Blue Mountains National Park Off The Beaten Path

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Most Recent Off The Beaten Path in Blue Mountains National Park

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    The Nooroo connection

    by iandsmith Updated Sep 27, 2009

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    The road to Naroo

    It was Peter Valders' whole life, all his love went into the garden. Peter Valders wrote a book called "Wisteria" and was famous in the hamlet. It has been recorded that he was a witty man "in a Noel Coward sort of way".
    Born in Australia and brought up in the bush, Peter Valder's early interest in the Australian flora was stimulated by local amateur botanists. He went on to become a plant pathologist and mycologist after graduating from the Universities of Sydney and Cambridge. He was pleased to later become involved in the teaching of general botany in addition to his mycological work. Peter has also been an office bearer of the Linnean Society and the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science. Since drifting into the popularizing of Australian botany and horticulture, he has made appearances on radio and television, written for magazines, and lectured to organizations concerned with plants and gardens. His interest in gardening has taken him to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Burma, and China, from which he has introduced numerous plants suited to the Australian climate. Also, he has visited gardens in Britain, New Zealand, North America, France, Italy, Spain, China, Japan, and Korea, accumulating photographs with which to illustrate his lectures and writings.

    His involvement with his family's garden, Nooroo, at Mount Wilson, New South Wales, led to its becoming one of Australia's most admired gardens. It was here that he was able to indulge his enthusiasm for plants from all over the world. Amongst other things, he gathered together a remarkable collection of wisteria, his experience with which led to his writing Wisterias, the first monograph on this genus in any European language. It was the success of this book that encouraged him to utilize his long-standing interest in Chinese plants and gardens to write The Garden Plants of China, which was awarded as the Reference Gardening Book of 1999 by the Garden Writer's Guild of the UK.

    To recognize his gifts of plants to and voluntary work for the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, in 1995 he was made their first Honorary Horticultural Associate, and in 1996 was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in recognition of his contribution to botany and horticulture in that country.

    A former senior lecturer in Botany at the University of Sydney, Peter Valder is a mycologist, botanist, author, academic and television presenter. He has spent a lifetime popularising Australian botany and horticulture. His former home, Nooroo at Mt Wilson in the Blue Mountains, is one Australia's most famous gardens.
    Valder's book, The Garden Plants of China looks at the huge contribution China has made to our cultural heritage through its cultivated plants; rice, citrus fruits, peaches, apricots and ornamental plants such as roses, camellias, azaleas, gardenias, wisterias, chrysanthenums and magnolias.
    Title: The Garden Plants of China
    Author: Peter Valder
    Publisher: Florilegium, 1999
    Selected by the Garden Writer's Guild in the United Kingdom as the Reference Garden Book of the Year for 1999.
    Title: Wisteria
    Author: Peter Valder
    The first book in any European language about the genus Wisteria.

    His property has now been sold to a couple of doctors and they have sought to maintain the high standard of the gardens.
    This is another of the great gardens at Mount Wilson.

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    Mount Wilson

    by iandsmith Updated Sep 27, 2009

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    Walk among the azaleas
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    It's hard to believe a place so stunning could be "off the beaten path" but it is. Frankly, for sheer beauty, nothing in the Blue Mountains beats it in spring.
    Gardens are open to the public and I, for one, wouldn't want to live here. It must be hell trying to keep up with your next door neighbours!
    I've only seen a couple of them but even the village itself is a sheer joy just to drive through. Down the overgrown avenue past the church, the post office and the Turkish Baths. It's all a bit much. In a way I guess it's good that it doesn't get too overcrowded because that would spoil it.
    All the gardens here are private but they are open, particularly in spring when the blush of spring will colour your face as you gasp in delight at the splendour above the grass.
    The pictures here are taken from one garden only and there are several. That should give you an idea of the quality that abounds here.

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    Pagoda Land

    by iandsmith Written Sep 12, 2009

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    Gorgeous colours of wattle and lichen
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    I revisited Dunns Swamp but this occasion I had a little more time to explore and thus it was that I came upon this wonderland of shapes and colours.
    Plants I'd never seen before, sandstone shapes beyond your imagination; all are available if you choose to go beyond the normal boundaries.
    However, you should be warned that the environment is sensitive and you should be careful where you tread so as not to harm any of it.
    The title I used here is not any specific place and it's not marked on a map. It's simply somewhere that I found that I'm sharing with you because it was so extraordinary.

