This track is next to the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre at the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Blackheath. It is an easy walk and offers a great way to see some of the diverse flora and fauna of the region. For me, this included birds, butterflies, dragonflies and, at one point, a lizard basking on the path.
This turned out to be a blotched blue-tongue lizard. There was no display of the blue tongue whilst I was there, but the lizard was soaking up the sunshine. These lizards are not particularly fast and so their prey tends to be similar. Large teeth and strong jaw muscles crush beetles and snail shells. When under threat, the lizard will stick out its tongue, flatten its body and poke out its large head.
Floral highlights of the walk included masses of drumsticks (Isopogon anemonifolius). The bright yellow outer petals swirl into a soft green centre. There is also a Blackheath variant, Fletcher’s Drumsticks. The vibrant red of waratahs in bloom also captured my eye.
Another delight was the dotted sun orchid (Thelymitra ixioides), with delicately speckled petals reaching towards the sun. The pink match heads plant (Comesperma ericinum) also brightened the outlook. Gum trees, hakea, banksia and grevilleas formed a backdrop to the wildflowers.
Bench seats alongside the track encourage walkers to pause along the way. Signs along the track mark out different sections, including Scribbly Hollow, Cone Stick Corner and Waratah Rest. Sheltered picnic areas are located between the George Phillips and Govett’s Leap Lookouts.
The track winds down towards the George Phillips Lookout. This offers spectacular views over the Grose Valley towards Pulpit Rock. The lookout is named in appreciation of the “able and energetic service” of George Phillips, an ex-Alderman, pioneer of the district and member of the Blackheath group of the Blue Mountains Sights Reserves. This lovely spot also has a memorial to NPWS staff who have lost their lives in the service to the people of NSW. The memorial is a beautiful sculpture of a lyrebird. A little further around the track, I spotted a live one, scooting its way through the undergrowth.
Beyond the lookout, the path tracks its way around to the popular Govett’s Leap Lookout. You can return by the Fairfax Track or walk alongside the road back to the heritage centre.
Track highlights and walking conditions are available on the NPWS site.
There is a video of the track on John Paix’s blog here. The track was funded by a donation from the Sir Vincent Fairfax Family Trust and built in 1986-7. This wheelchair accessible route is a rarity in Australian national parks.
This beautiful walking track offers delights throughout the changing seasons. It is well worth a wander.
[Photo: view from Govett’s Leap Lookout]