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Lifestyle : Blue Mountains 2012
1HERSA1 S007 LC1001 LIFE IS A COLLECTION OF EXPERIENCES LET US BE YOUR GUIDE theluxurycollection.com/echoes theluxurycollection.com/lilianfels Two iconic resorts, one breathtaking destination. Lilianfels and Echoes, nestled amidst the majestic grandeur of the Blue Mountains are celebrating their Luxury Collection launch with an unforgettable $550* per room mid-week stay including breakfast and dinner. Book online or call 1800 814 812 and quote MIDWEEK. Creat e lasting memories of your own at the ‘new look ’ Fairmont Resort, totally transformed after an ex tensive $10million dollar renovation. At Fairmont Resort we pride ourse lves on a warm welcome, long bushwalks, sumptuous High Teas, and drinks by the iconic ‘Embers’ fireside bar with your loved ones to create long lasting memories. We pride ourselves on of fering our guest s service of the highest level. D uring your st ay with us you will exp erience the true spirit of Fairmont Resort, part of the distinctive MG aller y collection of hotels around the world. Newly refurbished Fairmont King Rooms from $199* per night *Terms & Conditions apply. Subject to availability. 1 Sublime Point Road, Leura Blue Mountains NSW 2780 Australia. Tel: 02 4785 0000 Fax: 02 4785 0001 fairmontresort.com.au mgallery.com accorhotels.com MEMORABLE MOMENTS AT FAIRMONT RESORT The Sydney Morning Herald Friday, March 30, 2012 7 SPECIAL REPORT Take a hike on the scenic side Ben Stubbs gets into his stride tackling five of the best trails, from Wentworth Falls to Blackheath. Spectacular . . . (from left) the National Pass trail has superb views over the Jamison Valley; walkers can start their trek at Wentworth Falls. Photo: Ben Rushton T he region is famous for its natural beauty and there is no better way to experience it than on a spectacular walk along the 140 kilometres of trails in the Blue Mountains National Park. There are walks to suit all levels and I am attempting five of the best on the unofficial ‘‘five villages walk’’ from Wentworth Falls to Blackheath. NATIONAL PASS TRACK I start in the south on the edge of Wentworth Falls on the challenging National Pass track. It is a 4.4 -kilometre trail that will take me through the Jamison Valley. I skip across the top of the falls as the mist rises from below. The stairs are cut into the sandstone cliff that descends hundreds of metres to the valley floor. I pause after a few flights to read the plaques commemorating the men who created this amazing walkway in 1908. After zigzagging to the bottom, the track undulates across the forest under waterfalls to the hidden Empress Falls that drown out the noise of the birds above. Abseilers leap from slippery ledges as I walk past and up the final hill to finish my first trail. THE PRINCE HENRY CLIFF WALK This 6.8 -kilometre walk is of medium difficulty and offers some of the best views in the Blue Mountains – without the crowds. I take the flat path out of Leura across the top of the escarpment all the way to Katoomba. Lyrebirds rustle through the brush and, as I’m walking on a weekday, they’re just about the only visitors I see. At the Tallawalla Lookout, I gaze across the scoop of the Jamison Valley and understand why the Blue Mountains have that name. The biggest highlight greets me at the end of the trail and even though I’ve seen it countless times before, walking towards the stone fingers of the Three Sisters is always special. RUINED CASTLE WALK After two walks of medium difficulty, I test my endurance out of Katoomba with an 8.4 -kilometre return walk to Ruined Castle. Walking down the steep drop of the Golden Stairs, I see The Three Sisters in the distance and as I descend further, the track becomes overgrown with wildflowers and plants. The shade of the temperate rainforest at the bottom provides relief from the harsh sunlight. I turn right and hike up the rocky trail to the Ruined Castle, a collection of rust-red boulders that resembles the fallen walls of a castle. From the top, I can see Wentworth Falls in the far distance. A wallaby below disturbs the quiet as it negotiates the slope. I follow its lead back along the Federal Pass trail to the Scenic Railway. GRAND CANYON WALK My next trip is to the Grand Canyon. From the edges of Blackheath, I begin at Neats Glen. The flora is dry and hardy but as I reach the bottom, it becomes a rainforest oasis of waterfalls, streams and dripping foliage. I follow the bobbing run of a lyrebird past banksias, grass trees and across log bridges. The air is cool as I walk along the base of the Grand Canyon through tunnels and under nameless waterfalls. The last section is a beautiful stroll past mossy rock walls and ancient trees before an exhausting hike out to Evans Lookout. CLIFF-TOP TRACK The last walk on my itinerary is the leisurely three-kilometre cliff-top track from outside Blackheath. I see crimson rosellas and rainbow lorikeets as I follow the trail to the edge. The valley below is a sea of more than 100 species of eucalypts and I see Pulpit Rock and the beautiful hanging gardens above Govetts Leap before arriving at the rest area, ready for a well- earned breather. Water wows The Blue Mountains area has a plethora of waterfalls to explore. Here are a few of the best. ❏ Wentworth Falls. The impressive falls (with a 187-metre drop) can be enjoyed from several places: at the lookout conveniently close to the Wentworth Falls car park or from the descending path of the National Pass track. ❏ Empress Falls. Along the picturesque National Pass track is the hidden Empress Falls, which provides good opportunities for photos or a dip. You can reach the falls from the Conservation Hut cafe. ❏ Govetts Leap Falls. One of the most visited — and spectacular — falls in the area. Dropping 180 metres to the Grose Valley, the falls can be viewed from the information centre or along the cliff-top track. ❏ Leura Cascades. The cascades are accessible from just outside Leura. There is an easy walk past the pools and rapids of Leura Falls Creek to the bottom.
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