Writing a guest post is not like writing for your own blog.
I felt quite spiffed, chuffed, honoured even, when Neil Fahey invited me to contribute to his well-known Bushwalking Blog.
He asked if I had a favourite local walk.
Despite having lived in Melbourne for almost 5 years now, I found myself answering his question with a question my own: “How local is local?”
Strictly speaking, I honestly suspect the answer is ‘no’. Despite there being plenty of walks we have enjoyed doing around Melbourne, my favourites (i.e. that ones I’d most love to return to) all involve overnight stays. We don’t re-do walks too often as there are plenty in both Chapman’s and Tempest’s books that we haven’t done yet (and there is, of course, the 1000 Steps that I always find myself talking Stephen out of – shhh, don’t tell him).
Still eager to contribute a post, I suggested my very first – and possibly favourite – hikes in Victoria: Mt Sturgeon and Mt Abrupt, located at the most southerly end of the Grampians National Park, about 3 hrs drive west of Melbourne. To my surprise and delight, a quick search had revealed that neither of these hikes had been covered yet on Neil’s blog!
Although we hadn’t been for over a year, the trickiest part for me wasn’t remembering the details – it was trying to keep focused on describing the hikes rather than writing a tourist brochure for Dunkeld or the Royal Mail Hotel. (Look out – that could be coming in a future post. It’s drafted… but then, that and more of the Grampians region has been in draft post stage for at least 18 months now, so don’t hold your breath.)
What I finally sent to Neil must have passed muster because he posted it on his blog. Thank you Neil for the opportunity to contribute!
Here it is – please read, enjoy (hopefully), and please feel welcome to leave a comment:
A spectacular walk showing off the contrasting habitats, magnificent geology, and spectacular scenery of Grose Valley. This walk contains many stairs, potentially slippery surfaces and a short tunnel. Check conditions at the Blackheath NSW Parks Information Centre if there has been recent heavy rain and, as always, be aware the day’s fire danger rating.
Start/Finish: Grand Canyon Loop Car Park, Evans Lookout Road, Blackheath
Distance: Approx 7.4km (Officially 5km, but I’m not sure if that includes the distance between Evans Lookout and Neates Glen Car Park. Also, satellite signal for our GPS’s was extremely patchy in the canyon)
Time: Approx 3hrs
Following our successful early morning walk to Leura Forest (by successful I mean we started and finished before noon!) we were primed for an afternoon walk to pack in as much as possible on our last full day in the Blue Mountains.
Even though there were still walks around Katoomba where we were staying (eg Wentworth Falls), if it meant a drive in the car we thought we may as well see a different valley altogether.
The Grose Valley is a very large, long valley to the north of Katoomba. There are many walks dotted on our SV map near the town of Blackheath, situated at the western end of the valley. The Grand Canyon is briefly described on that map, but we also bought a much more detailed Walking Track and Visitor Guide solely on the Grand Canyon walk from the Echo Point NPWS Information Centre (and at $3.00 you can’t quibble at the price).
Blackheath is an easy 10min drive up the road (west of Katoomba). The turnoff to this walk is before you get to the actual township, if you’re coming from Katoomba like us. There are signs, but keep your eyes open all the same as you get close to the town.
Following the instructions in the NPWS booklet, we parked in the Grand Canyon Loop Car Park (the second of three car parks) near the end of Evans Lookout Road. Somewhat surprisingly, there was another car in the first (Neates Glen) carpark, but no one else in the second. Judging from the number of car spaces available, this area can be pretty popular sometimes. Once again I found myself thankful it was a weekday, and not during school holidays.
Grand Canyon Loop Carpark is quite large…and we had it all to ourselves
Just like over at Jamison Valley, the vegetation atop the ridges here is tough and dry, full of prickly acacias and rough-barked banksias, scrubby grasses and brakenfern. There’s no hint here of the Grand Canyon just a stone’s throw away, nor what it contains…
On the other hand, it’s no stretch to imagine how an uncontrolled bushfire could race through and decimate communities living here – human, plant and animal. With our climate changing leading to the frequency and intensity of fires increasing, even communities that are fire tolerant will come under pressure.