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    Dunns Swamp

    by iandsmith Updated Sep 12, 2009

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    Pagoda shape near the camp
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    Dunns Swamp is a dam for the concrete works at nearby Kandos. Since the water is so rarely needed it's been taken over by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
    These days its a serious attraction for tourists with bushwalks, kayaking, bird watching or sandstone pagodas all featured on the menu.
    On the way there, about 5 kms before the camp site are the best of the pagoda shapes. If you're into exploring this is a good place to pull up.
    At the camp site there is plenty of room and toilets are provided.
    Dunns Swamp was formed by trapped waters of Kandos Weir, established in the 1920s when the Cudgegong River was dammed to provide water for the Kandos Cement Works. It's a great spot for bushwalking, canoeing, swimming, birdwatching and fishing. Flora and fauna are plentiful and include platypus and kangaroo.
    Dunns Swamp camping ground has 50 sites suitable for caravans and camper trailers or you can camp beside your vehicle. Firewood is supplied for barbecues, there are picnic tables and pit composting toilets. The Cudgegong River provides water but is not suitable for drinking. You need to take your own supply.
    Wollemi Afloat was established in 1999 and operates river cruises at Dunns Swamp, conducted by a local guide who points out wildlife and places of interest along the way.
    Swamphen is their newest vessel. It was custom-built for ferrying passengers on inland waterways and carries up to 18 passengers. Twilight cruises are very popular as that is when you will see more wildlife — thousands of birds roosting for the night, micro bats, kangaroos swimming and more.
    Canoes are available for hire by the hour and as this is one of the state's cleanest waterways, it's okay to swim. There is safety equipment.
    As there are many walking tracks and rock formations, Wollemi Afloat also offers guided walks and eco-tours with qualified ranges.
    Wollemi Afloat 1.5-hour guided river cruise is $25 for adults, $15 for children and $60 for families of four. They run every day during school holidays, weekends in summer and will cater for groups at any time. They also run nocturnal tours.
    For more information
    Tourism New South Wales
    Level 2 Tourism House
    55 Harrington Street
    The Rocks 2000
    Ph: 13 20 77
    Website: www.visitnsw.com
    Email: visitorcallcentre@tourism.nsw.gov.au
    Wollemi Afloat
    Ph/fax: (02) 6373 4300
    Website: www.wollemiafloat.com.au
    Email: info@wollemiafloat.com.au

    Address: Narrango Road
    Directions: East of Rylstone
    National Parks and Wildlife Service
    PO Box A290
    Sydney South 1232

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    The Glow Worm tunnel

    by iandsmith Updated Sep 10, 2009

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    Tunnel entrance
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    This is one of Australia's great day walks. Ideally, you should start from Newnes where the first sign is. This will save you about 3 hours walking time compared to going to the old pub and starting there.
    Initially it climbs steeply for a few hundred metres and then it levels out and follows the route of the old train line. Frankly, I found it hard to believe that trains used to run beside the cliffs but run they did, servicing the shale mine that once existed at Newnes and was the reason for the existence of the place.
    The walk continues past the cliffs until there is a section where the walls are coloured with nature's hues (pic 2). Shortly after you come to a stream and here the fern forest starts (pic 5), such a contrast to the open sclerophyll forest previously.
    Then there's the overhanging cave, a spectacular formation just before the tunnel itself and here, deep inside where there is no light, reside the glow worms.
    Allow 4 hours for the trip and return via the Pagoda Trail (pic 4). That adds another half hour but it's worth it.
    To get there, go through Lithgow, take the Castlereagh Highway and then the Lidsdale turnoff. Alternatively, but not as spectacular, go directly from Lithgow.
    My advice - don't miss it.
    An alternative is to come in from Lithgow on the road but the walk isn't quite as scenic as the one from Newnes.
    The life history of the Glow Worm involves four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult fly. Eggs are laid in large numbers directly onto the cave wall. After three weeks they hatch into tiny larvae which immediately emit a bright light. The larvae grow over a period of months until they reach a length of about 30 mm.
    When about to pupate, the larvae shrink in size and become translucent. The larval skin is shed and the larva develops into a pupa, which is suspended vertically. The pupal stage lasts about 12 days. The female pupa is larger and stouter than the male and possesses two prominent bulges at the rear of the abdomen. Both male and female pupae glow. Both adults can also glow, though once egg laying commences, female flies seldom glow. Male flies tend to live longer than females and can live up to four days. Please respect these fascinating creatures by helping to protect the Glow Worms and their habitat so that others can enjoy seeing them in the future.

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    The dance floor

    by iandsmith Written Sep 9, 2009

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    Where they used to dance
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    It certainly surprised me. Out here in the middle of nowhere there used to be a dance floor in a cave. You may well ask what on earth it was doing there.
    Well, try and transport your mind back to a day when there were no cars and stock was shepherded by men on horses. This was part of the route they took where the trail almost reached the top of the plateau. The cave, understandably, afforded shelter and so it came to pass that the travellers constructed a dance floor under the roof of the cave and thus was their entertainment born.
    One can imagine a fiddler or two strutting his stuff beneath the stars on lonely nights on the trail. It may have been romantic but it was also undoubtedly a harsh life.
    Set just off the Plateau Walk it's a wonderful reminder of times past.

