Leader: Chris Edwards

Katoomba to Ruined Castle and return

14th May 2019

An 80 leaders walk

Photos top: Tom Dowling

Photo below: Adrienne Kinna


Chris Edwards, Adrienne Kinna, Robyn Christie, John Booth, Allison Boyle, Trevor McAlister, Lucy Moore, Rogo, Kumiko Suzuki, Soo Lee Chen, Sarah Hurley, Jan Spencer, Walter Baer, Laurie Olsen, Melinda Long, Jill Paillas, Barbara Mitchell, Tom Dowling, Marg Mohandas, Kaye Birch, Sandra See, Lynn Dabbs, Bill Donoghoe, Jenny Donoghoe, Kevin Williams and guest Ruth Watson.

Walk description:

Katoomba Station Scenic World, Glenraphael Drive to Golden Stairs then Federal Pass to Ruined Castle Track (steep climb). Return will be via same route due to closure of Furber Steps. Climbs will be at relaxed pace. Map: Katoomba


A perfect sunny day saw 25 members and 1 guest enjoy a great walk.

After car pooling to Scenic World we set off along Narrowneck with a stop for morning tea at a lookout with great views over both the Megalong and Jamieson Valleys. The walk along Glenraphael Drive passed quickly then it was down the Golden Stairs and along the lovely bracken and treed section of Federal Pass to the second access path to Ruined castle. The steep scramble up was rewarded by fantastic views at the top. Some of the party ate lunch perched on top of Ruined Castle. The ravens and currawongs weren't dive-bombing as they have on previous occasions. The remainder of the party found some comfy rocks further along the track for lunch.

Trevor McAlister and his daughter Ruth (our guest) left early to make sure Ruth made her flight home.

We came safely down the easier descent to Federal Pass and re-traced our steps to Golden Stairs. Due to the closure of Furber Steps our preferred route via the Landslide wasn't available so we climbed Golden Stairs to Narrowneck. We were serenaded by a lyrebird during our climb and several of us sighted for the first time the log alongside the stair rails which has Golden Stairs carved into it. (Thanks for sharing your knowledge Rogo!) The Golden Stairs were the route to a day's freedom from work for the miners working the shale oil mine at Ruined Castle who camped in the valley during the working week.

The light reflecting on the cliff face looked wonderful and Solitary also.

The trudge along Narrowneck passed quickly and everyone was transported back to the station in time for the 3.50 pm train.

A great day out!

Kerosene shale looks like coal but is lighter in weight. Kerosene shale was found at Ruined Castle and the mine registered in 1885.

An aerial ropeway known as the Flying Fox was constructed across the Jamieson Valley to the engine bank (near the upper terminus of the Scenic Railway). It collapsed after only 6 months. Wreckage is still strewn across the valley. The company went into liquidation. The Australian Kerosene Oil and Mineral Company took over the Glen Shale Oil company and some time after the Ruined Castle Mine. They decided to concentrate their efforts on the Glen Shale Mine staffed by miners from a settlement in Nellie's Glen which was accessed by a precipitous descent down Dixon's Ladder. The settlement had a bakery, butchery and public hall.

By 1895 both mines were winding down and were abandoned by 1903. Coal continued to be mined closer to the current Scenic Railway until later.

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