This tough, weathered grey bush up top has adapted to bushfires
Not sure what these are, but they are plentiful along the path to Neates Glen Car Park
It’s a straight forward path back up the road to Neates Glen Car Park
Private landholder’s information board on the effects of bushfires on local habitat
Cunningham’s Banksia – needs a lot of time (years) between bushfires to regrow from seed
The path leading back up to the first carpark (Neates Glen) was easy to find. There’s a very gentle incline on the path between the two car parks to the start of the proper Grand Canyon track. But pretty much as soon as you turn into the bush you’re walking downhill, increasingly steeply.
NSW NPWS sign at Neates Glen Car Park
From Neates Glen the Grand Canyon Walking Track starts descending gently through open woodland
My favourite kind of bush track
The forest has changed, and the path is definitely now steeper and wetter underfoot
It was only early afternoon, but the shadows on the western side of the ridge felt cool and welcoming as we dropped below the ridge line. The undergrowth becomes softer, and it’s not too long before we came to the first set of doors across the path.
Doors? What on earth are these for?
To keep walkers out of areas affected by flooding, apparently. A good idea, but I wonder if the Rangers are sent to close the doors before or after the rain ?
Stepping through the first black door was like passing through a portal to a parallel universe. Almost immediately the vegetation becomes lush – not just beside the path – completely surrounding you, as you carefully make your way down the rock and concrete steps.
Ferns thrive in this wet gully that has low light conditions for most of the day
The highly textured and mossy trunk of a fern tree (I think?)
The path remains wet, but if you’re worn proper hiking boots you’ll be too busy looking around you to notice
My dream backyard includes a ferny gully just like this
First evidence of the power of water and appreciation the effort to put in these huge, individual concrete steps
There is water trickling over the path, down the boulders next to you, off every piece of moss and fern frond, after having been filtered through and slowly released by the hanging swamps above. Looking down to check my next step, I was amazed at the volume of plant life growing on the vertical rise of the step – in fact, there are ferns and mosses growing on every millimetre of surface that’s not regularly trodden, by the look of it.
Mosses growing on the vertical rise of each concrete step
Too soon the narrow gully widens and we found ourselves in a small valley. I thought at the time that these cliffs towering up to 100m above formed the ‘Grand Canyon’ referred to in the title of the walk… but this is just the start.
While nowhere near as large as the ‘real’ Grand Canyon in the USA (not even a speck compared to that) it is still impressive as you cross Greaves Creek for the first time and follow the canyon (aka gorge) down to the valley floor.
Emerging from the wet and ferny gully, we thought this was the Grand Canyon referred to in the title of the walk
The well-placed concrete steps continue at the start of the canyon
The creek is between us and the cliffs to the left. No worries about getting lost on this path
One of the many species flowering in September
There are cliffs on all sides
Greaves Creek below us, steadily carving the canyon deeper
It’s not far before you reach the end of this upper, open section of the canyon, where a flight of stairs takes you down a level to a place known as the “beach”, I guess due to sand deposited here over time by the creek. It used to be known as the “Rotunda”, and was quite a popular spot. It’s not hard to see why. The afternoon sun was just at the right angle for a ray of light to pierce through the canyon onto the stream and yellow sand of the creek bed, illuminating the canyon wall with a dancing, golden light.
Descending to the area known as the ‘Beach’
Greaves Creek is also being fed from hanging valleys above, slowing releasing their stored water a drop at a time
Greaves Creek continues on, past evidence of past flooding events
Sunlight reflecting off the creek gave a golden glow to the walls of the canyon
Maybe this is what’s given the ‘beach’ it’s name?
Tearing myself away from this fascinating area, we came upon the tunnel. In my brief scan of the NPWS notes over lunch I hadn’t noticed anything about a tunnel!