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    Kanangra Walls

    by iandsmith Written Sep 9, 2009

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    Kanangra Walls just after dawn
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    People talk about this place with reverence and awe. The "people" tend to be those who enjoy adventure because, apart from the plateau walk and the Kalang Falls walk, you basically have to hike on unmarked trails.
    It's a place where you may well need ropes if you want to proceed beyond any of the walks.
    It's located about 30 kms beyond the famous Jenolan Caves at the end of a dead end road where you can camp overnight.
    Kalang Falls starts at the top and goes all the way to the bottom in a series of cascades and falls. Adventurers start overnight walks to other places in the Kanangra Boyd and Blue Mountains National Parks from here but, be warned, you must be experienced and prepared.

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    Newnes - Petrie's Gully

    by iandsmith Written Sep 4, 2009

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    At times the scenery is stunning
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    Petrie was the name of what today we would call a mine manager. Ruins of the place his family used to inhabit are still visible in the form of some chimneys mainly. They are at the start of this hike up an ever-narrowing canyon that's laden with moss covered rocks, wonga vines and an assortment of native trees. It's mostly what we call a dry rainforest and that means that the soil doesn't support undergrowth due to the fallen scree that lies in many places.
    As you can see from the pictures much of it is dark beneath the tall canopy and some of the walking is tricky as fallen trees block the path in more than one place.
    However, I managed to get to the end which is just past where the first photo was taken.
    You should allow about 3 hours and have a reasonable standard of fitness as some of it is uphill un unmarked trails.
    Newnes isn't strictly in the Blue Mountains National Park, it's actually part of Wollemi but it is in the area that people loosely call the Blue Mountains.

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    Glen Davis

    by iandsmith Updated Jul 6, 2009

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    Bygone eras
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    "This former oil shale mining town lies at the end of the spectacular escarpments of the Capertee Valley, the largest enclosed valley in the southern hemisphere." Now, that's what the tourist blurb says, but I have my queries about whether or not there's a larger one in South America or such. Having said that, the enclosed valley of Wolgan I found to be more spectacular.
    This place is virtually unheard of by international tourists but, if you have the time, will certainly give you a day out you'll never forget. I certainly won't. On the way out my car busted a radiator hose and it took some considerable time before I managed to get to a house and raid their water supply, strap up the hose with duct tape and make my escape.
    In its heyday about 2,000 people lived in the township. The shale oil became an option during the world war (as in second) when, instead of kerosene, petrol was refined. Vertical sandstone cliffs tower above and beyond the crumbling ruins and vegetation that covers the deserted factories lending a surreal aura to the area.
    Simmo's Museum is interesting and has an excellent display of the town and shale mining history. Entry is for a minimal charge.
    There's also a guided tour on Saturday's - see my Glen Davis pages for full details.
    Enjoy the scenery and wildlife with a picnic lunch in the Glen Davis Park. Camping ground with toilets, showers and BBQs.
    There is a bushwalking trail to Newnes up the Green Gully, in the Wollemi National Park (from where the world famous Wollemi Pine was found), following the old pipeline track.
    Along the ridges you will be entertained by the fabulous lyre bird, mimic extraordinaire. Cycads, banksia serrata and assorted eucalyptus cover the area. the distance is 22km return and can comfortably be done in one day.
    Visitors can be treated to excellent Tour Service from Lithgow City Cabs.

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    The McMahons experience continued

    by iandsmith Updated Jun 26, 2009

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    Enlightening sun on the mist

    Seeing the lake unfold meant I tarried longer and the sun started to kiss the top layers of the mist as the morning wore on.
    On the right is the back side of Mount Solitary, the front of which is visible from most lookouts over the Jamieson Valley. (see next tip)

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    Bird watching

    by iandsmith Written Jun 13, 2009

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    Superb Wren
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    This is one activity that draws more tourists than you might think and there's a wealth of our feathered friends on view. It really doesn't matter where you go there'll be plenty in attendance but if you head for the western side there are invariably less tourists and more birds.
    Glen Davis and Newnes are two recommended locales and that is where these were shot.

