Walk 50:- Glenbrook Circuit via Lennox Bridge and Historic Railways At A Glance
Route Summary:- This walk is all on tracks, service roads or streets. It starts with about a 1.3 km. walk along Glenbrook streets, then a combination of walking tracks and fire trails for about 1.9 km. to Lennox Bridge followed by
3 km on various walking tracks via Marges and Elizabeth Lookouts, the Knapsack Bridge and the Zigzag Railway site to the Great Western Highway, then for 0.35 km along public road and under Highway, followed by various walking tracks for 2.5 km. via an old railway tunnel, an old tramway route, Ross and Chalmers Lookouts over Glenbrook Gorge to Glenbrook streets.
Highlights:- Traces the railway history of the lower Blue Mountains; Lennox Bridge; four lookouts; site of ‘Fires On’ painting by Arthur Streeton
Negatives :- 3.3 km of walk is along Glenbrook streets
Continuous walking time with a few 3-4 min. stops:- 3 hrs.
Train Time from Central to Start :-. 1 hr 1 min.; Western Line; every hour
Train Time from finish to Central:-. 1 hr. 1 min.; Western Line; every hour
Total Climb :- 230 m.
Total Descent :- 230 m.
Café/Kiosk :- Glenbrook
Published 1:25,000 Map :- Penrith
Walk No. 50
Glenbrook Historic Road and Railway Walk
Km./Hrs.min. Kilometers in bold are shown on map
0.00/0.00 Walk up station steps and cross Burfitt Parade at right angles, then walk up on Ross St. towards Glenbrook shops; walk past Cross St. on left to a T junction opposite a park.
0.30/0.04 At T junction in the heart of Glenbrook Shopping area, veer left for about 10 m., then turn right and walk across brick paved area, still along Ross St.
0.41/0.05 Corner Ross St. and Wascoe Street; note historic renovated Station Master’s cottage ahead; turn left and walk along Wascoe Street to traffic lights.
0.62/0.08 After crossing G.W. Highway on ‘Walk’, turn right and walk back along Highway .
0.80/0.11 At intersection with paved footpath on left and Ross St. directly opposite on other side of Highway, walk on straight for about 90 m. to old Glenbrook Station
0.89/0.12 At old Glenbrook Station, sign:- ‘Glenbrook Station 1927- Garlick Parade’;
turn around and walk back to paved footpath, turn right and follow this footpath to its end at Moore St.
1.05/0.15 At Moore St., turn right and follow this downhill to its end at a small turning circle
1.23/0.17 At end of Moore St., take the gravel footpath slightly to the right of turning circle gently downhill and over a bridge after about 50.
1.31/0.19 Footpath intersect sealed unsignaged road (Barnett St.) with Highway visible about 50 m. on right and locked gate with fire trail straight ahead; step over wire rope at locked gate and take the walking track that goes gently uphill on left of fire trail
1.40/0.20 Walking track bends hard left with fire trail about 20 m. on right below.
1.47/0.22 Track joins obliquely from left; continue straight
1.52/0.23 Four-way track X junction next to Knapsack Park oval; take track slightly on right (not track more steeply down on right); track then veers gently downhill, away from oval, with new tree planting by Council and small gully on right.
1.68/0.25 Four-way X track junction at gully with sandstone paved crossing; turn right after crossing and follow this wider track gently uphill
1.72/0.27 Ignore small track on right; continue straight
1.79/0.28 At track T junction; go left.
1.86/0.29 Track X junction at two blue square steel posts; continue straight.
1.97/0.30 Track junction at two more blue square steel posts about 15 m. apart; continue straight, gently uphill.
2.07/0.32 Major track T junction at well maintained service trail known as ‘Lovers’ Walk’; note short metal fencing and blue square metal post ahead; turn right and follow ‘Lovers’ Walk’
2.15/0.33 Ignore track on right
2.21/0.33 Ignore fenced track on right; continue straight.
2.33/0.34 Track X junction; ignore minor track crossing main track; continue straight
2.50/0.37 Service road Y junction just before ‘Lovers Walk’ bends to the right; go left on less well maintained service road.
2.62/0.39 Service road Y junction with blue square metal post ahead; veer left, downhill on wide rocky trail that goes between two old quarries with quarry face above on left and below on right.
2.94/0.44 Track T junction at bottom of valley with creek in front and old quarry on right; signage on unpainted timber post ‘Marges LO;Elizabeth LO; Knapsack Bridge; Lapstone Zigzag’ all back track; ‘Olive St. Exit’ on left and ‘Lennox Bridge’ on right; turn right and follow wide track along creek.
3.20/0.48 Track Y junction with narrow walking track that goes steeply uphill on right; walk on for about 100 m. past a locked gate to Lennox Bridge.
