Party: Catherine, Maria, Minh Anh, Queen Philippa, Thushan, Tristan (baker/butler/leader)
Date: May 16th 2015

I’d been hoping to take a large group for a hike-in Devonshire Tea, and at one stage there were 15 people signed up so it was looking promising. Unfortunately there were lots of cancellations and a few no shows, so in the end we were just six people. We met at the Katoomba Falls kiosk and set off down the Furber Steps at around 10.15. I’d forgotten how pretty this route is, with great views of Katoomba Falls and Mt Solitary. At the base of the Golden Staircase we passed an enormous group of school children, maybe 30 in all. They were heading for Mt Solitary and I wondered how wise it was to take such a large group to a camp site with no toilets. Maybe their trip was sponsored by Imodium?

We took the turn-off to Ruined Castle and I was surprised to see that there are now wooden steps going all the way up, luxury! Walking along the ridge we passed the camp cave that would have been our wet-weather tea location, and then squeezed through a gap in the rocks up onto the Ruined Castle. The views here are really special, particularly when the weather plays ball. After scrambling up to the highest point we settled on a large flat rock and I dutifully set to work making tea and dishing out scones, and Min Anh shared the delicious apple cake she’d made. Philippa was crowned Queen of Scone and got the exclusive use of the only proper tea cup. As we were finishing our scones the school group caught us up and took over the area. I’m glad that we had pushed on and kept ahead of them.

On the way back we were treated to a symphony of bird calls, with the usual wacky bell and whip bird sounds, the gentle, dulcet call of the cockatoo, and then what was either 20 different birds in a very small space… or a lyrebird.

The original plan was to retrace our steps up the Furber… Steps, but we exited up the Golden Staircase to save time. I found the walk up harder than I probably should have, maybe because I was so full of scones and cream. On the top of Narrowneck we enjoyed the views of the Megalong Valley and then road-bashed back to our car. There were heaps of people at Scenic World, it turned out the North Face 100 was on. I felt quite tired after walking 12km, so I have no idea how people manage to run 100km in that kind of terrain! We were back at the car at 16.15, a 6hr trip at a leisurely pace and with a long stop at the Ruined Castle.

It was a lovely day out, and although the group was a lot smaller than I’d hoped for, we had good fun and managed to raise $225 for the Cancer Council. Thanks to everyone that donated! (