Bruce's Walk and historic documentation

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Bruce's Walk and historic documentation

Postby johnw » Mon 16 Jul, 2018 4:20 pm

Over the years there has been the odd reference to, or discussion, on these forums about Bruce's Walk in the Blue Mountains. I have occasionally poked about bits of it, sometimes incidentally. On the weekend I had an epiphany and decided to start exploring the track more fully. Reminiscent of "the olden days" I left the car at home and caught the train to Wentworth Falls. I then completed the section of the track to Lawson from the access point at the end of Lawson View Pde. Albeit I went in the opposite direction of travel to what appears to have been originally recommended in 1931. A nice mini adventure that I completed in a few hours (YMMV), occasional ricketty ladder and steep, loose descents/climbs notwithstanding. I had little trouble navigating despite the absence of any signage. Unfortunately the original line of the track has been altered in places by development etc. I did have maps, both paper and online, but used no other navigation aids. There are often small markers on trees, which help through sections of deadfall etc. And you do have to hunt around the Kent St fire trail (complex) for the last short section into North Lawson. Finding that then allowed me a short side trip into Dantes Glen to finish before walking out to Lawson railway station.

After returning home I continued researching the track with a view to eventually completing the rest of it. I already own some documentation courtesy of a later edition of Jim Smith's guidebook, but noticed this post with Roger's reference to "The New Walk across the Blue Mountains", published by the NSW Railways Commissioner, price 1/-.

Discussion suggested availability of copies from the National Library and perhaps other sources. But I was delighted to find that this historic booklet is now out of copyright and can be downloaded free from the National Library:
https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-499787680/view?partId=nla.obj-499788097
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Re: Bruce's Walk and historic documentation

Postby michael_p » Mon 16 Jul, 2018 5:10 pm

Good report John and thanks for the NLA link. I have this walk on my short list and I am hoping to do it later this year.
johnw wrote: And you do have to hunt around the Kent St fire trail (complex) for the last short section into North Lawson.

Good to know this section can still be navigated as I was also thinking of adding some of the North Lawson walks in if I had time.

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Re: Bruce's Walk and historic documentation

Postby rcaffin » Mon 16 Jul, 2018 8:16 pm

Thanks for the NL reference. You have to fiddle around a bit and download the pages one by one as images, but they are OK.
We thought they were kinda fun to walk.

Cheers
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Re: Bruce's Walk and historic documentation

Postby Allchin09 » Mon 16 Jul, 2018 9:08 pm

Thanks for sharing the link John. I enjoyed flicking through a copy of the guide which was on display when I visited the Blue Mountains Historical Society.

Let us know how you get on with the rest of the track!
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Re: Bruce's Walk and historic documentation

Postby johnw » Mon 16 Jul, 2018 11:19 pm

rcaffin wrote:Thanks for the NL reference. You have to fiddle around a bit and download the pages one by one as images, but they are OK.
We thought they were kinda fun to walk.
Yes that section was fun Roger, and thanks for your original mention of the booklet. I tried each of the download options provided. Unfortunately much of the PDF version was almost unreadable but the JPG (compressed ZIP file) produced a good result for each image.
michael_p wrote:
johnw wrote: And you do have to hunt around the Kent St fire trail (complex) for the last short section into North Lawson.
Good to know this section can still be navigated as I was also thinking of adding some of the North Lawson walks in if I had time.
If I'd started maybe 1.5 to 2 hours earlier Michael I'd say completing the Empire Pass circuit as well should be doable. Early exit option exists if needed.
Allchin09 wrote:Thanks for sharing the link John. I enjoyed flicking through a copy of the guide which was on display when I visited the Blue Mountains Historical Society. Let us know how you get on with the rest of the track!
Would have been nice to see a hard copy Alex. Next time I get an opportunity I'll probably head west-ish and aim to knock over the rest of it, or as much as can still be sensibly done.
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Re: Bruce's Walk and historic documentation

Postby Warin » Tue 17 Jul, 2018 8:07 am

johnw wrote:
rcaffin wrote:Thanks for the NL reference. You have to fiddle around a bit and download the pages one by one as images, but they are OK.
We thought they were kinda fun to walk.
Yes that section was fun Roger, and thanks for your original mention of the booklet. I tried each of the download options provided. Unfortunately much of the PDF version was almost unreadable but the JPG (compressed ZIP file) produced a good result for each image.


