Party: Tim Vollmer, Terence Nhan, Mona Peters, Marta Duda, Brian Gottfried — T2’s photos
Trips like this are about more than just nature. Sure, we were offered up an incredible display of diverse natural beauty, but this trip was also about history, about the changing experiences of the world around us, about rediscovering and imagining.
I’d been planning to explore this section of Linden Creek, just north of Faulconbridge, for a few months, ever since I was told of the existence of an old funicular (incline) railway and sawmill, the remnants of which could apparently still be found in the valley.
The first attempt was canned due to illness, so when I was looking for an easy half-day pre-work walk to celebrate my birthday, I knew this had to be it.
We were met with crisp blue skies and radiant sunshine, and the air quickly warmed until it was feeling decidedly like spring. After converging on Faulconbridge Station, we drove a short way to the start of our walk.
Setting off down the fire trail, my eyes were darting from side to side, not knowing where the old railway dropped off the ridge. I dragged the others to a few rocky vantage points, which offered spectacular views of the valley, as I checked to see any signs of the incline.
What we did find, a short way below a cliff, was an amazing treehouse, apparently pulled together with rope and fallen timber by some very keen local kids. But still no sign of this old railway.
Then the track started to drop, and suddenly the straightness of it became clear. We were on it. That was easy!
The old cable-driven railway must have dropped pretty steeply, because in places the track required some scrambling down rocks, but it was easy to follow. Lower down the old cutting, now overgrown with ferns, was still very distinct.
While I’m glad these valleys are no longer logged, and the stands of towering trees remain for our enjoyment, I really enjoy the thought of sharing this place with the men who a century ago built this railroad deep into the bush to provide access to the old sawmill.
At Linden Creek, where the line must have run on an elevated wooden trestle, we paused to examine the pristine waters, spotting a large yabbie.
Crossing to the other side — where we turned up a major tributary — we soon found the first real signs of the old railway: a large metal wheel and some steel cable.
As we walked further I found myself looking down too much, looking for more signs of the railway, which meant when we arrived at the rusty old steam engine I completely missed it. Despite being just a couple metres from it I was busily examining the remains of a skip when the others pointed out the impressive old workhorse.
Looking at the rusting steam engine — forgotten in the deep recesses of the Blue Mountains valley — you’re inner child can’t help but come out. I could just imagine a group of kids clambering over it, pretending it was a submarine or something equally exotic.
We pressed on — having discovered the site of the old engine far quicker than I’d expected — to look for the remains of a timber structure, possibly part of the mill.
Dave Noble had told me after a previous walk nearby about this structure that he recalled from childhood (which admittedly was a little while ago). He described it as being a bit like an old timber barn, but with no walls.
While we spotted a few more remains of the railway, including pipes and a single rail, we had no luck with the building. A few flatter areas looked promising, but all we found were clumps of lawyer vine! Perhaps bushfires have claimed what remained of the building?
We continued up our unnamed tributary, which was quite attractive.
Other than the patches of lawyer vine it was easy walking, and there were a few interesting spots like the towering moss-covered stone monoliths and a small waterfall.
Eventually we decided to turn off and start looping back to the start. We scrambled up a steep, dry gully, past an impressive eroded cave where our resident geologist came into his own, and up through several layers of small cliffs.
The wildflowers were everywhere, making for plenty of stops, while the relatively open bush on the ridge-top was particularly attractive.
Back to the east we went, following the main spur where it dropped through thick bracken ferns to the creek. A short stroll had us back to the steam engine for a final photo stop.
Back up the path of the old railway we went, pausing near the top at a stunning rocky outcrop where we enjoyed a siesta in the glorious sunshine.
When we woke from our snooze, Brian asked if winter was normally like this in Australia. I couldn’t blame him, it was an absolutely spectacular day, and a perfect one to be in the bush.