Six Foot Track - Coxs River to Katoomba - Multi Day walk - Day 3

I woke to a very cold morning, with my muscles rather stiff and sore from the last few days of walking. I had full day of walking ahead of me before I would reach civilisation and have the good and bad things that come with it. I hope you read on, to find out about the conclusion of my first multi day walk on this historic and scenic track.

There was a nice layer of ice on my tent as it was -3.3 degrees outside at sunrise. So I dressed quickly and ate a warm breakfast. I was starting to get myself into a good routine each morning. So I soon had everything packed. Then with a great big heave I had my pack on my back.

The Coxs river runs to the right of the track for the next kilometre. I passed the Six Foot Track Eco Lodge. It looked deserted.  It is the only accommodation on the track. And if you ask me, it is the easy way out if you don't sleep in a tent. 

The track then goes a little higher crossing a small creek. Then you arrive a the Bowtell's Swing Bridge. The bridge was built by the Royal Australian Engineers in 1992. Before that the only way to cross the river was back at camp where I started the day. Here I took my pack off and put my trekking poles on the side of the pack to help make a safer crossing of the bridge. Back on with the pack, hands about to take hold of the railings, then Beep Beep, Beep Beep. The peacefulness of the birds and the water flowing over the rocks below was replaced by my mother wondering where I was!

At both ends of the bridge there are signs warning about only one person on the bridge at one time. Walking slowly across the bridge you can see why. With the extra weight of my pack, the slightest movement either left or right made you feel like you were going to go over the side. 

The river flows to the left of the track. The track for next 7 kilometres travels along undulating country. Here you can see parts of the original six foot wide tracks. Occasionally there are markers that are used for a historic study of the track. I liked this part of the track as it would have been more like the track in the 1880's and not like the wide fire trail that I walked on the days before.

The warm July sun was starting to get to me in the open privately owned farmland that that track goes through. The hill started to feel like it was the steepest of the day. Maybe it was, then maybe just three days of walking was just getting to me. I then came to the 10k marker. This put a huge smile on my face.


Then a fine view of the sandstone escarpment of Katoomba appeared.  A group of walkers who nicely offered to take a photo of me. It felt a bit strange talking to people after not doing so for so long.

For the next little while the track goes through fertile farmland with more great views of the cliffs of the Blue Mountains. Here the people that had just taken my photo took off at a cracking pace, while me being a lot younger walker, walked at a much gentler pace. After crossing one unbridged creek and another bridged creek I was on a dirt road, which is used to access a number of property's.

After walking along the dirt road with a creek off to the side I came to the Megalong cemetery. The old bush cemetery is the final resting place for earlier generations of European settlers. I had a quick look and then stopped for a late lunch. 

While having lunch a bee decided have a rest my shoulder. Being allergic to their bite I quickly brushed it off. Well I presumed so. On the way back after walk in the car I discovered a sleepy bee on me again!! 
I then crossed a sealed road and a fence. Walking through bush then farmland again, then crossing Mitchell Creek I passed two other walkers doing the track in the opposite direction.

Soon a taxi passed me. It was hard but I manage to control myself and not call for a lift! A bit up the road I had friendly wave from the passenger that was just in the taxi. Further up the road the friendly gentleman caught up with me. It turned out that he was the owner of historic Megalong Village that I was about to pass. Today it is just used for his horses, but from about 1885 to 1905 used as a overnight stopover for those on their journey on the Six Foot Track. Here I was lucky enough to see a wombat. 

The road/fire trail then ends. Here the track starts to climb. It goes through Nellie's Glen which is an area of rainforest. Looking up I could just see the cliffs above. Reading the map the track look like it was going to get very steep, but I kept walking and it did not get steep. Then I crossed a creek with a waterfall to the side. I was wrong, I came to a staircase. It seemed like an endless staircase. The humidity felt like 100%. My legs were getting tired. I was low on water. But I had to keep on going.  Then appeared a man, a great man, it was my father! 
Not long after this the stairs ended, and we came to Norths lookout.

The track then goes a few hundred metres up a hill and comes to a gate with a Six Foot Track sign. Here I met my mother. There is a little shelter here with information about the track.

The track officially ends a few hundred metres up the road at the explorers tree. The tree was marked by the three explorers, Wentworth, Blaxland and Lawson when they were the first white men to cross the mountains in 1813. 
My parents wanted to drive me to end. But no way was I going to do that. I was going to walk the very last steps of the 45 kilometre track. And I did! I completed the track I had wanted to walk since I was 12 years old. 

