844 metres loop, 30 minutes
“I am not wearing that raincoat because it is not raining!” my four-year-old daughter cried as our small family of four packed into our car. “But it might be raining up the mountains today so we have to be prepared.” I answered in exasperation looking up towards the overcast sky. Her expression changed to wonder as she asked quietly “Why is it raining up the mountains and not here?” I made a mental note to Google how to explain it better in the future and settled with “The world is a very big place and sometimes it rains in one place but not in another.”
“Mummy I want my flashlight,” my two-year-old son screamed as we backed out of the driveway. Andrew drew the reversing car to a slow halt giving me a few moments to jump out, open the passenger door and rummage through the piles of toys, books, dirty clothes and crumbs on the car floor before finally handing him his flashlight. Despite being an hour late from our intended 9am start time, at least we were now off to Leura.
The one hour drive up the Blue Mountains was uneventful. My daughter claimed to have eaten too many apricots prior to the drive and 10 minutes after we left the driveway she was complaining of a tummy ache. I explained that this predicament will get fixed when she poos at the toilet at the start of the hike. At this, she promptly fell asleep 20 minutes into the drive along with my son who was still clutching his flashlight. Andrew and I spent the time pointing out different bends along the Great Western Highway with sudden vistas of treetops harbouring glimpses of houses. We arrived at the Leura Cascades Picnic Area just after 11 a.m. where we promptly ate our light picnic lunch of bananas, grilled artichokes, hummus, cheese and crackers.
Armed with our Leura Cascades Circuit track notes from the Wild Walks website, we started our walk from the Leura Cascades Picnic Area off Cliff Drive.
The low, widely spaced steps were a great warm up for the walk. As Chelmsford Bridge started to emerge into view, my four-year-old wrinkled her nose in disgust at what smelled like sewage. On a positive note, this gave us all an incentive to walk faster to the delight of one the walkers with a full camera and tripod set up aimed and ready to capture Chelmsford Bridge.
We kept following the path down stopping once in a while to check out a stick or ten to see if they were walking stick worthy. When the kids finally found a perfect stick each, I could finally hear the rush of water from the cascades. We followed one of the side tracks to get closer to the water and the walking sticks were instantly transformed into fishing rods.
We kept walking down more steps until we saw a rock overhang. We waited in line with other walkers wanting to take photos of the cascades front on.
Of course, the kids didn’t care about photos with my two-year-old, exclaiming “Mummy, it’s a bear cave!” The “fishing rod” turned into what I think was a spear and with Elmer Fudd-like concentration he added, “We’re going on a bear hunt mummy. Shhhhhh.” Shortly after leaving the “bear cave”, I explained to the children that we don’t get bears in the Blue Mountains. I explained there may be possums and koalas but the bears are in other forests like in America where their cousins live.
The track notes indicated that the walk would take 30 minutes but it took us one hour and 30 minutes. This was because we got lost at the intersection that the track notes referred to as “[0.49] – Int of Prince Henry Cliff Walk and the Leura Int of Prince Henry Cliff and Cascades Round Walk (SW) → Int of Prince Henry Cliff Walk and Majestic Lookout Track”. The higher track the track notes referred to had a track closure sign.
Andrew and I decided to see if the next available path would loop back to the Picnic Area instead of back tracking uphill. Our efforts were rewarded with a beautiful lookout overlooking a waterfall. Here, Andrew and I took the time to have a breather and enjoy the crisp autumn air while the kids turned their walking sticks into shovels. They dug vigorously while ignoring the people taking selfies and group photos. Earth digging urge satisfied and well and truly dirt-covered, the kids walked up a set of metal stairs and more stairs until Andrew and I finally agreed that the path would not loop back to the Picnic Area. This was confirmed by a very helpful walker with a more detailed map of the walks in the area.
We retraced our steps back to the track closure sign where we discovered that the track was actually open. Yes, yes, as they say, always read the fine print and in this case, always read the track closure dates. I was so thankful because at this stage, I didn’t want to back track and walk uphill with my tired two-year-old hanging on my hip. (I didn’t bring the baby backpack). Twenty more minutes of walking, with a brief chat with some international students from Germany, Israel and America, and we were right back at the Picnic Area.
We ended our walk by making our way to the modest playground. Here, while we were finishing leftovers from lunch, I asked the kids what they liked most about the walk. My two-year-old said he liked the bear hunt. I thought, “Seriously after all that you liked the bears? What bears?”. Nevertheless, I was happy that he has a great imagination. My four-year-old, well, she was more interested in talking about what she didn’t like which was getting lost. Yes, mummy and daddy will work on that.