The Blue Mountains’ Grand Canyon Walk.

There’s something exhilarating about immersing oneself in the Australian bush. And Autumn is a wonderful time for bushwalking : the air is crisp yet not too cold and dangerous reptiles are beginning to if not already hibernating.

View from Evans Lookout at Blackheath, in the Blue Mountains.

So, a week or so ago, in the midst of catching up with family in Sydney and the Central West, we wanted to take the opportunity to complete a walk or two in the beautiful Blue Mountains National Park.

Initially, we wanted to tackle the Prince Henry Cliff Walk between Katoomba and Leura. But, alas we had not done our research well enough. It was a Sunday and parking in and around Katoomba was a nightmare. We couldn’t find anywhere free to park and had to pay nearly $10 an hour so we could hop out of the car! We settled for a short walk around Echo Point and the Three Sisters.

What did we ever do before without our mobile phones? Not to be denied a challenging walk, Kenn goggled Great Blue Mountain Walks and up popped info and more importantly, images about the the Grand Canyon Walk at Blackheath. As we were spending the night in Blackheath and we had never done this walk, it seemed perfect.

Blackheath is only a few kilometres west of Katoomba. After a brief stop at the Hydro Majestic at Medlow Bath for coffee and cake, we found ourselves at the Grand Canyon car park near Evans Lookout just before midday, ready for adventure. The walk is a 6.3 km loop and should take about 3-4 hours. It begins on top of the ridge, descends via many, many steps to the canyon, follows the canyon for a couple of kilometres before ascending to the top of the ridge, again via many, many steps. The path is quite wide and very well maintained and takes you into the heart of a stunning World Heritage listed landscape.

Starting from the car park, we walked the track in an anti clockwise direction. Initially, we strolled through native heath along the top of the ridge to Neate’s Glen car park where we began our descent into the canyon. Everything is very well signposted.
The descent here is relatively gentle and winds through beautiful bushland. As you can see, the path is very well maintained.
The path gets a little harder. These stepping stones blend in beautifully with the landscape, but would make it a very difficult walk for most children under 10, I imagine. It would be slow going in the wet as well as the steps were a little slippery in places.
Views of those iconic, sandstone cliffs, so synonymous with the Blue Mountains, keep you company on the way down and although sounds of trickling water are all around you, nothing prepares you for the perfect waterfall at the bottom.
It is stunning. And not crowded. We had this perfect spot almost to ourselves. But for me, the best was yet to come. To continue the walk along the canyon, you have to walk behind the waterfall!
It was simply stunning
It was almost a Lord of the Rings moment. A wonderful, sensory experience.
The water then leaves the glade and tumbles into the beginning of the canyon over fern encrusted rocks.
Meanwhile, we found ourselves walking along and under sandstone overhangs, following the course of the stream.
The stream carves ever more deeper into the rock. From our vantage point, we could look deep down into the canyon.
I was scared that I would drop my phone if I leaned over to properly capture the depth of the canyon but it was a special sight. It went down and down and down!
Gradually, the path opens up a little and there you are walking through rainforest!
The stream reappears and tumbles once again beside you.
There is even the most perfect swimming hole. It would be very popular on a hot summer’s day.
But what goes down must come up. At first, the ascent was reasonably easy. But then we discovered that perhaps it would have been better to walk the loop in the opposite direction. There were so many staircases to climb at the end that we lost count. I definitely had to concentrate on climbing as they were steep and relentless. A number of times, we looked up and thought that we were nearly at the top, when another staircase would begin a few steps further on. We missed the turn to the Grand Canyon car park and found ourselves at Evans Lookout, a bonus as it turned out.
How beautiful is this view of the Grose Valley?
And the beautiful sandstone escarpment, glowing orange in the late afternoon light.

This is not an easy walk. While the distance is relatively short, the number and nature of the steps would pose a challenge to many. But it is an incredibly beautiful walk that immerses the walker in a uniquely Australian place. Also, it is a walk that is best begun at noon at the latest, especially in the colder months. It would be quite dark down in the canyon in the late afternoon.

Blackheath is definitely worth visiting. The Grand Canyon is not the only bush walk on offer. And Blackheath has lots more to offer the visitor including wonderful food. Perhaps it was serendipity. We couldn’t have asked for a more special day in the mountains.