A parched walk in the Blue Mountains

Blue sky! That’s not cloud on the horizon, however — it’s bushfire smoke.

In October, I walked a portion of the Prince Henry Cliff Walk from Echo Point to a track junction that leads to Merriwa St in Katoomba. Then, the rain was unceasing and the temperature was about 10deg C (50deg F) (see “A soggy walk in the Blue Mountains“). Since then, bushfires have raged in the Blue Mountains and the entire national park (some 2,690 sq km / 1,040 sq miles) was closed due to fire danger. On 31 December, when I walked again, only one track was open — the Prince Henry Cliff Walk. So I followed it in the reverse direction this time, and from Gordon Falls Lookout in Leura to Echo Point in Katoomba. (Map source)

This easily accessed walk was the only open trail.

I was very lucky with the smoke — the morning was clear, the first blue sky for quite a while, I was told. Not so lucky with the temperature, though: it was 30deg C (85deg F) when I began walking, and 35deg C (95deg F) when I stopped. That’s really not ideal for the ups and downs and sometimes rough terrain of such a walk!

A potion of the trail, very dry.

Even this trail, skirting the towns of Katoomba and Leura, is not safe from fire. Some, inexplicably, are deliberately lit by arsonists.

Recently burned area beside the trail.

Recently burned area beside the trail.

Recently burned area beside the trail.

In this view from a lookout, the burnt areas are clear. Again, that’s smoke on the horizon.

View from Olympian Rock lookout — the orange patches are burnt forest.

Finally, I got to Echo Point. This walk is only about 7km but I deliberately went slowly and rested often. The heat did not make for pleasant walking, and I hadn’t taken enough water so I was feeling about as parched as the forest! The blue sky of my start had, 2.5 hours later, mostly given way to murky, opaque smoke.

Contrast the photo below of visitors at Echo Point with one from October of the same spot.

Admiring the view, Echo Point.

The views from Echo Point are extensive. Sadly, this time the views include spot fires and smoke.

Spot fires visible from Echo Point.

Spot fires visible from Echo Point.

No ice cream or cake at the end of this walk, something more substantial was called for. 😉

An icy cold glass of Tooheys Old beer.

Posted as part of Jo’s Monday Walk.


17 thoughts on “A parched walk in the Blue Mountains

  1. It’s hard to appreciate the degree of damage in just a few short months, Karen. It was so wet and now it’s a tinder box! So very frightening for many of my friends. And no happy outcome in sight. We watch helplessly from afar. Portugal is no stranger to fires but this scale is devastating. 😦


  2. Pressed wrong key! Stuck on the Princess highway between fires reminded me of a disaster movie. People were so calm though and stoic. I can’t imagine what it’s like. And with it being the summer holidays so many families must be in those areas. What a nightmare.


  3. I can just imagine how badly all that burnt area smelled in the heat of the day during your walk–you’re hardy! We’ve had our wildfires in California over the last few years so I can really sympathize. I hope you get rain soon–often the smoke particles will cause some rain. Thanks for sharing; our hearts are with all of you.


    • Thank you for your words, Joyce. As a Californian, you’d certainly what know it’s like here now. I’ve read that a number of firefighters from Canada and the US (including California) have come to help out, just as Australians go to North America when needed — that’s heartwarming, isn’t it?


  4. I loved the Blue Mountains when I visited. Seeing so much devastation in this area is heartbreaking. I really can’t believe that there are people who would start a fire deliberately, unimaginable.


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