3.27/0.50 Middle of Lennox Bridge; this was first opened in 1833 as a segment of Michell’s Pass and is the oldest surviving stone arch bridge on the mainland. After viewing, back track past locked gate to the narrow walking track on left and take this steeply up.
3.36/0.56 At walking track on left; go steeply up
3.39/0.56 Track T junction; go left
3.43/0.59 Now directly above Lennox Bridge on left below.
3.58/1.01 Track Y junction; take either; they merge ahead
3.69/1.03 Track T junction; ignore track on right; continue straight; first view over Hawkesbury River flood plain
3.82/1.05 Track exits at Marges Lookout service road and turning circle; go left for about 30 m. to Lookout.
3.83/1.06 After viewing, walk back along either branch of service road
3.93/1.07 Ignore track on right at blue square metal post
4.05/1.09 Where the service road bends to the right, there are three walking/ bike tracks on left and one on right; take the third track on left marked by a blue square metal post
4.12/1.10 Track junction on left- re-joins ahead; continue straight
4.20/1.11 Track crosses gully, then veers left.
4.24/1.12 Track Y junction; go right and after about 30 m. track crosses low sandstone cliff
4.31/1.14 At wide turning circle for service road, go left to Elizabeth Lookout
4.39/1.16 At Elizabeth Lookout, after viewing, go back behind covered picnic tables; with picnic tables immediately in front and to the left and view ahead, signage on timber post:- ‘Knapsack Bridge’ and ‘Lapstone Zigzag’ track on right, ‘Barnett St.’ and ‘Marges Lookout’ backtrack; there are two tracks on right- take the one not marked by blue square metal post; follow this good walking track downhill to Knapsack Bridge; there are many timber fronted steps, some with soil washed out behind timber risers- take care
4.96/1.31 Track junction with rough track on left leading up to the pavement on Knapsack Bridge; ignore this-continue down.
5.00/1.32 Under Knapsack bridge; continue along track next to gully for about 90 m.
5.03/1.33 Track junction; turn right and take timber steps down to cross creek; turn right after crossing and continue up on good track.
5.07/1.37 Ignore track on left; continue up on timber fronted steps under and then onto pavement of Knapsack Bridge.
5.10/1.40 On Bridge pavement; after viewing, return to track and continue up on 109 ‘Steve Taylor Stairs’, then continue on track as it zigzags up to a track T junction next to a cutting.
5.27/1.47 At T junction, go right for about 30 m. to Siding Lookouty and one end of zigzag rail shunt point
5.31/1.48 At Siding Lookout; after viewing, turn around and walk along broad zigzag rail route
5.39/1.50 Just before concrete platform for old Lucasville Station, look for post on left with signage; take the ‘Knapsack St Exit’ track and continue straight ahead along the railway route past Lucasville platform
5.54/1.51 Zigzag junction; signage on rotting timber ‘ Knapsack Quarry’ downhill on left and ‘Siding Lookout’ back track; continue straight
5.87/1.56 After walking along a substantial 8-10 m. deep cutting you reach a track junction with signage on unpainted timber post ‘ Quarry Lookout’ for track on left ‘Knapsack Street’ straight on and ‘Lucasville Siding’ back track; go left to Quarry Lookout; walk about 15 m. past a narrow track joining acutely on left to the fenced Lookout
5.96/1.58 At Quarry Lookout above quarry face and G.W.Highway ahead; after viewing walk back about 15 m. and take narrow walking track on right steeply down, then across the quarry floor.
6.01/2.01 Now on quarry floor, with quarry face behind; signage on unpainted timber post:- ‘G.W. Highway’ and ‘Tunnel Gully Reserve’ straight ahead and ‘Knapsack Park’ to the left; go straight towards Highway.
Note:- There is no more signage from this point to the tramway terminus overlooking Glenbrook Gorge
After a few steps down, turn right at Highway and walk along concrete footpath past massive rock bolts to Highway underpass.
6.13/2.04 Middle of Highway underpass; after emerging, walk straight towards a massive water tank ahead, ignoring the paved footpath that continues gently uphill on your right
6.26/2.05 At water tank; veer right, walk past locked gate, then along the old 1892 Glenbrook Tunnel Route with cuttings on both sides, track then route emerges in an open area, crosses small creek and resumes in cutting
6.65/2.12 Track T junction; go right up an 0.7 m. high sandstone step to another track junction where turn left and follow track gently uphill along the narrow ridge between rail cutting on left and gully on right- in places this is only about 2 m. wide on top.