Fortunately Stephen had come prepared! Fishing the small torch out of his backpack we ventured in…
Stephen’s the first into the tunnel. Well, he IS holding the torch after all
Looking back to the entrance from the exit – the tunnel’s not that long
Emerging from the tunnel
So it turns out it’s only about 5 metres long – but not knowing that I was happy for the torch. No, we didn’t get out and re-read the notes (also in Stephen’s backpack), but in case you’re wondering, it’s simply described as ‘a short tunnel having been formed by a rock fall’ and walkers are warned to “watch your step (and your head) as the floor of the tunnel is rough”. I didn’t notice it was particularly rough, but then – Stephen had brought a torch!
Looking back up at the tunnel’s exit
Before you, after you exit the tunnel and walk down the steep stairs, is a… bowl? basin? a gigantic pothole ground out by a million seething swirl pools of debris after eons of flooding? I’m not sure how to properly describe the large round space. The middle of the floor is filled with large boulders and a few trees, while ferns and other plants grow down the sides of the canyon walls. The path continues to hug the canyon wall on the right and, by so doing, leads you under a waterfall that feeds Greaves Creek.
The path leads behind a waterfall – not flowing too strongly today
It wasn’t flowing very strongly that day, so the only reason I got just a little wet on the shoulder was because I had to wait for Stephen to be satisfied with the photographs he was taking. But fair’s fair – it was his turn next!
Afternoon sunlight streams into the secluded canyon as the sound of the waterfalls fills the air
Leaving the light and entering the canyon proper
The canyon (gorge) soon becomes much deeper than this
Last look back at the waterfall
Entering the canyon proper I was awed by the rocks, shaped by the passage of water over millennia. The NPWS booklet explains the canyon is formed from what’s known as Burra-Moko sandstone. Not only does it look different to the Banks Wall sandstone that is widely recognised from photos of cliffs (most notably the Three Sisters) in the Blue Mountains, but it’s a softer sandstone, too.
The creek disappears from view down into the narrow, dark depths of the canyon. Ferns line the sides of the canyon walls, using any crevice, crack or ledge for support as they unfurl their fronds to catch the limited daylight – and the constant drip of water from the hanging swamps above – entering the confined space.
You feel quite small surrounded by a canyon this large and close
A brief glimpse at the top of the canyon
Do mind your head along these bits
Green plants and huge rocks…can it get better?
Stretching my arms out as far as possible, I was just able to get a photo of Greaves Creek way below
Walking across the scalloped side of the canyon, and through the cuts gouged into the walls made by the creek (some places deeper than others) I marvelled at the power and beauty of nature. For someone who loves rocks (in a forest setting), this was a place I could have only dreamed of prior to now… In short, it was fantastic.
Just before you descend to the valley floor, the canyon widens and the path transects some scrubbier forest on the hillside. The opposite side (much more of which is now visible) is topped with tall and straight eucalypts, silvery in the fading afternoon light.
So glad there’s a sturdy bridge here! Thanks NSW NPWS!
Natural bush colour
Yes, the fence is secure (thankfully!)
The canyon has widened enough that trees are able to grow at the bottom
Yes, another gate, even here!
A native grevillea species?
Grass tress in the sun are always beautiful
Although it’s still only mid-afternoon, when you’re down this low in the protected canyon it feels a lot later. The light is fading quickly so we’re trying to hurry, yet at the same time at almost every turn there is a new sight to take our breath away.
Turning a corner and entering the gully that would reunite us with Greaves Creek, my immediate impression was that this would be just the sort of place to find elves (the benevolent kind); mossy and green, and perfectly arranged.
