Three days in the Blue Mountains - Day 3

Day 3

After a wet and blustery night I woke early for what would be a long day, with a 11 hour walk over 16 kilometres. Trying not to wake anybody in nearby tents, I had breakfast and put on my wet weather gear. At 7am I left the park walking through fog that was so thick that it blocked out the rising sun, so much so that I considered turning on the torch. I crossed the road and started my journey by going down the 860 steps that make up the Furber Stairs. In the darkness of the rainforest there was a nice waterfall to the left of the track to stop and look at. It was too wet and dark to get a decent photo of it. Further down the steps there are number of lookouts with views up to the Kedumba falls and in the distance the three sisters Meehni, Wimlah and Gunnedoo trying to peak through the fog. Going down the stairs my hands started to freeze on the cold metal railings, I had to rub them together to keep them warm. At the bottom of the stairs the track meets up with the Federal Pass, which makes its way from the bottom of the Three Sisters in the east. Heading in a westerly direction I soon arrived at the bottom of the scenic railway, scenic cableway, and coal cart and coal mine. Normally packed full of tourist, I had it all to myself. An interactive map of the area is here.

The bottom scenic railway platform. The steepest cable-driven funicular railway in the world.

Passing a number of old mine shafts the track follows the route of the old rail line that was used to haul the coal and shale back up the hill. The area was mined from the 1870's to turn of the century. With the cliffs poking through the fog above me I soon reached the site of the landslide. The massive landslide that occurred in the 1930's was thought to be cause by previous mining and several days of heavy rain. The vegetation in the area is still quite bare compared to the surrounding area, with rainforest on both sides. After some tricky rock hopping and sliding, I was through.

Sorry if this scares you.

Back into the rainforest I walked. The track here is quite flat as it follows the course of what would have been a railway line used for mining. As I am walking a guy comes running by, for his morning run. After quick "Good Morning" he was gone into the mist. He would be first and last human I would see for a while. The rainforest is quite nice through this part. Even thought the arms of my old gortex jacket were leaking a little I was quite warm from the walking. It was 11.3 degrees when I left the tent earlier. I soon scared a poor lyrebird. There were a number of little birds that I had seen by this stage. To my left I passed the intersection of the track that I would take on my return trip.

I then walked another 2.67 kilometre passing a small old brick wall that is now used as a campsite and I then sent a wallaby bouncing off into the bush. I then walked and climbed up the rough track that takes you up to the ruined castle. Almost at the top of the hill that contains the rocks that make up the ruined castle I meet a man that sounded German with a large pack. With a quick G’day he was off. Here there was a good view up to Castle Head and the cliffs of the south west area of the Jamieson valley. 

I soon reached a rocky outcrop. I thought that this was the ruined castle. It wasn't. It was a few hundred metres along the ridgeline. The ruined castle is made up of several large boulders. I wanted to climb it, but with no assistants and with my short legs I decided not to risk it. Maybe next time. On a sunny day there are great views across to the landslide, the Three Sisters and around to Leura. I could only see fog bound cliffs. I then walked, skipped and grabbed onto trees going down a very steep hill. On the very last step of the steep part of the track I slipped and landed hard on my backside. Checking around to see if anyone was laughing I pressed on. The track then heads up and over a small hill with a few campsites on either side.

A part of the Ruined Castle

The track then went up the hill. The track was quite wide as there are many tracks that combine into one big eroded track. Then I meet the Koorowall Knifedge. It is the ridge that takes you up to Mt Solitary. It is a very steep and thin track. There is a large drop on either side in the valleys below. This was the most mentally challenging track I have done. To get me up it I pictured the tourist at Echo Point looking across the valley at me, using their binoculars, cheering me on. There was a spot every now again on rocky ledges to admire the view. After clinging on using tree branches and sandstone I finally reached a flat part of Mt Solitary. Although this wasn’t the true top of the mountain, I was happy that I had reached a mountain that I wanted to climb since I was a young boy.  It took me about half an hour to climb. I had lunch here.  I then started my decent.

The south west of Mt Solitary

 Koorowall Knifedge

Castle Head with the Ruined Castle in the forground

Reaching the bottom of the walk below the hill that contained the ruined castle. I pass several more campsites, some quite large. I was now back on the track that was nice and flat, easy walking through the rainforest. This area was where the search for British backpacker Jamie Neale took place July last year. I found this interesting in such an area.
I then turned off to the Golden Stairs track. This track goes up to the Narrow Neck Plateau. With the metal staircases being in good condition and what was left of timber steps being in terrible condition, it made me wonder if there will be an accident here soon. There are places with large drops without railings and only broken wire to hold onto. I soon passed three young European guys in sandshoes that were totally inappropriate for such a wet muddy track.
Once reaching the top of the stairs and onto the narrow neck the thick fog came in. It had be clear since going up to Mt Solitary. With nothing but fog to look at, I put on the radio and walked back to park via scenic world.

With walking for just over 9 hours I was tired but my legs weren't that sore however. I just had to remove a few leaches. After of four days of exercise I had done it!

If you have an interest in this walk the track notes are here


  1. I couldn't have done th knife edge. Well done greeny

  2. Hey Greenie
    Another great read. I rewalked part of this a few months ago (Golden stairs and over ruined castle and Solitary) and the Golden Stairs where in pretty good condition then, sounds like they might have fixed them now.
    Matt :)


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