and deep violet.
Azaleas (related to the rhododendron) also proliferate in springtime.
What has happened here is that the whole thing is done on a voluntary basis. It's really quite extraordinary. Mostly older people with botanical experience who have either moved up here in retirement or always been here (not many other options I suppose!) tend this wonderful display. There's about eight of them.
Basically, the flowers have been planted intermittently throughout the forest so there are flashes of colour rather than a vast expanse of same.
This project is under the control of the Blue Mountains Rhododendron Society and is for the study and growing of many hundreds of varieties and species of the really beautiful Rhododendron.
They look forward to your donation in the box provided as this project is maintained from the money visitors donate and the members' subscriptions as well as the support of citizens and local Clubs and Societies.
In the main valley an attractive lake and 5 pools have been constructed. The purpose of the Garden is to educate the public and interested groups who wish to delve more deeply into the Genus Rhododendron, and to conserve the natural features of the area for the pleasure of visitors and to encourage tourists to enjoy the beauty of the garden.
A feature of the Garden is the beautiful Natural Fern Glades and the abundance of Native Flora which we proudly protect for future generations to enjoy - please help to preserve it.
Visitors to the Garden are reminded that the flowering season for Rhododendrons is September, October and November but the peak period is the end of October and early November. Mollis Azaleas are a special feature at this time as well.
The Garden is a delight in Autumn when so many deciduous trees look their best during April. The latest project is the planting of a Conifer Garden.
Other Contact: Blackheath (western side)
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