The Greater Blue Mountains area for ≥10 days

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The Greater Blue Mountains area for ≥10 days

Postby screenwatching » Sat 02 Dec, 2017 1:28 pm

With only 16 weeks to go until I have 16 days off work (YES!), today has been marked down to start planning my next solo long-distance bushwalk. In April I completed the GNW over 10 glorious days and in March/April 2018 I’m interested in covering a good part of The Greater Blue Mountains area.

I haven’t spent much time in the area apart from completing a few 1-2 day trips from Wildwalks.com and also wandering around the lower Blue Mountains. Reading about the possibility of the area being significantly impacted if the dam is raised has also sparked interest in the region.

After a quick look today I’m thinking Mittagong to Katoomba with deviations as mentioned in a number of threads to avoid roads/fire trails. Add on a few circuits around Katoomba and then on to Blackheath for another circuit. I’m not particularly attached to the idea yet so open to suggestions.

I’m looking to include:
• ≥10 days – so best case scenario 10 days but allowing up to 15 days for heavy rain.
• Away from tourists or heavy traffic areas for the majority of the time (especially Easter weekend)
• Limited road or fire-trail & options for both on & off-track.

I’m comfortable (will tolerate) carrying up to 20kgs and with a base weight of 7 to 8kgs, that leaves plenty of room for food & water. I pretty much eat instant mash & salmon satchels or jerky so not much planning needed for food. Happy to drive/walk in for a food drop though as I’ll be doing a bushwalk each weekend until the much anticipated annual leave starts.

I haven’t done much off-track walking since I found the Wildwalks website but spent a couple of years using topo maps throughout the central coast area. I’m willing to purchase a good GPS if it will add significant value to the trip and also refresh the navigation skills until day one. I have a PLB.

I’m surprised there isn’t a well advertised long distance walk in the area. If you have something in mind though, your insights will be appreciated.

Thanks
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Re: The Greater Blue Mountains area for ≥10 days

Postby puredingo » Sun 03 Dec, 2017 7:25 pm

Tail end of summer...you may well still face some pretty hot weather, so be prepared to carry a bit of water on the walk.
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Re: The Greater Blue Mountains area for ≥10 days

Postby rcaffin » Thu 07 Dec, 2017 8:45 pm

in March/April 2018 I’m interested in covering a good part of The Greater Blue Mountains area.
In 2 months?
Better allow 20 years.

I’m surprised there isn’t a well advertised long distance walk in the area.
There is an infinity of good longer-distance walks in the Blue Mtns. We do not advertise them because this is not 'novice' country, and novices getting lost is a huge political pain. Besides, why spoil the fun?

Mind you, anyone who has done any long off-track walks in the area will tell you that the scrub can get a shade tiring after the 5th day.

I suggest you aim for some shorter walks to get to know the area.

Cheers
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Re: The Greater Blue Mountains area for ≥10 days

Postby ribuck » Fri 08 Dec, 2017 9:07 am

It doesn't really meet your criteria because it's too short (maybe 5 days if you did GNW in 10), but I love starting at Mt Victoria and following the Grose River back to Sydney. Sticking with one river lets you see it develop from a gully, to a waterfall-containing stream, to a babbling small rocky river, to a slow lazy sandy river, to an urban river.
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Re: The Greater Blue Mountains area for ≥10 days

Postby Hughmac » Fri 08 Dec, 2017 5:39 pm

The best source I've seen for walks in the Greater Blue Mountains is Dave Noble's web site. Offers an enormous amount of useful information about the region.
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Re: The Greater Blue Mountains area for ≥10 days

Postby wildwanderer » Fri 22 Dec, 2017 3:31 pm

ribuck wrote:It doesn't really meet your criteria because it's too short (maybe 5 days if you did GNW in 10), but I love starting at Mt Victoria and following the Grose River back to Sydney. Sticking with one river lets you see it develop from a gully, to a waterfall-containing stream, to a babbling small rocky river, to a slow lazy sandy river, to an urban river.