The .txt file is reasonable. I'll combine it (with a few corrections) with the .jpg file to make a better pdf file and put it some where.
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Re: Bruce's Walk and historic documentation

Postby rcaffin » Tue 17 Jul, 2018 5:22 pm

Ha! I never even FOUND the .txt file!

Cheers
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Re: Bruce's Walk and historic documentation

Postby johnw » Tue 17 Jul, 2018 11:03 pm

rcaffin wrote:Ha! I never even FOUND the .txt file!

Cheers
Roger

All formats available via the download option:
NLA Download Option.jpg
NLA Download Option.jpg (14.98 KiB) Viewed 13390 times
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Re: Bruce's Walk and historic documentation

Postby johnw » Sun 22 Jul, 2018 2:15 pm

I'll try and write up an actual trip report about this at some point with a few photos. Yesterday's weather forecast for the upper Blue Mountains looked brilliant, so I decided to jump on the train again and attempt the western section of Bruce's Walk from Wentworth Falls station to Medlow Bath station. Technically that's not where it actually ends/ended but I think at least part of the route in that locale is now under Lake Greaves, which apparently wasn't there in 1931. All went well crossing the three upper gorges of Wentworth, Govetts and Katoomba creeks with no significant navigation issues. Admittedly I'd been studying doco and maps of Bruce's Walk on and off all week, which possibly helped. My knees are now killing me from the steep ups and downs, and I seem to have developed a toe blister after the 14 or 15 km, but it was definitely worth doing. There were a few mini adventures negotiating steep obstacles where historic infrastructure has fallen into disrepair - e.g. handrails, steps, foot rungs etc missing so I substituted hanging on to plants, tree roots, rocks and so on. The biggest downside of the trip was the amount of road walking involved at each end but that can't be avoided AFAIK. I might research whether any other remaining (accessible) parts of the route at the western end can be cobbled together into a contiguous walk. Back to the maps...
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Re: Bruce's Walk and historic documentation

Postby johnw » Sun 22 Jul, 2018 2:28 pm

wildwanderer wrote:Once the rediscovery of the route is completed it would be good to have gps log that could be overlayed against a current topo. That way this walk could start being used again. (perhaps matt could even uploaded it on the wildwalks website etc)

I haven't been GPS tracking it but the route up to my finishing point yesterday is discoverable to experienced walkers, although it probably helps to have some local knowledge. Segments of Bruce's Walk are marked in a few places on SIX maps online topo. I actually used Tom Brennan's Ozultimate view of SIX in offline mode and it worked a treat (for me) in combination with just eyeballing features etc. If I can unearth a sensible version of what the remains of the last bits of the route I'll see what I can come up with.
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Re: Bruce's Walk and historic documentation

Postby jonnosan » Sun 22 Jul, 2018 3:22 pm

There's a GPS trace of most of Bruce's Walk in the open street maps data set - https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=16/-33.6768/150.3332
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Re: Bruce's Walk and historic documentation

Postby Allchin09 » Sun 22 Jul, 2018 4:18 pm

Attached is a georeferenced image of the route map included in the Bruces Walk guide which I made.

You should be able to drag it into google earth pro (the latest version if you have it) to see where it fits into things today.

I also created a trace of the route (kml also attached) which can be viewed via the link below.

http://maps.ozultimate.com/?id=1532239962720

I'm just waiting for someone to take some comparison shots against the painted section drawings from the guide to see how things have changed or how much artistic licence was used!
Attachments
Bruces_Walk_Map_upload.tif
Bruces Walk map georeferenced
Bruces_Walk_Route_KML.kml
Route kml
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Re: Bruce's Walk and historic documentation

Postby johnw » Wed 25 Jul, 2018 2:32 pm

jonnosan wrote:There's a GPS trace of most of Bruce's Walk in the open street maps data set - https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=16/-33.6768/150.3332

Thanks jonnosan, the sections covered match my own experience.

Allchin09 wrote:Attached is a georeferenced image of the route map included in the Bruces Walk guide which I made.

You should be able to drag it into google earth pro (the latest version if you have it) to see where it fits into things today.

