[SUBW] SUBW Trip Report - Robert's and Lindeman's Passes and Lawton's Creek Canyon (2/3rds).
bstaffor at med.usyd.edu.au
Wed Oct 4 14:14:10 AEDT 2017
SUBW Trip Report - Robert"s and Lindeman's Passes and Lawton's Creek
Party: Bruce leading), Ashwin, Cathie, Peter, Phil (Meng), Xiaoxia.
A good turnout for a walk on the October Long Weekend with relatively
short notice. The long spell of dry weather was a chance to walk what
are normally rather damp (and leech infested) parts of the Blue
I had arrived at Central Station over 30 minutes ahead of train time,
and while waiting my mobile iPhone had a message that a software
update was available; did I want to download it? With time to spare
and thinking it would be a 5 minute job, I allowed the update, causing
the phone to shut down for 25 minutes at a time when I was needing to
get texts and calls from other walkers! Slowly learning about the less
appealing aspects of an iPhone!
With some others unable to contact me they simply just got on the
train and eventually we all collected together at Wentworth Falls
Station. Peter Stanford had got on at Strathfield and found us on the
train, but Zhong was also supposed to get on at Strathfield but his
connecting train was cancelled so he missed out.
After the compulsory loo stop at Wentworth Falls, we then set off on
the road bash to the Conservation Hut above Valley of the Waters.
There were heaps of tourists around, but after a brief visit to Queen
Victoria Lookout we left them behind as we headed for Lillian's Bridge
(above Empress Canyon). We crossed Lillian's Bridge then proceeded
along the Lillian's Bridge (Grand Cliff Top) track. Here Peter left
us, and the remaining five continued up the track and across a hanging
swamp until reaching the edge of the Fairmont Reserve golf course. A
soft gentle chattering could be heard in the trees above and a pair of
Crimson Rosellas (Platycercus elegans) could be seen. (This
demonstrates the value of no loud talking on bushwalks, as if we were,
then these birds would not have been heard).
Soon we came to the junction with the track to Inspiration Point,
which also continues down through Robert's Pass. Along this track a
Lyrebird was seen. We came to a track which went right to Gladstone
Lookout, ans as it was new to me, went along it to see if it was OK.
After less than 10 minutes it comes to that Lookout which gives good
views over Jamison Valley, and also the gully of Gladstone Pass can be
Here we stopped for lunch. Then we retraced our steps to the
Inspiration Point track, and went past the sign designed to deter
tourists from going down Robert's Pass (see photo). This pass start
going down fairly steeply on a plain track with only a few steps here
and there until reaching the narrow slot through which the way down is
via a set of metal steps and then a 180 degree turn to continue
through the slot via stone steps. That sharp turn is so tight that,
unless you and your pack are very small, you must take off your pack
to squeeze through.
The track continues down the gully until reaching its junction with
Lindeman's Pass. Lindeman's Pass is not named there (but is at another
tourist-deterring sign a bit further on). Turn left here for Valley of
The Waters, and right for Lindemans pass proper. We turned right.
Between Robert's Pass and Lawton's Creek, Lindeman's Pass is quite
easy to follow. There are a couple of dodgy sections but no worse than
what is seen on the Landslide Section of Federal Pass. So the walk on
this section was uneventful.
Then I arrived at what I decided must be the start of Gladstone Pass.
Now, I had previously done the walk of Lindeman's Pass leading a walk
from the (now removed) Water Board ladders at Leura as far as
Gladstone Pass, but is was in the late 1990's. The spot looked a bit
different than what I recalled, but a lot can change in gullies and
canyons over 20 years - changes caused by flash floods and rockfalls.
Some reports (as recent as 2015) mention a cairn, but I did not see a
cairn there. This does not mean anything as some people are known to
remove cairns, the reasoning being that if one is relying on cairns to
navigate, then you probably shouldn't be there in the first place (and
I can't argue with that).
Anyway, we started off with a bit of a steep scramble up and started
following a vague track, and the presence on a couple of trees with
pink tape seemed to reassure that we were going the right way. Soon we
encountered a more obvious track, and followed it upwards (and
sometimes downwards) as it followed a steam up the gully which quickly
narrowed into a canyon. Every now and then the path (such as it was)
crossed the stream. It was a matter of looking out for stepping stones
that looked a bit more worn than others. Soon we came to a spot where
it was necessary to scale a 3.5 metre high mini-cliff and that's where
we got problems. My guess is that it was about two-thirds of the way
up the canyon.
There was only an old log which looked like it was propped up against
the obstacle with just a slight wood knot as a foothold (see photo).
The rock itself had some hand holds but nothing bit enough to support
a walking shoe. The only hand hold at the top was a fern which didn't
appear to be firmly rooted and I wasn't prepared to use it as a
support. Not only that, but other footholds further down were on
Now, Ashwin, Phil and ZiaoZia had made it up, just, with Ziaozia being
given a push up by us below, but the last person up would have no such
assistance. Phil offered a helping hand, but Cathie and I realised
that if we lost our foothold - a real possibility - then Phil would
suddenly be supporting our entire weight with himself standing on
unstable dirt, and very likely would pull him down.
