On a painfully hot Spring day, I set out on a solo hike from Glenbrook in the lower Blue Mountains. My destination was the town of Springwood some 20km away. The temperature was hitting the mid-30s and there was the threat of thunderstorms for the afternoon.
Though conditions were harsh, I soon found myself entranced by a gorge landscape that felt so remote it was hard to believe suburbia was only a few kilometres to the East.
After scrambling along the overgrown and at times indistinct bush track that contours Glenbrook Creek, I climbed to Helena Ridge before descending back into Glenbrook Gorge. Here I would camp for the night in a sandy clearing next to the creek. I arrived just before sunset, having underestimated the time it would take me to move along the track.
Along the way, flannel flowers were in bloom – there were literally fields of them across the ridge. The heat was bearable thanks to shaded spots and plentiful water in the creek for drinking (after treatment). Sandy beaches and dramatic escarpment emerged around one bend or the next. An afternoon thunderstorm and brief showers were a welcome respite.
I hadn’t seen a single person since leaving Glenbrook: the campsite – and an experience of utter peace – was mine alone as I drank a glass of shiraz, watching light drain from the ridge above me, and waited for dinner to cook on the stove.
The next day, I woke to cooler temperatures and clear skies before tackling another overgrown track, cut off by fallen trees at semi-regular intervals, this time through rainforest. I followed a line of sassafras trees and old-growth forest out of the gorge, ascending steeply and at times slowly, before re-emerging in Springwood.
This was one of the most stunning walks I’ve ever done and the impression still endures. It’s hard to believe I could get there by public transport in less than two hours.
A version of this post was first published in Great Walks.