[SUBW] SUBW Trip Report - Robert's and Lindeman's Passes and Lawton's Creek Canyon (2/3rds).

Bruce Stafford 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  
Canyon (2/3rds).

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  
unstable dirt.

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  
Dave Noble).

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:

Bruce Stafford.

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