A brief guide to Lockleys Pylon
Lockleys Pylon is in Darug country but there are sites of significance to the Gundungurra and Wiradjuri close by. Bushwalking guides rate it a medium, relatively flat walk, of about 7km return that takes about three hours from a car park 7 kilometres north of Leura on the rocky dirt of Mount Hay Road.
The walk to the pylon is a dry path that winds its way through what is mostly heathland punctuated with low forest and terraced with basalt. The heath looks like an olive carpet until you get close, when you discover it is filled with grasses and flowers. Wherever you look, at any time of year, you can see the stars of miniature flannel flowers (Actinotus minor) with their tiny petals, feathered like cats' tongues. Their languid larger cousins, (Actinotus helianthi) flower in the summer, as does the pink flannel flower (Actinotus forsythia) although it will only flower after a bushfire and I am still waiting for the privilege of seeing one. There are always yellow and purple orchids, mauve fringe lilies, blue lilies, pea flowers, heath blossoms, curly old man's beard ( Caustis flexuosa) and dianella. Grass trees (Xanthorrhea spp) burst upward and outward, swirling the inferior grasses around them into bird's nests. Along the forested sections of the track there are mountain devils (Lambertia formosa), drumsticks (Isopogon spp), cone bushes (Petrophile spp), yellow geebungs (Persoonia spp) and all shades of grevillea, as well as the architectural grandeur of old man banksias, the flaming beacons of waratah (Telopea speciosissima) and acacia and eucalyptus trees.
The heath owes its abundance to the peat and hanging swamps that hold the water in suspension above the sandstone, although eventually that water must leach into the gullies and pour out, making waterfalls that wet the cliffs below and feed ferns and sundews.
Naming Lockleys Pylon
The pylon itself is a bulge at the top of Du Faur Buttress, 600 metres above the floor of the Grose Valley. The 360-degree views sweep to the Illawarra and Sydney, mounts Hay, Banks and Tomah, the Darling Causeway, Hat Hill, Govetts Leap and the Fortress Ridge. It is so quiet out there – there is no sound of road or rail and rarely anyone else on the path, just birdsong and the lazy buzzing of insects. The Grose Valley stretches out beneath, walled by vertiginous cliffs. From the pylon a path, probably used by Aboriginal people before settlement, plunges down the face of the buttress into the iconic Blue Gum Forest.