Tall straight trees trunks are a stand-out feature of this mossy gully leading down to Greaves Creek
Ferns quickly populate the gully as you descend this magical gully to Greaves Creek
As mentioned, there hadn’t been all that much rain lately; while there are a few small sources of water feeding into Greaves Creek along the way, it’s just enough to keep it flowing. The deep, dark pools of water are calm and cool. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are leeches in the water though, and drinking from the creek is definitely unsafe without sterilisation. There was no chance of getting our feet wet as we crossed the creek a couple of times on perfectly spaced stepping-stones as we followed the track down to the intersection with Rodriguez Pass Walking Track. The NPWS notes warn that you may have to look carefully in places to follow the track; this might be the case when the water level is higher, though we didn’t have any problems following it.
Cool and calm Greaves Creek at the bottom of the Grand Canyon
Greaves Creek flowing through the bottom of the canyon
Greaves Creek is now wide, deep and calm…today at least
The path is clear and easy to follow when the creek is this low
Signs of past floods. Or trees falling down from above. Either way, I’m glad it didn’t happen today
It’s not all concrete steps, but lack of moss from many footsteps makes it clear which rocks to use
The canyon (gorge) is really quite magnificent even this far along
Greaves Creek through the Grand Canyon
The size of the tree trunks lying discarded in, or propped up against the walls of the canyon are evidence of the power of past flood events. It looks like it’s been a while since the last big flood. Or maybe they’ve fallen down from above… either way, I’m glad everything was quiet as we walked through. The logs there have a reasonable covering of moss, and there are plenty of young trees and ferns growing the canyon floor.
Near the track junction the creek forms a very small waterfall as it enters the roof of a little cavern and fills a pool with a sloping edge of fine gravel (almost sand) by the path that looks absolutely perfect for a quick dip. Lucky it wasn’t a particularly hot day or I might have been tempted to stick a toe in. Or simply walk in, boots and all!
Greaves Creek falls into an inviting pool near the junction with Rodriguez Pass
An inviting pool with its own small, curious waterfall
Rodriguez Pass Walking Track will take you into the middle of Grose Valley before exiting at Govett’s Lookout. Had we started this walk at 8am then this may well have been the route we would have taken. It would mean an extra 6-7km (at a guess – I haven’t got a map that tells me exactly) which I expect would take about 3hrs (definitely allowing time for photo opportunities!) plus a lunch break.
Junction with Rodriguez Pass Walking Track
After the intersection it’s pretty much all uphill back to the car park. As Stephen is known to sagely remark, “What goes down, must come up.”. Take heart in knowing the climb out is not as steep as any of the ‘Staircases’ we’d climbed in the last couple of days, because (for once) the track leads up a sloping gully to the cliff top instead of trying to scale the cliff itself! After climbing Giant Staircase that morning the climb out did seem to go on and on… and on some more, but on the other hand, it had been a lovely, long stroll to the bottom.
Starting up the path to Evan’s Lookout
Looking back down the track – it’s still pretty lush
A lyrebird’s tail feather
The trees here framing the path simply cry out for a couple of Tolkien’s elves to stand between them
Not a precipitous climb, but there are a lot of steps
A large boulder in the gully. Wouldn’t want this to move
The forest is drying and thining out as we approach the top
The air was already beginning to take on its evening chill; very pleasant in summer, but I imagine it can get really cold in winter! To begin with you’re still surrounded by lush forest, down on the valley floor where streamlets feed into Greaves Creek. Further up the gully the undergrowth thins out allowing a better view of the moss-covered trees and rocks along the path and the huge boulders and cliffs behind the reaching skyward.
With every step (and there are a lot of steps!) the mossy forest gets a little drier until there are just a few trees below two very large boulders. Climbing the stairs between them (here it was steep enough to put in a hand rail and, yes, I gratefully accepted) we emerged back into a eucalypt dominated forest – Blue Mountain Ash. Goodbye to the lush fern and moss adorned rainforests below, and surely, just at the top of this rise – hello Evans Lookout?!
We leave the rainforest and re-enter the eucalypt forests that dominate the plateaus
Evans Lookout would be just at the top of these steps…surely?
