|Maps:||LPI Mount Wilson 8930-1N 1:25000|
|Notes:||Print-friendly notes (opens in new window)|
Less than 20 million years ago, a series of volcanic flows covered parts of the Blue Mountains in a layer of basalt. Over the years, erosion has removed much of this layer, leaving the sandstone cliffs and valleys we are familiar with. However, in a few places where the basalt was thickest, it has remained, protecting the softer sandstone underneath from eroding. Many of the well known peaks such as Mt Hay, Mt Tomah, Mt Wilson and Mt Irvine are basalt capped, and the more fertile soil supports quite a different community of plants than the sandstone. Mt Banks is another such peak.
Also known as Mt King George, its rounded mass is one of the most distinctive and visible features in the Blue Mountains. While the summit of the mountain is covered with trees and the views restricted, the slopes and cliff edges nearby offer spectacular views of the Grose Valley.
The walk starts from the Mt Banks car park. To get there, head west along Bells Line of Road, and turn off at a fire trail signposted to Mt Banks. The turn off is about 9km after Mt Tomah Botanic Gardens. The car park is about 1.2km along the fire trail.
From 07 Jul 2006, last checked 17 Jul 2011
From the car park, follow the sign to the summit via the walking track. After a short steep climb the track flattens out on to a shoulder of Mt Banks, and you should take a detour to the cliff edges for excellent views up the Grose Valley. Also note the many overhangs and caves in the side of Mt Banks. Mt Banks was the end of George Caley's 1804 attempt to cross the Blue Mountains, and he sheltered in similar caves to these, including one below the summit.
After a break, continue up the track to a signposted turnoff which leads to the summit. From the summit itself there is not much to see but the trig and the trees, but if you continue past the trig, a little further down there are some good views of the cliffs and more of the Grose Valley.
Returning to the main track, turn right. The track soon turns into a fire trail, and continues past an old picnic area to your right. Tables can still be seen, overgrown by the vegetation. Back in the early part of this century and late last century, carriages would deliver tourists here for picnics.
Continuing on down the fire trail, there is a long descent to a T-junction, where the track joins up with the main fire trail that winds around the back side of Mt Banks. If you wanted a short day, you could return via this track directly to the car park, but otherwise, turn right. The fire trail winds in and out of several gullies, passes an old (empty) water tank on the left, and comes close to the cliff edge at an open area. This is probably the pick of views on the walk, and well worth a morning tea stop. The Mt Hay Walls stand out across the far side of the Grose Valley, with the Boorong Crags to the east.
A little further on, a foot track leads off to the right of the fire trail. This leads out to Frank Hurley Head, another lookout. Finally, about 800m further again, there is another faint foot track leading out to an unmarked lookout. This may be a good spot for lunch. It is possible to continue to follow the fire trail for 3.5km more before it peters out, but most parties would turn around here. The views further out are not really worth the walk, although more difficult trips such as Zobels Gully, Explorers Brook and David Crevasse (the latter two require abseiling to negotiate) can be reached from here.
On the way back, you can bypass the trip over Mt Banks by following the main fire trail all the way back to the picnic area.
Time: 1 hr Distance: 2km Fitness: E Skill: E Ascent: 60m
An easy and short walk to a fantastic lookout over the Grose Valley.
Time: 5 hrs Distance: 17km Fitness: M Skill: EM Ascent: 410m
A longish day walk to visit a great lookout and a beautiful swimming hole
Time: 4 hrs Distance: 11km Fitness: E Skill: E Ascent: 100m
An easy walk to the impressive Hanging Rock near Blackheath, and to Baltzer Lookout over the Grose Valley
Time: 2 hrs Distance: 7km Fitness: E Skill: E Ascent: 40m
An easy walk to impressive views over the Grose Valley and Govetts Gorge.
Time: 6 hrs Distance: 12km Fitness: M Skill: EM Ascent: 650m
A challenging and scenic route in to the Blue Gum Forest
Time: 2 days Distance: 22km Fitness: M Skill: EM Ascent: 750m
The classic walk into the Blue Gum Forest, with camping on grassy flats under the magnificent blue gums
Time: 2 hrs Distance: 4km Fitness: E Skill: E Ascent: 360m
A short but steep walk to a series of pretty cascades on Victoria Creek.
16-17/07/2011 - Across the Grose: Mt Hay - Boorong Crags - Shaw Gully - Byles Pass - Grose River - Garrad Gulch - Mt Strzelecki - Mt Caley - Explorers Range - Mt Banks - Caley Monument [SBW][L] (report | photos)