Berghofer's Pass track near the Great Western Highway.

The lower end of the Victoria Pass Viaduct.

Looking up the Victoria Pass Viaduct.

Mitchell's Pass Monument.

The Inscription on the Monument.

Inscription at the top end of the Victoria Pass Viaduct.

Looking down the Victoria Pass Viaduct.

A Water Trough on Berghofer's Pass.



Track Notes - Berghofer's Pass

Date:  16/3/2008

Maps:  LPI Hartley 89304N

Route:  Berghofer's Pass from the Great Western Highway to the Mt York Road with a deviation to look at Mitchells Victoria Pass.

Gear:  Day Pack, Camera, EPIRB, Maps, Compass, GPS (set to WGS84), 2 litres water.

Party:  Peter Medbury


Knowing I would be working in Sydney for a couple of days I planned a short stopover on the way down - a visit to Berghofer's Pass and Mitchell's Pass.

As luck would have it, I left late and didn't start walking from the Great Western Highway end of the track until 5:30pm.  Fortunately Daylight Saving Time was on my side and the sign said 'Return Walk 1 Hour - Easy Grade'. 

Drainage is handled by stone and pipe culverts at various places along Berghofer's Pass.  These are well built and still clearly show pick marks on the face.  Different stones have different patterns, almost as though they are the signatures of the craftsmen who made them.  There is an excellent example immediately below the Victoria Pass Viaduct.

After having a good look at the culvert I climbed up to the viaduct to have a close look at the structure I have driven over so many times.  It is very imposing.  The Viaduct is built on a curve and this side is on the outside.  There are 2 large reinforcing bulwarks helping to support it.

I'd have to say just how disappointed I was to see so much rubbish that had been thrown out of car windows - bottles, cans, plastic, etc.  It is completely unbelievable.

After taking some photos I climbed up to the Highway and crossed to the southern side.  This side is on the inside and the walls are very steep.  There is a steep drop down to valley below.  You've got to admire the engineering involved.  The scaffolding must have been impressive.  From just below the Viaduct there some good views to the south through the trees.

After crossing the Victoria Pass below the Viaduct I had to climb up to the Highway again.  The Highway runs up the northern side of the ridge.  High cliffs make southern side impassible.  I walked (carefully) up the Highway to the Mitchell's Pass Monument.  The Monument is a 3 layer pyramid.  The words 'Mitchell's Pass 1832' are inscribed in the middle layer of rock.  After satisfying my curiosity about the monument I went around behind it to the gap in the rock wall.  There is a sheer cliff and some more great views.

I crossed the Highway again and started walking down the northern side of the road, behind the safety barrier.  The road is almost the width of the ridge down to the Viaduct.  There are some rock walls and in between stone retaining walls had been built to maintain the width.  At various places concrete drains remove surface water draining from the road.

Approaching from the uphill side the Viaduct looks even more impressive. The sweep of the curve and the size of the reinforcing bulwarks is very clear.

At the end of the rock wall on the northern side, immediately before the Viaduct starts is a stone inscription, very hard to read.  It is in the shape of a square with a triangle on top.  The year, 1896 is carved so the 18 is on the left hand side of the square while the 96 appear on the right.  There are 5 names carved inside the square.  A little to the left are the words Thirty October.  The reason for the inscription is not clear to me.  There are some marks and symbols carved into a flat rock nearby.

After puzzling about the inscriptions I climbed down to the base of the Viaduct to have a close look at the sandstone and to take a lot more photos.  Finally satisfied, I made my way down the slope to continue along Berghofer's Pass.

Berghofer's Pass follows a gentler grade than the road up Mitchell's Pass, winding its way around the side of the mountain until it eventually emerges at the Mt York Road.

Construction work started on Berghofer's Pass in 1907.  Berghofer's Pass was a deviation to Victoria Pass and designed for the motor vehicles of the day.  Victoria Pass was just too steep.  Berghofer's pass was opened in 1912 and was closed in 1934.  In 1920 Victoria Pass upgraded and reopened because motor vehicles had developed enough power to drive up it.

An inscription in the cliff face marks the old Shire Council Boundary.  A little further on there is another point with an inscription carrying the words 'Berghofers Pass 1909'.

At one point the remains of reinforcing bridgework provided by wooden poles can be seen projecting out over the valley.  In some places the rocks walls had to be hacked away to make way for the road.

As I walked I noticed it getting darker and darker.  I knew I would need my torch soon.

There is a beautiful Water Trough carved from the rock at a place where there is a constant trickle of water.  I could hear the water dripping into the trough as I took a photo.

Near the top of the Pass the road swings around the nose of a ridge.  As it does there are excellent views to the south, across the cliffs  of Berghofer's Pass to the cliffs of Victoria Pass.  In the faint light I could just see these features.  Traffic flowing along the Great Western Highway near Hartley looked almost alive.

I reached the top of Berghofer's Pass at 7:45pm, considerably longer than the half hour suggested on the sign.  My fault - I'd deviated to explore the Mitchell's Victoria Pass.

It was time to get my Head Torch out, swap round the centre battery to complete circuit and head back down to the car.  I always replace my torch batteries before I go walking, just in case.  I always swap the centre battery around to break the circuit too.  That eliminates the chance of getting a flat battery because the torch is accidentally switched on.  I switched the light on and suddenly I could see again, clearly, even if only for a short distance.

In the dark it took me just on 30 minutes to walk the length of Berghofer's Pass and reach my car.  That included a short stop at the lookout to take photographs of the sunset.

After changing from my bush walking gear into normal clothes I resumed my journey to Sydney.  It had been a really enjoyable late afternoon walk and a chance to learn a bit more about the development of the roads down from the mountains. 


Times, Locations and Grid References
Time Location Grid Reference
17:30 Leave Car at the Great Western Hwy end of Berghofer's Pass GR 425 808
17:50 A Drainage Culvert on Berghofer's Pass below Mitchell's Pass GR 430 808
17:55 On the lower end of Mitchell's Pass Viaduct GR 430 807
18:00 Crossed highway to the southern side of Mitchell's Pass GR 430 807
18:10 On the upper end of Mitchell's Pass Viaduct GR 431 807
18:15 Mitchell's Pass Monument GR 435 808
18:40 On the upper end of Mitchell's Pass Viaduct, northern side GR 431 808
18:45 On the lower end of Mitchell's Pass Viaduct GR 430 807
19:00 Back on Berghofer's Pass GR 430 808
19:05 Council Boundary Marker GR 433 809
19:15 Wood Reiniforcing supporting Road Bed GR 436 810
19:25  Berghofer's Pass Sign & Rock Carving GR 438 809
19:30 Water Trough cut from rock wall GR 438 811
19:35 Lookout over Mitchell's & Berghofer's Pass GR 438 812
19:45 Mt York Road end of Berghofer's Pass GR 438 814
20:15 Back at Car GR 425 808 


Berghofer's Pass winds round the southern side of the valley.

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