6.91/2.16 Now right above ‘Fires On’ tunnel portal, made famous by Arthur Streeton’s 1891 painting; follow the track up for about 25 m to a track junction
6.96/2.17 Track junction at steel manhole cover for sewer; go left uphill on rubbly outcrop
7.02/2.19 Track junction with wider walking track on left; continue straight, now more gently up
7.09/2.20 Track T junction with stones and small cairns on left; veer right and continue uphill
7.16/2.21 Track junction; ignore track on left; continue straight
7.26/2.23 Track X junction; walking track is crossed at right angles by old 1912 tramway route with cuttings; turn left here and follow the tramway route for about 100 m to its intersection with Explorers Road, one of the main roads in the area
7.49/2.35 Walk past locked gate, cross Explorers Road, then cross a concrete footpasth and walk past another locked gate, still along Tramway Route
8.25/2.36 End of tramway route; signage :- ‘Tramway Terminus’ and ‘Lapstone’ to the left and ‘Lookouts’ to the right; (Lapstone Exit now closed by Sydney Water);turn right; after about 50 m you come to a sign on right ‘ Winding House Base’ ; this was the winding house for the funicular railway up the valley during the construction of the present Glenbrook Tunnel in 1912; it was used mainly to transport bricks and other materials down; after viewing, continue to follow the track down on wooden steps then up to Bluff view point
8.36/2.44 Fenced unsignposted Bluff view point over Glenbrook Gorge; after viewing, continue on a less distinct walking track initially over rock outcrop
8.43/2.46 Fenced unsignposted Ross lookout and track junction; ignore track t to right that goes up to power lines; continue straight keeping cliff line on left
8.55/2.48 Track T junction and covered picnic table; track on right leads to car parking area; continue straight, past old telegraph poles to Chalmers Lookout
8.77/2.54 At signposted Chalmers Lookout
8.87/2.59 After viewing, walk directly uphill; ignore both tracks on right after about 25 m. but continue on wide track for another 20 m. to a track junction with a narrower walking track on left; go left on this to emerge after about another 25 m. at a T junction with power lines above; go left for another 20 m. to a sealed public road- Brooke Road; walk along Brooke Road
9.10/3.02 Walk past Pedar Street on right.
9.27/3.04 At unsignposted Hodgson Street on right, with large water tank visible further along it; go left here over road barrier and walk between two fences, initially under power lines, then steeply down on rubbly track marked with plastic bunting to Bush Place- a sealed public road.
9.48/3.10 At Bush Place; follow this for about 40 m. to it T junction with Bruce Road; then turn right and follow Bruce Road to Glenbrook Rail Station.
10.36/3.21 At Glenbrook Station; end of walk
Glenbrook Historic Railway Walk
The Lapstone Monocline is a geological feature at the eastern edge of the 500 meter uplift that commenced 15-22 million years ago to create the Blue Mountains. This uplift proceeded very slowly, such that the then existing streams like the Nepean River, Glenbrook Creek , the Grose and Colo Rivers were able to maintain their beds, flowing to the east, because the rate of erosion kept pace with the rate of uplift.
On the eastern side, facing Emu Plains and Richmond the 190-250 million year old Triassic strata has been tilted upwards- the Lapstone Monocline- to create a formidable barrier to road and rail construction.
There were three phases of railway construction to scale the monocline:-
Stage 1 :- The Lapstone Zig-zag railway built 1863-65 as an alternative to the then proposed and unaffordable 3 km tunnel along the Grose Valley.
The spectacular Knapsack Gully Viaduct and Lucasville Station (built because John Lucas, Minister for Mines, had a holiday house there!!) are a part of the zig-zag construction.
Several problems soon became obvious:-
- The length of trains was limited by the length of the switchbacks
- Because of the single track, trains had to wait their turn at sidings- the closest was at Wasco Siding, now Glenbrook.
- There was a serious collision at Emu Plains in 1878.
Stage 2:- The First Deviation 1891-92. This involved the construction of a 660 meter long single track tunnel at a steep 1:33 gradient to allow trains to move directly from the Knapsack Viaduct to Glenbrook Station (the original site next to the Gt. Western Highway).
New problems soon appeared:-
- The gradient of the tunnel was too steep and steam engines would slip on the tracks and trains frequently had to reverse out to get a better run up.
- Ventilation was a serious problem in the narrow tunnel- smoke from wood, then coal fired engines ( carbon monoxide) tended to cause asphyxiation
- Another serious accident in 1908
This tunnel portal is the subject of Arthur Streeton’s famous painting ‘Fire’s On’ that can be viewed at the AG of NSW
Stage 3:- The Second Deviation built in 1910- 12. The main feature is the currently used double track tunnel at a grade of 1:66 along Glenbrook Gorge and the subsequent release of the Knapsack Viaduct to become a road.
To facilitate construction of the new tunnel, a tramway was built on contour from the present Lucasville Road to the edge of Glenbrook Gorge. The route if the tramway is still obvious.