What to do on an October late afternoon when staying in the town of Mt. Victoria?  Aside from all of the lookouts and bushwalks in the Blue Mountains National Park, there is also a piece of public land on the northwest side of town called the Mt. York Reserve.  It’s not part of the national park and doesn’t appear to be a NSW nature reserve, but I’m unsure of the land designation. A regional or city park perhaps?

It’s also not easy to find information about this Reserve; Google Maps doesn’t show the area as a park at all, there is no government website, and official trail maps don’t seem to exist online.  The Mt. York walking tracks are also absent from the usually-excellent HEMA map of  the Blue Mountains.  Despite the lack of official documentation, there are numerous mentions of the reserve on personal websites, generally referring to the popular walking tracks and historic trails that lead from Mt. York down into Hartley Vale.  Unfortunately I didn’t have time for one of those longer treks before dark, but I did find a nice easy walking track that leads from Mount Victoria to Mt. York and the overlooks there.

To find the walking track, turn north from Mt. Victoria on Mt. York Road.  There is a small sign at the intersection indicating “Mt. York Reserve.”  About 1.2 km on Mt. York Road is a small car park on the right-hand side.  There are multiple walking tracks originating from here; I chose the track that heads towards Mt. York itself.

The track leaves the car park, heads toward the forest, and skirts the edge of a quarry or cleared area.  At about 200 meters the track leaves the forest and enters a utility line clearcut area.  The track follows the power line for approximately 400 meters, before veering to the right and entering the forest again.

Gentle walking track through the forest.

In the forest the track is easy to follow.  It’s mostly level with a bit of an incline down into a small drainage and back up again.  The forest track does come close to a private residence at one point.  Being late in the afternoon the forest was loud with the sounds of Australian birds.

The track through the forest lasts for about 500 meters before joining up with the paved road, and meeting another track that heads off to the east.  At this point it was difficult to know which way the Mt. York track is intended; it seems to dead-end at the road.  This is because both sides of the road are fenced private land.  Turn right and walk alongside the road for a while until the walking track resumes on the left side.

The road was very quiet during my walk, and only two cars passed.

In this area in 2013 a large bush fire destroyed several homes and burned 22,000 acres.  One year after the fire, damaged homes are still being rebuilt and evidence of the fire is plain to see.

Reminders of the 2013 Mt. Victoria bush fires.

But a year later there is also plenty of natural regrowth as ferns, wildflowers, and grasses return to the forest floor.

Forest floor regrowth a year after the fire.

After the private property, the walking track resumes on the left hand side of the road, and parallels the road the remainder of the way to Mt. York.  Of course you could skip the walk altogether and simply drive to Mt. York, but there are some nice overlooking areas and two historic wells along the walking track.

Looking down from Mt. York walking track.

Historic hand-dug well on Mt. York

Various wildflowers are along this section.

Wildflower along the track.

The total distance from the car park to the historic monuments at Mt. York is approximately 3.5 km._DSC7998

The peak of Mt. York is accessible by vehicle.  And with the facilities, historic markers, and overlooks, I suspect it could be quite busy during peak seasons.  The historic markers include memorials and dedications to the first Europeans to build roads and explore the region.

Add another half-kilometer of walking to visit the memorials, planted gardens, and overlooks.

Overlooking Hartley Vale from Mt. York.

Some of the tracks around the peak are rather informal, and signs warn visitors to not get too close to drop offs.

The Great Western Highway is seen descending from the top of the Blue Mountains into Hartley Vale.

Then it’s 3.5 km back to the carpark.  You could simply walk the road back to save a little time, but why?  With dusk approaching, it’s a perfect time to be in the forest.  Bird songs, cool temperatures, and solitude.

More forest regrowth after the fire.

A fire damaged fence remains among the new growth.

Forest track.

There were a few visitors at the end of Mt. York reading interpretive signs and strolling through the planted gardens.  The campground area near Mt. York summit was fully occupied by young travelers who were relaxing, playing car radios, and smoking.  But there was not another person on the walking track.

The forest darkens as dusk approaches.


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