I have lived in the Blue Mountains on and off since 1971. My introduction to Blue Mountains bushwalking was at Lawson where I lived for several periods. I have also lived at Katoomba and Leura. Born in Victoria, I have a background in printing and publishing and have worked in Australia, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. In April 2015 I retired from work as a part-time tour guide at Jenolan Caves. My wife Rosemary and I have four adult children and eight grandchildren — three live next door but the others are in Queensland!
The Blue Mountains has more than 200 kilometres of constructed walking tracks plus many more kilometres that have been developed by usage. So far I have documented over 77km of track.
My area of interest has been the tracks developed for day walkers. Almost every Blue Mountains town has such tracks but most are never featured in tourism publications where the emphasis is usually on Echo Point and Govetts Leap.
When I wrote my first two Pocket Pals I had to do a lot of research to discover names of features and dates of tracks etc. Now the task has been made much easier by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and Jim Smith studies of heritage walking tracks and Brian Fox’s wonderful Blue Mountains Geographical Encyclopaedia.
Pocket Pal maps are my work. When I measured the Prince Henry Cliff Walk and associated tracks for my first book I used a home-made measure wheel consisting of the front forks and handlebar of a bike! People must have thought I was a bit strange walking around with a wheel that clicked! I have now graduated to a professional measure wheel and a digital compass.
I believe I now have a good eye for spotting old tracks — all except one of the books have featured the rediscovery of some. I’ve also named four lookouts in the Katoomba area, three of which have been adopted by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and one has been accepted by the Geographical Names Board.
My latest bushwalking book, Great Walks at Mount Victoria, was the most intensive of all. With the help of walking companions we found six sections of overgrown or forgotten tracks and this book will enable you to ensure they are not lost again.
Since then I have concentrated on local history with two Mount Victoria books and two Lithgow books.
I hope you will enjoy your travels with Pocket Pal and your local history studies!
– Keith Painter