Victoria Falls To Blackheath or "Bitumen Doesn't Count"

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Victoria Falls To Blackheath or "Bitumen Doesn't Count"

Postby Lindsay » Wed 12 Jun, 2013 9:37 am

Son and I spent Sunday/Monday on a very pleasant walk from Victoria falls to Blackheath via Blue Gum Forest, Rodriguez Pass and the Grand Canyon. A cool and dry day made for pleasant walking along the Grose, quite a few other walkers out and about. The only disturbance was the SAR helo that spent around 45 minutes flying along the canyon, paying close attention to the cliffs on the northern side. A late start saw us unable to make Acacia Flat so we stopped at Little Blue Gum for the night. Just after dark the helo made another appearance and hung around for about half an hour before heading off. As I heard no reports of people in trouble I suppose it my have been a training flight. No rain but quite cold overnight and condensation was the worst I have experienced in my tarptent. Chris, on the other hand, had just received a new tarptent Moment for his birthday, one with a liner, and had no problems at all. I must retrofit one of these.

Away by 0900 the next morning. Blue Gum forest was spectacular. The bush was very wet, the clouds came over and it became quite cold, however the uphill walk up Rodriguez pass kept is warm. There was some confusion about the route at the base of the landslide with numerous bits of red and white tape blocking off access in some spots and indicating the track in others. We made it up and across with the aid of the newly installed wire handrail and continued up to the entrance to the Grand Canyon, where extensive trackwork has made the going much easier in spite of the steep climb.

Arrived at Neates Glen carpark at about 1535 and began the 5k slog into Blackheath through a fine drizzle . After about 1k a very nice couple stopped and offered us a lift. I remarked to Chris that a purist would refuse the lift and insist on walking all the way. He replied that bitumen doesn't count when assessing a bushwalk. With that philosophical dilemma resolved we accepted the lift with gratitude and soon found ourselves in the pub drying off by the fire with a feed and a couple of beers while we waited for our train.
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Re: Victoria Falls To Blackheath or "Bitumen Doesn't Count"

Postby kanangra » Wed 12 Jun, 2013 10:15 am

Smart boy your son. He'll go places.

K.
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Re: Victoria Falls To Blackheath or "Bitumen Doesn't Count"

Postby puredingo » Wed 12 Jun, 2013 11:41 am

Great read Lindsay, I'm definitely going to have to make my maidon voyage into the "other' side of the mountains soon.

And yeah, your young fellas right...Once there is a man made substance under your feet it's planes,trains and automobiles to the finish line.
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Re: Victoria Falls To Blackheath or "Bitumen Doesn't Count"

Postby ribuck » Wed 12 Jun, 2013 9:17 pm

Thanks for that trip report. It reminds me of my first ever bushwalk - Victoria Falls to Blackheath - which a friend and I ended up doing as an "all-nighter".

We had seen the route marked as a "track" on an old Gregory's road map of the Blue Mountains, and thought we'd go and explore it as a day trip, having vaguely heard that Blue Gum Forest was a nice place. We considered taking bicycles, but for some reason decided not to. You can tell we'd never been anywhere near here, can't you?

We drove to Victoria Falls lookout, parked the car, and headed down. We had a swim in the pool under Victoria Falls, then made our way to Burra Korain Flat. This was about 1977, back when Burra Korrain Flat was still a lovely big grassy area with magnificent escarpment views. Here we saw a pair of reading glasses on a ledge, but decided to leave them in place in case the owner came back for them.

Continuing on, we made our way to Little Blue Gum, where an old bloke (mid 70s) had a small fire going and offered us a cup of tea. We gratefully accepted, as we were already fairly exhaused (having never done a bushwalk before). He asked if we had seen a pair of glasses, but unfortunately Burra Korain Flat was too far for him to go back for them. He was walking Mt Vic to Blackheath in five days, which was as fast as he could manage at his age.

We continued on past Junction Rock and made our way up to the base of the falls. We had been hurrying, because dusk was approaching, and as we came out into the clearing around the falls we were awestruck by the sheer cliffs. How could there possibly be a route up them? A close look at the map revealed a break in marked path here. We had previously assumed this was because it was behind the "H" from the caption for the nearby Horseshoe Falls, but now we "realised" that it was because there was no way up. Or so we thought at the time.

With the light rapidly fading, we went as fast as we could back to Junction Rock, by which time it was completely dark on a moonless night. We had carried some food (a tin of peaches! and a pack of biscuits) and ate the last of it here, before making our way towards the route marked on the map as the Horse Track. We had no torch, and it wasn't possible to read the map anymore, so we planned to turn right at any plausible junction.

Without any light, our progress was really slow. Knowing that there were cliffs around, we slowly and deliberately felt each footstep before putting any weight on it. Occasionally there would be a gap in the tree cover, and the starlight gave us a faint view of the track.

The Horse Track was in very good condition back in the 70s, but even so we were doing less than one km per hour. We were by now absolutely shattered, and by midnight found that that we couldn't go on without a rest. We lay down on the ground. The night had become very cold, and we covered ourselves with the only things we had: our day packs, and one map each (the Gregory's map, and a 1:250,000 Blue Mountains map). We were shivering, but the maps made a decent difference, trapping a layer of warm air against us.

After an hour or so we were stiffening up, and were so cold that we knew we needed to get moving. We felt rejuvenated enough to continue on. Again we took it very carefully, and by 3.30am we emerged at the end of the Evans Lookout road. After walking towards Blackheath for half an hour, we found a phone box. In those days, there were phone books provided, and in the Yellow Pages under "Taxis" we found a Blackheath taxi company that advertised 24-hour service. We phoned, and got the driver out of bed. At first he was angry, but when we explained our predicament he said "No problem. I don't mind bushwalkers. It's only drunks that I don't like at 4am."

The taxi driver took us back to my friend's car at Victoria Falls lookout, and we drove back to Sydney. I could hardly walk for the next few days due to sore muscles.

I wouldn't have missed this experience for anything, and it was the start of a lifelong love of the wilderness.
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Re: Victoria Falls To Blackheath or "Bitumen Doesn't Count"

Postby Allchin09 » Thu 13 Jun, 2013 12:55 am

Ribuck,

What an interesting trip, thanks for sharing, I'm sure it really gave you an appreciation for bushwalking!

Alex.
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: Victoria Falls To Blackheath or "Bitumen Doesn't Count"

Postby Onestepmore » Tue 02 Jul, 2013 6:48 pm

Pub definitely >> bitumen

Hubby and I have too encountered the difficulties in identifying Rodriguez track due to the trackworks that you mentioned. In our case we travelled from Govett's Leap intending to go to Rodriguez Falls and then on to Acacia Flat. Due to work commitments we left our car after lunch on a Sat afternoon. Mutiple large white helicopter bags all over the rocks, no track markers (obscured??) We ended up going up Grand Canyon instead, never having identified the turnoff. We knew we were wrong, camped at the bottom of the steps going up to Neates Glen carpark under the rock overhang as it was by now dark (I was now getting a bit worried, and was wet and cold having slipped and fallen into the creek where there is no well defined trail), and did a diferent walk back the next day. I don't think you're allowed to camp here, but what do you do when it's dark, you're a (little bit) lost and you're wet and freezing?

Acacia Flat and the Bluegum Forest will have to wait until another weekend for us

Ribuck, what a story. Couldn't happen now. Thanks for sharing

PS the Korean restaurant in Katoomba is always our 'post walk' eatery, after a well earned cold ale at a pub. Highly recommended. Kimchi - +++
http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/70/1648112/ ... e-Katoomba
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