2015 September: One day climb to Mt Banks & Mt Caley, NSW Blue Mts, Australia
Mt Banks & Mt Caley
Having lived in Sydney for so long, I'm still a newbie in the Blue Mts area. But I'm improving. Today, I knock off Mt Banks and Mt Caley :-)
There is a cairn at the top of Mt Banks, 1062 meters, otherwise not much of a view.
But along the way from Mt Banks to Mt Caley, there are the typical fantastic scenes of the Blue Mountains cliffs on both sides of the Grose River.
Mt Caley, 860 meters, is a horror. The last 100 meters or so of walk is full of Smilax australis (Lawyer Vine). It has prickly climbing stems that are up to 8 metres long and make an impenetrable thicket. Also there is no cairn nor a view from the top, hence it is not worth the effort to battle the Lawyer Vines to get there.
But about 250 meters south-south-west of the Mt Caley summit, there is a lookout on top of the edge of a cliff with another fantastic view of Grose River ... so Mt Caley turns out to be not such a disappointment :-)
• 1:100,000 scaled 8930 Katoomba
• 1:50,000 scaled Blue Mountains North by Spatial Visions Innovation, 1st edition
• 1:25,000 scaled 8930-1N Mount Wilson
Here is the 1:25,000 scale map of the Mt Banks & Mt Caley area. (Click on the map to enlarge it.)
GPS tracklog file & Route
Our GPX tracklog file can be downloaded from:
Here is our tracklog (brown colour) in the 1:25,000 map. (Click on the map to enlarge it.)
- The 3 red arrows point to three lookouts with splendid scenery down on the Grose River and the cliffs overlooking its valley.
A summary of our route is:
- Park car at the Mt Banks carpark (upper left hand corner of the above map where it says "Picnic Area", "Monument", "Locked").
- Climb Mt Banks.
- To 1st lookout (left red arrow).
- To 2nd lookout (middle red arrow).
- Climb Mt Caley.
- Descend to 3rd lookout (right red arrow).
- Return to car. (On the return trip, instead of climbing Mt Banks again, take the firetrail that goes around the east side of the mountain).
Timeline & Distance
08:00 0.0 km Start at Mt Banks carpark
08:26 1.2 km At Mt Banks summit
08:35 1.2 km Descend Mt Banks summit
08:54 2.5 km At junction of foot track (to Mt Banks) & firetrail
09:25 4.7 km At 1st lookout
09:27 4.7 km Leave 1st lookout
09:46 6.1 km At 2nd lookout
09:54 6.1 km Leave 2nd lookout
10:54 10.1 km At knoll west of Mt Caley
11:19 10.2 km Leave knoll west of Mt Caley
12:23 10.9 km At Mt Caley summit
12:59 10.9 km Leave Mt Caley summit
13:26 11.2 km At 3rd lookout
13:35 11.3 km Leave 3rd lookout
14:29 12.2 km At knoll west of Mt Caley
14:43 12.2 km Leave knoll west of Mt Caley
15:59 16.9 km At 1st lookout
16:01 16.9 km Leave 1st lookout
16:32 19.1 km At junction of foot track (to Mt Banks) & firetrail
17:08 21.7 km Finish at Mt Banks carpark
Total: 9 hrs 08 mins at leisurely pace
21.7 km Distance is from Google Earth
23.6 km Distance is from Garmin GPS
Pictures - Mt Banks carpark
1) At Mt Banks carpark ~~~
This is supposed to be a monument ... but a monument of what? The plaque seems to be missing.
2) On the rock of the monument (previous photo) is this large fierce looking red/orange-headed ant.
It looks like a Spider Ant, perhaps Leptomyrmex erythrocephalus. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
Climb Mt Banks
3) We can't see Mt Banks from the carpark. But 3 minutes, 150 meters from the carpark, we are at a flat area with this clear view of the mountain.
4) (Click on the pic to enlarge it.)
4 minutes, 250 meters from the carpark, is this view towards the west and south-west.
- Govetts Creek flows in the valley pointed to by the blue arrow.
- The red arrow points to Docker Head.
5) David climbing up Mt Banks
6) David climbing up Mt Banks
7) From the slope of Mt Banks, looking back ~~~
- The faint foot track on the left was the way we climbed up Mt Banks.
- The firetrail on the right also originates from the Mt Banks carpark. It skirts around the base of Mt Banks, then heads towards Mt Caley.
8) Almost at the summit of Mt Banks
Mt Banks summit
9) David and I at Mt Banks summit, 1062 meters ... easy ... only 26 minutes, 1.2 km from the carpark. But there is no view here.
To Mt Caley
Next, it is to Mt Caley. This is much harder compared to Mt Banks.
10) First, we descend the foot track to meet up with the firetrail that you saw in Photo #7. The firetrail then leads to here, a plateau with a disused watertank. In the past, people could drive up here for a picnic. Not anymore, there is a gate at the carpark to prevent cars from entering the firetrail.
11) The reason why people came here for picnic is because of the splendid scenery. I call this place the1st lookout. (Scroll back to see the map of our route.)
- The left red arrow points to Frank Hurley Head.
- The right red arrow points to Du Faur Head.
- Grose Rive flows in the main valley.
12) (Click on the pic to enlarte it.)
This is a continuation to the right of the previous pic ~~~
Of the 4 arrows, from left to right:
- 1st arrow (red) points to Du Faur Head.