Ashwin went ahead a little and said that a vague track could be seen
going further up. Nevertheless, with Cathie and I having no safe way
of getting past this obstacle, I had to decide that this was going to
be as far as we could go, and return back to Lindeman's Pass.
This made me start doubting that this was in fact Gladstone Pass. On
the trip I had led in the 1990's, we exited up Gladstone Pass and in
failing light. Although it was not easy it certainly wasn't as hard as
this, and also not as narrow. Gladstone Pass couldn't be regarded as a
canyon as this was.
we retraced our steps back down, and on encountering the obvious track
mentioned earlier followed it rather than the more vague one past the
trees with pink tape. This track suddenly ended but Lindeman's Pass
could be seen just below. So it was a matter of doing a scramble down
to the Pass.
At this point we were about 100 metres further west of Lawton's Creek
(which was actually what we had entered, I decided later), so it was a
matter of just following it back to our starting point, and then
continuing back to the junction of Robert's Pass.
At this point, we could have gone forward to Valley of the Waters, and
Lindeman's Pass is mostly (but not totally) easy to follow there. I
preferred to return back up Robert's Pass so we could end up at our
intended destination of Leura. Also, despite what some track walk
descriptions say, Robert's Pass is easier than Valley of the Waters
Track, and shorter.
We ended back at the junction of the Lillian's Bridge track and went
left to Leura. The track skirts the south of Fairmont Resort and its
golf course and ends at its car park. Along this track is an
"adventure tower" with steel and rope walkways (for those who want to
pretend they're commandos!) and there is a track leading off that
which I suspect goes to the top of Lawton's Creek. A bit further along
is a track near a steel container which appears to be the start of the
track down to Gladstone Pass. Also, more trees with pink ribbons.
From then on, it was just a road bash to Leura Station. Along the way
we went past gardens with flowering Rhododendrons, which grow well in
the Blue Mountains around Leura. We also discovered a drawback of
Google tracking. Ashwin got Google to mark out the shortest way back
to the station, but I noted it took us along streets that went down
gullies with a steep climb back out. We did one of these (Craigend
Street), but it also suggested Megalong Street which again went down
and back out of a steep gully. As I could see the railway straight
ahead (we were on Blackheath St), I decided it made no sense to follow
Google, and we went up to Railway Parade and from there it follows the
Rail Line straight back to Leura Station.
We arrived just 4 minutes before the next train, which we caught.
Maybe it would have been nice to have lingered in the coffee shops and
cafes at Leura Mall (and had we gone up Gladstone Pass we would have
had plenty of time to do so). As it was, it was already 5pm and I
didn't want people getting back to Sydney too late and missing their
train and bus connections, so the next train it was.
On the way back I saw high Cirrus clouds which are almost always a
predictor of rain (usually in 2-3 day's time). Some rain would be
welcome after this 2 month long period without rain.
Now, a word to the wise (and no so wise) about Lindeman's Pass.
Although I wrote that the section between Lawton's Creek and Robert's
Pass, and on to Valley of the Waters is fairly easy to follow, this is
the ONLY section which is easy (apart from a short section just west
of Sublime Point). The rest of it can be very hard to follow, with
instinct or even absent track which can change levels abruptly. There
have been metal markers on trees in the 1990's but can't guarantee
that they will still be there now.
There's a video on Youtube
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_I8qS7Ja_Y) of a walk there by
Sydney Bushwalkers in 2014, and the trip leader says it is called the
"Bermuda Triangle" by the local Police Rescue Squad.
As mentioned above, I led an SUBW walk along it in the 1990's and
found that it is doable with very very careful navigation. (I was also
on a walk on it as far east as Sublime Point which I think was led by
Re Lawton's Creek: it is apparent from the track there as well as the
pink ribbon on the trees that someone is trying to pioneer a track
through it. It is a very pretty shaded (and in normal weather quite
wet) wide canyon, but rather narrower than Gladstone Pass. My opinion
is that it should be left as it is. To get past the difficult section
would require a wooden ladder (likely to be washed away in the first
flash flood) or a mini Taros Ladder which would despoil the canyon.
Jim Smith's book on Lindeman's Pass (published in 1990) states that
Lawton's Creek is unpolluted. His book, however, was published before
the Fairmont Resort and its golf course were constructed upstream.
There are also horse stables there as well.
Lawton's Creek Canyon is not totally pristine though. In it we spotted
a relic of the old coal mine further down, a part of a bucket from the
old cableway which ran above Lawton's Creek. There were some lumps of
coal as well. About 50m west of Lawton's Creek on Lindeman's Pass
there is a track of sorts blocked by some tree branches (deliberately
placed) which apparently goes down to the old mine (Jim Smith's book
advises against using that track or visiting the mine - old coal mines
can still contain dangerous Methane gas).
Anyway, the walk was liked by all despite some of the difficulties
encountered, and in good dry mild weather. There are signs that the
present run of dry weather will soon end and there will be wetter
weekends for walking!
My photo link:
Ashwin's photos link:
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