Note from Editor Des’ guardian Pauline Conolly…..As you will see at the bottom of the story, fire has swept through the area he wrote about. He is very sad, as we all are.

Spot  Editor Des up a gum tree!
Editor Des

A Double Bunger Day Out, by Editor Des

Hello down there! Here’s my first travel /history article  and yes  I have had a little  help from  my friend Dr Bob.  I am stepping into the  breach (that’s a  cliché,  but a good one) for my guardian  Pauline Conolly. She  is  busy doing other things. or so she says.


Well from dear old  Blackheath village you drive to the end of Hat Hill Road then follow the signs to Anvil Rock. There are a few of K’s of  unsealed road,  but  the  surface is very good and even the smallest (or most expensive ) cars  can proceed with confidence….that’s a good phrase if I say so myself!

The magnificent  Wind Eroded Cave is only a couple of minutes walk  from the parking area and  the native flora is  something to behold. Depending on the season you will see wild boronia, flannel flowers, erica,  mountain devil,  banksia, grevillea,  scribbly gums, wattle,  and probably  a hundred other  flowers, shrubs and trees  (Pauline told me this bit).  The cave is more correctly a giant overhang, with extraordinary honeycomb formations in   appropriately  honey coloured  sedimentary rock.  See how tiny  Pauline looks?  That’s her,  standing in the bottom left hand corner in a black cardy. She looks like an ant.

Wind-eroded cave, Blackheath
Wind-eroded cave

Now Follow Me To The  Next Stop.

When you return to the parking area,  a short walk  in another  direction  will take you to Anvil Rock, overlooking  the Grose Valley.  You can pause to admire the view from a beautiful, rustic  seat in memory of  a lady called Joyce Brister  (1916 -2010). The plaque reads, ‘At home in the bush’.  I don’t know what wood it’s made from but it’s all  burnished  and knotty and very lovely .  Let’s hope philistines (Dr Bob’s word)   don’t hack their names on it.

Seat overlooking Grose Valley Blackhath
Resting spot to admire the view!

The rock  itself has been  carved by the elements over millions of years into the  rough shape of a blacksmith’s anvil . In 1940  Bradford Kendall , who operated a foundry business, presented  Council with a 6 cwt ( that’s 305 kg) steel anvil, which was cemented to the top of the rock.  Some people still consider this a umm,  desecration (thanks Dr Bob) , but let’s not get into environmental politics!

There  is an almost  360 degree view;  right over  to  the  spectacular  escarpments  above the tree canopy. Look down (don’t fall whatever you do!) to  the  flashes of  water from the snaking Grose River  way, way  down in the valley. The best time  to visit is on a clear autumn  or spring  day, preferably mid week. Odds are you will be alone  except for scurrying lizards, bees sipping nectar from the flowering banksias….  and  birds. King parrots, kookaburras  and  cockatoos soar across the valley  with raucous calls, but the most magical sound is that of  distant bellbirds.

Bell miner
The shy bellbird.

Hundreds  of them  feed in the foliage of gums; Pauline says their tinkling  notes  create  a chorus  that lifts the heart. I think  she is right. A man called Henry Kendall wrote a poem about them;

Lines on the bellbird by Henry Kendall

Mystery at Anvil Rock

In the  1970’s   the steel  anvil  suddenly vanished.  When they spotted some scratch marks on the cliff face,  the National Park  rangers  realized  that  vandals had  managed to wrench  it from the rock and push it over the cliff  into the valley; a drop of  about 300 metres.  Aren’t  there some wicked, wicked  people in the world?   Difficult terrain and the  problem of hauling up something so heavy  prevented National Park staff from carrying out a search, and the missing anvil became part of Blackheath folklore.

Then , on February 26 2005 the Police Rescue Squad had to search the area  below Anvil Rock by foot. It was a sad business as they were trying to find and  recover the  body  of a suicide victim.   The body was found, and also the missing  anvil!  It was  lying completely intact  at the base of a tree, which had  broken its fall. Afterwards, approaches were made to the National Parks people  who agreed to  try and lift  it out  by helicopter.   This was  eventually done and  the iconic (rare and wonderful)  anvil has since been cemented securely back  in place.

