Blue Mountains, Australia, History

Info Blue Mountains History Plaza
The Engineer's Track
3 Sisters, Blue Mountains, Australia.
A rollicking good time in the bush!



Up the Gorge

Following a preliminary survey in 1857, a group of army engineers were given the 6 week assignment of constructing a bridle track up the Grose River Gorge, from the Nepean River near Yarramundi. The gorge was being considered as a possible route for the railway, a tunnel under the Darling Causeway to Hartley Vale being envisaged. It is interesting to consider how the mountains might have developed had this route been adopted.

The tunnel beneath Darling Causeway would have been two miles long, used ten million bricks, taken two years to build and cost 800,000. The colony did not have enough bricklayers. Other  problems with the route included landslides, & the route was subsequently abandoned.

Out of Site, Out of Mind

The group of Royal Engineers, under the command of Sergeant Quodling, consisted of 10 surveyors and 49 labourers. Possibly, some of these were convicts.

Bureaucracy being what it is, HQ more or less forgot about the engineers. Their lifestyle in the bush being much more enjoyable than in Sydney, they simply kept on working, and supplies kept on being sent. They built a very fine track, with extensive rock works.

After more than 18 months, some auditor realised what was going on. They were recalled to Sydney, and put to more useful work.

A botanist, Louisa Atkinson, used the track and wrote about it in "Ranges of the Grose", part of her "A Voice from the Country" series published in the Sydney Morning Herald in the early 1860's. Her party found many sections already washed away by flood.


The upper Grose River valley, looking east.

Photo David Martin 1997

UpperGrose_frMtBanks_1_400.jpg (16646 bytes)

The Track Today

Where the track ran beside the river, it has long since been washed away. But in many places, it climbed above the flood level. Here, the hand-made stone embankments are still in place.

A map believed to date from the 1930's (Department of Lands) shows a "trail, negotiable route or doubtful track" from Yarramundi to Blue Gum Forest.

The latest topographic map shows an "Engineer's Track" descending from the Darling Causway into the gorge below, but no further. There is also a track from Victoria falls to the Blue Gum Forest.

There is no longer any continuous track up the gorge. Any attempt to hike from the Blue Gum Forest to Yarramundi would require a well equipped and experienced expedition.

Can you help?

We would welcome first-hand information and photos from bushwalkers who have explored the Engineer's Track. Please E-mail us.

The future

What will become of the Engineer's Track? The cost of re-building the missing parts and restoring the rest would be prohibitive; or would it?

There are people who must be given exercises in order to develop or maintain skills. Army engineers and helicopter crews, for example. How about it, fella's?

A bridle track has considerable potential for eco-tourism, with tourists & supplies travelling on horseback. This could help raise money for upkeep etc. It could also be negotiated by trail bike; useful for emergencies and upkeep. Food for thought.

Seen our Bushwalking (hiking) Links?

The upper Grose River valley, looking southwest.

Photo David Martin 1997

UpperGrose_frMtBanks_2_400.jpg (16000 bytes)


The main source of information for this work is local hearsay.

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