This got me thinking.
I wonder when the last trip from the Grose Valley and then following the river down to the junction with the Nepean River (Richmond) was?

It’s about 45km from the Junction of the Grose and Govetts Creek following the river.

I remember reading about an old engineer’s track being in use a long time ago and also several trips along various stretches some years back which encountered parts of the engineer’s track.

I wonder how long it would take. Assuming you would be spending a lot of time either walking in the river or moving slowly through vegetation on the banks. About 8km a day? 6 days? (from the Grose river/Govett Ck junction to Nepean).

Edit - and a bit of history of the engineers track. https://infobluemountains.net.au/history/engineers.htm

Edit2 - Found a recent (2013) solo trip report. Took him 3 and 1/2 days from Blackheath station. Well written and very impressive effort. http://gnw250.com/trip-report-blackheat ... %E2%80%8F/
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Re: The Greater Blue Mountains area for ≥10 days

Postby ribuck » Sat 23 Dec, 2017 1:23 am

wildwanderer wrote:Found a recent (2013) solo trip report. Took him 3 and 1/2 days from Blackheath station. Well written and very impressive effort. http://gnw250.com/trip-report-blackheat ... %E2%80%8F/

That guy only took 4 and 1/2 days to walk the Great North Walk from Newcastle to Sydney! So most of us are going to be slower than his 3 and 1/2 days walking from Blackheath Station to Richmond Station.

I did it in 7 days from Mt Vic to Richmond, but I was taking it easy.
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Re: The Greater Blue Mountains area for ≥10 days

Postby wildwanderer » Sat 23 Dec, 2017 7:05 am

ribuck wrote:
wildwanderer wrote:Found a recent (2013) solo trip report. Took him 3 and 1/2 days from Blackheath station. Well written and very impressive effort. http://gnw250.com/trip-report-blackheat ... %E2%80%8F/

That guy only took 4 and 1/2 days to walk the Great North Walk from Newcastle to Sydney! So most of us are going to be slower than his 3 and 1/2 days walking from Blackheath Station to Richmond Station.

I did it in 7 days from Mt Vic to Richmond, but I was taking it easy.


Agree, Saul is very hardcore. 6 days (Govetts/Grose Junction to Nepean R) was my estimation, sounds about right if you took 7 days from Mt Vic.

How long ago did you do it? Last I heard of fires going through the Grose was late Oct 2013. (after Saul’s trip) so I wonder what the undergrowth is like now. Any recent flooding would have also had an impact.

I’m seriously considering this trip for late Autumn 2018. Though I wouldn’t want to do it solo.. 3 days by myself is fine.. 5-6 days I get very bored of my own company.
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Re: The Greater Blue Mountains area for ≥10 days

Postby ribuck » Sat 23 Dec, 2017 12:04 pm

wildwanderer wrote:How long ago did you do it?

Last century! So I can't help with current conditions, sorry.

I recall spending a lot of time walking along the rocks by the river when the bush was thick, and only one really bad stretch: a scungy and boggy section that took two hours for a couple of hundred metres.

The exit described by Saul is the most practical one. It's nice to stay in the river longer, but then the eventual exit crosses private property.
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Re: The Greater Blue Mountains area for ≥10 days

Postby Grabeach » Sat 23 Dec, 2017 3:38 pm

I did most of the Engineers Track (Darling Causeway down to the Burralow Ck junction) as part of a series of day walks I lead in the early 90s. I believe we managed to find and keep to most of the original formation where it existed. This makes a huge difference. For instance, I managed to stumble on the formation below Lockley's and follow it to Shaw Gully (I think it was a bit higher up than where most were looking) taking 3 hrs 15 mins. Saul wasn't so lucky and appears to have taken the best part of a day for the same section. Lower down around Faulconbridge Point where there was no formation, it was often possible to push through short thick sections of vegetation to link up clear rock slabs. Day packs were likely a big advantage here. For what it's worth, 2 to 2 and 1/2 km per hour seemed a common rate of travel.
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Re: The Greater Blue Mountains area for ≥10 days

