Glenraphael Drive in Katoomba is the gateway to some of the most beautiful and popular walks in the Blue Mountains National Park, but it’s in such a bad state of repair that without a 4WD you might not make it home again.
The couple of kilometres of dirt road is the entry point to the popular 20km Narrow Neck trail, and the Golden Stairs used to access Mt Solitary and the Ruined Castle.
The road is full of potholes and corrugations, and on one incline – which had been partially tarred – there is a significant drop as the road crumbles away.
Unsuspecting visitors in 2WD vehicles run the gauntlet on a road with no signage indicating its for 4WDs only or warning on the National Parks and Wildlife website.
The Gazette travelled the road with members of Springwood Bushwalking Club, and even in a high-clearance 4WD the underside of the vehicle scraped on one section of the road.
“It’s hardly what you would be expecting for a city that prides itself on its tourism,” said Springwood Bushwalking Club president David Churches.
“It’s shameful that it would get to such an appalling state.”
The club puts on several bushwalks every week in the Blue Mountains and regularly visits this part of Katoomba, but says there is no way they would attempt the road without a 4WD, unlike unsuspecting visitors.
“We’re madly promoting tourism and not putting in the infrastructure to cater for them,” said club member Tony Foster.
“I sometimes feel ashamed taking people to these areas,” said club member Phil Foster. “The scenery is world class but the facilities don’t match up.”
There’ll be no long-term fix for the road either, as government departments dispute who is responsible for the road.
Blue Mountains City Council has claimed responsibility for the first 400m, a spokeswoman advising they were currently grading their section of the road.
“There is a plan to seal the council-managed section of Glenraphael Drive within the next two financial years as per council’s Sealing of Unsealed Roads Program,” she said.
A National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) spokeswoman said the road was Crown Land easement managed by the Department of Lands.
A Department of Industry - Crown Lands and Water spokesperson said the road was NPWS responsibility, but said Crown Lands would “undertake some surface repairs to improve trafficability, with a priority focus on maintaining fire-fighting access prior to Christmas 2017.”
Works will include the repair of major potholes, ruts and corrugations.