By Ellen Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism
Saunter around spring gardens, tramp along a track, climb down a canyon and stroll along the street. Whatever walk you choose this Festival of Walking, let your feet guide your way.
The “no brainer’’ festival which showcases the magnificent Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and the walking activities within it continues through the school holidays and until October 19.
BMLOT chairman Daniel Myles said: “The Festival of Walking is a fantastic opportunity to experience the whole gamut of walking activities we have in this world-famous region, from easy street strolls, garden ambles and brisk walks through to hardcore treks into remote areas.
“Activities are held throughout the week, so why not beat the crowds, take a gulp of our fresh air and book a bed for a short break mid-week.’’
The Festival of Walking continues throughout the school holidays and until October 19. Visitors and locals can choose from an extensive list at festivalofwalking.com.au including:
Valley of the Waters Walk and Grand Canyon walks with Tread Lightly Eco Tours (September 26, 27 and 28): Experience spectacular waterfalls, lush rainforests, remote wilderness, eucalyptus forest, deep gorges and canyons, towering sandstone escarpments 300m high and valleys 800m deep. Cost: from $135 with a picnic lunch. Exclusive and tailors tours available. Bookings: 0414 976 752 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Parks Discover Wild Waratahs Walks with Mount Tomah Foundation Friends, September 27: Search for the NSW floral emblem in the wild along Pierce’s Pass with a Discovery Ranger, learn about the national park and see how waratahs are responding after the 2013 fires. Cost: $15 adults, $7.50 children (6-16 years). Bookings: (02) 9231 8182 or Blue Mountains Botanic Garden.
The Fairmont Walk with Life’s An Adventure in association with Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains, Saturdays until October 19: Discover cool fern-filled gullies, pockets of rainforests and a series of lookouts with uninterrupted views of the Jamison Valley on this family adventure. Uncover habitats and the secrets of plants and animals. Stay overnight at the Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains (bookings: (02) 4785 0000). Cost: $50 adults, $30 children (8-16 years) walk only includes morning tea, guide and transfers to and from Fairmont Resort. Bookings: Bookings (02) 9975 4553 or Life’s An Adventure.
A Hike in History with Blue Mountains Guides, every Friday until October 17: Descend through a steep gorge of temperate rainforest, traverse along Lindemans Pass, see beautiful views of Mt Solitary and the Jamison (Kedumba) Valley and climb close enough to waterfalls to freshen your face. Cost: $180. Bookings: Blue Mountains Guides.
Dunphy’s Kowmung Adventure Walk with the Colong Foundation for Wilderness. Features a range of short walks, overnight camps, campfires, celebrations and wilderness adventures. Take part as a walker or camp and celebrate around a campfire. Details: Colong Foundation.
Ruined Castle – A Fairy Tale or Basalt Castle? with Life’s An Adventure, September 28, October 1 and 9: Ride the Scenic Railway, hike to Ruined Castle, traverse the Jamison Valley and climb Ruined Castle to take in 360 degree views. Cost: $225 adults, $165 children includes lunch ($249 adults, $165 children outside festival days). Bookings: (02) 9975 4553 or Life’s An Adventure.
Tomah Spur Wilderness Walk with Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, October 8: Learn about Blue Mountains plants and wildlife and the different environments on the conservation land. Travel through a carpet of ferns, moss-laden rocks and lush green rainforest with towering trees before emerging onto a rock outcrop with spectacular views of the Blue Mountains. Includes a talk on the Wollemi pine to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its discovery. Cost: $95. Bookings: (02) 4567 3019 or email email@example.com.
Glow Worm Tunnel with Wilderness Adventures, October 2: See the famous glow worms which light the disused railway tunnel then follow the old railway and explore the history of the area. Marvel at pagoda rock formations and magnificent views into the Wolgan Valley. Cost: $250 (normally $350) includes meals and snacks. Bookings: (02) 4787 1119 or 0403 860 820 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cox’s River Overnight Fishing & Bushwalking, Wilderness Adventures, October 4-6: Visit the lower reaches of the Cox’s River and help threatened native species by fishing for introduced carp. Cost: $200 per person includes all meals and snacks (gear available). Bookings: (02) 4787 1119 or 0403 860 820 or email email@example.com.
Tigersnake Canyon, High n Wild, October 4 and 11: Walk through the Wollemi National Park to arrive at the beginning of the canyon, a slot in the ground barely 1m wide, through which you will abseil into the canyon. Practice your abseiling skills further before abseiling next to a spectacular waterfall. Marvel as the canyon opens into a rainforest gully before dropping into a dark chasm, sliding down between two canyon walls. Cost: $199 includes lunch. Bookings: (02) 4782 6224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Cox’s Road walks, the Hartley Valley community, various dates: Walk with informed local guides country traversed by explorers Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth in 1813, surveyor Evans in 1813-1814, road builder Cox in 1814-1815 and Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1815. Cost: $65 (must be over 12 years of age) includes lunch and admission into A Moment in Time exhibition. Bookings: 0414 506 643 or email@example.com.
Deep Pass & River Caves Adventure, High n Wild, October 5 and 12: Explore two slot canyons in the Wollemi Wilderness. Begin with a bushwalk to the start of Deep Pass Canyon. Unusually, the trip travels upstream, climbing waterfalls and scrambling around deep pools before descending into the deep, dark, mysterious River Caves. Keep your eye out for rare blue yabbies. Cost: $180 includes lunch. Bookings: (02) 4782 6224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other upcoming walks include Katoomba Hidden & Forgotten Places, Lockley’s Pylon, Extreme Beer Walk, Woodford Academy Guided Walk to Mable Falls, Varuna Writer’s Ramble, Central West Wine with Nibbles, Leura Gardens Festival (October 5-12), Mayfield Garden walks (now open full-time, Oberon Historic Township and Kanangra Boyd Waterfall Walk.
Of course visitors and locals can go on self-guided walks at any time. The Greater Blue Mountains National Park contains more than 400 walking tracks (go to Blue Mountains National Park walks) and sites such as Hartley Historic Village are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Go to www.festivalofwalking.com.au for more information.
- Wherever you walk, practice safe walking habits: plan ahead, wear appropriate clothing and footwear, carry plenty of water and food, register your walk at Springwood or Katoomba police station or the NPWS visitor centre at Blackheath where you can borrow for free a personal locator beacon and stay on the track.