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Friday, 27 December 2013


A Howell photograph circa 1920
The walking tracks on the western side of Mt Victoria have a fascination all of their own. They were mainly constructed in the nineteenth century and retain lots of their original construction features. The many sandstone steps are especially evocative of the era. Surviving period photographs show people dressed in what seems to us to be unsuitable clothing and when you stand where they stood you can’t help thinking about those distant times.

The Mt Piddington picnic area is easily accessed by Mt Piddington road from the Great Western Highway, though this is in fact quite a dangerous corner. The same is true of the access road into the Fairy Bower picnic area from the highway, which ought to be approached travelling south, i.e. upon leaving the town towards Blackheath rather than entering it. It is a quiet and pleasant spot, even though it is right next to the railway line.
There has been a transfer of the name “Fairy Bower” from its original location (now often called the Grotto) to the
19th C photo of Fairy Bower

valley which leads down from the Fairy Bower picnic area.  Both the track which leads down this valley and the track descending from Mt Piddington are actually sections of the real Fairy Bower track. Only the correct location is used here and the associated 

Fairy Bower Howell photo 1920's
To be kind, Fairy Bower has seen better days. Not much water flows over its little waterfall and perhaps the most interesting feature of the place is the overhanging rock shelter, one of many in the area. 
In fact, an interesting book called “Sandstone Caves of Mt Victoria” by Erik Halbert & Ross Ellis has been written on the subject. You can order a copy here.

The round walk via Cox’s Cave (complete with a scary looking ladder up to the entrance) includes a section with great views of the cliffs and the Kanimbla Valley below. Cox’s Cave will be the subject of a later blog.

The White Lady Dec. 2013
Two unusual examples of graffiti (in the broadest sense) are to be found on  prominent rocks on the left as you go up the valley towards the Fairy Bower picnic area (the Odd Couple and the White Lady). Keith Painter, in his excellent book “Great Walks at Mount Victoria” tells of his efforts to identify the artists and subjects of these two “works of art”. You can order a copy of this book here. This part of the track appears in old photos and references as “Easy Way Home”. It isn’t, if you left your car at Mt Piddington!

The "Easy Way Home" Howell photo
Two further references to these tracks (and others nearby) may be found here and here.

My video of the walk may be found here. My Blue Mountains You Tube playlist is here . I have three others - on gem hunting/mining, Glen Innes and New Zealand.
The Corner, Cox's Cave track

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