It’s an arduous climb up Mt Solitary in the Blue Mountains but the views are well worth it. Here, the crew stands in silhouette after pitching tents on its peak just in time for a pinky-purple sundown.
The Blue Mountains is home to so many wonderful walks. One, which holds a special place in my heart, is the Mt Solitary Traverse. It really triggered my interest and passion for bushwalking in Australia, back in 2013. And I know that our crew feels the same way.
After descending for hours from the top of Mt Solitary in the Blue Mountains, we finally arrive at this peaceful spot. It is surrounded by prehistoric trees, both standing and prostrate, scattered river rocks cover the ground and sounds of flowing water fill the air as Kedumba river meanders by.
This year, we return to trek Mt Solitary. It is equally grand and spectacular and exhausting as the first time. We set out and descend the Golden Staircase towards the Federal Pass walking track. The air tastes fresh and clean; just one of the many rejuvenating characteristics of the region. A climb up the Ruined Castle makes for a peaceful pit stop before we soldier on and scramble up Koorowall Knife-edge towards the summit. We pause along the ridge and turn back to admire glorious views on a crystal clear day. The Ruined Castle is a mere mound on the ridge from this elevated perspective.
On top of the Ruined Castle
Lunch is a relaxing affair surrounded by Casuarina trees. Sunlight streams through gaps in the vegetation and provides a source of warmth during our rest.
We pass through Chinamans Gully and enjoy a moment of silence at a lookout with sweeping views. A calming quiet interspersed with occasional chirping birds and a whistling wind. An organic audio of sorts.
Good camping is possible at Chinamans Gully, particularly in wet weather as large overhanging caves afford protection from the elements. But, we push on in search of our campsite from 2 years earlier. It is the perfect spot with good shelter, stellar views and a central place for a warming fire.
Cosy by the fire. Note the makeshift clothes line in the background.
Collect wood, raise tents, kindle the kindling and build a fire. As the sun fades away so does the temperature, reaching a low of just above freezing. Move away from the fire and feel the ferocity of the cold’s claws. We settle in, eat a hearty, hot dinner and sip whiskey in the good company of our 5-strong crew: Franky, Richie, Bos, Blitz and Ben.
Sleep comes so very easily.
Backpacks re-packed (lighter now) we head off. We scramble, slide and switchback as we descend Mt Solitary into the valley below until we reach its nadir at Kedumba River. It’s a beautiful place to eat lunch and savour the final moments of tranquility in this natural setting before we tackle the arduous climb out of the bush and ultimately return to civilisation.
After descending Mt Solitary’s steep ridge line, we find ourselves deep in one of the Blue Mountains’ many valleys where the Kedumba river lazily twists and turns over rocks and between towering trees. Cold and refreshing it provides us with a valuable source of water with which to fill our water bottles.
A relaxing moment at camp. Lightweight foldable chairs a true luxury!
A moment of silence.
Early morning cloudy fog creeps through the mountains.
Panoramic photo showing the view from our campsite.
Sunrise at camp.