Walkers: Bruce (leading), Muriel, Carmela, Emily, Joyce, John L, Kerrin, Oliver, Michael C, Xi Zhang, Aidan, Lin Wang, Katja, Charlotte, Kim G, Montana, Amy B, Grace Gas, Clarisse, Sunny Li, Rebecca.
Date: 5/3/2017

As you can see, a good turnout for this walk on what was a fairly cloudy day with occasional showers.

Most of us met up at Central Station, and we were able to mainly sit in two groups with nobody standing. John got on at Penrith and we continued on up the Mountains until Leura. There was no rain anywhere along the way – until we got out at Leura! We were greeted there by light rain which only lasted about 20 minutes. That established the pattern for the day – occasional showers with lengthy breaks in between, and even the sun came out briefly right on lunchtime!

We walked down Leura’s main street until the gates of the Lone Pine War Memorial, then round the Cricket Oval then down the track to Lyrebird Glen. This track is getting more and more overgrown – probably not much used nowadays. I noticed some little tiles set into one step with the date: 1918. Probably hasn’t been maintained since then apart from the little bridge over Gordon’s Creek.

The waterfall at Lyrebird Glen was running well thanks to the recent rainy days, and a short photostop was made here. Then the track followed Gordon’s Creek down to the Pool of Siloam, where again the waterfall was running full.

Then it was up the steps I now call the “never-ending steps” as it seems like it. From there we went to Gordon Falls Lookout where we had the grand view of Jamieson Valley, sort of. Unfortunately, cloud obscured most of Mt Solitary (although it cleared up later). Even so, those who had never been to the Blue Mountains before still thought the view was really great.

Then it was off along the Prince Henry Cliff walk to Elysian Rock Lookout. Along the way a male Lyrebird was spotted but he flew off before he could be photographed. Still, we did get to see a hawk hovering overhead looking for prey. Then we continued on to Tarpeian Rock Lookout, above Leura Falls, where I decided to have lunch as it looked dry and the sun was starting to shine weakly through the clouds. (A lucky decision as at my usual lunch spots on the other side of Leura Falls, it was damp and raining when we got there).

So we settled down to lunch, with the view of Mt Solitary improving through the clouds. Even the sun came out for a few minutes. So also, however, did a view of a wall of rain gradually advancing through Jamieson Valley – toward us! So after 25 minutes rest we took off again, and headed off to the Leura Cascades, which were running at flood – very loud. Just before the track down to the Cascades, Charlotte left us to get back to Katoomba early. After a photostop at the Cascades, it was then to the bottom of Leura (or Bridal Veil) Falls via a some metal steps along Federal Pass. Then we continued on a short steep climb, and at a dry section of track I advised people from from now on we would be in Leech territory, especially in Leura Forest, so we would not be stopping until past Leura Forest. This meant no photostops at the pretty little falls along the way like Lila Falls.

We passed through Leura Forest, noting another group there picking off leeches from their legs. The Dardanelles Track branches to the right off Federal Pass here but is not well signposted. So on we went on this undulating track until reaching the bottom of The Giant Stairway (reputedly the steepest steps in the Blue Mountains). These stairs end up at Echo Point near the Three Sisters. A leech check here revealed that 2 walkers had got one each – not too bad given the damp conditions of the day and also that we had just passed through Leech City.

Then it was a further 30 minutes walk to the bottom of Furber Steps. At this stage Carmela’s knee had started to play up, and although she could have made the steep climb up Furbers’ she decided to play it safe and go up to Scenic World via the Scenic Railway, which is only 150 metres from Furber Steps. Emily went with her. The downside is that the Scenic Railway fare is $15 one way! Ouch! Even so it is the World’s steepest Standard Gauge railway so there are some compensations for the cost.

But for the remaining 18 it was the slog up the steep Furber Steps (supposedly the third steepest in the Blue Mountains). We all made it to the top, eventually, and met up with Carmela and Emily for the bus back to Katoomba Station. As the bus just missed the train we had a 25 minute wait for the next one. The time was used by some of us to get some coffee at one of the few cafes open after 4pm there. Meanwhile, Katja from Germany was amused that we have Gift Shops in Australia, since “Gift” is the German word for poison. So I took a photo of Katja outside a Gift Shop to send to family back home (last photo in the link coming up).

Then it was on the 4.56pm train back to Sydney, with John leaving at Penrith and myself at Strathfield.

Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and also an interesting trip form those who had never been to the Blue Mountains before. Good practice also on what are standard normal (i.e. often rough, often muddy, often steep) tracks.

Someone not on the list turned up at Central on the off chance that there would be a vacant spot. Sorry, can’t do that. It’s unfair to other people who are on the wait list.

Photo link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/brstafford/sets/72157678782478042

Hope to see new people on more trips.

Bruce Stafford.