This loop bushwalk past Clarinda Falls and Numantia Falls didn’t quite go as planned… but it ended up being an enjoyable walk that was just a bit longer than anticipated- except for our undignified wriggle under a fence at the end of the walk. Most of the bushwalk is “on track”, with a short off-track section. You can also do a shorter version of this walk, starting at Faulconbridge and finishing at Springwood.
Down Parkers Gully to Sassafras Creek
The bushwalk starts with a lesser-known trail down to Sassafras Gully from Sir Henry Parade; it’s an alternate to the Victory Track, which has been closed for over a year. The landsdcape quickly changes from tall eucalypt forest to semi-rainforest, as the bushwalking track descends into the gully.
Near the track is the Parker Gully aboriginal site, which has both engravings and a number of axe grinding grooves.
A bit further down the track is an enormous and impressive sandstone overhang.
Inside the shelter is another surprise: the wall is covered with “modern” Aboriginal art. I later find out that it’s used by Aboriginal Blue Mountains Walkabout as part of their highly acclaimed Aboriginal walkabout tour.
It’s a cracker of a track, as it continues to descend the gully, roughly following Parkers Gully Creek.
The track is mostly easy to follow, although it does cross the creek a couple of times, and occasionally follows the creek bed.
There’s not much water in the creek, so while there are a few small (unnamed) cascades and waterfalls, there are not too impressive.
Victory Track to Numantia Falls
The Parkers Gully Track meets the Victory Track (more formally known as the “‘”Sir Henry Parkes Victory Track”) at the bottom of the gully; while you’d normally expect to see a few people on the weekend, because the track has been closed due to a landslide near the start of the track, there is not another soul around.
A very short detour up the Victory Track takes us to Clarinda Falls – a picturesque waterfall, but one which is a lot more impressive after decent rain.
We re-trace our steps a very short distance, and continue down the Victory Track as it follows Sassafras Creek downstream. It’s very shaded and cool despite being the middle of the day, with Sassafras Gully being mostly lush rainforest.
After 0.6km, we cross Numantia Creek, and instead of continuing along the Victory Track we now follow the track along Numantia Creek.
This track is not as distinct as the Victory Track and has the occasional obstacle, as it ascends gradually above the creek.
As it nears Numantia Falls, the track drops back down to follow the creek more closely.
Soon Numantia Falls comes into sight… even with a fairly low flow of water, it’s a spectacular waterfall and swimming hole. It would be even more impressive after some heavy rain. We enjoy a break here, and I venture behind the falls to take a photo looking back towards the track.
Back via the Sassafras Ridge Trail
In hindsight, I’d go back the same way to re-join Victory Track, and then follow this to where it meets the Sassafras Gully walking track to finish the loop at Springwood. But, instead we leave the track behind and head directly up the scrubby slope to the east of the waterfall. Finding a route through the cliffs, we pass some impressive sandstone shelters.
We soon reach the top of a small hill, where the scrub gets less thick and we traverse a number of open rock platforms. This is where I go slightly wrong – the route we should have taken was eastward down a side-spur to the Sassafras Gully walking track.
Instead we continue southwards along the ridge, picking up a faint trail and soon reaching the Sassafras Ridge Trail. It’s not really a mistake – but it means we have a much longer-than-planned trek along the Sassafras Ridge Trail to get back to the car. (We could have reverted to the planned route, but with a few hours left of daylight we decided a longer firetrail-bash was preferable to taking the shorter off-track route). And while the Sassafras Ridge Trail isn’t the most exciting walk, it does offer a some nice views from the ridge.
At the end of the ridge, the track follows the raiilway line back to the end of Sir Henrys Parade, passing some derelict sandstone buildings.
The buildings were once part of an estate which included a grand house with a tower, built for a wealthy businessman named Andrew McCulloch in the early 1880s. The stone used in its construction was quarried nearby and the work was carried out by a well known local stonemason, Patrick (Paddy) Ryan. He named the residence “Weemala”, an Aboriginal word said to mean “expansive view”. In 1907, the property was renamed “Eurama”, said to be a Greek word meaning much the same as the earlier Aboriginal one, by the new owner, a solicitor named George Evans.
When George Evans died “Eurama” passed to his daughter, Mrs Emily Ethel McLaurin. It was later sold to Mrs Katherine Nathan in the 1920s and around 1930, to Mrs Daisy Brown. Following Mrs Brown’s death the building was left vacant for a time and suffered from some vandalism. Over the ensuing decades many owners had their dreams cut short. The Great Depression, the Great War, and other hard times, falling on the owners. In the early 1960s, the then owner, Mr Adams, set about restoring the decaying property. Restoration had been completed just prior to the disastrous bushfires of 1968. The fire consumed the house in all its grandeur and the building remains a ruin today.
After this bit of European history, the Sassafras Ridge Trail finishes at the end of Sir Henrys Parade. The only small problem being that between us and the road – which will take us back to our car – is a rather serious fence, with a sign saying “No entry”. As the alternative of walking five hours back the way we came in the dark is not too appealing, we are fortunately able to slither under the locked gate, providing a rather ignominious end to our otherwise enjoyable bushwalk.
(After our walk I re-checked both the NPWS and BMCC web sites, and there was no alert or mention of the Sassafras Ridge Trail being inaccessible – so it’s rather poor form and a little dangerous to put a locked gate on a marked trail without any warning.)