Sunday, July 10, 2016

Walls Lookout & Blue Mts Botanic Garden, NSW Blue Mts, Australia

2016 July: Short walk
   - to Walls Lookout,
   - then visit Blue Mountains Botanic Garden,
   - plus Lady (Nancy) Fairfax Walk
in NSW Blue Mountains, Australia


DH and I are meant to go on a longer walk. But the inclement weather necessitates a last minute change of plan. We decide to check out Walls Lookout instead.

As it is just a short walk, we have plenty of time afterwards for the drive back to Sydney. On the way, we pass Blue Mountains Botanic Garden and Lady (Nancy) Fairfax Walk at Tomah ... so we go in to check them out as well.


- 1:25,000 scaled LPI map ... Mount Wilson 8930-1N
- 1:50,000 scaled Blue Mountains North by Spatial Visions Innovation, 1st edition
- 1:100,000 scaled Katoomba 8930

Below is the 1:25,000 scaled map of the relevant part of today's walk.

On the map, Walls Lookout is the small black circle along the Walls Lookout Walking Track. But it isn't an interesting spot - not much of a view. Far more interesting is to walk further to the edge of the cliff.  So, on the map, why isn't Walls Lookout placed at end of the track instead ???

GPS tracklog file & Route

Our GPX tracklog file can be downloaded from:

Here is the tracklog, red colour, superimposed on the 1:25,000 scaled map:

A summary of our route is:
- Start at car park about 100 meters south of Bells Line of Road.
- Walk on Walls Lookout Walking Track to the edge of the cliffs.
- Explore around.
- Return to the car.

Timeline & Distance

09:13  0.0 km  Start at carpark about 100 meters south of Bells Line of Road
09:43  1.3 km  At the edge of the cliffs

Admire scenery and take photos

09:46  1.3 km  Start walking towards east
09:48  1.4 km  Stop to watch 2 guys rock climbing down the cliff

09:52  1.4 km  U turn ... start walking towards west
09:57  1.6 km  Stop to admire scenery and take photos

10:01  1.6 km  Start returning to car
10:29  2.9 km  Finish at carpark


Total:  1 hr 16 mins
           2.9 km  Distance is from Google Earth
           3.2 km  Distance is from Garmin GPS

Pictures - To edge of cliff

1)  On the way to Walls Lookout ~~~
- There is a track ... easy.
- The red arrow points to Rigby Hill 923 meters. I was there 2 months ago. Photos and trip report are in my blog:

2)  We are now at the small black circle labelled as Walls Lookout on the LPI map. But it isn't particularly interesting here. So why is this place marked as Walls Lookout? The track keeps going to the end of the tongue ... that is where the edge of the cliff is. The view there is far more interesting.

3)  We keep going towards the cliff.
Along the way, looking towards our right (west) is Rigby Hill.

4)  We are not yet at the edge of the cliff, the red oval, and we are already impressed by the fantastic view!
- Grose River flows in the valley running horizontally across this pic.
- The cliffs on the other side of the valley running horizontally across the centre of the pic are Blackheath Walls.
- The 5 red arrows point to, from left to right:
       1 Perrys Lookdown
       2 Bald Head
       3 Burramoko Head
       4 Burra Korain Head
       5 Rigby Hill ... see photo #5
Two years later, I'll be doing a circuit walk:
    to Burra Korain Head;
    then cross Crayfish Creek;
    then to Hanging Rock at Burramoko Head.
It'll be an exciting trip, well worth doing !  Photos and trip report are in my blog:

5)  Panning across to the right of the previous photo is Rigby Hill.
Grose River flows in the large valley on the left side of the pic.

6)  We take some photos of ourselves here.

At edge of cliff

7)  We drop down to the edge of the cliff, red oval in photo #4, and look back at two tourists standing at exactly where we were when taking photos #4, #5 and #6.
- Rigby Hill is the hill on the left side of the pic

8)  This view is towards south-east.
- Fantastic scenery ... beautiful cliffs and the Grose Valley !
- There is a man in the red circle ... see photo #10.
- The red arrow in the low pic points to Perrys Lookdown.

