Blackheath/Wentworth (BluMts)?

Aug 18th, 2005, 03:02 AM
  #1  
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Blackheath/Wentworth (BluMts)?

Have repeatedly enjoyed Laura Falls / Katoomba (and the valley walk connecting them), so I gather that the next step for train riders are the Wentworth Falls and Blackheath stops on either side - right? I'm wary of the zigzag railway stop, since you have to ask the train conductor to make a special stop (what about the pickup?) and anyway it looks like a pretty short ride for the trouble of getting there.

So my main question is how much time for Blackheath and Wentworth Falls and can they possibly fit in the same long day if no lengthy descent into the valley is done? I would walk from train to the scenic overlook (yes, 2km is far but doable), then walk mostly along the top with only the briefest of descending. And a brief look around the town - how much time? I take it Wentworth Falls has a circular bus but not a part of the Katoomba loop.

Oh, and for another day is the Cave trail at Glendale worth a special trip, even if short on time? Thanks.
viking is offline  
Aug 18th, 2005, 06:05 AM
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I agree, a 2km walk is doable, but don't forget we are not talking about a flat walk here.... at Wentworth Falls, in particular, there is a long, undulating walk from the station down Falls Road until you get to the lookout. And then you have to do it again to return, so there are uphill stretches both ways! And when you get there, what you see is well-nigh identical to what you saw from Katoomba (if you head down into the valley, you can, in fact, walk around to Katoomba in an hour and a half).

Blackheath isn't, if memory serves, quite as hilly a walk (downhill all the way when you leave the station), but it's still quite a bit of street walking (that's perhaps an unfortunate choice of phrase, but you know what I mean), and, while the view from the top is nice (and, at least, you're looking at a different valley from the one at Katoomba and Wentworth Falls), it really only is worthwhile if you are prepared to spend an hour or two going DOWN (a full day is better, so you can walk to Blue Gum Forest).

You can see the township in either place in ten or fifteen minutes. These are essentially villages. Neither towqnship is as interesting as, say, Leura, which has retained its charm by being off the highway.

As a resident of the Blue Mountains, I can't agree with your idea of just walking around the top with "only the briefest of descending", because, frankly, you probably have more scenic mountains in your own country (unless you come from somewhere like Bahrain). The beauty of our mountains is in the cool valleys, walking among the tree ferns and under the waterfalls. I am, therefore, going to make a bold suggestion which you really should consider.

Don't do either Wentworth Falls or Blackheath. Do Lawson, which is two suburbs east of Wentworth Falls. Spend a whole day there and do the walk on the north side and the walk on the south side. The good thing about Lawson is that both walks start about 600 metres (maybe less)from the railway station. In my teaching days this was always a preferred option, as it got the kids into the bush with a minimum of delay.

The North side walk (which starts at the side of the local swimming pool)is called Empire Pass, and it's a circular walk of some two hours, taking in several lovely waterfalls. The south side walk (which you find by walking down Honour Avenue, where you will see a map/sign after about 500 metres)is also fairly circular (there are alternatives depending on how fresh you are), and its best feature is the lovely Junction Falls, where two separate waterfalls meet in the one glade.... a lovely spot to sit and have a picnic. There's yet another waterfall just around the bend.

Altogether on the two walks you will see seven or eight waterfalls, you'll spend at least four hours in the cool valleys, and you will only be doing street walking for about twenty minutes for each half-day, which sure beats spending forty-five minutes walking to the top of Wentworth Falls and then having to turn around and walk another forty-five minutes to get back!

There's a nice cake shop in Lawson which has (or used to have) a board advertising an impressive array of pies.... anfd I can't resist telling this little story about my only visit in this shop. The proprietor -- a small Scotsman who, in my memory, has become the little man in "The Great Escape" -- waited while I dithered over which of the exotic flavours to choose: would I have the steak and kidney? No, maybe the beef and onion.... or then again, the curry. Finally, he took me into his confidence: "To be perfectly honest with yer, they're all the same pie.... we only have the one flavour, plain meat. The sign is just for folks who like to think they're getting something different." I wonder if this man -- and his shop -- are still there?

When you say "the Cave Trail at Glendale", do you mean the Red Hands Cave walk at Glenbrook? This isn't a very scenic walk, but the cave itself is interesting, if extremely small.... and you can't actually go into it any more, if I recall, as it's been wired off as a result of people sleeping in it overnight and adding a few extra red hands (not to mention other graffiti and rubbish) to the original aboriginal artworks.

Hope all this is of some help.

Alan is offline  
Aug 18th, 2005, 12:19 PM
  #3  
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Yes, thank you very much for the Lawson idea. Has a sketchy presence on the web, but reinforces what you say. Found an access map which shows the initial departure from the station would be about perpendicular to the tracks; that is SE on Honour Ave, and NW to intercept St Bernards Dr.
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Aug 18th, 2005, 11:59 PM
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P.S. what you say about Wentworth and Blackheath being somewhat pedestrian unfriendly makes the new offering by the rail company kind of strange. They offer a 3 day blue mt pass originating from syd and giving unlimited off and on between Wentworth falls and the zig zag railway. Lawson isn't included, and all stops appear inconvenient walks to the overlooks, with only a few having bus shuttle.
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Aug 20th, 2005, 05:55 AM
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I guess they are counting on you using the taxis that traditionally meet every train. The fact is -- as you will appreciate -- that the best views in the Blue Mountains are at the edges of gorges looking into the valleys; but when they built the railway line, they weren't interested in having the workmen look at the views, they just wanted the cheapest, easiest, least-demanding route with the best "rise over run" ratio. And, of course, the towns then tended to grow up around the railway lines, with the view-spots way in the background at the edge of town.

