Summary: Although not a very well-known track, the Porters Pass and Colliers Causeway loop is one of the best Blue Mountains bushwalks. It passes several waterfalls, some great lookouts, secluded grottos and a spectacular slot canyon.

Having started with the scenic Walls Ledge Loop, my afternoon Blue Mountains bushwalk is about to get a lot more interesting and dramatic, as I extend the loop via Colliers Causeway and Porters Pass.

Down into Centennial Glen

As I continue along the Colliers Causeway track, there’s a view over the agricultural Kanimbla Valley to the west through a gap in the trees.

The track soon descends steeply, with stone steps carved into a slot between the rocks.

At the bottom is a junction: to the right is The Grotto (or Canyon), with the track entering a dark “tunnel” of dense foliage and ferns.

Soon The Grotto is in sight: it’s an incredibly scenic site, with a waterfall plunging into deep pool at the end of a slot canyon. I time it well, as a few people are leaving just as I arrive. A narrow ledge provides access to the cavern just before waterfall – to get any closer, you need to enter the water.

After returning the same way to the base of the steps, I continue towards Colliers Causeway, and Slippery Dip Falls. The track descends steeply again with more stone steps, before passing through a narrow gap in the base of the cliffs.

I’m soon at the top of Slippery Dip Falls, where the Colliers Causeway path descends right next to the waterfall via a series of steps cut into the rock.

The track continues beyond the base of the waterfall, before crossing Centennial Glen Creek a short distance downstream

Along Colliers Causeway

The next section of the Porters Pass and Colliers Causeway loop is my favourite: the track follows the bottom of tall cliffs at the top of a talus slope.

Colliers Causeway was constructed in 1916, and is named after Henry Justice Collier – a Blackheath store owner, one of the first trustees of the Blackheath Reserves and Mayor of the Blackheath Council (1922-23).

As the track progresses under the cliff-line, there are some filtered views of the Kanimba Valley.

About two thirds of the way along the Colliers Causeway track is a large rock overhang, and a nice view of the cliffs that the track follows.

The next section of track has a few boggy sections, as it passes through ferns and native grasses.

There’s some views of Kanimbla Valley, as the track gets closer to Porters Pass.

Soon Porters Pass – a gap in the cliff line – comes into view. A gap in the rocks has been described as the “metaphorical gateway between the dry forest of the talus and the moist rainforest of the gully”.

Up the historic Porters Pass

Porters Pass provides a route from the top of the cliffs down into the Kanimbla Valley (a very rough path continues down to the bttom of the valley and is sometimes called the “Lower Porters Pass track). Use of Porters Pass began in the mid 1880s, when it was discovered by Timothy Porter (a tinsmith) as a route to access shooting opportunities in the Kanimbla Valley. It was upgraded to a tourist track in 1912 and new signposting was erected in 1917 but by May 1933 Porters Pass was described as “neglected”.

The pass crosses Porters Pass Gully Creek just below a small waterfall, which doesn’t have a formal name but has been called Porters Cascades by busheaker and author Keith Painter, which seems as good a name as any! A small water trough has been carved into the rocks at the base of the small cascade – it is supposedly a “drinking trough conveniently placed at the junction of these two walking tracks”.

The Porters Pass track climbs steeply up the gap in the cliffs and along the small creek, with a series of stone steps.

It’s another beautiful section of track, described far more eloquently than me by Mrs. R. D. Revett, a former Divisional Commissioner of the Girl Guides’ Association in Broken Hill in the 1930s:

This dreamland of glades with its moss-covered stones, ferns from the tiniest fronds to the giant man trees, accompanied by the silver tones of running water, in its beauty truly “beggars description.” Approaching this stupendous rocky peak we first descended a mountain side sparkingly beautiful in its new spring growth, bathed as it was in bright sunshine; overhead the birds were calling and I paused every few yards to listen to the innumerable thrills from out this forest of trees; very sweet came the answers of their mates, a paen of joy ascended to the heavens, and as I came out from the denser part I found myself singing silently within me Mendelssohn’s immortal Spring Song.