9)  Continuation to the right of the previous pic ~~~
- The cliffs running horizontally across the centre of the pic are called Blackheath Walls.
- Grose River runs in the valley beneath the Blackheath Walls.
- The 5 red arrows point to, from left to right:
       1 Perrys Lookdown
       2 Bald Head
       3 Burramoko Head
       4 Burra Korain Head
       5 Rigby Hill

Explore east side of the cliffs

Next, we explore around the top of the cliffs.

10)  First we wander off a bit to the east side and come to 2 guys rock climbing. The guy in blue is the guy in the red circle in photo #8.  The other guys has gone down the cliff already.

11)  Photo taken around here - You wouldn't want to fall down here !
Grose River flows in the valley.

Explore west side of the cliffs

Next, we explore the west side of the cliffs.

12)  Pagoda-like rock formations

13)  Looking back ~~~
- The red arrow points to Perrys Lookdown.
- We were at the red circle while taking photos #7, #8 and #9. The red circle is also the same spot as the red oval in photo #4.

14)  The main hill in this pic is Rigby Hill.
The gully between where I'm now standing and Rigby Hill is Hungerford Gully.
We'll return to the car by the yellow arrows ... not the same route as we came to here, but not too far away.

15)  Looking down at the cliffs of Rigby Hill ~~~
The blue arrow points to Hungerford Gully.

Return to car

16)  This photo is taken near the left yellow arrow in photo #14.
- The gully cutting diagonally across the pic is Hungerford Gully.
- The yellow arrows are how we'll return to the car.

17)  Back on the track which will take us back to the car.

Blue Mountains Botanic Garden

On the drive back to Sydney, we drop in for a visit at Blue Mountains Botanic Garden. The garden was originally known as Mount Tomah Botanical Garden, but has since changed its name. As the garden is 1000 m above sea level, it specializes in cool-climate plants that would not grow well in Sydney's warmer conditions.

18)  The restaurant at the back of the Visitor Centre

19)  View of the garden from the deck of the restaurant

20)  This is the entrance to the garden ... interesting !

21)  It is the middle of winter now; not many flowers are blooming. But this Protea is beautiful.

22)  A juvenile Wollemia nobilis (Wollemi Pine) ~~~
This tree is of particular interest to us living in New South Wales, because it was discovered in September 1994 by David Noble, a keen bushwalker, in a temperate rainforest wilderness area of the Wollemi National Park in NSW, in a remote series of narrow steep-sided sandstone gorges 150 km north-west of Sydney. I still remember the day the tree made headline news in Australia when it was first discovered.
The name, Wollemia nobilis, is from the Wollemi National Park and David Noble's surname.

Wollemia is a genus of coniferous tree in the family Araucariaceae. Wollemia was only known through fossil records until the Australian species Wollemia nobilis was discovered in 1994.

In both botanical and popular literature the tree has been almost universally referred to as the Wollemi pine, although it is not a true pine (genus Pinus) nor a member of the pine family (Pinaceae), but rather is related to Agathis and Araucaria in the family Araucariaceae.

Lady (Nancy) Fairfax Walk

Across the road, on the east side of the Botanic Garden is Lady (Nancy) Fairfax Walk.

This 500-metre walk takes you through a temperate rainforest. Along the path, excellent interpretative signages explain the rich rainforest environment. You can see giant tree ferns, sassafras, coachwood, blackbutt, brown barrel and other trees growing in their natural state, well watered by mountain springs.

23)  This pic is me in a circle of tree trunks of the remains of one giant ancient Sassafras tree, Doryphora sassafras. Like their eucalypt cousins, these trees can recover after losing their main trunk to fire or logging. But instead of growing a single replacement trunk, a circular coppice of many trunks appears.
As there is no sign of charring on other large trees nearby, it is unlikely this particular tree was burnt by wildfire. More likely it was cut down and milled. At different times, there were mills nearby sourcing their timber from the large trees growing on the fertile basalt soils. Sassafras was used for flooring, cabinet work, linings mouldings and for turning.

The leaves and bark are strongly scented. If you gently squeeze a leaf between your fingers, you can smell the fragrant oil that is given off. This pungent oil also prevents some predators from having a meal.

The scented wood has insect-repelling properties which keep powder-post borer beetles from eating it.

Post Script - Rigby Hill

If you like to climb the nearby Rigby Hill, check out the photos and trip report in my blog:

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