- 2nd arrow (blue) points to Govetts Creek.
- 3rd arrow (red) points to Docker Head.
- 4th arrow (blue) points to Grose River.
Mt Banks cliffs are the dark cliffs on right side of the pic.
13) Mt Banks cliffs - they are the dark cliffs on the right side of the previous pic.
14) After the lookout, we keep going towards Mt Caley. These 2 photos are looking back at Mt Banks - the summit is the peak on the right even though it looks lower in the pics.
15) On the way, I snap this White-eared honeyeater, Nesoptilotis leucotis, a medium sized honeyeater found in Eastern and Western Australia. It is easily identifiable by their olive-green body, black head and white ear patch.
16) Detour to what I call the 2nd lookout ... another fantastic view. (Scroll back to see the map of our route.). ~~~
The arrows point to, from left to right:
- Mt Strzelecki ... It would be interesting to climb it one day.
- Mt Caley ... we'll be climbing it soon.
- Edgeworth David Head ... the knoll close to us.
- Mt Hay ... in the background.
17) (Click on the pic to enlarge it.)
This is a continuation to the right of the previous pic ~~~
- Left red arrow points to Du Faur Head.
- Right red arrow points to Docker Head.
- The green arrow points to a clearing around Blue Gum Forest.
- Govetts Creek flows in the valley between the 2 red arrows.
For most people this is the end of the hike as there is not much of a view further along the firetrail.
18) But David and I continue on towards Mt Caley. The firetrail now deteriorates. Looks like there is no intention to maintain it anymore. This pic shows the better part of the firetrail. Further along, vegetations start to grow in the middle of the trail.
19) After 10 km of walking from the carpark, we reach this spot - the end of the firetrail. It is the top of a knoll just west of Mt Caley. It has no view. The question: What was the purpose of building a firetrail to here? It is in the middle of nowhere!
20) Now we bushbash towards Mt Caley and almost step on this snake !
21) At the saddle between the knoll mentioned in Photo #19 and Mt Caley is this large man-high termite mound with a stone on top. This is a landmark point - people going down Zobel Gully to Grose River now turn south towards the gully. We keep going directly ahead to climb Mt Caley.
At Mt Caley summit
22) After the saddle point, the bush isn't that thick initially. But towards the final 100 meters or so to the summit of Mt Caley, it becomes really tough going. Milax australis (Lawyer Vine), with its prickly climbing stems, make an impenetrable thickets. We battle to where we believe the summit is and take this photo at 860 meters. This is a disappointing place, no cairn, and no view !
23) At a small clearing at the summit, we have lunch. This is when we discover some strange fauna ... I've never seen an orange fly before !
24) This one is a leech. I only manage to photograph its tail. The leeches I met in the past were all dark coloured. This one is unique in that it has a yellow stripe down the entire length of its back.
Well, Mt Caley isn't such a disappointing place :-)
Lookout at 250 meters south-south-west of Mt Caley summit
Prior to this trip, I noticed from Google Earth that there are interesting cliffs at about 250 meters south-south-west of Mt Caley summit. So, instead of retracing our steps to the car, we go to check out the cliffs.
25) The top of the cliff is a lookout with a breathtaking view ! Well, great minds think alike ... someone had been here already; and built a small cairn.
The impressive valley in the pic is where Grose River flows.
(I call this place the 3rd lookout ... scroll back to see the map of our route.)
26) As the previous pic shows, this place is a fantastic lookout ... I'm happy with Mt Caley now :-)
In the upper photo:
- Left red arrow points to Mt Hay.
- Right red arrow points to Du Faur Head.
- The cliffs to the left of Mt Hay are called Wallford Wall.
- The cliffs to the right of Mt Hay are caled Mt Hay Wall.
- The main valley is where Grose River flows.
The lower photo is a continuation to the right of the upper photo:
- Left red arrow points to Mt Banks.
- Right red arrow points to the knoll west of Mt Caley and where the firetrail ends (Photo #19).
- The yellow arrows show the location of the firetrail which will take us back to the carpark.
27) Still at the lookout ~~~
Weathered stone forming an impressive sculpture
28) Still at the lookout ~~~
Weathered stone formation
According to Google Earth, another 300 meters south of here, there should be another lookout on top of the edge of the same cliff line. We didn't go there ... though it would be interesting to check it out if I ever come back here again.
29) Around here, we find this fellow. Does anyone know its name? ... some kind of mountain dragon?
Return to carpark
30) On our way back to the car ~~~
Instead of climbing Mt Banks again, we take the firetrail that skirts around its base. Here is the cliff of Mt Banks.
31) We are close to our car now and looking back at Mt Banks.
Flowers encountered in our walk
Spring is with us and wild flowers are blooming.
32) Does anyone know the name of this flower?
33) Does anyone know the name of this flower?
34) Patersonia glabrata (Native Iris)
35) Is this Boronia ??? Please let me know !
Zieria and Boronia look similar to each other. From Wikipedia:
- Ziera: Each flower has 4 sepals, 4 petals, 4 stamens.
- Boronia: Each flower has 5 sepals, 5 petals, 8 stamens.
But this flower looks like Boronia !
36) Isopogon, a Drumsticks plant - Is it Isopogon anemonifolius (Broad-leaf Drumsticks) ?
37) Does anyone know the name of this flower?
38) Alpine Phebalium (Phebalium squamulosum)
39) Does anyone know the name of this flower? It has variegated leaves.