Pass as a Fairy Garden in Barrier Miner, 30 Dec 1937

The pass is steep, but soon emerges from the dense rainforest into a more open area, where there is a glimpse of the cliffs above and a view out from the pass across the valley.

There’s also an intriguing track to the south (the right when ascending the pass), which I explore…

…it soon leads to narrow ledge above a precipitious drop, with a fixed rope providing a little extra security.

At the end of the ledge, a rough track continues to a magnificent, secluded glen. A small waterfall drops into a shallow pool, which is surrounded by ferns and moss-covered rocks. It’s an unexpected find and a great spot for a short break.

I make my way back carefully along the ledge; the Porters Pass track enters a rainforest gully as it ascends past some low, sandstone overhangs.

The track soon reaches the top of the cliffs, where an obvious (but un-signposted) side-track leads to Lamberts Lookout.

The Porters Pass track continues to ascend but it’s now a very gentle climb, through dry forest. If you’re accessing the walk using public transport or doing a car shuffle, you can finish (or start) the walk at the end of Burton Road. I make a slight detour to have a look at Colliers Lookout which is marked on one of my maps, before completing the loop via the Cliff Top Track.

Cliff Top Track

It’s easy to miss this track, which branches off the Porters Pass Track. It’s not the most interesting track at first, especially after the Porters Pass and Colliers Causeway tracks.

The vegetation soon changes from forest to low heathland, and the scenery gets a lot more interesting.

The afternoon sun highlights the cliffs near Porters Pass, and the Kanimbla Valley below.

There are great views from along the track, and an even better panaromic vista from the elevated Fort Rock lookout.

Through Centennial Glen

It’s starting to get late as I leave Fort Rock, for the very last section of my loop bushwalk along the Centennial Glen Track: “a natural pass through the escarpment at Blackheath, through which Centennial Glen Creek flows” (Geographic Names Board). The track is a little eroded here, as it descends into a rainforest gully formed by a tributary of Centennial Glen Creek.

The quality of the track improves a little as it reaches the bottom of the gully, and passes a couple of signposted side-tracks that lead to climbing walls.

The Centennial Glen Track passes under some large rock overhangs, and I soon spot another couple of climbers who are about to finish for the day. I’m now entering Centennial Glen, which is at the headwaters of Centennial Glen Creek and was named after the 100th anniversary of the founding of NSW.

I soon spot Centennial Falls ahead of me: the track passes behind the waterfall.

(An informal and steep track goes to the base of the waterfall, which is much more impressive when viewed from the bottom!)

Sadly, but also fortunately as it’s starting to get dark, I’m nearing the end of this incredibly scenic loop walk. The track continues along the base of tall cliffs, before reaching the junction with a path down to The Grotto, and soon after another junction with the Walls Ledge Track.

The Walls Ledge Track takes me back up to the Centennial Glen carpark to complete the loop.

It’s been a fantastic walk, and definitely one of my best Blue Mountains bushwalks. Allow plenty of time – I was expecting this to be a 2-hour walk, but with the Walls Ledge Loop the entire 8.2km bushwalk took me just under 3.5 hours. The bushwalk is dog-friendly, but perhaps not child-friendly due to sections of rough track and unfenced drop-offs.

Getting to the Porters Pass and Colliers Causeway loop

The starting point of the Walls Ledge loop walk is the Centennial Glen Carpark, which is at the end of Centennial Glen Road (off Shipley Road) in Blackheath. If the carpark is full you could also start at the end of Burton Road or Ada Road. All the trailheads are a very short drive from Blackheath, or can be accessed by foot from Blackheath station.

More information

The Centennial Pass and Porters Pass Reserves are historically significant as examples of a reserve complex that was continuously developed by local trustees, with walking tracks and lookouts established from the 1880s.

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1 Comment

larryzb · May 25, 2023 at 12:56 pm

Stunning images! A very beautiful hike.

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