I love the Blue Mountains!
On a previous visit quite some time ago, I noticed a sign not far from the bottom of the world’s steepest railway that pointed toward a mysterious location known as the “Ruined Castle.”
I decided that I had to return one day to visit this seemingly dilapidated fortress. After some investigation, I found that it was not a castle as such, but a rock formation at the top of a hill which, if climbed, offers stunning 360° views from the cliffs of Katoomba all the way to Mt Solitary.
After a failed attempt two weeks ago due to poor weather, I headed back once again last weekend and successfully embarked upon the nearly-7km trek to the Ruined Castle summit. It was, quite frankly, a freakin’ incredible hike. I tried by best to capture some of this Blue Mountains beauty on camera:
After about 2.5 hours of moderately graded bushwalking and a slightly hairy but manageable experience on the upward rockface, I reached the breathtaking Ruined Castle summit. This is what I was lucky enough to witness:
You can click on the photo for a larger view, or alternatively click here for a 360° panoramic tour (opens in a new window).
Whilst I was taking in my surroundings, a sneaky crow took advantage of the fact that I was far from my backpack, which I’d left on a rock about 20 metres below. He managed to pull out most of my jacket but eventually gave up after realising the food was too securely packed for him to get to. Then he flew up to the rocky summit, landed a metre away from me in the shade, looked me right in the eye and made these incredible hooting noises (similar to an owl) which I’d never heard come from the beak of a crow before. I’d love to know what he way trying to say to me.
On my return journey, I paused for a few moments to take in the atmosphere near a section of Federal Pass known as the ‘Landslide.’ I noticed a faint sound in the distance akin to splashing water, and after a short detour through the bush up to the cliff face that looked upon me, I discovered a waterfall.
The source at the top wasn’t large enough to expel a constant stream of water – instead, thousands of droplets sprinkled in wind-shaped clusters to the ground some 40 metres below. I stood still with my camera and watched from a safe distance. It felt like I was in a dream, with my own personal waterfall before me, the rainforest below, the cliff face & the open skies above, and not another single soul around for miles. Frozen in this state of surreality, the unpredictable breeze caught me off guard and showered my camera and I with a sudden deluge.
After only having taken a handful of snaps of my newly-discovered fountain, I was left with a soaked outfit in the already-shivering climate… not to mention a non-functioning Canon…
(fortunately it turned back on again after drying out for an hour, and I’m pleased to report, remains completely functional :))
After my awesome afternoon of exploration, I fully recommend anyone visiting the Blue Mountains who is chasing more of an adventure than the easily-accessible attractions such as Scenic World and the Three Sisters, to check out the Ruined Castle. There’s a fantastic guide at OZultimate.com with further details on the walk and what to expect.
Just try not to wet your camera along the way!