Blue Mountains Walking tracks | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Blue Mountains Walking tracks

Item details

Name of item: Blue Mountains Walking tracks
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Transport - Land
Category: Trail/Track
Location: Lat: -33.6365207757 Long: 150.2715948460
Primary address: Blue Mountains National Park, Blackheath, NSW 2785
Local govt. area: Blue Mountains
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Deerubbin


Curtilage is limited to tracks within National Parks land only and includes the walking track only and not surronding vegetation.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Blue Mountains National ParkBlackheathBlue Mountains   Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Office of Environment and HeritageState Government26 Nov 98

Statement of significance:

The [overall] complex of Blue Mountains regional walking tracks is of National significance. It is distributed among dozens of individually designed cultural landscapes. These landscapes were planned for recreational purposes, at first by wealthy gentlemen on their private estates and later by community based trusts who administered grants from the State Government. There exists a full range of original construction types and track fabric and associated features such as shelter sheds, wells, railings and signage from the 1870s private tracks to the efforts of the Blue Mountains National Park Trust in the 1960s.

The blending of man-made and natural features in track construction was done in ways that reflect the aesthetics, technology and environmental values of the time. Many of the constructed features transcend their purely utilitarian functions and have considerable aesthetic appeal. The solutions of the early trustees and track makers to complex problems of design, particularly drainage issues and the use of stone have significant research value today. Due to the proximity of the reserves to Sydney and the early provision of mass transport links between Sydney and the Blue Mountains, the region's walking tracks have been the most significant facilitators of contact between urban Australians and the natural environment.

The Blue Mountains tourist industry grew largely to service people who desired an engagement with nature on the walking tracks. The tracks have been an important factor in the growth of conservation values in the community. Walkers have left a resource of written records, photographs and memories recording their impressions and emotional and spiritual experiences on the tracks that has historic significance as a record of Australians' changing relationships with nature. These relationships continue to evolve after over 100 years of continuous use of many tracks. People walking the tracks today can enjoy feelings of continuity and empathy with the walkers of the past as they use the same historic structures (Smith: Blue Mountains Track Heritage Study, pp143)
Date significance updated: 29 Jun 18
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Construction years: 1880-
Physical description: TAB NO.SHI NO.ITEM NAME LOCATION
1 3900010 Causeway to Red Hands Cave Glenbrook
2 3900033 Grotto Tracks Springwood
3 3900043 Florabella Pass Warrimoo & Blaxland
4 3900048 Kings Cave TrackLinden
5 3900088 Princes Rock Track Wentworth Falls
6 3900099 Den Fenella Track Wentworth Falls
7 3900112 Jamison Creek Corridoor/Darwins WalkWentworth Falls
8 3900115 Valley of the Waters Track Wentworth Falls
9 3900120 National Pass Wentworth Falls
10 3900138 Federal Pass Katoomba/Leura
11 3900140 Giant Stairway Katoomba
12 3900152 Orphan Rock Track Katoomba
13 3900153 Prince Henry Cliff Walk Katoomba/Leura
14 3900157 Track from Lilianfels Park to Lady Darleys Lookout Katoomba
15 3900197 O'Sullivan's Road Katoomba
16 3900215 Grand Canyon Track Blackheath
17 3900217 Point Pilcher Track Blackheath/Medlow Bath
18 3900223 Perrys Lookdown to Blue Gum Forest Blackheath
19 3900232 Engineers Track Grose Valley (Darling Causeway to Nepean River)
20 3900241 Bruce's Walk Lawson to Mt Victoria
21 3900247 Six Foot Track Katoomba to Jenolan Caves
22 3900272 Lawsons Long Alley Mt Victoria
23 3900273 Lockyers Road Mt Victoria
24 3900276 Berghofers Pass Mt Victoria
25 3900277 Section of Bells Line of Road Mt Tomah
26 3900282 Kanangra Walls Cattle Track Oberon
27 3900320 Megalong Valley Aboriginal Routes Katoomba
28 3900321 Mount Victoria Escarpment Complex Mt Victoria
29 3900328 Mt York Roads Complex Mt Victoria
30 3900329 Wentworth Falls Complex Wentworth Falls
31 3900330 Cox's Road Complex Faulconbridge to Mt York
32 3900331 Parkes Garden Tracks Complex Faulconbridge
33 3900332 Wolgan Railway Complex Newnes Railway
34 3900333 Upper Grose Valley Aboriginal Passes - Complex Blackheath
35 3900334 Track to Base of Govetts Leap - Complex Blackheath
36 3900335 Tracks to Ruined Castle - Complex Katoomba
37 3900336 Grose Valley Cliff Edge - Complex Blackheath

NOTES: The SHI number above is the reference to the item number in the NPWS s.170 Register.
Current use: walking tracks, rest areas, picnic areas
Former use: walking tracks, rest areas, picnic areas


Historical notes: Blue Mountains National Park regained the top spot as the most popular NSW national park for domestic visitors in a 2014 survey. It received 4.2 million visitors in 2014, relegating Royal National Park to second place (Trembath, 2015).