Blue Mountain Ash, a eucalypt species vulnerable to bushfires
But we weren’t there yet. Not until we’d climbed the dirt track up the hill, through the last gate and passed the information plaque (for people walking the circuit clockwise) could we breathe a sigh of relief. And then gasped in amazement, since this was our first look across Grose Valley! Magnificent! However, Evans Lookout is a still bit further on – another ~500m, but fortunately it’s just a gentle incline along the ridge to get there.
The top of the cliff – was this Evan’s Lookout?
Heading up the ridge to Evans Lookout
The imposing structures along the track haven’t stopped yet
The last gate is not black, just a ~8ft chain-link fence
The Evans Lookout end of the Grand Canyon track
Anxious about being too late for a good sight (and photo opportunity), we didn’t dally but hurried along to the proper lookout and – thankfully – managed to arrive in time to snap a few photos in which the opposite cliffs were simply glowing in the late afternoon light. Mission accomplished!
Grose Valley is more intimate than Jamison Valley
Grose Valley, whatever time of day, really is much more impressive than Jamison Valley. The cliffs on the opposite side of the valley are closer, and positioned so even amateur photographers can catch their evening glow. There are many interesting geological formations, walks, and even an impressive waterfall (Govetts Leap) that can be appreciated from a lookout adjacent to a car park – for free! It’s so big it’s hard to capture properly in its entirety, and possibly relief at finally being at the Lookout enhanced my experience, but there’s no doubt that it’s a magnificent location.
Easy steps back to Evans Lookout Car Park, past the distinctive shelter design used around Blackheath
Photos taken it was time to set ourselves for the last few hundred metres (which felt more like a kilometre) back to the car to complete the circuit.
It was a short, if damp, walk back to the Grand Canyon Car Park
Done! And what a walk that was!
I think most amazing aspect of this walk is discovering a completely different and marvellous world so very well hidden and remarkably close to town. In a relatively short walk you journey from dry, grey bushland to wet, fern-filled gullies, through a deep canyon carved out over hundreds of thousands of years, beneath the canopy of a sub-tropical rainforest, and finally by a small forest of beautiful Blue Mountain Ash. Walking under and past waterfalls, over the creek more times than I can remember, reinforces that it’s water – that most precious of commodities on our dry continent – that created and continues to shape this environment. Even the drops of water falling down from hanging swamps above giving the impression that it’s raining contribute to shaping tomorrow’s Grand Canyon.
Of course, this route wouldn’t be accessible without the enormous amount of work done by NSW NPSW to map out and create the route, install the small bridge, a few kilometres of handrails and fencing in places, and even more than a couple concrete steps which would have been made on site. An unbelievable amount of work has made it possible for the public to come and appreciate this jewel in the Grose Valley, and I, for one, heartily thank everyone (past and present) who has been involved in setting up and maintaining these walking tracks.
When we return, we’ll definitely be re-visiting the Grose Valley. There’s a lot more to discover here.
A half-day walk for anyone of moderate fitness wanting to escape the crowds, get a different view of the Three Sisters, and who isn’t afraid of stairs. The walk can be extended to a full day walk depending on your starting point, or to include over-night hike options for experienced hikers.
Start/Finish: Glenraphael Drive, Katoomba
Distance: Approx 9km (+0.5km each way to where we left our car)
Time: Approx 4hrs
The geological feature in Jamison Valley known as ‘Ruined Castle’ (circled in red below) is visible from Echo Point Lookout as a little rise between Mt Solitary (which rises up directly in from of you from the middle of the valley), and the Narrowneck Plateau which has a ridge extending into the valley from the right.
Our New South Wales National Parks & Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS) Walking Track Guide suggested the walk would take 6 hours, and rated it medium/hard. This didn’t faze us; along with the description of walk it sounded just what we were after. The SV Map had a slightly more conservative estimate of 5 hours to complete the walk. You’ll note from the graph above that we weren’t exactly racing along (camera-in-hand syndrome) and we did it in 4hrs, so… mind you, we didn’t really stop as we climbed back up the steps. Just one or two photos on the way. Yep, have a cruisey walk then race up the cliff at the end (with, ahem, the aid of the handrails). Makes perfect sense.