This walk is dedicated to memory of Richard Laws
A great bloke. Who if he had a half a chance would had done this walk and spread the news of this adventure. 

Walk date 23/7/10


Six Foot Track - Black Range to Coxs River - Multi Day walk - Day 2

The second day my walk would be one of ice, 24k's of walking, a 4WD track, great views, creek crossings, wild animals and not so wild animals. The second day certainly would be an interesting one.

I woke alone at the Black Range campsite. It was just above 0 degrees Celsius in the tent and -2.2 outside with a layer of ice on the tent. So I got quickly dressed and made myself a warm breakfast. With lots of layers on I was nice and warm outside the tent. Not wanting to get my gloves wet I decided to pack up without them. This was a big mistake. When folding up the icy tent, it was like a thousand pieces of broken glass cutting in to my fingers.

It was half past eight and I was on the track. I came to intersection with tracks heading in all directions, I took the track east. This area is full of pine trees ready to be cut down and other areas full of cleared trees. The park ranger passed me in his 4wd doing his morning inspection of the park.

Not long after this I was back in the natural forest. The walking here is very easy, with a slight downhill decline. There a few side tracks so the map is very easy to follow. Here I notice the puddles on the track no longer frozen and no frost remaining on the ground. I soon had to take off layers of clothing. Here there are only glimpses of the steep valleys below on either side of the fire trail. The Kanangra-Boyd National Park is on the left of the track and state forest on the right. After about 6 K's of walking the park ranger stopped and made sure I was OK.

After 10.5 K's of walking I came to an intersection. There is a rain gauge not far from here, though I didn't see it. I stopped here for a few moments and had some morning tea. The track now becomes steeper. The start of the day I was at the attitude of around 1200 metres, now around 900 metres and by the end of the day it would be a bit over 300 metres, so lots of downhill walking ahead. Here I was thankful for having my new walking poles, with parts of the track feeling like I was walking on ball bearings, they saved me from falling many times.

There were good views of the Megalong Valley in the distance. I would be walking through the valley the next day. I could hear a waterfall off in the distance. Soon I came to a sign mentioning the waterfall and river. A quick look at the map and I decided to go down this track as it didn't look too far on the map. It turned out to be much longer! This track is badly eroded by 4wd's. Thankfully it is kept to this track from what I saw. The track goes down into a steep valley. I arrived at a campsite and river crossing. 

I was now regretting going down this track. As it was very hard work going back up to the Six Foot Track. This added an extra 40 minutes to my walk. It was then more downhill walking. I then had to cross two small rivers. Somewhere here I passed the remains of the historic Dwyers Hut. With the recent rain there was no way to across the rivers without walking through the water. My supposedly waterproof shoes were not waterproof and my socks were a little wet for the rest of the day. I passed one campsite and then had a late lunch near the Alum Creek camping ground.

The track then goes up hill, up the Mini Mini Saddle. There again is track erosion, but not from 4wd's but from Trial Bikes. My legs were starting to get the better of me, payback for the walking the 4wd track earlier. 

Soon the track goes downhill again, on its way to the Cox's River. There are great views of the Megalong Valley and the escarpment of the Blue Mountains.

With the last of the breathtaking views gone for the rest of the day I passed the historic fenced yards of the Kyangatha homestead. Without any signage they are hard to make out. The only way to know is that the trees are different to others in the area. There was now only 4.5 K's until the campsite from here. This part of the track is used frequently by the local cattle.

As I walking I heard a noise just off the track. I looked up and my eyes focused on a wild pig. It grunted. I just kept walking, knowing the damage one of these animals could cause. Walking quickly I covered the last kilometre in record time. 

Arriving the Coxs River camping group I had a quick look around. Here is the traditional crossing of the river for the Six Foot Track. There is also the historic O'Reillys and Dysons Hut's.

While setting up my tent, which had ice still on it from the morning, I could hear what I thought to be a group of loud teenagers. It turned out to be a young calf trying cross the river and catch up to its group. I also had a cow watching me the whole time I was putting the tent up. It looked like it would charge me at any moment. I then had a nice warm dinner while listening to a wild dog howling off in the distance.

With the temperature fast approaching zero, I got into my tent and stayed there until morning. Not long after I closed my eyes I heard a car. It may have been the park ranger, as it circled the tent and left. I again was going to need the sleep. Tomorrow was going to be a shorter walk, but was going to have as much climbing as the first day of the walk.

