Photographs by Harry Whaite 1912 - 2011

 

 

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Clear Hill—Gateway to Fascinating Land

By R. else Mitchell (Warrigal Club of N.S.W. and Coast and Mountain Walkers of N.S.W.)

Bushwalker magazine 1938

CLEAR HILL is a precipitous headland forming the southern extremity of the Narrow Neck peninsula. A track leads from Katoomba over the Narrow Neck to Clear Hill which as its name implies presents a marvelous panorama of well-nigh limitless expanse.

Across the valley of the Cox's River/ range after range unfolds the heights of Kanangra, Gangerang, and the Main Dividing Range are visible, while far in the distance the yellow sandstone walls of Burragorang Valley, the Gib at Bowral and other well-known landmarks can be seen. The landscape is sharply dissected by the Kowmung and Kanangra Rivers which have torn deep narrow gorges between the mountains.

Clear Hill is now the starting place for many an interesting walk. A mile or  two from its base are the Wild Dog Mountains, while a half day's walk will take one to the most charming reaches of the beautiful Cox's River. By the more energetic walker the Kowmung and Kanangra Rivers and Gangerang Range can be attained in a day or two, and there is an endless variety of other attractive features.

For years, however, the track to Clear Hill was a dead end because the headland could not be descended and parties desiring to make trips in the district had to use the route through Megalong Valley and Carlon's homestead. It was realized that a direct way over Clear Hill would be much shorter, and in June 1928 a party of walkers succeeded, after a little trouble, in finding a hazardous way down the rocky buttress at the end of the Hill. This was however too difficult and dangerous to become a regular track because of a rock face which necessitated a long detour along A ledge.

Some time after the first descent, William Tarr, an enthusiastic walker, conceived the idea of swinging a ladder down the rock wall to make the route easily accessible and more expeditious. This was accomplished by stringing together small lengths of saplings with fencing wire and two ladders made in this fashion were suspended down the cliff to obviate the worst obstacles and the long detour.

Since the erection of these seemingly flimsy ladders the trip to Clear Hill has become more popular, and an excellent round trip can be accomplished from Katoomba in a week-end by going down the ladders and then returning through Carlon's and Megalong Valley. As the ladders have been standing for many years repairs have been necessary from time to time to ensure their safety and recently the saplings were replaced by wooden battens well painted to resist the weather. So serviceable have the ladders been however that many thousands of walkers have passed over them to the valley below in safety, though perhaps not without trepidation—the first time at least.

William Tarr has earned the gratitude of all these walkers who have been to Clear Hill, and in recognition of his services he has been designated "Taro, Duke of Clear Hill!"