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Bushwalking - Blue Mountains, out to Ruined Castle from Scenic Railway

Posted at: 2008-09-23 @ 21:44:09

We had wonderful weather for our walk, not a cloud in the sky but also not too hot. Almost prefect walking weather.

I had arranged to meet everyone at the Maple Grove car park, which is just back from the Scenic Railway and normally doesn't have many cars in it. It's also close to the end of the Furber steps which was the planned walk out route.

meeting point

From the car park we walked along the Prince Henry cliff walk to Echo Point and then onto the start of The Giant Staircase. This was probably a couple of KMs and took us around 30 minutes to complete. The descent down the Giant Staircase was straight forward and done without incident while enjoying some of the great views over the Jamison valley.
Jamison Valley

The Giant Staircase sounds worse than it really is. Yes it's steep and narrow, but it's not that long. The descent for us took around 20 minutes and that was with a lot of traffic. The climb back up would take longer. I'd allow 45 minutes to an hour. Less if you're really fit!

giant staircase

Once at the bottom of the stairs we started out for the Scenic Railway which is around 3KM from the base of the Giant Staircase.
We stopped for lunch in a beautiful spot at the base of the Katoomba falls. A short distance before the base of the Scenic Railway. We even celebrated the birthday of one of the group members with cake and all! Much to his surprise.

Waterfall Jamison valley

From the base of the Scenic Railway we walked along the new(ish) boardwalk until the dirt track turn off to Ruined Castle, Golden Stairs and Landslide.

The first part of the track before the Landslide is straight forward. However, when the main fork is reached the lower one needs to be taken or you'll end up against the rock face near Malita Point. The track also cut directly through one of the coal seams in the area. The Scenic Railway was in fact built to service the mines down in the valley long before it became the tourist attraction it is now. When the mines closed up, the railway remained and continues to operate to this day. The base of the railway now has lots of exhibits and signs talking about the old mining days. If you've never been down that way before its certainly worth a look.

I also found what looks like an old mine air shaft between the Landslide and the Golden Stairs. I grabbed the torch and had a quick look in the entrance and found the cutting was almost a prefect rectangle continuing dead straight into the rock for as far as I could see. I would love to know more details if anyone out there has some knowledge about what it is and what shafts in the mountain it connects to.

I should add here just in case someone is dumb enough to get silly ideas. Mine shafts are not something that should be explored. They can be highly unstable and a real death trap for the inexperienced.

Next we came to the Landslide, which I have to say isn't the nicest of walking. Its a lot of small loose rocks which is all too easy to slip on. The path over the rock pile is sign posted with arrows and yellow panted stakes in the ground however inexperienced walkers do need to be careful, its easy to miss a few.


Once we were past the landslide its mostly flat walk, past the bottom of the Golden Stairs until the turn off to Ruined Castle. The turn off is signposted with the other track continuing on to Mt Solitary. The track up to Ruined Castle was a bit of a killer! It's got a serious climb that lasts for probably 1KM. Once past this it's mostly flat across the ridge to the castle.
From the bottom of the rocks which make up the Ruined Castle, is a short climb to the top of the rocks for the view.

Ruined Castle itself is well worth the walk, the 360 degree views over the Jamison valley are a real treat.

ruined castle

ruined castle

ruined castle

The walk back was uneventful aside from us all starting to get tired and that Landslide rock pile seeming harder on the way back! Once back at the scenic railway, we walked back up the Furber steps to the car park as we'd missed the last train out. It was starting to get dark around this time (about 6PM) but there was enough light to see us out of the valley, although we did have torches just in case we got caught. We got out of the valley, three very tired and sore walkers!

All up, we covered somewhere between 20 and 24KMs in around 6 hours which I think isn't bad going for one day!

I highly recommend the walk, although you may want to cut the distance down a bit by skipping the Giant Staircase and getting the Scenic Railway down, unless you're after a real workout. However, unless you have at least one experienced leader in the group, I wouldn't recommend the walk as it is not a walk to be taken lightly.
The Blue Mountains website grades the walk as for experienced walkers only and says the following:

"Experienced walkers only - High level of fitness and navigational skill required, minimum 3 in group. Advise friends or police of route and destination times".

I don't really agree with the navigational part unless they class reading signs as that. Either way, treat the walk with respect and make sure you have plenty of water as there isn't any to be found that's safe to drink on the walk itself.


Trip slide show

Trip: Chillagoe Caves Expedition - 2006

Posted at: 2006-09-02 @ 18:27:00

After much procrastinating I have finally done the photo slide show.
The truth of the matter is that the slide show has been done for weeks, however it took me awhile to get around to encoding it out.

The slide show comes in two formats.

H.264 (Quicktime)
Large 640x480 (35MB)
Small 320x240 (16MB)

WMV (Windows Media Player)
Large 640x480 (35MB)
Small 320x240 (29MB)

The highest quality video is the Large H.264 video.

