The Furber Steps is a fairly short return walk (or can be done as even shorter one-way walk) which offers some outstanding views. It has the advantage (especially if walking with kids) that you can return via the Scenic Railway, avoiding a steep ascent. The Furber Steps is also the entry point for a number of other walks – a loop via Echo Point, Ruined Castle (one of my favourite Blue Mountains walks) and Orphan Rock (a spectacular lookout which is officially closed and a somewhat dangerous walk).
The Furber Steps starts near Scenic World (look for the signage behind the buildings) and the track almost immediately starts to descend.
It’s arguably one of the most picturesque descents into the Jamison Valley, with a number of side-tracks and look-outs along the track. Near the top of the Furber Steps, the Three Sisters can be seen in the distance from Vanimans Lookout, a long and narrow lookout opposite Reids Plateau.
There are eight lookouts on the way down; offering differing perspectives of the Jamison Valley and Katoomba cliff line. There are also great views from Juliets Balcony, which is perched on top of a rock buttress near Orphan Rock. It provides sweeping views over the Kedumba Valley, from Katoomba Falls to the Three Sisters.
A fairly consistent feature in all of the views is Katoomba Falls, a segmented waterfall that descends into the Jamison Valley.
The other common sight is the Three Sisters near Echo Point: an unusual rock formation which represents three sisters who according to Aboriginal legend were turned to stone.
In the distance is the long plateau of Mount Solitary, on the other side of the Jamison Valley (it’s the only mountain within the Jamison Valley).
The Furber Steps is named after the land surveyor Thomas Furber, who secured a government grant to conserve the area. Long sections of the Furber Steps were hand-carved with a hammer and a chisel in 1908.
While many of the original steps remain, while some sections of steel steps makes the descent (or ascent) a bit easier… there’s supposedly about 1,000 steps – although I’ve personally never counted them!
Near the valley floor, there’s a short side-track to Vera’s Grotto and Vera’s Grotto Falls, where the Witches Leap Creek drpos over a 20m cliff.
The Furber Steps trail passes under a wide overhang, before reaching the Federal Pass track at the base of the valley.
The track soon reaches the Federal Pass at the bottom of the valley: if you turn left, you’ll end up below Echo Point (which forms a longer and very scenic loop, going up the Three Sisters Track and back along the Prince Henry Cliff Walk). Turn right towards Ruined Castle and Mount Solitary and you’ll soon reach the bottom terminus of the the Scenic Railway. With the rain starting to get heavier, we take the Scenic Railway back to the top. Built in the late 19th century to serve the Katoomba coal mine, it was turned into a tourist attraction in the 1945 and is the steepest passenger railway in the world.
Accommodation near Furber Steps
Furber Steps and walks beyond it (to Ruined Castle or Mount Solitary) can be done as a day trip from Sydney. But there are enough bushwalks around Katoomba fill a weekend – or a week. Katoomba makes a good base to explore the many walks in the area.
More information on Furber Steps
- National Parks – Furber Steps – Scenic Railway walking track
- Wildwalks – Furber Steps to Scenic Railway (track notes)
- Info Blue Mountains – Furber Steps & Katoomba Falls (history of Furber Steps)
You can extend this walk by taking the Federal Pass to Echo Point, and returning via Prince Henry Cliff Walk (steep walk up tp Echo Point via Grand Staircase). If planning to ascend via Scenic Railway, note the time of last service.