One of Australia's oldest bushwalking tracks, the Grand Canyon Track was officially re-opened after an almost decade-long restoration worth $4.8m. Three thousand sandstone steps were hand-laid as part of a 4.5km restoration projecxt - involving more than 2000 helicopter drops. more than 90,000 people use the track every year (Blue Mountains Gazette, 1/11/17, 1).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements (none)-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour (none)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. (none)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation (none)-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Blue Mountains recreational reserves, with their complexes of walking tracks and associated features, have National significance as examples of cultural landscapes developed for recreation. Their development reflects changing attitudes towards the Australian environment and their importance in the local tourist industry through time. Reserve development provides an important example of how State Government and local community organisations were able to work together for over a century. Local reserve and track development and use is an important chapter in the history of conservation in Australia. A wide range of historically important people were associated with walking track development. These range from people like Sir Henry Parkes and Sir Frederick Darley to the local government administrators and businessmen who served as trustees.
Immigrants to Australia played a major role as both track builders and trustees. Many walking tracks have been in continuous use for over a century and a large amount of documentation records people's experiences on them. Over a majority of the length of the track system significant amounts of the original track fabric remain to be seen. (Smith: Blue Mountains Track Heritage Study, pp143)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Blue Mountains walking tracks in their original state have a positive visual and sensory appeal due to their careful design as part of the cultural landscapes of recreational reserves. Due to the high standards of craftsmanship and the mainly natural materials used, the tracks, with their features such as bridges, ladders, railings and stepping stones, provide an important example of how man-made and natural features can be juxtaposed in a pleasing way. The weathering of the construction materials and the knowledge of the many other visitors who have passed along the tracks can evoke a strong emotional awareness of the passing of time. The Blue Mountains track makers worked to the aesthetic standards of their times and their best work can have sculptural qualities and display an elegant "minimalist" style of simplicity that transcends the merely functional. The variety of materials used in track construction provide, in themselves, stimuli of colour, texture, sound and smells which can enhance the experience of using them.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Blue Mountains walking tracks have social value to a wide range of groups in the community. These community groups vary from local residents who walk them every day to families in other parts of Australia who remember a holiday or honeymoon during which they used the tracks. The social significance is enhanced by the large amount of documentary evidence, varying from personal albums to published accounts by people who have used the tracks and recorded their impressions over the past century or more. Due to their proximity to Australia's major centre of population, Blue Mountains walking tracks have been one of the most significant interfaces between urban people and nature in Australia. Large numbers of people throughout Australia have emotional and spiritual bonds to the walking tracks because on them they had encounters with natural environments and other species that were significant to them.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Blue Mountains walking tracks contain significant research potential, particularly in the areas of drainage technology and stone work. They have never formally been studied as elements of the design of the cultural landscapes of the reserves they are sited in. Although most of the trackmakers' names are unknown, there is a significant body of work by the outstanding track and road designer Peter Mulheran of Wentworth Falls and others such as Murdo McLennon of Medlow Bath that could be studied as examples of late nineteenth century and early twentieth century technology and landscape architecture.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for endorsementTracks into History: Conservation Management Plan for Walking Tracks of State Heritage Significance in the Blue Mountains, prepared by Jim Smith, David Beaver & Chris Betteridge for Parks & Wildlife Division of DEC, dated July 2004 CMP reviewed, and final version being prepared as at 7 April 2005.  
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for endorsementEcho Point Precinct Walking Tracks CMP (Jim Smith and David Beaver Oct 2001) Endorsement of CMP by Heritage Council deferred pending further work 2 July 2002. Jul 2 2002
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for endorsementThe National Pass Conservation Management Plan (Jim Smith, Chris Betteridge and David Beaver, February 2002) CMP conditionally endorsed by Heritage Council 13 October 2002. Oct 13 2002
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for commentCMP for Tracks of State Significance in the Blue Mountains Final version of CMP reviewed 10 December 2004. Dec 10 2004
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0098002 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
National Parks & Wildlife Service Section 170 Register  National Parks & Wildlife Service  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Tourism 2007Blue Mountains Walking Tracks View detail
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Blue Mountains Walking tracks View detail
WrittenSmith, J1999Walking Track Heritage Study: historical report, heritage assessment & conservation guidelines
WrittenSmith, J. Beaver, D. and Betteridge C.,2006Conservation Management Plan for the SHR listed Blue Mountains Walking Tracks
WrittenTrembath, Murray2015'Royal hosts less visitors'
Writtenunattributed2017'Back on track in Blackheath'

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5014091
File number: H00/00231; EF14/4439

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

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