Beyond apprehensiveness, where I was going was scary. Well, the place where I wanted to photograph from was, so, when I drove past 9, count them n-i-n-e, police and rescue vehicles with flashing lights I could be excused for taking it as an omen. Still, it was a few kilometres from where I was aiming for.
I turned onto Glenraphael Road, the way that leads out onto Narrow Neck, a place where adventures begin in various forms. Abseiling and rock climbing for two, both of which occur where I was headed.
I’d travelled the road before and it’s not for the fainthearted but I figured I could get the motorhome down a little way towards the locked gate that guards the rest of it from normal vehicular traffic. Cautiously I moved forward, eager to save myself the effort of having to ride my bike as far as I’d originally planned. Crawling along I got to a point and pulled up. Maybe this would be as far as I would go. A girl went past running. How far she was going I knew not, but running around here takes stamina and supreme fitness.
The sandstone protruded over the Megalong Valley a little here so I reeled off a few shots while the noise of nearby abseilers regaled me and then returned to the motorhome. There’s a seriously steep pinch up ahead and I never dreamed I’d ever had a go at it. It’s probably around 15 degrees plus but my confidence (another word for stupidity) had grown and I was determined to have a crack at it at least. It’s the last obstacle before you reach the gate. Luckily, it’s the only part that’s concreted.
Shuffling into first gear I ground up the slope and was over the moon when I reached the top because the gate is only about 300 metres further along. I’d managed to avoid getting the bike off.
There was a N.P.W.S. vehicle there. Turns out the clear plastic sheet that covers all the direction and information maps had been spray painted by some idiot. I felt so frustrated that an underfunded organization has to spend time on crap like this when there are so many other jobs they have to do.
I stepped over the stile and bid them farewell as I headed down to Diamond Falls. I’d only discovered them when I house sat on Cliff Drive and took to exploring. They’re not mentioned on any maps that I could find yet they are one of the most amazing falls in the Blue Mountains. I’d spoken to Ian Smith the other the day before and he’d lived in the Blue Mountains for decades and never heard of them. He’d also asked me what trail you take to get there. I replied, “There aren’t any!” However, that’s not quite true. There is a Federation Walk that you cross over that’s barely visible at all. You really have to keep your eyes open to see it or, more correctly, traces of it.
My route took me down, negotiating burnt trees that insist on leaving charcoal stains all over your clothing, stumbling over uneven ground and constantly trying to pick a route where you can get through. I came out further north than when I’d been here previously, which turned out to be a bonus because it offered more photo opportunities before I swung back to reach the only satisfactory viewing point, a scarred bit of wet uneven sandstone jutting out over an abyss dotted here and there with abseilers anchor points.
Here, conquering your fear factor is a must if you want a shot or simply to savour this spectacular cascade that rolls over the edge of a severely undercut ledge before plummeting into the Megalong Valley below, crashing along terraces after it hits the bottom. It’s an awesome sight that never leaves you once you’ve witnessed it and now was a favourable time to view it because the bushfires had stripped all the foliage away and the new rains fed the waters.
Sated, I swung uphill again, brushing past the new leafy growth, still moist with the morning’s showers, and zig-zagged up the untracked slope before reaching the gate again, just as the workers were finishing up. They queried me about the flow and I praised their work and we parted ways, me ever so thankful I’d completed my task before lunch which would allow to do another.
Now you could read the map but I couldn’t help but think how sad it was that a person would go to all the trouble just to desecrate some clear plastic sheeting. No financial gain, no art left behind, no enhancing other people’s lives, just ruination of a resource. Can’t begin to imagine what their home life must be like.
Driving back, and almost to Katoomba, I was shocked to see the running girl making her way back up the hill into town. How long had she been out? She looked exhausted and with good reason, somehow my effort seemed puny by comparison.