Like most walks in the Blue Mountains, this starts with steep downhill and ends with a steep climb back up. Its hard, even difficult in places but overall a pleasant walk with plenty of changing habitat to keep the walker interested. You can find the track notes at Wildwalks. Took my GoPro this time so the wide angled photos didn’t do the walk any justice.
Half day Friday at work meant I was able to reach Blackheath at around 3pm on a sunny cool winters afternoon. Next to the New Ivanhoe Hotel is a Taxi stand, so I was able to jump a Taxi and head straight out to Victoria Falls. The fare was a fixed price $44 which is not cheap but understandable, as the cabbie had little chance of getting a return fare.
After looking around I headed down a steep well maintained track to Victoria Cascades and onto Victoria Falls. Sections of the track follow ledges with drop-offs of 20 metres or more. The track was safe along these sections so I think those who have a fear of heights should still manage OK. The side track to the Cascades is only a couple of hundred metres and I think, nicer than Victoria Falls themselves.
Once past the falls, the track follows the edge of the creek and is difficult and hard. I started to wonder if I would make Burra Korain campsite by nightfall. Fortunately after a couple of hundred metres, the going got a lot easier. A nice semi-overgrown track, well formed and easy enough to follow.
I reached the campsite with plenty of time to setup. After looking around, I grabbed some firewood and started a fire. The site is OK, about 2 good spots and a couple more sites that would work, so long as its not raining. There was also a bit of rubbish around from what looked like inexperienced walkers, including two cans of unopened corn!
That night I didn’t bother with the cooker and toasted a pizza bread roll on the fire. I remembered seeing how sticking your phone in a pot or glass improved the quality of the sound, so I tried that and it worked well. Listened to a few tunes, downed half a flask of Scotch, read some “The Old Man and the Sea” and got a good nights sleep.
Started with a sleep in as I knew I was in no hurry. Fired up my toy Beer Can stove, had some Muesli, a cup of coffee and headed off to Acacia Flats. The obvious track heads up a very steep slippery embankment, up and over a slide that has cut off the original track. A lot better way is to cross the creek and follow the creek past the slide and cross back to the track.
I hadn’t got more than a couple of hundred metres before I bumped into James who was heading to Burra Korain. A quick chat and then continued walking what James called a “Super Highway”. A single lane country road I thought was a better analogy. Had to back track because I lost my sunnies and then continued on. Along the way there are a number of unofficial campsites. I was looking down at a nice creek campsite when James reappeared! He didn’t like the look of Burra Korain and was heading back to the site I was currently admiring.
It was getting close to lunchtime, so we scrambled down to the site and shared lunch. James had grown up with a bushwalking father and had some good stories to tell. He also had his old mans canvas Macpac pack which was in good condition and kind of cool.
About 1:30, I left James and continued walking through some classic Australian bush and Blue Gums. The Grose River is more of a big creek along this stretch and very picturesque. Somewhere around Pierces Pass intersection, I saw a couple attempting to cross the river. She was struggling and it was getting late in the afternoon. I was a bit concerned they would be lucky to get out of the Gorge before nightfall. An older bloke appeared and headed across to them so I figured he would help if needed.
A short time later I entered the Blue Gum Forest. What a magical place with huge stands of trees. There are a few campsites snuggled in among the trees and would make a great place to stay.
The plan was to camp at Acacia Flats, so I continued on and no sooner had I left the Forest than a sign to the campsite appeared and a short walk later I was there. Acacia Flats is a large area with sites scattered around. Probably gets busy in Summer but in Winter, there was plenty of good sites for the handful of groups settling in for the night.
I walked down to the river, picked up some water before making a final decision on which site to pick. Dinner was Gourmet Camper Beef and Chill Beans. Love Gourmet Camper because the food lasts for years but it is not dehydrated, so perfect for shorter walks. Finished my Scotch and was in bed with my book when a helicopter started buzzing around up the Gorge. “Stay where you are, do not move, help is coming” the loud speaker repeated over and over. Well wasn’t going anywhere but I did wonder if the lost hikers were the couple I saw earlier in the day.
Up early, pulled camp and was out of there by 7:30. Easy walking for the first couple of kilometers until I hit a step climb where the track became hard to follow. Unfortunately I missed the left turn and continued up the spur. I knew I’d lost the track but continued upwards until another helicopter flew overhead and started hovering up the hill near the cliff edge. Pretty sure they were rescuing yet another person! At that point, after identifying my location, I decided to head back.
On the way back down, the spur split and split again and again until I lost my original route. So I followed an animal track to a dry creek bed and followed that until it was impassable. Crossed over to another dry creek and followed that, making sure I could back track if needed. Finally I got onto the Rodriguez Pass track, tied but quite happy with my little adventure. I rested next to the creek, got water and wondered if the person who got rescued, made the same mistake I did. One thing for sure, I wasn’t going to make Blackheath for lunch now.
From here the track started to climb up to Govetts Leap. A stunningly beautiful, rain-forest walk, babbling brook, moss covered rocks, the track becomes a wondering staircase of sandstone steps. There were quite a lot of people now and some commented “Wait until you reach the staircase” in a somewhat sadistic tone.
I reached the base of the Falls, and what a place to rest. The falls are high and as the water falls, it turns into a shower and waves left and right as the light breeze catches the droplets. While resting I contemplated the route of the staircase because all I could see was vertical cliff!
So up the Staircase we go. Yes its super steep in places and I’m glad I’m tall and had a hiking pole because some of the steps are a good 2-3 feet high. Where the track drops away vertically, there are sturdy hand railings, so my fear of heights were not tested. Feeling tied actually worked in my favour, instead of treating it as a challenge, I stopped every couple of hundred metres to admired the view and what a view, not just out across the valley but also along the cliff. Definitely the best part of the walk.
It was getting on by the time I reached the top, so I skipped the last section and headed up the road to Blackheath. I stopped off at the bottle shop and grabbed a Liberty Ale on my way back to the car. Not sure if it was the walk or the beer but that beer tasted so good.
Anyone who lives in Sydney and is into bushwalking should do this walk at sometime. I did it in 2 nights but you could easily do it as an over night walk. Although it is only 20 klm, I think most would struggle to walk it in a day. I rate this walk quite highly and would happily walk any part of it again, especially the Govetts to Acacia Flats section. I think one of the gems of the Blue Mountain.