By Ellen Hill – Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism
Blue Mountains canyon guides swapped climbing clobber for pruning gear and spent a day helping National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) rangers trim, stabilise and signpost an historic walking route at Medlow Bath in the Blue Mountains on August 19.
Eight Blue Mountains Adventure Company (BMAC) and four River Deep Mountain High (RDMH) guides rolled up their sleeves to help four NPWS rangers reinstate the 1.5km Pt Pilcher walking route within Blue Mountains National Park, close off eroding short-cut tracks and install track markers to assist canyoners wanting to experience the Juggler Canyon.
BMAC owner and Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism adventure sector director Dylan Jones said the historic Pt Pilcher track was chosen because there had been an increase in commercial use along it during the past year, staff from both adventure companies had raised concern about the degradation and safety of it and the track had been damaged by large storms earlier this year.
“It is timely to fix the damage now before it is too late,’’ Mr Jones said.
“I am really proud that so many BMAC and RDMH staff have volunteered for this opportunity to give back to our national parks because this is our workplace and we are all proud to look after it.
“It’s also a chance to acknowledge the great job NPWS does of looking after a lot of places we go for recreational adventures.”
RDMH operations manager Matthew Lee said he approached NPWS with the idea about six weeks ago after concerns about track erosion, fallen trees and overgrowth making for dangerous conditions for bushwalkers and canyoners.
“This is our way of giving back considering we are the ones who use national parks the most. It was also a good team building environment for the guides.”
NPWS Grose area ranger Vanessa Richardson said work conducted on the track, , included reinstating the path by clearing overgrowth and fallen trees to make it safer for bushwalkers and canyoners. This is a great example of active participation by our commercial operators by volunteering in a local environmental project which has direct benefits to the environment as well as our park visitors.
Track markers were also installed at the top of the access route into Juggler Canyon to better guide canyoners to the start of the canyon and prevent them crossing the nearby hanging swamp, which is a protected ecologiocal community.
Forged in 1907 and used by guests of the Hydro Majestic Hotel, the Pt Pilcher route was a popular day out.
Today the track is graded as a Class 5 track, meaning that it receives basic maintenance and does not have the level of signage found on other popular walking routes.
The Pt Pilcher track is suitable for experienced bushwalkers only.
The joint track work exercise would not only benefit adventure company customers but help strengthen relationships between NPWS with canyoning groups, Ms Richardson said.