This walk was a substitute for the HVB programmed walk to Bowen Mountain. It proved to be a spectacular alternative, as an historic, well graded undulating walk along the former bridle trail, through farmland, forest and granite boulders, along tracks and firetrails with some creek crossings down to the Bowtells Bridge and returning to cars by the same route. The plan was to meet at 9.00am on the Megalong Rd at the track head car park, having driven to Blackheath, turning left over the railway at the traffic lights, then left onto Station Street, right onto Shipley Road and left onto Megalong Valley Road. The trackhead was approximately 12kms from Blackheath once Megalong Creek was crossed, and despite the rain and low temperature, together with ongoing road works along Megalong Valley Road with stop/go lights at several points along the road, four cheerful walkers joined the leaders.
The prettiest of descents seen through a wet windscreen, as we drove down through the rainforest, from the Blackheath ridge to the Megalong Valley below. Following the briefing at the trackhead on Megalong Rd, and regardless of the light rain and 5°C temperature, walkers about to set off, happy with the prospects of a great day ahead, along part of the Six Foot Track, that passes through Dharug and Gundungurra country.
History indicates that the Six Foot Track was planned to be a shortcut to Jenolan Caves, initially surveyed by William Cooper and a party in 1884, but had many changes of plans. The six walkers set off down past the interesting Megalong Cemetery, where the pioneering women and men and those who died between 1894 and 1931, are remembered. Following signs to the Six Foot track, we first crossed the wooden Guyver Bridge, then the first of the five metal stiles.
First little bridge crossing was the wooden Guyver Bridge, named in honour of Jon Guyver who worked hard to redevelop the 6FT as the track coordinator/administrator until 2010 and Tail End Don at the first of the five stiles we crossed.
Morning tea was enjoyed in a pleasant gully, before we across through semi-cleared forests, gullies, over more stiles, and through a closed gate with an historic private property sign. Then down past Ron's Roost named in honour of a dedicated Scout Leader and through some granite boulders, including one historically labelled Toad Rock by the surveyor William Cooper.
Descent to the pretty gully where we enjoyed morning tea
An original metal sign reminding walkers to regard the private land that had to be negotiated with farmers for the initial formation of the track, assuring the landholders that the track 'would only be six foot wide' and Ron's Roost named in honour of a dedicated Scout Leader.
The little waterways had dried up, as well as a small pool previously seen, and under one of the small overhangs was the remnants of an abandoned native bee colony. On previous visits, we have seen this colony busy and flourishing. We asked ourselves, why is this now abandoned?
On previous visits, we have seen this colony busy and flourishing
Down wooden steps and more winding track, took us to our first lovely view of the smooth grey rocks on the banks of Coxs River and then to the spectacular but presently closed Bowtells Swing Bridge.
Admiring the first view of the Coxs River
Since the recce for this walk, noticeable progress has been made to this 31 year old structure, initially opened in 1992 by the Royal Australian Engineers. Its name comes from a fellow soldier of the builders, Corporal Bob Bowtell who died during the Vietnam war. Corporal Bowtell grew up in Katoomba and is now buried in West Malaysia. A very pleasant lunch spot down on the Coxs River was enjoyed in warm sunshine, which we reluctantly left to make our return journey to the cars.
Ron's Roost provided a great resting spot after the steep ascent from the Coxs River
Accompanying birdsounds along the track were added to by the bleat of this black head sheep. Named a 'Dorper' This is apparently a South African breed, crossing a Dorset ram with a Persian ewe and introduced into Australia in the 1990s. The main reason this hybrid was created was for its meat, not its wool (SueS). Walkers with a much photographed tree and an amazing view of the Megalong Valley and the escarpment beyond.
As the rain and cold wind returned, we headed to Wentworth Falls for warm drinks and delicacies at Bakery Patisserie Schwarz.
Deidre and Sue S led four walkers – Alan, Don B, Kas and Louis
Thank you to Tail End Don B and First Aid Deidre. Also thank you to Bert, Kas and Vreni who joined us on the recce.
Words by Sue S
Photos and captions Sue S (1-5), (8-11), 18, (20-22), Louis (6, 7, 12, 13, 15, 16, 19, 23), Deidre (14) and Kas (17)
......some of the flowers along the way
Leucopogon Leucopogon setiger Australian Indigo Indigofera australis Water Bush Myoporum montanum
......and here's where we went