Start: Leura Station
End: Katoomba Station
Time taken: 3-4 hours
USP: Views, waterfalls, forest
Nestled in the Blue Mountains National park, between Katoomba and Wentworth Falls is a small area called Leura. It has a train station that drops you right in the middle of the town and the start of the trails are only a short walk away. For some reason, we’ve always overlooked it. Opting for the Valley of the Waters area or the tracks leading off the Narrowneck Ridge in Katoomba. Judging by our first visit, it seems we’ve been missing out!
Leura is a charming little town. The main high street boasts a number of cafes, bakeries and specialist shops. Not wanting to break from tradition, we started our walk in the usual style… coffee and cake in a local cafe! This time it was the motorbike racing themed, Caffeine & Gasoline, on Royal Parade.
Our plan for the day was to head along a number of tracks that cross cross the area between Leura and Katoomba. Entering the trail at the Lyrebird Dell Walking Track at the end of Spencer Street and follow the cliff line for a while along Prince Henry Cliff Walk, before dropping into the Jamison Valley via Dardanelles Pass Walking Track. However, the best made plans often go awry.
It wasn’t just the town that surprised us. Almost as soon as we started on the trail we came across a small waterfall tumbling into a shallow sandy pool, backed by huge stepping stones; The Pool of Siloam. It hadn’t rained for a good while and the waterfall was only a trickle, but after a decent storm it would be an impressive sight to see.
Heading back up the way we came we reconnected with the Prince Henry Cliff Walk and were again kicking ourselves for not doing this sooner. The vegetation opened up giving the most amazing views out across the Jamison Valley to Mount Solitary and beyond. Recent hazard reduction burns on Mount Solitary had left brown and grey scars on the northern slopes, but did nothing to take away from the majesty of the view.
The Prince Henry Cliff Walk hugs the cliff top and the going is slow as viewpoint after viewpoint appear around every turn and beckon you towards them to utter more whispered superlatives. On the very far left, the Kedumba Walls stretch into the distance, hiding Wentworth Falls and the Valley of the Waters from view. Straight in front is the impressive sandstone edifice of Mount Solitary, sheltering the ‘declared wilderness’ of the Wild Dog Mountains and Kanangra-Boyd just over its shoulder. And to the far right, the back of the Three Sisters completes the panorama.
Now this is where our planned hike went awry. As we headed towards the Dardanelles Pass Walking Track to take us into the valley and Leura Forest, we came up against some bright orange fencing and ‘Trail Shut’ signage. It turned out a big chunk of the valley was still closed after the burn for precaution. We needed to come up with a Plan B.
Having prepared for a decent schlep we were determined to keep going, so we opted to drop down to Leura Cascades, before rejoining the Prince Henry Cliff Walk as far as the Giant Steps at the Three Sisters view point and see if we were able to drop into the valley there to complete the final few kilometres across the valley edge on the Federal Pass Walking Track, as we’d originally intended.
The plan worked. Arriving at the Three Sisters look out we snuck past the selfie sticks and shiny white trainers and began the long walk down the Giants Stairs. According to the info signs, all 900 steps of it. At this point the light was starting to soften and the dappled light in the forest below was beautiful.
A few kilometres later we arrived at the Furbar Steps and headed up, the sun now really starting to dip. Smoke from a distant hazard reduction burn was slowly creeping into the valley as the air cooled, giving the light an eerie yellow tinge. It’s well worth taking breaks on the Furbar Steps not only to get your breath but to take in the great views of the Three Sisters.
Steps done we arrived on Cliff Drive and strolled the rest of the way back to Katoomba Train Station on the road, naturally going via Old City Bank, for a well earned Pale Ale!