The Mysterious Lindeman Pass

I love a good story. And the story of The Lindeman Pass in the Blue Mountains is a cracker.

Today I was reminded of this quote by Thomas Edison, which I found inside my daily Happy Pills.

Thomas Edison: A man obsessed

Thomas Edison: A man obsessed

So, Edison was obviously passionate, focussed, single-minded and one could argue,  obsessive. So too, was Charles Lindeman. A council alderman in the Blue Mountains and a man on a mission to build a walking track that would link Wentworth Falls and Katoomba, along the base of the cliff line, at the top of the Talus slope.

nb: Please tweak your YouTube playback settings to 1080p or 720p before watching this video!

If you’ve ever been to The Blue Mountains, you’ll know that one of the most popular tourist hiking tracks is the Federal Pass. It snakes along the base of the cliff line from Mt Solitary’s western flank, past the Ruined Castle and the Golden Stairs, scooting along across the Scenic Railway and into the lush Leura Forest, where it finishes abruptly at a stunning waterfall. [It’s got it’s own interesting modern history, wrapped up in coal shale mining, but that’s another story.]

Mt Solitary at the south of the Jamison Valley

Mt Solitary at the south of the Jamison Valley

Then, just to the east in the same Jamison/Kedumba Valley area, you can walk at roughly the same height along the jaw-droppingly gorgeous National Pass and Wentworth Pass, around Wentworth Falls and even link up onto Kings Tableland at the far east of the valley.

Kedumba Walls/Kings Tableland to the east (as seen from Lindeman Pass)

Kedumba Walls/Kings Tableland to the east (as seen from Lindeman Pass)

Logic and foresight is a great thing and poor old Charles Lindeman seemed to have lots of that, thinking that a track to join the east and west sections of the Federal Pass together, would make good sense. However, what he didn’t foresee was how vocal and political the Katoomba shop owners of the time would be in their lobbying of the Katoomba Council to ensure that the last 200 metres of the track were never completed. They were scared that all the Sydney tourists of the time (the trains were packed on Friday nights) would all walk away from Katoomba to Wentworth Falls and take all their custom with them. The somewhat darker side to the story is rumours of ill-feeling and anti German sentiment towards Herr Lindeman at this time prior to WWI.

Some of Lindeman's original retaining walls seen in a 'good' section.

Some of Lindeman’s original retaining walls seen in a ‘good’ section.

An article, from the Blue Mountain Echo, 5 September 1913, sums up the case succinctly. Those with an eye for place names, will recognise Dash and Copeland in this article, as they relate to Dashs Cave (see video) and Copeland Pass, being the name given to the somewhat airy pass on Sublime Point above Lindeman Pass. Again, in January 1927, another push was on to finish the track, with the journalist seeing the need for co-operation between the rival Katoomba and Wentworth Falls councils.

Beautiful waterfalls, pounding after storms. (Sadly, the old Water Board ladders are no more, so the trip isn't finished yet).

Beautiful waterfalls, pounding after storms. (Sadly, the old Water Board ladders are no more, so the trip isn’t finished yet).

Now, I’ve already said too much about this grand tale, for someone who knows so little about it. I will leave the detail and relentless research (perhaps as passionate as dear Lindeman himself), to Mr Jim Smith and his wonderful book, “Blue Mountains Mystery Track: Lindeman Pass,” who along with Wilf Hilder, worked tirelessly in the 80’s trying to get the track opened and welcomed into the family of great bushwalks of the Blue Mountains.

In all my 15 years of bushwalking, I have never seen leeches as bad as on Lindemans… epic!

In all my 15 years of bushwalking, I have never seen leeches as bad as on Lindemans… epic!

Alas, these days, after all the blood, sweat, tears and leech bites, of many passionate people, it is only the hardy and experienced navigators and route finders who can today, make their way from Wentworth Falls to Katoomba, along Lindeman’s dream.

The sign says it all - there is one of these at the east and west of the route.

The sign says it all – there is one of these at the east and west of the route.