Postby wildwanderer » Sat 23 Dec, 2017 5:43 pm

Grabeach wrote:I did most of the Engineers Track (Darling Causeway down to the Burralow Ck junction) as part of a series of day walks I lead in the early 90s. I believe we managed to find and keep to most of the original formation where it existed. This makes a huge difference. For instance, I managed to stumble on the formation below Lockley's and follow it to Shaw Gully (I think it was a bit higher up than where most were looking) taking 3 hrs 15 mins. Saul wasn't so lucky and appears to have taken the best part of a day for the same section. Lower down around Faulconbridge Point where there was no formation, it was often possible to push through short thick sections of vegetation to link up clear rock slabs. Day packs were likely a big advantage here. For what it's worth, 2 to 2 and 1/2 km per hour seemed a common rate of travel.



Interesting. How high above the Grose would you estimate the remnants of the Engineers Track was?

The route from Govetts Creek/Grose Junction to Falconbridge Point sounds like a very interesting section. I do wonder with more regular use if a food pad connecting the remnants of the Engineers track could be opened up. If parties exited at Falconbridge point and then along the ridge to town It would make a nice 4-5 day trip. (you could even make it station to station. Either Mt Vic or Blackheath and then finish at Falconbridge station).

From the reports its seems Govetts creek to Falconbridge Point is where the old track is (was) most intact and its after Falconbridge point that the scrub gets the nastiest and most remnants of the Engineers Track disapears.

Edit - Apparently - https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/aus.bushwalking/DFRbLZj9lLQ there was an attempt in 2005 to restore the track and open up the engineers track route for more regular walking. Obviously didnt progress significantly enough to restore the track although it says the NPWS was invovled and it seems alot of prepartory paperwork work was done.
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Re: The Greater Blue Mountains area for ≥10 days

Postby ribuck » Sat 23 Dec, 2017 10:11 pm

I have done Faulconbridge Station to Richmond Station as a longish day walk. There's not much left of the Engineers Track downstream from Faulconbridge Point, but it's the section with a lot of rock ledges so the going is not too bad.
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Re: The Greater Blue Mountains area for ≥10 days

Postby Grabeach » Sun 24 Dec, 2017 6:31 am

Interesting. How high above the Grose would you estimate the remnants of the Engineers Track was?

I didn't pay much attention to where I was in relation to the river, so any figure I gave would be meaningless.

Noting that it was 25 years ago, things I sort of remember are that it was not on the bank of the river, it didn't dip and rise much and that it was fairly easy to follow.

Info from others include Andy Macqueen in Back From The Brink labelling the Engineers Track as "little trace" for the whole Govetts Ck to Shaw Gully section. From Shaw Gully down to Faulconbridge Point, Andy labels the track "poor condition" or "fair condition". The occasional comment from others I have heard over the years indicate that they, like Saul, tended to stay close to the river.

Considering all the above, it is obvious that the formation I was following was not at river bank level and so must have been higher up. Perhaps the 'Engineers' purposely cut it above previous flood debris levels. It would seem that it was only when the gorge started to narrow that others were corralled back onto the original formation.

Edit - Apparently - https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic ... FRbLZj9lLQ there was an attempt in 2005 to restore the track and open up the engineers track route for more regular walking. Obviously didnt progress significantly enough to restore the track although it says the NPWS was invovled and it seems alot of prepartory paperwork work was done.

I heard from a member of E.T.H.I.C that the Army had showed interest in doing up the track as a logistics training exercise. Can't remember the actual figure, but the high number of personnel they were prepared to 'put on the ground' amazed me. The NPWS, as the landowner, blocked the idea.
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Re: The Greater Blue Mountains area for ≥10 days

Postby wildwanderer » Sun 24 Dec, 2017 11:25 am

Grabeach wrote:I heard from a member of E.T.H.I.C that the Army had showed interest in doing up the track as a logistics training exercise. Can't remember the actual figure, but the high number of personnel they were prepared to 'put on the ground' amazed me. The NPWS, as the landowner, blocked the idea.