Anvil Rock, Blackheath
Anvil Rock, Blackheath

PS –   Below is another part of Anvil Rock.  Can you see me in this pic?! I’m  very  well camoflagued in the fork of a tree..

Spot Editor Des at Anvil Rock
Spot Editor Des at Anvil Rock

PS, I really  like this bare bottomy  gum tree nearby!  See if you can find it when you visit.

It’s a little bit rude and Pauline told me not to put it in but Dr Bob said I could – do you know why?  Because he likes it too! Ha ha!  The lady seems to have some nasty boils on her back , but they’re really…GUM BOILS!!

Tree near Anvil Rock
Dr Bob’s bottomy trunk

A SAD UPDATE – DECEMBER 2I 2019. A terrible bush fire has swept through the Grose Valley and up to Anvil Rock, destroying native shrubs, flowers and wildlife. The flora will regenerate I know, but my heart is very broken.

Here is a story Pauline wrote about Blackheath. It’s not nearly as good as this one though.

Leave a comment if you like my first travel article!  Thanks…. Editor Des Bear 


  1. What an interesting article, Des. You’ve learned so many new words – and you can spell them too. I was particular impressed by the word ‘environmental’ You didn’t get the ‘m’ and the ‘n’ mixed up this time. And raucous and foliage, wow! Two new, and very difficult words to spell, for a small editor. I’m very proud of you, but darling Des, although I loved the amazing photographs, was it really necessary to show off on that anvil? Well done, and keep reading that dictionary. xxx

    • Thank you Maddie

      Pauline and Dr Bob say I’m coming on really well with my spelling and vocabulary.

      Sorry about the Anvil photo, I suppose it was a bit much of me to sit on it really. As Dr Bob said aftwerwards, I have to remember that a travel piece is not about me it’s about the scenery! (I thought I’d be part of the scenery but I know better now)


  2. Hello Des, you do make the area enticing although it was very boyish and cheeky of you to publish the photo of the bottom tree. It’s a weeny bit rude isn’t it; whatever will our foreign friend think of the Aussie bush now!

    • Pauline

      Thank you Gayle. I know the bottom tree was a big mistake but Dr Bob made me do it! Pauline says I should be (big breath) an Ambassador for the Beautiful Blue Mountains and that is what I am going to be from now on. I hope you will come and visit us. The snow has melted now.

  3. Wow, I use to live in Blackheath….the London one 😉

    Was never as interesting as yours though!


  4. Hello Vikki

    Yes, well Governor Lachlan Macquarie (Pauline’s hero) named our Blackheath after your one when he and his wife made a ‘progression’ over the Mountains in 1815. Actually he named it Houndslow on the way over but forgot and named it again on the way back. Ha ha..isn’t that funny? I think we would rather be Blackheath than a doggy sort of name like Houndslow!

    And yes, it is a VERY interesting place. On day I might tell you more: about our connection with the famous cricketer Don Bradman, about Govett’s Leap and Pulpit Rock etc.

  5. What an interesting day out, Des. The scenery looks amazing! I, too, have seen some rude trees in my neck of the woods but I’ve always been too embarassed to take photos. I dare say they’re daring us to believe they do it on purpose.

  6. Thank you Diane, I’m glad you enjoyed my story. There is a very funny rudey tree in the Sydney BOTanical Gardens, I might get Dr Bob to take a picture one day when Pauline is not around. I think the trees grow like it on purpose as a little joke.

  7. Pauline

    Well Desmond..and Dr Bob!

    I don’t think we will be going anywhere near the botanical gardens in the near future!! In fact I’m sure we won’t.

  8. Desmond,
    Congratulations on your first travel article.I found your description very informative and sections very humourous.I think the gum boils on the ladies bare bottom are wonderful.
    Dr Bob’s photographs are impressive and I certainly hope to make a trip to Anvil Rock at sometime. I hope you will be my Tour Guide.
    Don’t be too concerned about being cheeky , you are after all a true Aussie.

    • Pauline

      Thank you very much Vonnie
      You would like Anvil Rock and the honeycomb cave. I’ll show you the boily bottom one day when Pauline isn’t looking. She doesn’t have a sense of humer like I do.
      I miss you Vonnie
      love Desmond

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