Walk date 22/7/10


Six Foot Track - Jenolan to Black Range - Multi Day walk - Day 1

The Six Foot Track follows an old bridle trail that was built in the 1880's to transport tourists by horseback to Jenolan Caves from Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. The walk is 45 kilometres in length over a variety of terrain, including mountains, farmland and a river crossing. Some of my family and friends thought I was a bit crazy doing such a walk solo in the middle of winter, where the temperature drops below zero at night. With my food and home strapped to my back and lots of up hill walking, I hope you will enjoy finding out about my adventure on the Six Foot Track.

I arrived the day before at Katoomba to pick up my EPRIB and stayed the night in a pub a Blackheath. Here I had a hearty steak, beer and read a motor mag by a nice warm fire place. The next morning I woke to find a nice frost outside. After breakfast I collected my lunch from a nearby sandwich shop and some fresh fruit.  Backpack packed I checked out and went and waited for the bus to collect me.

The mini bus arrived. On board there were two friendly couples visiting the caves, they seemed impressed  about my impending walk. The bus driver was also friendly, pointing out local points of interest. The bus trip takes about an hour to reach the caves. Along the way there is views of the area that I would be walking over the next few days. The last few k's going down a very steep and winding road, going down the side of Mt Inspiration (1076m). Here I was thinking, what was I getting myself into! as I would have to shortly walk back up the same mountain.

It was 11am, one final check of my equipment and I was off. The walk starts at a set of stairs outside the grand Caves House (Built 1898). Caves house was setup in Christmas decorations for Christmas in July celebrations.

Walking up a steep path, there were great views of Caves House and the area where tourists meet to go on tours of the caves. In the caves it is 16 degrees c all year round. So it was warmer in than out at this time of the year, as it was about 12 degrees outside this day.

Around a corner I arrived at Carlotta Arch. The huge arch is made out of limestone as is the rest of the nearby cave system. Through the arch you can see the Blue Lake. Arriving we saw a platypus in this lake. This lake is man made. Built in 1880 to run a small hydro electricity plant to supply power to light Chifley Cave. This was first cave in the world to be lit by a electric light. This was a year after that Thomas Edison had patented the long lasting incandescent light bulb and the year that Joseph Swan had his home in England to be the first in the world to be lit up by something other than candle light.

From here I left the nice path and joined the Six Foot Track proper. The track here is about six foot wide or less. The track was built six feet wide to allow two load horses to pass each other safely.
The track is very steep here and would be for the next 4 kilometres. Only a few days before I left, I picked up a pair of trekking poles. I have never used poles before, but I soon learnt how to use them from what I have learned from reading on the web and seen on YouTube. They were invaluable too me for the rest of the walk.
Soon stopping to adjust my pack I thought I heard a gun shot. But it wasn't, it was rocks falling and crashing to the ground somewhere nearby, hidden by the thick scrub. This is steep country. Soon I crossed a site of a old landslide.

This would be the last bit of original six foot wide track I would walk on for the rest of the day. The track soon meets the Mount George Fire Trail and continues along it. Here I also meet a small group of young Irish ladies and a two Aussie blokes who were about complete their Six Foot Track walk from Katoomba. This would be my last communication with humans for the rest of the day.

As I got closer to Kiaora Hill (1192m) the temperature was starting to drop to around 8 degrees c and it was only lunch time. Passing the turn off to Kiaora Hill the track starts to flatten out. Soon after I walked through the grounds of the Jenolan Caves Cottages where the local wildlife briefly took notice of a strange upright creature walking by with it's home on it's back.

The track then runs parallel to Jenolan Caves Road for the next 2 kilometres. It then crosses the road. Back onto another fire trail it goes. Here I had my lunch around 2:30 in the afternoon. 
The track goes over undulating country for the next few k's crossing some large puddles on the track. On one side of the track is the Kanangra-Boyd National Park which is internationally recognised as a part of the Greater Blue Mountains Area World Heritage Site.

Just after passing the 35k marker I arrived at half passed three at the Black Range campsite. Here I was meet by more local wildlife. I setup up camp, had dinner and had a early night. It was very quite with only the noise of the wind in the nearby pine forest. I was going to need the sleep as I could be waking up to a very cool morning and would have a long day of walking ahead.

Walk date 21/7/10