Glenraphael Drive was very easy to find; it was once we got there that the fun started. Yes, we have asked the MINI to pretend it’s a 4wd before and it’s done admirably well to date, but the further we went along this unsealed road, the larger the ruts and holes got! Fortunately there was a spot we could park on the side of the road which turned out to be only about 500m from the start of the Golden Stairs, so it wasn’t too bad.
You need a 4wd to drive the pock-marked Glenraphael Drive
The puddles on Glenraphael Drive were getting bigger
We were looking forward to getting down into the valley – it was incredibly windy on the ridge tops. It had blown in overnight; a cold wind too, for all that it was a bright, sunny day.
The Golden Stairs are steep, though on average possibly slightly less so than those of the Giant Stairway, but more than the Furber Steps. The signs advise to allow half an hour to walk the 800m to the bottom where the steps meet the Federal Pass Walking Track, that more or less follows the old tramway put in when coal was being mined in the area by pick and shovel.
NSW NPWS signs at top of Golden Stairs
Signs at top of Golden Stairs
As on the other stairs in the area there is a handrail for a lot of the way down. I shudder to imagine what it would have been like to climb up and down, in all types of weather, for people back when the area was being explored and mined (late 1800’s I think). Apparently the stairs got their name from a Salvation Army Officer who was known to sing a hymn on the way back up, after holding services for the miners below.
A reminder to engage your brain when bushwalking
Taking in the view t Botting’s Lookout
The steps can be wet and slippery – thank goodness for the handrail
Nearing the bottom of the Golden Stairs
Colourful new growth on a fern
A particularly spiky plant about to flower
Almost at the bottom of the Golden Stairs
Federal Pass Walking Tack is wide and flat at the bottom of the steps, perfectly matching what we expected to find from an old mining tramway given our experience around Walhalla in Victoria (see here and here). It doesn’t remain like this the whole 3.4km to Ruined Castle, so you will need to watch where you put your feet, but does remain reasonably level, as it follows the base of the cliffs. As you follow the path out along the base of the cliff and into the valley, the forest changes from a dark rainforest with a high canopy and moss-covered rocks littering the forest floor, to a much more open eucalypt forest with ferns and then grasses as the dominant ground cover.
Golden Stairs meets Federal Pass Walking Track
Federal Pass Walking Track, heading towards Ruined Castle
The moss covered rocks are beautiful but remind me that the original path would have been a challenge to make
Bark on a fallen tree slowly splitting and falling away
Ferns, lichen & moss on a boulder
Plants growing on a boulder by the path
Federal Pass Walking Track to Ruined Castle
Fungi makes a ladder up a dead tree trunk
Back in what felt like the subtropical rainforest section
Blue fruit on the forest floor
Ground ferns, tree ferns & ferns on trees
New growth, ready to unfurl
A more open section of forest. Maybe there’s been a landslide here in the past
Tangled flowers from a vine above add a splash of colour to the path
Wild flowers starting to bloom
Looking up at the cliffs of the Narrowneck Plateau
The texture of this bark reminded me of a sheep’s fleece
Federal Pass Walking Track
Right before the turn off to Ruined Castle we came upon a couple of NSW Parks rangers hard at work preparing foundations for public toilets. That was a double surprise! We don’t often see park rangers doing things in a park while we’re out on our walks (normally staff wearing Park uniforms are seen behind desks or cash registers at information centres) despite evidence that work has taken place (at some point in the past). For once we had a chance to talk to – and thank in person – the people doing the hard work!
NSW Park Rangers hard at work (photo taken on our way back)
The second surprise was that they were putting in loos. Maybe the overnight walk to Mt Solitary (an extension of this walk – advised for experienced walkers only. Someone required rescuing from there a day or two before we did our walk) is more popular than we realised.