I am sure the costs to renew the track and bring it up to a ‘manageable’ state, whereby average hikers could be able to undertake it safely, would be well over $2m. There’s simply too much to be done, not only to the track, but also cliff stabilisation above, to warrant the spend of NPWS already tight budgets. I believe that sadly, Mr Lindeman’s dream will remain just that. However, it is a dream that those passionate and experienced few, can continue on.

Encouraging signs… a small but committed work party install new signage - June 2013. [Photo credit TBC]

Encouraging signs… a small but committed work party install new signage – June 2013. From left – Neil M, Gary B, Arthur Henry NPWS, Robert G [Photo: Ron B]


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  1. says

    Nice little history there. I love the Blue Mountains, it’s great to learn more about them without having to drive up there myself!

    P.S. LOVE the new look!


  2. Graeme says

    A couple of Lindemans memories-

    I met this character at the junction of Gladstone when doing a recce for a Lindeman Pass walk. His name didn’t mean anything to me at the time, but we had a bit of a chat. Actually for a couple of hours, and he did most of the talking. Didn’t get to do the recce, but certainly learnt a few things that day. It was my introduction to Wilf Hilder.

    The recce was to be for a programmed Sutherland Club walk a few weeks later. Everybody thought I knew where I was going. Didn’t have the heart to tell them it was ‘exploratory’. It was also the first walk I ever lead. Nothing like jumping in at the deep end..

    • says

      Ah, bless. That sounds like a pretty typical introduction to the giant of a man, Wilf Hilder. With all that talking that Wilf did you would have sounded like an expert to the Sutherland Bushie folk, telling them all about the history no doubt.

      … and yes, that is definitely the deep end for a first trip to lead! Wow.

  3. Lyonel says

    Sweet vid. Did you guys actually make it all the way to Wentworth Falls? I’m thinking of hiking this trail but could only find information on the Lindeman Pass starting from Gladstone Pass to Leura Cascades.

    Great website, keep up the good work!

    • says

      Thanks Lyonel! Glad you like it and thanks for stopping by.

      We walked down Roberts Pass (below Inspiration Point and Moya Point) in front of the Fairmont Resort, then west all the way to Leura Cascades.

      It would be simple to go the complete length from WWF to Conservation Hut on the marked public tracks, then along the bottom to join up at the base of Roberts Pass. Would be a big day!

      • Dave Wooldridge says

        Last December (2013) I walked from my house (about 1km East of the Wentworth Falls falls) to South Katoomba via the full length of Lindemans Pass, it took about 7 or 8 hours.

        I can confirm that re-finding the path can be tricky (more than an hour in total for about 10 track losses) where it was covered by fallen tree crowns (uncomfortably riddled with lawyer vines) or rockslide talus. Perhaps less time would be lost with a group looking for the sometimes indistinct foot pad along a broad front. One person zig-zagging progressively further up and down slope looking for it certainly takes longer.

        Having not left until early afternoon, it was getting dark by the time I reached the junction with Federal Pass. But on that moonless night the path up and out was dimly marked by a slight fluorescence on the steps’ risers.

        I was told this weekend that a new sign is needed at junction with Roberts Pass but that plans are in hand for replacing it.

        • says

          That sounds like a nice adventure Dave. I certainly wouldn’t want to be trying to bash my way across there, trying to find the rough foot pads in the dark – great that you had moonlight!
          Good to hear that there’s a new sign being planned. I know that NPWS are doing some great work at the moment with new signage appearing in various spots like Kanangra Walls and also at Dunphy Campground / Breakfast Creek area.
          Thanks for sharing your story!

  4. John Bevelander says

    Just completed the Lindeman Pass today from Leura Cascades to Wentworth Falls. My first time on the pass with a mate who had done sections previously. Some kind hikers or NPWS have cleared sections on the east side of Sublime Point and left enough marking tape to follow. Apparently a great deal easier than recently. Absolutely loved the walk but it is leech central……all part of the experience!

    • says

      Great to hear you enjoyed it John… even the leeches! Gosh, it was pretty muggy and drizzly on Saturday – the leeches must have had a field day with you and your mate!

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