Grandeur in Perpetuity: Prince Henry Cliff Walk
There are times when a long, challenging hike is precisely what you’re up for… and there are other times when what you’re craving is a more low-key day of sunshine, lyre bird song, and fresh mountain air. One of the great joys of the Blue Mountains (and there are many) is that you don’t need always need to commit to a long, sweaty hike to get to spots with views like this…
The Prince Henry Cliff walk is the ~7km track along the edge of the valley between Katoomba and Leura. While there’s some gentle ascents and a few steps (this is the mountains) it’s a relatively easy and straight-forward walk.
The views across the Jamison Valley can be taken in along the majority of the track and at any of the approximately 20 lookouts along the way. You can walk the entire track in about 3 hours, or wander along a shorter stretch of it — there are plenty of opportunities to enter or leave the track, which runs mostly parrallel to Cliff Drive.
For more than 80 years now people have made their way along this track, which was constructed in the 1930s.
The idea for the walk came in 1926 with an approach from some landholders to the local Council for the resumption of sections of cliff frontage to be “reserved in perpetuity for the people” (The Katoomba Daily, Sat 16 May 1936, via Trove).
When the Council realised it didn’t have sufficient funds to buy the land, it approached the state government for assistance. A plan was made for the Council to resume “just sufficient land for the walk, leaving the balance to the owners, who would have access to the frontages” (The Katoomba Daily, Sat 16 May 1936, via Trove).
The track was officially opened in 1934. The Katoomba Daily shared news of its opening under the headline “Another splendid achievement in scenic development”.
The track is named after Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, a son of King George V (Blue Mountains Geographical Encyclopaedia, p. 406). “Katoomba will have its permanent memory of the visit to New South Wales of the Duke of Gloucester, in the construction of what is claimed to be the longest cliff walk in the State, said the local news in reporting the track’s opening in 1934.
At the Leura end of this track you’ll find a number of lookouts that are especially wonderful in the golden glow of late afternoon light. Olympian Rock, Elysian Rock, and Gordon Falls lookout — pack a picnic and time your walk to end at sunset: you’ll be rewarded at any of these spots. The return walk to Leura train station from here is about 25 minutes via Leura Mall.