Lindeman Pass has been at the back of my mind for a while. I’d become keener to walk it since finally picking up Jim Smith’s excellent book about the track, which lay almost forgotten for much of the past century thanks to short-sighted politics, xenophobia, and penny pinching.
I won’t give away too much of the history, but basically early last century a pioneering local alderman decided a track was needed that provided the missing link between the walks around Katoomba and Wentworth Falls. He personally surveyed a route through the at times difficult terrain, linking up several historic passes in the valley.
By 1911 it was nearly complete. Despite a fair amount of money being spent building the track (except the final 200 metres near Leura Falls where it crossed the former council boundary) it was never formally opened — firstly because Katoomba shopkeepers were worried tourists would walk to Wentworth Falls and they would lose their business, and then because of anti-German sentiment during World War I.
Anyway, I’ve always tried to steer clear of the tourist-addled tracks around Katoomba, preferring to admire the same spectacular scenery without the people, rubbish, signage and easy access walking tracks. But with a Monday off work I thought I would be safe to explore the area in peace.
Despite having four people express interest in joining me I ended up walking alone, which was all-together very pleasant. Not being able to do a car shuffle, and making a late start due to a mild hangover, I decided to cut the loop a little shorter, leaving the eastern end for a future trip.
After a little faffing about trying to find the start of Gladstone Pass I finally found a little track that was heading in the right direction. Thanks to the rain (which was still lightly falling) the track was muddy and slippery, but the bush was lush and green.
The creek drops steeply, down beside a small set of falls into a canyon-like section. Here is the most obvious remnant of the miners who created the pass 130 years ago, with a set of slippery stone steps carved alongside a steep section.
The rest of the pass is very pretty, with a few scrambles, slides and creek crossings needed before a small cairn marks the junction with Lindeman Pass.
Not far along is Dash’s cave: small, dry and protected from the weather. The track, which in this area is more of a footpad, winds along just below the cliff line, giving filtered views across the valley and of the cliffs above. Along the eastern side of Sublime Point it is its worst condition, with thickets of lawyer vine making going tough in places, but as you round the nose the bush opens out and the track is much improved. I paused at this point, scrambling up the ridge a short way until I found a great morning tea spot with views over the Jamison Valley from the Three Sisters, across Mt Solitary, and to Kedumba Walls.
From here the track is at its best. Open and clear, with filtered views through the trees. In places the original dry stone walls supporting the track are still clearly visible, and in very good condition. Several small waterfalls come in, the most impressive being Lindeman Falls.
When you get to the lower drop of Gordon Falls the track goes behind the waterfall through a lush little grotto that is surprisingly dry. Just beyond is the scar of a large landslip below Microstrobos Falls which provides an opening in the tree canopy and gives the best look at the falls.
There are a few odd switchbacks in the track, but it is very easy to follow towards this end. The finish is spectacular, with a shale ledge taking you above the trees and giving a stunning view over the valley before turning towards Leura Falls.
I wish I could have seen the lower drop of Leura Falls as Charles Lindeman did. It is a stunning sight, but unfortunately it was previously used to run the old sewer system down, so as well as concrete and pipes, there is still a residual odour. The creek is also littered with rubbish including large drums, cables, tennis balls and other oddities. It seems strange that National Parks haven’t made the effort to clean it up and run a short track to the base of these very pretty falls.
From here it is just a short walk to the tourist track and the slog back to the car. Thanks to the gloomy weather I had the place to myself. I checked out some of the pretty falls on the way up, the best of which has to be Bridal Veil Falls. The cliff top walk back is quite pleasant, with dozens of little lookouts each giving a slightly different perspective.
I made the final bash through the golf course, startling a flock of cockatoos, and was soon back at the car.
Lindeman Pass is a great walk, much better than the populous tourist tracks nearby, and I’m already thinking about going back to finish it off and spend some time exploring some of the other historic routes into the Jamison Valley that are linked up by this great little track.