Mount Victoria eclectic – high panorama, cool rainforest, village heritage

Some 120km west of Sydney and at 1052 metres above sea level, Mount Victoria on the western escarpment is the highest and last village of the Central Blue Mountains before the road heads down the pass into the verdant valleys beyond.

It is a charming Victorian village with heritage architecture dating back to the 1840s.   It’s One Tree Hill at 1,111 metres is the highest point on the Blue Mountains plateau.

Visitors to the Blue Mountains typically drive through Mount Victoria sticking to the Western Highway, passing by in minutes unawares.   Our small group of six indulged instead exploring Mt Vic’s scenic majesty, its charming heritage.

How blue our sky!

Nature Trail’s walking tour ‘Mount Victoria Escarpment’ is the first one blessed with a full complement of guests.  Perhaps word is getting around.  The weather certainly helped.

We were fortunate to have join us, Awia and James via the Guiding course at Sydney Institute’s Ultimo College.  This is the same college in which our guide, Steve did his course in 2013.   And making up our numbers, Chris inviting his partner Ivána to accompany us.

We headed off on the road less taken.

Steve, our tour guide and qualified bushwalking leader, clearly knew the local sweet spots – the little known tracks, the big cave, that magical waterfall, and then later, the unique colonial museum – Steve being a member.  The village is heritage listed with a number of historic buildings, some having been recently restored and others undergoing restoration by their passionate owner-custodians.

Mt Vic’s 1849 Highway Toll Bar House  

(Thanks Annette)

The morning began remotely in the bush atop the sandstone cliff escarpment.  Steve did his meet and greet, and properly undertook a group kit check and briefing for the bushwalk ahead.

The walk was graded ‘HARD’ and Steve managed to translate this to being the equivalent of descending and climbing a 83-storey building like almost to the top floor of Sydney’s Centrepoint Tower.

So on this particular occasion Steve advised good fitness important.  He advised us each to be kitted out with good walking shoes and light clothing to ensure safety and comfort. Steve had been very particular in his communications leading up to today.

At first we wondered about the nature of the trek as Steve explained that as tour leader he had map compass, GPS, first aid kit, snake bite kit, emergency beacon, extra water and even leech salt were carried by him for best practice bushwalking safety.

Steve paced the track’s ‘HARD’ designation to a kinder, gentler, more interpretative experience.  This enabled a more outward looking benefit to the rest of us.

Thankfully, Nature Trail’s walking pace is easy going, and a wiser and more an appreciative style of bushwalking. This trip we time and enjoy the cooler early morning shade, and frequent short breaks allowing the journey to be enjoyable.

Nature Trail bushwalks are easy going and informative

(Thanks Helen)

Steve’s patient. He happily lets us catch our breath regularly.  There is no hurry.  It is all about the Nature experience and the enjoyment.

In order to reach some special little known features, our guide carefully guides us over tricky rock obstacles to ensure we are all safe. So we can enjoy the walking treasures and leave the worries to our experienced guide.

So the rewards are special, like this hidden cave used as a storm refuge by elite rock climbers.

The bar stool was quirky, and there were traces of limestone, reflecting a good reason why Mount Victoria is renowned for having many caves in the area – Ross Cave, Bushrangers Cave, Ferris Cave, Cox’s Cave.

Steve says the bushranger name is a popular one used for caves in the Mountains with another five caves having the same name.  He explains that possibly these were used by escaped convicts in the 1820s and 1830s more so than by bushrangers, although Mount Victoria does have tales of a few bushrangers once the Gold Rush was on.  Apparently, on 11th September in 1862 a Charles or James Mackay robbed two men at the top of Mount Victoria Pass only to be caught a week later at the Rosedale Inn at the foot of the pass.  Bushrangers George Brown and George Gibson were also active around Mount Victoria in 1864.

We push on and descend into a cool shady rainforest following a horsetrack dating back to the 1870s.

We descended the original horse track pass from the 1870s – Mount Vic’s equivalent to the Six Foot Track.  Steve knew the old stories and even the rock types, such as ‘chert’ a brown form of flint that was once mined in the the area.  He lead us through diverse vegetation and landscapes.

Fortunately everything went to schedule, was incident free and we all had a brilliant wild walking experience through Nature.  By walk’s end, we were no less reassured that we had been in good hands.  Our group was relaxed and enjoyed ‘HARD’ as manageable and fun.

We had no idea that Mount Victoria was blessed with beautiful rainforest so close by, yet we had it all to ourselves!  We saw no-one else en route.

Our guide had done his research.  We’d come around a walking track corner and Steve would point out some unique flora or fauna that we would otherwise have walked right by.  The trail and Steve were close friends, so all we had to do was enjoy the journey.

It was the little things such as this Dusty Daisy Bush that Phillip noticed.

And the Blue Flax Lilies were starting to flower; this small example a leaf litter artwork of Nature.

Behind the names of the features – the tracks, the caves, the summits, the glens, Steve explained their namesake to prominent historical locals like Piddington, Darling, Reinit, Henry Lawson, Engineers, Horne, Selsdon, Sylvania and Edward Ross Fairfax.

And at times we did get up ‘close and personal’ with the cliff face as promised.

Guide Steve explained that to ensure each of us receives the best possible personalised experience, he limited his guest number to just six.  So six was it and our company by lunch enthusiastically grew into chatty friends sharing our mutual wild experiences of the day.  Cards were exchanged, new friendships were formed.

(Brilliant photo James)

Possibly the most memorable part of the walk was the relaxing opportunity to cool our heads under the cold shower of a little known escarpment waterfall.

(Thanks Phillip)

Local home-cooked lunch was timely, pre-arranged and was no rush at all.   Then Annette, Steve’s friend and legendary local bushwalker, joined us and exchanged Mount Vic stories.

We felt so inspired and happy by day’s end in Mount Vic, we’ll be back, and may be stay over.

(Thanks Sue)

Our thanks to Nature Trail Friends Helen, Annette, Sue, Phillip and Chris for their time and assistance in helping to make this such a wonderful tour for our guests.  Thanks to Phillip and James for their stunning photos.

We made a few new friends that day.