This is also the last post about my great trip north. I hope you have enjoyed reading all the posts. If you are only new to the trip story visit the trip page

The Caving

Trip: Chillagoe Caves Expedition - 2006

Posted at: 2006-08-30 @ 16:41:10

We did a lot of caving up at Chillagoe and to document cave by cave would be very boring!
Aside from the whole tower thing the caves were a lot dryer than normal and they all have an abundance of daylight holes, which are basically holes in the roof. This is one of the many things that marks Chillagoe as somewhat unique.

We also discovered that there was a need to have good climbing skills. Because these caves are formed a little differently from most caves they tend to have a lot of vertical rift sections that either need to be climbed down or up.

The towers which I have talked about in previous posts make navigation above ground quite a challenge. Just finding the cave can take a considerable amount of effort and time and sometimes in the process you will find multiple other caves without it being the right cave!

The caves themselves are reasonably dry and dusty inside, for caves at least. There is also very little contact with water or mud.
Some of caves do reach to the edge of the water table however its rare and most systems don't even get muddy.

The actual decoration inside the caves is mostly inactive and it is rare to find a still active piece.
Chillagoe caves have an abundance of cave coral compared with almost any other cave system I have been in.

I am going to limit what I say publicly about the actual caves as they are permit only systems. The remoteness also helps to protect them from some less environmentally friendly people and hopefully help to preserve for future generations to enjoy.
If you are a member of a Speleological (caving) club, I highly recommend planning a trip. I know my club (The Hills Speleology Club will be planning another trip sometime in the future.

Below is a collection of photos I have of the caves. Click on any of the photos to travel to my flickr page.


The Towers

Trip: Chillagoe Caves Expedition - 2006

Posted at: 2006-08-30 @ 09:52:24

The whole idea of the trip was caving!
One of the things that is very different about Chillagoe caves is the "tower" the caves exist in.
The Towers

These towers rise right up from the flat savanna style plan and the caves infact are IN the towers.
A lot of the caves infact do not go below "ground level" with all of the cave being in the limestone tower

These limestone towers are surprisingly tall.
Its a long way down!

Another remarkable thing about these towers is how hard moving around on them can be.
One day we spent an hour and a half trying to find a cave. It should be noted that hour and a half was spent walking up one valley on a tower than then walking the 100 metres back to get into the other valley!
As if that's not bad enough the rock on the towers is really sharp! It has these ridges on the rock which will tear holes in you.

However this sharpness was also a saving grace as it made climbing the towers to get to the caves somewhat easier.
Tower Climbing

Chillagoe Town

Trip: Chillagoe Caves Expedition - 2006

Posted at: 2006-08-24 @ 11:10:51

Chillagoe is a town that was mainly fueled by the mining industry near by.
With all the mines closed now its main business is the cattle stations nearby and the tourist industry for the caves as well as a few other items of note.
One of those is balancing rock.
balancing rock

Chillagoe is a 2 pub town, with the main post office pub and another around the corner.
It has a general store which has all the normal stuff, although you have to pick the right day for the fresh bread trucked in.
It also had a laundry, hardware store, 2 public phone boxes, a tourist information centre (The Hub), caravan park, police station and the Queensland equivalent of National Parks and Wildlife.

Chillagoe Town

Chillagoe Town

Aside from the Caves another tourist attraction is the old Chillagoe smelters. The smelters were operated in the early 1900s and closed in doors in the 1940s. The smelters were used to extract silver and gold among other things from the ore. The slag still at the smelter site today seems to be rich in lead and is something that could probably be mined.
Queensland parks and wildlife have a good PDF document about the smelters.

Chillagoe Smelters

Chillagoe Smelters

For the trip we were lucky enough to be able to use the Chillagoe Caving Club's club house.

The club house

The club house

There are a few more photos on my flickr page.

Hinchinbrook Island - The walk

Trip: Chillagoe Caves Expedition - 2006

Posted at: 2006-08-20 @ 20:55:33

17th of July
Today was supposed to be our second last day on the island, but due to all the rain we decided to pull out today.
Having booked the ferry off the island for the 18th we were unsure if we would be able to get on it. We had decided that we would walk to George point (the ferry pickup point) anyway and if there was room great! If not then we would camp the last night at George point
I awoke early as I take a long time to eat breakfast, the rain had stopped aside from the odd large drop from the overhanging trees.
After packing up the very wet tent and wondering if I would be using it again this trip we set off for George point which was around 8KM away.
The first part of the walk was in forest however it was not long before we walked out onto a beach (Mulligan Bay).
Mulligan Bay

Mount Straloch

George point

From there we walked right along the beach to George point, were it looked like we were really close to the mainland. In-fact we had mobile reception! We gave the ferry people a call and asked if they would have room, sure thing, they would run the ferry twice if need be.

Hinchinbrook island

Once off the island we had a short bus ride from Lucinda back to cardwell right back were we started 4 days earlier!

It was a great walk and even though the weather was at times less than nice, it could have been a whole heap worse! The views were amazing and the walk itself is not that hard.
I highly recommend it!

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