Blazing a trail for tourism

They’re fit, adventurous and ready to walk into wilderness few have set foot in.

Mark Payens, Paul Kuipers and James Ghata are setting off on July 13 for a 58km, four-day bushwalking adventure from Yarramundi to Mt Victoria. They believe this 'great walk', which Mr Ghata has mapped, could be a tourism drawcard for the area.

Mark Payens, Paul Kuipers and James Ghata are setting off on July 13 for a 58km, four-day bushwalking adventure from Yarramundi to Mt Victoria. They believe this 'great walk', which Mr Ghata has mapped, could be a tourism drawcard for the area.

Three Blue Mountains friends will set off on July 13 for a 58km four-day bushwalking adventure from the YMCA camp at Yarramundi, to the Darling Causeway at Mt Victoria, finishing at the Mt Victoria pub.

They will use very little trail, instead finding their own way across the ridges and ranges above the Grose River.

But they’re not flying blind. Group leader James Ghata of Faulconbridge, a Hawkesbury region police officer, keen hiker and mountain biker, has meticulously mapped their route by poring over maps and plugging this information into a GPS.

He deliberately chose a route to take in the most remote and rewarding parts of the declared wilderness along and above the Grose River.

“This course has been plotted in the view that no climbing gear is necessary and that a fit and well prepared group could down load the GPX file onto any good GPS unit and follow and enjoy the route which will take in about 58 kilometres of the national park without seeing a sign, track, vehicle or anything else man-made,” Mr Ghata said.

He believes the Blue Mountains is in desperate need of a ‘great walk’, like Tasmania’s 65km Overland Track or the 53km Milford Track in New Zealand.

The closest the Mountains has to this is the 44km Six Foot Track, which doesn’t come close to matching the grandeur of these walks.

Mr Ghata can see the tourism potential in this ‘great walk’, where people would flock to the Mountains for this walk’s beauty, buy supplies here and stay in the area before and after embarking on the walk.

“It could really open up the Lower Mountains in terms of tourism,” he said.

“The National Parks could build a trail from top to bottom and factor in stages to their budget. We need to think for the next 50 to 100 years ahead, not at what is available in their budget now. We live in a World Heritage Area that is fantastic. Let’s use it in a manner which retains its status.”

His proposed Mountains ‘great walk’ celebrates indigenous history, European hardships through exploration, and engineering and surveying efforts of early Australia. In mapping the route, he has found Aboriginal sites where tools were probably sharpened, and another site which could have been a communal area. The route also includes the remnants of a surveyors’ track up the Grose River which was built in the 1800s with the view to building a railway line up the Grose River to the Darling Causeway, then blasting a tunnel underneath and building it with 10 million bricks. The plan was aborted and the trail fell to ruins. 

Joining Mr Ghata will be surveyor Mark Payens from Faulconbridge and chef Paul Kuipers from Winmalee.

The trio will carry a pump to extract water from creeks and soaks, and there are a few bail-out points along the way if someone is unable to complete the trek. They will be wearing long shirts and trousers and motorcycle gloves to battle the undergrowth, although most of the walking will be on ridges where the bush won’t be as dense.

Although Mr Ghata has walked sections of this route before, he has never walked it in its entirety, and doesn’t believe anyone else has mapped a route quite like this one.

“I’ve always dreamed of doing this,” he said.

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