There would surely be shuttle buses in the more popular places, like Katoomba and, er, Katoomba; but Wentworth Falls, Blackheath, and even Leura are certainly not major tourists stops (except for LOCAL tourists who come in cars), and I have a feeling that the bus from the station there will be the usual shoppers' bus which might, if you're lucky, eventually get within coo-ee of the lookouts.

As for Lawson -- well, hardly an international visitor has ever heard of the place... but it just happens to have sited itself VERY close to the access paths to the bush walks. I can't think of any suburb in the mountains that is closer -- maybe Woodford is about the same. But the trade-off in these two cases is that there are fewer "Grand-Canyon-type" panoramas in this area; the walks are for people who want to commmune with nature, not stand and go "ooh".

The "unlimited stops" is a bit of a joke.... at these quiet stations, no one will collect your ticket, so as long as you've bought a return ticket to the furthest stop you plan to get off at, then you could jump off anywhere between Emu Plains and that station all day. Many of the smaller stations aren't even manned; I use Glenbrook Station(the feeder stop for the Blue Mountains National Park and Euroka Clearing), which IS Manned (most of the time), but in thirty years, I have never been asked to hand in my ticket, and I have never seen anyone who even had to SHOW their ticket. So this "special offer" of Cityrail isn't really doing you any favours, it's just sort of bowing to the inevitable.

However, with that comes a disclaimer: under no circumstances get on one of these trains without a ticket, as there are travelling ticket inspectors on most trains; they are trained to be adept at dismissing excuses and short on manners, and the fines are currently around $AUD200.
Alan is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2005, 12:35 AM
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Right Alan, I had looked at a relief map that showed Lawson far from the valley edge, and really only Medford Bath train station as being very close. I can only find one picture from Medford; although it looks out at the same valley as Katoomba and Govetts Leap, there is a farm below that maybe breaks the spell a bit.

So maybe get a train ticket to Medford Bath for a quick and easy panorama view, and back to Lawson for up close and in depth waterfalls. Or Medford is close to Blackheath if going there for the Rhododendrum fest, which may fit into my plans.

Maybe I am being misled by a Lonely Planet bushwalks book I have. Also has me tempted to try walks south and north of Sydney such as around Otford, Waterfall, Cronulla, and Cowan to Brooklyn. Maybe I should just tramp Sydney harbor shoreline west of the bridge instead.
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Aug 22nd, 2005, 01:19 AM
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If you have already been to the Blue Mountains then a walk south would be a great alternative.

I love catching the ferry from Cronulla to Bundeena then criss cross through the small township to the beginnings of the coastal track.

Here it is mainly heathland, brilliant wildflowers in spring and fantastic cliffs, awesome. If you are lucky and we have had heavy rain you can see waterfalls plummet into the ocean. At one spot there is a pure white sandstone ledge that looks like ice, no kidding! This walk can be done as a day walk, just partial way then backtrack, with return to Bundeena or if adventurous can do the whole 25 kilometre with maybe a stop at the walkers hut and finish at Otford where a train can be caught back to Sydney. The station is a bit hidden so a map is necessary.

En route is a beautiful rockpool complete with little waterfall for a nice dip, some deserted beaches, a number of deer and also will almost certainly see (in spring anyways) the flannel flower. Further south where it is more forested you can see great stands of Gymea Lily which I have always though quite weedish until all visitors I take out request a photo with this giant flower!

A number of people I know walk to Watamolla with arranged transport to pick them up. Watamolla itself a great location with a beach and a lagoon.

Whale watching is great also at the right time of year.

I love it, think it a real gem of a walk and wonder why it is hardly ever mentioned.
Tassietwister is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2005, 02:04 AM
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Wow, Bundeena; I had noticed a ferry sched to there and only didn't ask about it since I can never remember how to spell it. Wondered if it had trails - no thanks to my stupid book - maybe better book or maps avail in Sydney. A web site said they had a great weekend market, but the ferry sched is better on workdays, for commuters I suppose.

I have a special interest in that Royal Park, since I used to paraglide that coast around Stanwell. But I was such a nervous pilot that I could never appreciate the views. Even passing Waterfall and Otford stations, I could only think of whether I would remember to adjust varous straps, etc for the flight. Now I want to enjoy what I missed.

Furthermore to the north of Sydney I think there are nice walking tracks accessable from ferries departing Palm Beach, which my stupid book ignores and instead points to other inaccessable ones nearby.
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Aug 22nd, 2005, 05:11 PM
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viking

I would be a nervous pilot also especially since reading plaques dedicated to those to have died jumping off that cliff with manufactured wings! Still awesome to watch the paragliders with my feet firmly on solid ground.

The ferry to Bundeena is best on a weekday as many walkers go out on the coastal track on the weekend. There is a short loop walk directly north of the coast track which includes the cobbles, some mars looking sandstone and quite nice. I know because I keeping taking this track by accident.You would think I would learn or national parks would improve their signage!

I recommend you use the national parks website for info on walking trails. I was reading about a bus trip from Jannali community education college in September that includes mini bus transport and education on the heath wildflowers. If you can more of this sort of day trip it can take away the necessity of being close to train transport.
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