It was raining, only raining seems an overstatement. The Blue Mountains were in a cloud, literally. It was a precursor to what was to come, according to the weather bureau. I’d considered doing something in the morning, casing Leura and trying to find out when Leura Cascades would be re-opening, but to no avail.
So I returned to Cliff Drive and watched the clouds and drizzle drift by, ever so slowly. Then my brain kicked into gear and I started ticking boxes. Water = waterfalls. 100% cloud = even light. Drizzle = no crowds. Time to get off my bum.
It was only 12 minutes’ drive away and the walk was only 2.7 kms return. It’s walk 21 in my local bible, “Blue Mountains Best Bushwalks” volume 3. It’s rated easy/medium, the latter because of stairs. It’s also recommended for swimming and picnics. Should be a snack, though the pictures didn’t indicate anything special.
I pulled up, the faint drizzle had actually become very light rain, which suited me perfectly. I’d gone not 200 metres before heading sideways to the stream. Cascades dotted the stream line, the delightful splash of the fresh waters as a magnet for nature lovers. I’d worn my industrial boots expecting such a treat and splashed out into the rivulet to get better angles and the feel of “being there”.
Beside the flow, cobwebs held the dewy rain in bright droplets and the light made them sparkle like fine diamonds. Ferns were so thick they were deeply matted in places and occasional wildflowers flaunted their colours against the vibrant green background. In places the track had been severely rutted by the recent heavy falls, a bit scary when you know there’s another severe system due in two days.
Four times I diverted to the waters, entranced by their rushing freshness over the sandstone and the surrounds, before the trail veered away or, more correctly, the water started disappearing in the forest in a serious downwards direction. I reached a lookout. It was barricaded. Would the waterfall not be visible?
I moved on, the track diverged right, along a cliff line and vistas across the canyon became visible. Where was it going? I soon found out, steps became apparent; a sign indicated only a few hundred metres to the base. It seemed miles away but, I’m also aware how quickly steps can take you from one place to another, and so it transpired. After only about 100 I was near the canyon floor and heading in the opposite direction. The sound from the destination was magnetic yet only flashes of the falls were visible until I reached the crossing point. It was just metres downstream from what must be one of the best swimming holes under a waterfall anywhere. No wonder they advertise it as such.
Minnehaha is impressive, named after a fictional Native American it roughly translates as “waterfall”, not “laughing water” as you may read elsewhere. Its height is something of a mystery, but you won’t be jumping off the top to enter the pool. There are several small drops hidden in the forest before it reaches a sheer drop that continues afterwards down a seriously steep slope. It’s a delight to the eye and several angles are possible and I try my hand at rock climbing to get higher, finally managing it in what many would determine to be a somewhat foolish act. Though I pulled it off there were sadly no better vantage points on high so I had to slide down facing the rock face to get poolside again, a scary act full of risk I’ve no wish to repeat.
The drizzle continued and there was an ascent of stairs remaining to get back up so I started out, got 100 metres and then realised I had lost my camera/phone. Aargh, I was confident I knew where I’d disengaged with it and soon found it, crossing the river for the last time.
By the time the top of the metal staircase was reached I was drenched inside and out and took off my windcheater. Back at the car I was cold but the satisfaction of near perfect photography conditions and the surprise of just how scenic the walk had been left me uncaring about my body comfort…..until I got home and headed for a 10 minute hot shower.