Blue Mountains Grand Traverse by Auswalk is an indulgent walking journey on the edge of the spectacular Blue Mountains. Enjoy the highlights of this UNESCO World Heritage listed National Park including the Grand Canyon, Ruined Castle and Valley of the Waters. This three day/two night walk, departing and returning to Sydney NSW, is a lodge based walk with luxury accommodation at Echoes, a boutique property overlooking the Jamison Valley.
Walking the Walk
The walk is for hikers with moderate fitness at least who can manage steep stairs and descents/ascents on marked bush trails. Day two walk is long, although very rewarding. Guests utilise the Skyway and Scenic Railway on this day to access the hiking trailheads. The walk is based on two half days (Grand Canyon and Valley of the Waters/National Pass) and one full day of walking on day two (Ruined Castle).
Importantly, guides are local, Auswalk trained and in some cases have been working with the walk operator for more than ten years. Their expertise is second to none, thus the interpretation will include the basics like why the Blue Mountains appear “blue” to lesser known indigenous stories and instruction on what we can and cannot eat in the national park.
The Blue Mountains’ sweeping beauty, with its soaring tablelands of sandstone brimming with rock formations, infinite blankets of blue-green eucalypt and gum forests, and torrents of waterfalls plunging down massive cliffs, provides one of the world’s most magnificent backdrops for walking.
Flora and Fauna
Watch for the colourful King Parrot taking wing in the canopy and keep your ears trained for the “weela weela” song of the Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo. See native yabbies (crayfish) in the pools on the Grand Canyon walk or look out for lyrebirds calling each other in the forest. The bright colours of the Rosella parrots are a magnificent contrast to the colours of the Australian bush forest, whilst the cheeky currawongs are a regular sighting for walkers. Of course all the usual suspects on the ‘must see’ list for international guests and alike make their home in these mountains including koalas, wallabies and echidnas.
Stunning forests and ancient rainforests showcase a range of amazing old trees that guides will explain to walkers. Be amazed by the silver-bark Blue Mountain ash trees, Black Wattles, tall Coachwoods, Sassafras, Giant Ferns, apple and peppermint trees, and the Bloodwoods.
Guests stay at Echoes boutique hotel for two nights. Rest with a drink on the balcony whilst enjoying sweeping views of the Jamison valley and on day two, feel a huge sense of achievement looking out to the point reached at Ruined Castle. At the end of each walking day, guests return to this luxury accommodation with ensuites, hot showers, sunset drinks and a la carte dinners catered by the top chefs at Echoes.
Echoes is a 5 star 12 room boutique hotel located on a spectacular cliff edge in Katoomba. The property is located adjacent to Lilianfels (also owned by the Escarpment Group) and walkers can enjoy full usage of their facilities including two pools (indoor and outdoor) plus book to enjoy additional spa treatments such as a post-hike massage (additional cost).
Day one: Grand Canyon
Distance: 12 – 16km, approx. 4- 6hrs walking time including some steep, uneven terrain and some river crossings on boulders.
Guests will be picked up in Sydney (airport 8am and 8.30am city hotels). Private minibus transfer will arrive in Blackheath at approx 11am.
Starting on Popes Glen Track, this invigorating walking day goes through rainforest and open woodland leading to spectacular overlooks. Walkers descend to the valley with a creekside lunch stop and the guides will share indigenous stories.
Climbing steeply out of the valley, walkers arrive at the lookout point of Govetts Leap for sweeping views of the Grose River Valley, a stunning landscape of blue-and emerald-tinted forest and granite and quartzite faces that glow yellow and brown in the sunlight.
Descend through the bush to spectacular Bridal Veil Falls plummeting 100 metres. Tracing the valley edge to Evans Lookout, walkers can admire the Blue Gum Forest 500 metres below before descending into Grand Canyon Creek and the impressive gorge , a razor-sharp cut made by the river below over millennia. Pass through The Rotunda, an expanse of sand and silt overshadowed by hanging rocks before heading back up hill to finish the walking day.
Dining: A walkers lunch will be provided each day that includes a wrap, a healthy snack, fruit and cake. Walkers will enjoy dinners prepared by world class chefs using the freshest regional and Australian produce. The views over the valley from the restaurant ensure that the walkers will remain feeling like they are still amongst the wilderness.
Day two: Ruined Castle
Distance: 16 – 17.5km approx. 5 – 6.5hrs walking time, mostly easy walking except for crossing the old landslide which is moderate.
Guests take the Scenic World Gondola (cable car) a short walk from the accommodation – with the 360 degree views of the valley and Katoomba Falls it allows people to see the walk and destination that lies ahead. This is followed by an exhilarating ride down the Scenic Railway into the depths of the Jamison Valley rainforest, passing relics left by coal miners over 100 years ago.
Look out for the elusive ground-dwelling Lyrebird and sip pure water from Marrangaroo Spring. Enjoy your packed lunch among a flock of cheeky currawongs or rosella parrots after you scramble to the impressive rocky outcrop known as Ruined Castle. To return, you may board the Cableway or Railway or opt to climb the Furber Steps, a challenging ascent through dense rainforest with spectacular valley views.
The walk itself skirts around the bottom of the escarpment and traverses dense rainforest, passes cascading waterfalls and pretty grottoes.
Day three: Valley of the Waters/National Pass
Distance: 10-15km. Walking time approx. 3-4 hrs (reasonably easy and well graded for 50% of walk, the rest involves steep ups and downs including stairs and ladders).
The setting for the grand finale is Wentworth Falls, the Jamison Valley and the Valley of the Waters. The route winds its way past waterfalls, beneath overhanging cliffs and through magnificent grottoes. The first section of the walk is all about Wentworth Falls. At the bottom of the falls, walkers stop to admire the view, experience the refreshing spray and eat morning tea.
The real highlight is the “mid-cliff” walk along a wide path, the National Pass, that has been carved into the sheer cliff face. Handrails, ladders and airy lookouts provide a birds-eye view over hundreds of miles of forests. Take a short walk back to the top of the cliff and then it is back on the bus with an expected arrival in Sydney around 4pm.
Committed to the environment
Multi award-winning company Auswalk is advanced eco-tourism certified. They have all the necessary licenses to operate in national parks in every state in Australia. They actively care and protect the environment we operate in. Their work is ecologically sustainably and is central to their ethos of providing excellent ecotourism experiences. They also donate to numerous local conservation organisations and the NBCF.