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Thursday, 5 December 2013



The Katoomba Falls area has always been popular with walkers and I guess it always will be. I’ve met many other walkers along the tracks and it’s great to see them enjoying the beauties of the place. Its proximity to the rides at Scenic World is partly the reason, of course, which provides opportunities for a number of round trips.

The track down to the Federal Pass level (where the Scenic Railway terminates) goes through two stages, coinciding with the descent through the two cliff-forming sandstone layers. Between the two is a prominent claystone bed which nearly always causes the top cliff line to be set back a little from the lower. This means that all the waterfalls from Katoomba to King’s Tableland at Wentworth Falls are split into upper and lower sections. This division is very obvious at Katoomba Falls.

The track into the valley descends on the right shortly after you leave Cliff Drive at the old Katoomba Falls Kiosk. It goes down into a rain forest world through a gap in the cliffs which may have once been the course of Kedumba Creek. A minor waterfall (also in two stages) called Witch’s (or Witches) Leap is soon seen on the right. The main Katoomba Falls may be seen from Rainforest Lookout soon after; just below this is the turnoff to “Under the Falls”, as it has often been called. It isn’t really under the falls, rather the spot is between the upper and lower falls.                                                                                                              
The brink of the lower Witch's Leap fall

Along this track you will cross the Witch’s Leap stream again, right at the brink of its second drop. Shortly after, you will arrive at the cascades between the two Katoomba Falls. You get an altogether different view of the falls here. Unfortunately its has proven to be a dangerous place for those who want to look at the bottom fall, which is why there is a solid safety rail well back from the edge. Not everyone takes notice of that, of course, and in summer people like to paddle around and take a shower. They are no doubt unaware of some of the grim events that happened here.

In July 1907 there was a cold snap which caused much of the waterfall to freeze over. This has happened a number of times, but on this occasion
SMH July 9, 1907
the attraction of the frozen fall was too much for some visitors and two people died as a result of the slippery conditions. You may read about the tragedy in many newspapers of the day, but the Sydney Morning Herald of Tuesday 9 July 1907, page 7, is as good as any (See Trove). A similar freeze occurred in July 1922. A   few years ago we encountered a sizable icicle near Wollumai Lookout, between Katoomba Falls and Echo Point, so I guess this is a phenomenon that can still happen, even if it rarely does!

The 1907 event attracted a photographer who took pictures for and of tourists amongst the ice. A few of these survive and may be seen at the Blue Mountains Local Studies site here .

Several Wild Walks files are relevant to this walk. Katoomba Cascades here and Katoomba Falls Circuit here .

Finally, my video of the walk to “Under the Falls” may be seen here . My  Blue MountainsYou Tube playlist may be found here. You will find videos of the Round Walk, Katoomba Cascades etc in the Blue Mountains playlist. I  other playlists - on gem hunting/mning, Glen Innes and New Zealand. Please comment and subscribe.

All New England and other Geology blogs and videos
Icicle near Wollumai Lookout 2007

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