Grand Cliff Top Walk

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By Caro Ryan

Local bushwalking expert, Caro Ryan, puts to the test the two-day walk from Wentworth Falls via Leura to Scenic World. 

I’m excited. Not sure if it’s up there with the brass bands and pomp of the 1880s when parts of this track originally opened but knowing there’s a ribbon to be cut on the new Grand Cliff Top Walk gives me tingles in my walking shoes and a spring in my step. 

Linking Wentworth Falls to Katoomba along the northern escarpment of the Jamison Valley, this two-day, daypack only, 19km hike is a great introduction to multiday walking or if you’ve been thinking about doing a multi-day walk but not sure about a big pack or logistics. 

Leaving my heavy backpack (and tent) at home, this undulating, Grade 3 track breaks with traditional multi-day bushwalks in the Blue Mountains by becoming the first village-to-village (or inn-to-inn) European (or even Camino) style journey in the region. 

With a backpack this light, I’m free to enjoy (not endure) my adventure, unencumbered by the usual camping suspects. 

Sure I’ve got about 1.5 litres of water on board, along with first aid kit, raincoat and a warm layer, but apart from pyjamas, toothbrush and clean undies, I’m free knowing I’ll be sleeping well in one of the many accommodation options on offer. From sumptuous bed and breakfasts to the budget friendly No. 14 Lovel St guesthouse and private rental in Katoomba. 

I don’t even have to worry about food or the essential ‘scroggin’ (aka trail mix) because I’m going to be indulging in some of the best local eateries (and drinkeries) along the way. I’ve got my eye on Leura’s fiery Jiggle Korean BBQ – but not before soothing my muscles on the way at Blue Mountains Sauna. 

Before I get to indulge though, there’s 11 km of track to cover. 

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The new trackwork is amazing. While the route was laid down almost 150 years ago, the work of skilled National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and Blue Mountains City Council stonemasons and landscapers has created one of the 13 great walks of NSW. 

No fear of getting lost, as I’m joined from the start by a local celebrity—the black cockatoo (see story page 10), who guides me as the emblem on new wayfaring signs. 

Loaded with lunch and coffee from Wentworth Falls, I walk past the official start of the Grand Cliff Top Walk in Wilson Park (work continues on this section and it’s not yet open to walkers), so I join the track at Wentworth Falls Picnic Area at the end of Falls Rd. 

With weather that makes waterfalls sing, I head to the first (very short) side trip out to Fletchers Lookout with its view of the jaw-dropping 187m flow of Wentworth Falls, roaring as it tumbles over the edge. 

My constant companion (and what this walk is all about) is the vista that draws your eye south – up to 80km on a clear day to Mittagong and the Southern Highlands. 

In and out of gullies I go, lyrebirds calling me through dripping rainforest sections, summoning me along the track. 

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Time is flying as I pass the back of the Fairmont Resort, leading me to a late lunch beside the fairytale Pool of Siloam. On a hotter day, I could’ve been tempted for a dip, but instead I take in the sunset view from Gordon Falls before dinner. 

Day Two continues along a much-loved stretch, the Prince Henry Cliff Walk. And this is why the Grand Cliff Top Walk is so exciting: it links together the maze of historical routes into one seamless journey. 

After completing the walk at Scenic World, the red Blue Mountains Explorer Bus takes me up the hill into Katoomba to celebrate at The Carrington Hotel’s Champagne Charlies, tipping the bubbles to the next 150 years of linking communities on the track. 

Caro Ryan is a bushwalker, search and rescue volunteer, TV and video producer, author, and the creator of Lotsafreshair.com, where she shares her passion for all things outdoors.

 

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