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Published: February 28th 2014
Wednesday 12th February, 2014. Furber Steps Walk, Katoomba Scenic Railway & Wentworth Falls. Blue Mountains
After breakfast we packed up our things and then chucked our stuff in a locker before making our way towards Katoomba Falls. We found a path to follow via a small creek which would allow us to see the falls from lower down. It was extremely misty and we couldn't see very much at all. We took a photo of the cable car from a lookout as it appeared out of the mist. At the bottom of the track the falls were signposted 100 metres to our left. It was very boggy and slippery after the rain last night. We reached the lookout and the sun (what there was of it!) was in exactly the wrong place for photos - we took some anyway. We retraced our steps and followed the track a little further.
Eventually we came to a junction where we could either go down the "Furber Steps" or follow the Prince Henry Walk along the top of the cliff. We opted for the steps as it would take us down in the valley where we could return to the top via
the 'steepest railway in the world'. This was a very interesting self-guided walk through cool temperate rainforest.
We arrived at Queen Victoria's Lookout where the fabulous vertical cliffs of the valley are formed by blockfalls and landslides. These occur because of the many horizontal and vertical fault lines in the sandstone. As the claystone bands are sapped away, undercutting the sandstone, the fault lines weaken and drop their enormous weight into the valley. The 3 sisters are remnants of this activity. The wind and water continue to erode the Sisters individually. As time goes on the remaining sisters will crumble and fall into the valley (in thousands of years time!!). We had a fantastic view of the 3 sisters from here - albeit a bit misty and murky.
The soils here are quite thin and erode easily. The leaf litter is constantly re-cycled by all sorts of beasties but a reliable rainfall and protection from the winds means that this eco-system can support a rich rainforest. The mulch of leaves and sticks prevents the soil from being washed away down the steep slopes. M kept her eyes peeled for leaches and snakes. We walked on to Witches Leap.
The workd "leap" is Scottish dialect for waterfall. This damp cliff supports an abundance of ferns and other moisture loving plants. Fertilizers have caused the creek to become polluted so there were warnings not to take a drink from here. We continued on the walk and discovered that the Witches Leap Creek falls 20 metres into Vera's Grotto where it continues its journey to join Katoomba Falls Creek which eventually becomes the Kedumba River.
We continued on until we came to a large overhang in the cliff face. The Blue Mountains are part of a dissected sandstone plateau that extends from the Hunter Valley to Mittagong (approx 150 km). In the many layers that were deposited by rivers, tidal lakes and lagoons are unusual clay lenses. The most clearly defined layer is the Mount Claystone. This layer separates 2 massive layers of sandstone and is clearly visible as a vegetated band about halfway down th cliffs. It represents a marine environment where fine silts were deposited as a tidal lagoon. As the clays are more easily eroded, they often form caves and overhantgs. We took a few snaps of quite a spectacular one called the Caley Formation.
reached the botoom of the path where there was a signpost to the 3 sisters lookout (100 metres). We followed this path down and were disappointed because we could only see the 'sister' closest to the cliff face. The other two were directly behind this first sister and totally obscured by her. We took a few pics of this first sister and returned to the main path where we continued to the funicular railway which is part of Scenic World, a tourist complex in the southwest of Katoomba. This site is home to the steepest funicular railway in the world, the Katoomba Scenic Railway, which was originally built to facilitate coal and oil shale mining in the Jamison Valley. We saw a reproduction of an original "Mountain Devil" Scenic Railway car. The original car was built by the Katoomba Coal Mine to replace the coal skip which had been used for passenger transport at weekends. This was to satisfy the growing demand from bushwalkers and tourists seeking a more comfortable ride to and from the valley. We boarded the train for the journey up the cliff. It wasn't as exciting as the last time we were here as the train
had been replaced by a more modern 'safer' all singing and dancing model. We took 15 minutes to find a way out of Scenic World. We caught the bus (included in our pass) back to the YH and retrieved our stuff. We sat in the garden with a drink and D took some snaps of the YH which was a lovely Art Deco building. We had an all day breakfast in town and then caught the train to Wentworth Falls.
After disembarking the train we found the start of "Darwin's Walk" which would take us to the falls. This was a lovely walk, following the river through native bush. There were DBP's in the creeks but it was the wrong time of day to see them. Didn't stop M from looking though! We passed waterfalls and crossed bridges until we eventually came to the point where the water 'falls' off the cliff. There were danger signs showing on a photograph exactly where we were in relation to the drop down. D took a snap. Pretty scary when you look at it closely. Charles Darwin described the view from the top of the falls as the most "stupendous he had
ever seen". The falls are in 2 drops - the upper and lower Wentworth falls. On the way back to the car park we stopped at Fletcher's Lookout for a brilliant view of these magnificent falls.
We made it to the car park but there was no bus. After a very long and tiring walk we caught the train to Sydney with no seconds to spare - it pulled in just as we were crossing the railway bridge - what luck - there wasn't another one for over an hour. We went for a Rocks Around the Clock Pint an then back home at Rach's we chilled out after a great couple of days.
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