Six Foot Track, NSW, Australia
A popular Blue Mountains walk - 43 km, 3 days
THE SIX FOOT TRACK is one of the most popular 2 - 3 day walks outside of Sydney. In fact some say it’s de rigeur for bushwalkers in Sydney. Many overseas visitors to Sydney undertake this iconic walk. The 43 km track is well maintained and clearly marked. Megalong is an aboriginal name thought to mean "valley under the rock'. The Six Foot Track gets its name from the fact the track was constructed to be six feet wide to accommodate a loaded dray making its way between Katoomba and Jenolan.
SIX FOOT TRACK HISTORY: From 1818, cattlemen arrived to graze their stock on fertile land around Cox's River. Later settlers used Megalong Cleft, also known as Nellie's Glen for access to the Ridgetops. Nellie's Glen was named after the daughter of J.B. North, an early Katoomba business man. The Jenolan Caves were discovered in 1838. Access for visitors was particularly difficult. Even the construction of the western railway around 1870 didn't help much.
In 1884 the Premier of New South Wales ordered that a search be undertaken to find a horse track from Katoomba to Jenolan Caves. A group led by Peter Fitzpatrick met at Katoomba. A government survey party was duly appointed consisting of Mr W.M. Cooper, Surveyor of Public Parks, Mr Mayes of the Department of Mines, Mr Freeman of the Department of Lands and three others. The group took eleven days to reach Jenolan, blazing the trail. Money was then allocated to cut the track and travellers could now ride from Katoomba to the Caves in less than eight hours.
JENOLAN CAVES Jenolan is the most popular tourist destination in country NSW, with over 250,000 visitors annually enjoying the wonders of the eleven display caves, and an ever increasing number of people discovering the world of adventure caving. It's worth a stay at Caves House.
ITINERARY for Six Foot Track - 43 km
- HOW TO GET THERE: Mini buses depart from Katoomba early morning to Explorers' Tree, from where you start the walk. If you’re arriving at Katoomba by car you can store it at the minibus depot until your return. Mini buses leave Jenolan mid afternoon and return to Katoomba.
- WHERE TO START: The Explorers' Tree.
- WHEN TO GO: We recommend March to September, as it can be uncomfortably hot during the summer months.
- FACILITIES: There are camping areas available at Cox’s River, Alum Creek (minor) and Black Range. Take a stove, as open fires are discouraged and not permitted on total fire ban days. Accommodation is available at Jenolan Caves House.
- FOOD & WATER: Take at least two litres per person and food for two days, including some snacks in case you get hungry when walking. Boil and purify all water that you obtain from the river and tanks.
- WALKING GEAR: Good walking boots and socks are critical. Your shoes should have been broken in. Also important is what wet weather gear to take. Make sure it’s made from a breathable material. The weather can change at any time.
- THE WALK: 43 kms of varied walk through the Australian bush.
- Day 1. To Cox's River (13km). - Firstly down Nellies Glen to the bottom, where your knees begin to feel like jelly. You will cross the Bowtells Swing Bridge. The bridge was built by 3 Troop, the 'Tunnel Rats' of the 1st Field Squadron of the Royal Australian Engineers in 1991 and named in honour of CPL Bob Bowtell a former member of 3 Tp. Bob was born in Katoomba and he died in Vietnam.
- Day 2. To Black Range Camp Site (16km). - From Cox's River it's a long 16km (mostly uphill) walk to the Balck Range Camp.
- Day 3. To Jenolan (14km). - Your last day is the easiest. Along a track which parrallels the road before heading downwards to Jenolan House and a welcome celebration.
When you head out on the Six Foot Track allocate 3 days for the walk so that you can enjoy it. Book your overnight stay at Caves House and add in a tour of the Caves the next morning. This will feel more like a walking holiday than a rush job. Take the afternoon mini bus back to Katoomba.