About a mile & a half from this place there is a view, exceedingly well worth visiting. Following down a little valley & its tiny rill of water, suddenly ... an immense gulf is seen at the depth of perhaps 1500 ft beneath one's feet. Walking a few yards farther, one stands on the brink of a great precipice. Below is the grand bay or gulf, for I know not what other name to give it, thickly covered with forest. The point of view is situated as it were at the head of the Bay, for the line of cliff diverges away on each side, showing headland, behind headland, as on a bold Sea coast. ... The class of view was to me quite novel & certainly magnificent.
Last week my old friend and fellow author, Richard Tulloch, and I did one of our favourite walks at Wentworth Falls, The National Pass. Starting at the Conservation Hut Cafe at the other end of the escarpment from where Darwin was and, after fortifying ourselves with coffee and scones (with jam & cream) we started off down the track. Ignoring the Yowie warning sign.
|The Conservation Hut Cafe|
Yowies are Australia's answer to the Yeti and Bigfoot. Sadly, we didn't see one. It would have made for an interesting blog entry. Unfortunately Darwin didn't see one either as it would have given his book The Descent of Man that little magic something to keep it in the charts a bit longer.
|Beware of the yowie|
|The National Pass Track|
The National Pass track traverses the middle of the cliff from the western (Conservation Hut) end to the eastern, Wentworth Falls end. Or the other way around depending on where you've parked. I've drawn a red line on the photo above to show were it goes. If this looks scary, it's really not. The track is well-maintained and the National Park people have made every effort to keep people from unnecessarily plummeting to their deaths. I guess it's in their interests, too.
|A paved path---not to every bushwalker's taste|
It was a warm day but, considering it's summer here, we were just pleased that we weren't walking in blistering heat. But it is a well-shaded walk and it's been so rainy recently that there was always a bit of cooling spray from above.
|Richard in welcome shade|
|The railing does take away some of the fun|
|A metal lizard climbing a new, very classy, National Pass trail marker|
|A real lizard, an Eastern Water Dragon, standing in our path|
The track has wonderful views out over the valley but, equally interesting, is the variety of plant life on the cliff face. There are a number of plants that grow only the wet rock faces in the Blue Mountains and nowhere else in the world. If I knew anything about plants I'd have included a photo of one.
|Wentworth Falls from below|
|The upper part of Wentworth Falls|
Back to Charles Darwin's brief trip to Oz: he wasn't as excited by the fauna here as he had been in the Galapagos because so much of it had already been described. He didn't see a yowie but on his trip to the Blue Mountains he came across other animals that puzzled him. He saw a rat-kangaroo that seemed to fulfil the same function a rabbit does in England. And he saw a platypus that was much like an English water vole. But both were very different in anatomy. In his diary he wondered who one creator would have designed different animals to fill similar ecological niches in different parts of the world. It wasn't an original thought but Darwin eventually pursued it in a way that on one else did. Using this and other evidence he collected on his voyage he wrote a book with the catchy title, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. We know it simply as On the Origin of Species.
So there you have it: if it hadn't been for a tourist visiting the Blue Mountains years ago we would never have had the Theory of Evolution. QED.