Feeling a glint of rebellion I threw the 4WD sleeping mat down over the flattened back seats of the RAV and proudly took a step back to appreciate this new form of “camping” I was about to experience. While it didn’t look as perfect as #vanlife, it felt like a world of opportunity was now at my fingertips.
We drove up to the Blue Mountains late on Friday night, parking at the gate at the start of the trail. As it turns out it’s pretty cold sleeping in a car, but I guess I’ll never know the temperature inside a tent that night. Regardless, the convenience was worth it, and having the comforts of my pillow and doona made me feel absolutely spoiled.
Early Saturday morning we braved the cold with our headtorches and started down the 3.5km fire trail to Baltzer Lookout. As planned we got there right on first light and then took the 2km off-route track to Hanging Rock. We had a few “could that be it?” moments; but believe me, once you see it, you’ll know it’s the right one.
From here we perched ourselves on the cliff edge, taking in a view of the valley and Hanging Rock, and watched the sky turn a thousand shades of pink as the sun popped up. We were so lucky to have this view all to ourselves with no-one else around. I’d read that sunrise was the best time to go; and seeing the cliff face glow in the golden hour certainly made it worthwhile.
A word of warning to those scared of heights. A lot of the walk/scramble from Baltzer Lookout to Hanging Rock is quite close to the cliff edge, and there are a lot of gorgeous views looking straight down. This is breathtaking and terrifying at the same time. There’s no handrail, or safety nets. It’s just you out there, balanced on your own two feet, taking in the power of nature. I personally didn’t go out to the point on Hanging Rock, there is a 1m jump across a crevice which I didn’t feel confident in not plunging to my death as I crossed, so I kindly volunteered to be photographer instead. Allow an hour each way for the walk, and as much time as you like taking in the scenery.
After our 3hr adventure we were back at the car by 8am, surprised to find the car park almost full. Keen to warm up with a coffee we realised in my rush to leave I’d left the stove at home. So cold avocado, ham and cheese English muffins it was, and real coffee was just a five minute drive away. I should really take my own advice and pack the night before.
To go there for yourself, follow the directions below. These are what we used and they were pretty spot on.
- Driving from Katoomba turn right at Blackheath into Ridgewell Road. It is a good gravel road with just a few pot holes. Drive to the end of the road and park at the gate (approximately 2.5km from Blackheath). There is parking space for approximately 15 cars.
- From the gate walk 3.5km to Baltzer Lookout – the walking track follows a fire trail and is quite easy.
- At Baltzer lookout turn left, from this point it’s a downhill scramble, so be mindful of how close to the edge you are.