A comment made in the NSW NPWS walking track guide book is there is some rock scrambling required on the path up Ruined Castle (see also here, about half way down the page). Now, either they’ve smoothed the path somewhat or we were supposed to bring our own rocks – I’m not sure which. I’ve done more rock scrambling around various beach heads. The path up is pretty obvious and not that tricky. If you stick to the path and don’t climb up the ‘castle’ there isn’t any ‘rock scrambling’ required.
I was rather disappointed to see building materials had been choppers in to build steps up the side of the hill. Are we causing that much erosion? Or are we intent on making everything boardwalk grade?
Walking up to Ruined Castle, past bags of NPWS building supplies
The numerous NPWS bags appear to be full of wood to make steps to climb up Ruined Castle
Is this the rock scrambling bit?
Rocky, but no scrambling required as yet
At the top of the short rise the track winds its way between the banksia trees and rough-barked eucalypts on top of the ridge leading to the ‘castle’. Most of the way along the ridge you can’t actually tell how far away you are from the formation. We followed the path through them and around the other side of the boulders making the formation known as ‘Ruined Castle’ before picking a spot to have lunch.
The path along the ridge to Ruined Castle is pretty smooth
Passing under part of the ‘ruins’
The boulders are much more erroded on their exposed side
Ah-ha! the Ruined Castle takes shape
The path continues around the back of the formation
A good spot to stop for lunch
If you want a clearer view, you will have to some ‘rock scrambling’ but that’s not necessary to this point
At Ruined Castle, wondering where Stephen had got to…
Picking your way down the other side is trickier than climbing up. The path is steeper and the loose dirt and litter (leaves, twigs, gum nuts, pebbles) between the rocks can make your footing less certain. It was good to make it down to Federal Pass without any slips.
Borderline rock-scrambling on the descent from Ruined Castle
Steep and a bit slippery coming down this section from the Ruined Castle
One of our many types of wattle
Ruined Castle track (on the Mt Solitude side) meets Federal Pass Walking Track
More acacia flowers
On the return trip we found more new facilities for hikers – shelters in clearings below the main track, and completed toilets. Evidence that the two Park Rangers had been hard at work for a while.
One of a couple of new shelters built by NWS NPWS Rangers near Ruined Cast just off Federal Pass Walking Track
Nice work on this shelter
In a case of being at the right place at the right time, we were privileged to witness a male lyrebird’s display, performed on a fallen tree not far from the path. I recorded most of it on my camera…I just don’t know what happened to it! Stephen got a couple of photos, but I wish I could share the performance with you.
When we reached the bottom of the steps again we didn’t go straight back up but decided to see what the Federal Pass track is like between this point and Scenic World. We just went a short way – going all the way to Scenic World and back would have added about 2hrs to the walk – enough to see that, as on the side of the steps, the track narrows and seems to become a more typical, undulating path through the rainforest, not one you can reliably push a pram along.
Federal Pass Walking Track from Golden Stairs back to Scenic World or Furber Steps
There wasn’t a hymn going through my head as we started back up the Golden Steps. I think I was just focusing on keeping up a steady pace. The sign at the bottom gave an indication of 45min for the climb (as opposed to 30min for the descent). We managed to shave 15min off that which was I reasonably pleased with, as we don’t live or regularly train anywhere hilly.
No hymns today, just a focus on breathing as we climb up the Golden Stairs
Still a ways to go
Taller people may need to duck
Narrow, but still plenty of room to walk single-file past the cliff face
Looking back to Ruined Castle between Narrowneck Plateau and Mt Solitary
Cliffs of the Narrowneck Plateau from Golden Stairs
Three Sisters from Bottings Lookout, almost back at the top of Golden Stairs
The top of the Golden Stairs is in sight
Then it was time to hold onto (or remove) hats again before they were blown back into the valley as we emerged from the forest onto the exposed ridge and walked back to the car. It was a really enjoyable walk.
The flower of a native pea species
Not sure what type of bush this is, but it was lovely