Leura has a reputation. Food, food and more food. One salivates just thinking about it. The streets are awash with culinary delights and tourists flock there in significant numbers. However, Leura has opposition. An almost nondescript hamlet much closer to Sydney is thriving on the same format.
Glenbrook is on a roll, yet it’s not even situated on the highway. It’s set back a block or two, out of sight of the thousands rolling past, but it’s become so well-known its reputation has spread. It also has an advantage of having natural attractions nearby; places for picnics and national parks walks.
Settling into the relaxed setting of a café with heaps of outdoor settings with views across the road it was hard not to be impressed by what Glenbrook has made of itself. There’s those quirky gift shops and connoisseur style grocery shops designed to catch your eye and your wallet.
During research for a hike or two I’d noted more than a few south of the town that seemed to hold promise. I’d also seen visions from train journeys that got my blood racing.
The day moved on, post morning tea break and down a seriously winding road, through a gorge and up and out the other side. Eventually the road petered out; a carpark, a few picnic spots and, bless them, a couple of toilets at the termination point indicated some popularity. Fields were mown either side of a stream. A good place to pause for a drink before a walk and people were taking advantage.
Again there were maps, again they were slightly unclear. The chosen trail was elusive. Double checking, it definitely wasn’t where it was shown. Directions indicated it followed the creek on the western side, but that quickly petered out, causing a retreat, fording the stream to the far side and moving on to the second choice. This trail, the Euroka – Nepean River walk, led, you guessed it, to the Nepean River. I’d never seen it this far up and curiosity was a motivating factor as the track headed east.
It was a pleasant stroll in benign weather and the mature forest was unscarred by the bushfires with wildflowers scattered here and there for colour. It was well worn and easy to follow with a trickling stream for company just below and weathered sandstone outcrops and ageing scarred and mottled tree trunks to distract the eye.
Then, at a tricky U-turn, it came to the stone staircase that leads to the river. The roar of a motorboat indicated the direction of water, even if little was visible from the heights, obscured by lush vegetation.
It seemed like a long way down but, in reality, was probably less than 200 sandstone steps. It’s simply that my knees were less than keen, but I descended anyway. The undergrowth was thicker here, obviously favoured by runoff, and was reminiscent of rainforest. Closer to the river, the scoured cliffs on high on the far side became apparent, adding another dimension to the scenery.
I watched a lone speedboat scurry by before retracing the stairway (much easier going up) and pausing more often to survey the varied foliage, or was that to catch my breath? As ever, somehow the return route didn’t seem as far, because the knowledge that the track leads somewhere familiar is now entrenched.
There are other places there also worth exploring but, for today, this had been enough.