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    Lennox Bridge - Built by Convicts

    by supercarys Written May 3, 2008

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    Lennox Bridge

    Lennox Bridge was the first stone bridge to be erected on the Australian Mainland. Constructed by David Lennox between 1832 and 1833 with a gang of personally selected convicts that he trained in stone masonry and bridge building, it was in use for over 100 years. It was closed because of structural damage caused by trucks and other heavy traffic in the 1950s. It was restored and made more structurally sound and reopened in 1982 for eastbound traffic only. It was commissioned by the Surveyor-General, Major Thomas Mitchell, who the road is named for.

    You can park your car near the bridge and go for a bushwalk in the area, it's very pretty and there are a couple of park benches you can have a picnic at.

    It's easily reached from the Great Western Highway by turning towards McDonalds at Blaxland (the only McDonalds in the Blue Mountains) and following that street down through the roundabout. When the road turns sharply to the right, go straight ahead down Mitchell's Pass.

    Mitchell’s Pass was originally created to provide a safer way up the Mountains that the road build by William Lawson, one of the three First Explorers over the Blue Mountains. This road is now known as Old Bathurst Road and is still in use today.

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    GO FOUR-WHEEL DRIVING AT WOLLEMI NAT'L PARK

    by AusPinay Written Apr 30, 2008

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    Untouched, rugged terrain
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    If you love the outdoors and nature for that matter like our family plus enjoying four wheel driving, then this trip is for ya! Youcan also bushwalk around this area as long as you have a buddy and equip yourself with the necessary provisions for a day's walking/driving.

    The terrains are truly just perfect for four-wheel driving as they are untouched by man, no sealed roads, etc. They can be muddy during wet weather so beware too!

    The area covesr around 500,000 hectares pf the most rugged and inaccessible terrains now part of the GREATER BLUE MOUNTAINS WORLD HERITAGE SITE! ZGorges, canyons, etc are astounding here so prepare to be amazed!

    Just over an hour's drive from Sydney and from our home at Northwest Sydney specifically are the Blue Mountains. However, at the other side, where the world famous Wollemi Pines were reportedly discovered, which is now Wollemi National PArk, are the most natural habitats of native Aussie flora and fauna you'll ever find aside from the unique Wollemi Pines which have existed since the age of the dinosaurs!

    You can get more info on this by watching a show about this exquisite species by visiting the IMAX Katoomba theatre at the Blue Mountains.

    This side of the mountains can be accessed through the Bells Line of Road where other places of natural beauty can be found- more joyous greenery, punctuated by the sounds of bellbirds atop trees in the mountains around Kurrajong, etc. You will also find unique historic towns like Richmond and Windsor, plus the orchards of apple, oranges, and other fruits at Bilpin.

    The one we went to is right next to Wollemi Pines National P{Ark near Kurrajong. It has springs/rivers/plenty of areas for bushwalking!

    We attended a bush wedding there and I shall post pics/more on this on a separate travelogue.

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    Typical Mountains Towns

    by supercarys Updated Dec 31, 2007

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    There are many other pretty towns in the mountains apart from Katoomba (in fact Katoomba is not particularly pretty as a town but that's where The Three Sisters rock formation is).

    Other typical towns in the Mountains I would recommend are Blackheath (past Katoomba), Leura, Wentworth Falls, and Glenbrook (the cafe centre of the Blue Mountains!) (all before Katoomba)

    Leura and Wentworth Falls are nice places to look around and have more of a home like feel and are not full of tourists.

    Glenbrook has 7 cafes (out of about 25 shops) and is about 2 kilometres from a National park entrance that has an area where you can get up close to kangaroos. You should only attempt to walk to the kangaroo area (a camping ground) if you are fairly fit, there are many steep hills to climb but it is a beautiful walk and well worth it. Very typical Australian scenery and there are many other walks and cycling trails in the area. You can pick up a map from the Park workers at the entrance. Cars incur an entrance fee of $7.

    See my tips on the different villages for more information.

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    Glenbrook Cinema

    by supercarys Updated Dec 31, 2007

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    Cinema sign

    If you're in the area for a while and just want to watch a movie, go to Glenbrook Cinema. This is a family run cinema that has been running since the 60's with an extremely friendly atmosphere.

    People are generally more quiet than in the multiplex down in Penrith and it is much cheaper.

    Tickets for AM (morning) sessions are only $8 and for PM (afternoon) sessions it is $10. You won't find it any cheaper in the surrounding area (believe me, I know). The owners run the place and will occasionally give out goodies as you leave (like chocolates after Chocolat and Forrest Gump, wedding cake after Muriel's Wedding and so on). They also have very cheap cups of popcorn and drinks and allow you to buy them in reasonable portions instead of making you buy a whole kilogram! You can also buy choc topped ice cream or a cup of tea (in a real cup with a saucer) all $1.80 - $2.50 for a small size.

    This is one of the most charming cinemas you will ever come across, the ambience alone is worth it.

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