I also created a trace of the route (kml also attached) which can be viewed via the link below.

http://maps.ozultimate.com/?id=1532239962720

I'm just waiting for someone to take some comparison shots against the painted section drawings from the guide to see how things have changed or how much artistic licence was used!

Thanks for those Alex, particularly the traced route which makes it easy to see what's what on the online topo. Where I finished the actual Bruce's Walk bit on Saturday was at the edge of the airfield, then walked out to Medlow Bath station along Grand Canyon Rd/Rutland Rd. Unfortunately there were fences and sIgns all over the place to the west of the road that prohibit entry to the Blackheath special area, where the next piece of the walk now lies. I did research the WaterNSW web site about getting access permission but it's pretty clear that they won't grant it for personal historical interest/research.

I think the next best option may be to access the Grand Canyon track via the Old Point Pilcher track, exit at Neates Glen and aim to pick up the rest of the walk via the power lines. I'm having a think about doing that. I've been through parts of that line in the Braeside area previously and at least some of it is doable, possibly all of it. Obvious need to deviate via the nearest fire trail or street where houses or other infrastructure now occupy the original route.

Yes I was admiring those lovely illustrations the other day and wondering how close to reality they were. Definitely not the same views as today. I'll have a look through the photos I took and see if I can match any to get an idea of the differences. I guess continued growth, impacts from bushfire, subsequent regrowth and other events may mean that they could be historically accurate. They do have a very meadowy look though, with much less vegetation than I would have thought. Would also be good to find some historic photos of those scenes taken around the same period - c1931.
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Re: Bruce's Walk and historic documentation

Postby johnw » Tue 18 Jan, 2022 3:38 pm

A member recently asked me for information on Bruce's Walk. Remembering that I hadn't finished writing this up, I'm doing it now and closing the loop on this old topic.
So, I did finally complete the last (western section) of Bruce's Walk in July 2019, at least as far as it can be done these days. Parts of it being submerged under either Lake Medlow or Lake Greaves, or obliterated by development around Blackheath. I again used public transport and walked from Medlow Bath station out past the airfield and picked up the old Point Pilcher track, descending into the Grand Canyon. Track was in very good condition as it had been given some TLC from a volunteer/NPWS working party. What I don't know is how this track, or the remaining Bruce's Walk sections fared in the 2019/20 fires. As someone who gets nervous changing a light globe I found one very short ledge a bit hairy while dropping down to the canyon track. Many others probably wouldn't be worried by it. Anyway I managed to get by and joined the usual GC route through to Neates Glen, acknowledging that none of this was part of the original route, just the nearest approximation I could (lawfully) dream up and still have a nice walk. From Neates Glen I picked up the Braeside trail network through to Cleopatra Street, those being the closest things that aligned with the old maps I had researched. I followed some unmarked, informal pads through the bush between the actual street sections, which made for a better walk than constantly looking at houses. I eventually arrived near the rhododendron gardens, and got somewhat geographically confused trying to stay as true as possible to the old route. I found that it couldn't be done but worked out an alternate way to the original finish in the vicinity of the cemetery. The last bits of this walk were obviously not bushwalking (and not particularly interesting). But this section combined with the others I have posted about above do approximate a full end-to-end Bruce's Walk that can still be done today if you're keen enough to want to do it. Nothing was very hard and I found much of it enjoyable. And you probably won't have any company except for the Grand Canyon, which is busy these days unfortunately. Go early or late to avoid the hoardes.
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Re: Bruce's Walk and historic documentation

Postby Xplora » Wed 19 Jan, 2022 6:05 am

johnw wrote:I again used public transport and walked from Medlow Bath station out past the airfield and picked up the old Point Pilcher track, descending into the Grand Canyon. Track was in very good condition as it had been given some TLC from a volunteer/NPWS working party. What I don't know is how this track, or the remaining Bruce's Walk sections fared in the 2019/20 fires. As someone who gets nervous changing a light globe I found one very short ledge a bit hairy while dropping down to the canyon track. Many others probably wouldn't be worried by it.


I am pretty sure this part of the track gets used often as an exit (way back to the car) for Pilcher (aka Juggler) canyon so it would be quite visible. It is much better going up it and can see how going down would cause some people concern. Steep, narrow with loose rock and small stones. I have never had to go down it.
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