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Sunday, 5 October 2014


Blackheath’s Grand Canyon is one of the Blue Mountains’ icons. The track through it was opened by the Premier of NSW (Mr JH Carruthers) in February 1907. This was a period when the competition between the Blue Mountains communities to attract tourists and their spending money was at a peak. Blackheath, Katoomba and Wentworth Falls in particular were constructing new tracks and lookouts and the Grand Canyon track is one of the best.
Walking conditions were a lot tougher in those days. Ladders, where required, were constructed out of bush timber on the spot. Steps were hewn out of the sandstone along hundreds of tracks. Lookout railings were made of whatever could be found cheaply, often
bush timber but sometimes old water pipes and odd bits of scrap iron were called into service.
While many well-made steps from those days remain in the Grand Canyon, the rough and ready railings and ladders have gone. In recent years, the National Parks and Wildlife Service has done a remarkable job replacing steps, ladders and railings while preserving the wild character of this beautiful place.
At the time the track through the canyon was completed, it linked up several existing tracks – at the Fernery on the Rodriguez Pass (just above Beauchamp Falls), at Neate’s Glen and at Wall’s
The Tunnel
. The Wall’s Cave connection was

severed years ago by the construction of a water supply dam on Greave’s Creek so that today the round trip takes in Evan’s Lookout, the descent to the canyon via the Fernery, the canyon proper, the ascent through Neate’s Glen and the track alongside the road back to the lookout. There were also connections with roads built from Medlow Bath in the heyday of the Hydro Majestic Hotel, but these have become obscure with the passage of time.
When you read old newspaper reports, it is extraordinary to discover how many people have been lost or injured in the vicinity. There have also been a number of fatalities. There are numerous complaints about poor signposting leading to visitors
getting lost, though you could hardly say that about today’s track.
Going Down?
A modern hazard for some is the rise of canyoning, a sport which takes intrepid groups down into the narrow and often water-filled places which abound in parts of the Blue Mountains. The Grand Canyon, where Greave’s Creek vanishes into the depths for some considerable distance, is one of the best known, so do not be surprised if you encounter canyoners wearing wet suits and carrying ropes as you pass through on the walking track.

Here are some links to sites which will help you appreciate this exciting walk even more.

My video is here, made on a walk in July 2014. A video produced by the National Parks and Wildlife Service may be viewed here. Another, this time of a canyoning trip, may be found here. Finally, the Wild Walks map and information, always a useful thing to study, is to be found here.
My Blue Mountains you Tube playlist is here. I have three other playlists - on gem hunting/mining, Glen Innes and New Zealand.

  From the Sydney Morning Herald, 18th February 1907.
"The Premier, in reply, said he took a great interest in developing the traffic to the tourist resorts. New South Wales was the best of all the States. The people did not recognise that they had the best climate and scenery in Australasia at their own doors. He was glad to see the trustees had done good work with limited means. He appreciated the beautiful canyon, and hoped it would be visited by thousands of people."

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