Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bell, Hartley Vale, Mt York

Old Railway Viaduct

Having ridden 60k on my road bike yesterday, I thought a ride on the Mtn bike today was in order to get some blood running around the muscles... I chose a ride that I found interesting. Yet in the past I have never had time to explore this part of the mountains. Hartley Vale, Darling Causeway, Bell, Mt Victoria and Mt York all have an interesting history.

The view into HartleyVale

Like most areas of the mountains, they were either major routes to cross the Blue Mountains or they were parts of the shale mines that dotted the landscape.

Parking the troopie at Bell, ride south along the Darling causeway and you will come to a turn off to Hartley Vale, clearly marked. However, before descending into the valley, take the time to follow the old rail line that leads to a shale mine. The view on either side are spectacular. Double back and descend into the valley.

Remains of railway boiler.

The old Comet Inn and a few historic homes remain. I found the ride easy at this stage, before discovering, (for myself), the old Cox's Road, an ascent from the valley floor up to Mt York. Un daunted I rode towards my goal. It did not take long before I realised that it would be easier to carry the bike and walk up the old road. It was constructed in 1815 and was the only way off the Blue mountains before the current Victoria Pass was constructed. I pondered how the horses and people coped, as I struggled for breath in the heat.

Road into Hartley Vale.

The walk was difficult as the bike got stuck on fallen trees,I had little tread left on the bike shoes and the metal cleats slipped on the rocks. Undaunted I pressed on.

The views are simply beautiful even as the temperatures got to 38c. I finally arrived at the top. It was a-buzz with picnicers and rock climbers who all looked a bit amazed as I emerged from the bush.. the wrong way...(i.e. Bottom to top-not top to bottom).

Track across creeks.

The ride back to the car is about 15km of tar road. Pleasant and fast, amongst tall pine and beautiful gardens. However the heat and humidity, proved to be energy sapping, it was with great relief that I arrived back at the troopie, having explored this part of the Blue Mountains.

The walk up to the top...

I drove back home, tired but content that I had achieved something...


  1. Goodness, of all days to decide to go for a mountain bike ride and a ride where it would have been best to carry the bike. HAHA!! Simon you must be dehydrated, and brain juices drained to your muscles yesterday! 38 degrees is close enough to 40 for me, remember the days when we were all sent home from school when the temperature reached that height? WELL DONE is all I can say (in actually returning). Hope you feel okay tomorrow and drink LOTS of water ;)

  2. Well I'm sure the exercise did you good!
    Where are the pictures?

  3. ARGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

    No, my brian juices are replaced by Cooper ale!!

    This was supposed to be a "draft".. (the blog not the ale).. I was uploading photos and a storm hit and we lost power.... SO will add photos tonight (if we have internet at home!!!)

  4. I hadn't dared to ask if I had only imagined that you had posted on Sunday, when it all was gone this morning.
    I don't know how it is in your part of the world, but I have hiked amongst low bushes and trees at 30+ degress, and I promised myself, nevermore! The heat gets trapped and unbearable where no breeze can pass. ;-)

  5. Brian juices!!!

    I mean BRAIN juices!! gawd!

    You are right Merisi. its not too bad if you can make enough speed on a bike to be able to get a breeze...

  6. Nice to see the photographs! I just spent ages looking for a map with old Cox's Road. A long time ago I looked for the oldest one I could find doing family research, but it doesn't appear to be online anymore. However, yes it would have been quite a hike for the first settlers (mostly miners) carrying supplies - just like it was for you carrying your bike HAHA.

  7. thanks Anon! You were looking up Coxs Road specifically for the family tree or do you me road constructions generally?

    I think it is sad there is little info on the history- eg the Burralow was the first rice farm in Aus and you cn a still see convict ruins...but there is nothing on-line about it.

  8. Haha, specifically for the family tree but tend to REALLY research like how they travelled from A to B, what they wore, carried, who they were with, what was happening in the place at the time etc. Then travel the same road. They didn't live on Cox's Road but I also look for maps as close to their time as possible where they left footprints ...

    There is SO MUCH information out there, it will take a long time for it all to be online. But the information can be found in most cases elsewhere ... eventually. Most often if you travel where there were footprints!

  9. That's better Simon. Nice piccies now.

  10. ah! I see Anon! makes sense to me. I find it very interesting. Also the "feel" of the place.

    Along Bells line of road, you can still find the original track/road carved out with the drains and grooves from where they chained big logs to the Cobb and Co coaches to stop them running out of control down hill!

    Thanks Lorenzo!

  11. I've been along Bell's Line Of Road. Several times! It starts near Simon's house. Where the Kurrajong birds live.

    There seems to be quite a lot of old boilers lying around Australia mate.

  12. Don't be rude about Simon, Maalie.

  13. I'm impressed, that is some distance, though I think I prefer walking.

  14. Migawd, lad, you nearly dealt me a coronary with that trek tale! I really like your idea of chasing a good road bike ride with a bicycle ride. Had I done so back when, I might have had the muscular legs to match the width of my brawny shoulders.

  15. Too bad about the cricket simon.....
    I should be in bed by now so I can go walking in the morning early.... but this Federer- Tipsarevic clash is gripping to end all gripping....

  16. Just wondering which mountain top your bike had to climb this weekend. ;-)

  17. merisi! its in the next installment :o)

    kiwi:- the cricket was just SO bloody awful. Our bowling attack was loose.
    Full credit to the Indian team who bowled beautiful swing, and full credit to their young 19 year old who showed maturity beyond his years.