Unless the Army wanted to restore the track using a tank, I’d put that down as one of the more short sighted and plain dumb examples of bureaucratic turf wars in recent memory. The cost saving and benefit if the Army had restored the track would have been tremendous.
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Re: The Greater Blue Mountains area for ≥10 days

Postby Allchin09 » Sun 24 Dec, 2017 3:58 pm

wildwanderer wrote:The cost saving and benefit if the Army had restored the track would have been tremendous.


I don't think it was a matter of cost, more principle. Would have come across the same barriers regardless of who was re-building it.
Tackling the unknown and the awesome one adventure at a time!

Check out my latest trips at http://aoacblog.wordpress.com/posts
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Re: The Greater Blue Mountains area for ≥10 days

Postby Grabeach » Mon 25 Dec, 2017 3:57 pm

I agree with Alex that it was principal, however lack of funds is probably an influence. It seems NPWS policy is to not be involved in long distance tracks. With the exception of some very high tourist usage tracks, even moderately longer tracks in national parks such as Solitary don’t appear to receive much attention beyond placing a few signs. Initial interest by the Lands Department (now part of Dept of Industry) in upgrading Lindemans had to cease when the land was incorporated in the BMNP. It should also be noted that many of the popular long walks in NSW such as Great North Walk, Hume and Hovel and Six Foot Track traverse country with multiple owners and are invariably managed and funded by the Dept of Industry.
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Re: The Greater Blue Mountains area for ≥10 days

Postby rcaffin » Tue 26 Dec, 2017 7:58 pm

it is obvious that the formation I was following was not at river bank level and so must have been higher up. Perhaps the 'Engineers' purposely cut it above previous flood debris levels.
Correct. It goes moderately high for a lot of the distance. Yes, I have walked a fair bit of it, and it does go.
Michael Keats has written a book covering the whole Engineers Track: http://www.bushexplorers.com.au/books/lgv1.htm

For that matter, it sticks in my mind that Dot Butler and her fellow Tigers RAN from Blue Gum Forest to near Richmond in one long day. They carried no gear: they had slept at BGF using several fat newspapers for warmth, and burnt them before they left. That makes times of 3 - 5 days seem a bit long, doesn't it?

Cheers
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Re: The Greater Blue Mountains area for ≥10 days

Postby Grabeach » Wed 27 Dec, 2017 6:12 am

Michael Keats has written a book covering the whole Engineers Track

Not quite. As the title says, Day Walks in the Lower Grose River and Tributaries, it covers from the Devils Wilderness down. That's about 40%.

Dot Butler and her fellow Tigers RAN from Blue Gum Forest to near Richmond in one long day

I'd be very wary of times taken by bush runners carrying no gear. Back then they wouldn't have needed to even carry water. I know with my relatively lightweight physique, just going from a day pack to an overnight one and including the camp set up / pack up times, doubled my overall time for a walk. At the extreme end, the record for the Six Foot Track, which is usually done as an overnighter, is 3 hrs 15 mins.
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Re: The Greater Blue Mountains area for ≥10 days

Postby Peaksnik » Mon 09 Apr, 2018 3:41 pm

This brought back memories. Nearly fifty years ago, a 17-year-old me and a friend, attempted this as a 2 day trip for a bet. We started at BGF having overnighted there sleeping on a newspaper (the weekend SMH), similar, but unintentionally so, to Dot Butler, and arranged back to back to keep warm, with a groundsheet over the top to keep off the unexpected drizzle. The first day got us to a spot near Wentworth Creek. I lost my boots in the water (dont ask! I was a dill). We camped under an overhang and the next day exited at Faulconbridge Point. I wore two pairs of thick wool sox. Walked into Faulconbridge rail station the next day looking like Robinson Crusoe with the remains of the sox flapping around my ankles. The stationmaster almost pissed himself with laughter.

If the boots had remained on I have no doubt that we would have easily arrived in Richmond on the second day. But that was then and my memory of it was that the walking was not particularly difficult.
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