The Blue Mountains
Nov 22, 2005
|It was a sweltering hot day when we left Sydney to go to the Blue Mountains and it was the furthest we have carried our backpacks, from the hostel to the central station. It was a two-hour train ride to Katoomba; the train wasn't exactly high speed though.
Katoomba is one of the main towns in the Blue Mountains, which are part of the Great Dividing Range near Sydney and rise up to 1100 metres. They are called the Blue Mountains because they have a blue haze which is a result of ultra-fine oily mist given off by eucalyptus trees, unfortunately they aren't the type that koalas eat so we won't get to see any wild ones here.
We set up camp at the Flying Fox Backpackers just before a storm arrived. They say that there is a climatic difference between the Blue Mountains and Sydney and they are not wrong we sweltered in the morning and that night we shivered even though we had 3 layers of clothing on. The storm stayed for the 8 days that we were in the Blue Mountains, it did give us some clear days but there was never a whole 24 hours that was dry. Thankfully the hostel had a roaring log fire that we huddled around in an evening and sometimes during the day too! We could have stayed in a hostel room but our tent wasn't leaking so we braved the cold weather.
We ventured out to Echo Pint on our third day there; it was extremely misty but wasn't raining. From Echo point there is a rock formation called The 3 Sisters, there used to be 7 Sisters (or pointy rocks) but 4 have disappeared or crumbled away. Today though only one of them could be seen due to the mist reducing visibility to 30 metres. We descended the Giant Stairway - and the name is quite accurate. The steps weren't giant it was just the vast number of them, the steps were either made out of the cliff face or metal steps across with a lot of air between you and the valley below. After that decent the walk took us along Federal Pass then up a lot more steps at The Furber Steps. My legs ached after that; we could have taken the easy option of the sky rail from the bottom to the cliff top but where is the fun in that after a 4-hour walk?
It was raining again the day after, but we went for another walk/hike. Ross the hostel owner gave us a lift to Wentworth Falls and lent Helen some trainers so her everyday ones would stay dry. Ling (Cantonese) joined us and we were happy for her to do that as it meant Helen could feel tall for the rest of the day. We were soaked as soon as we stepped out of the car and began our walk along a flooded path before descending carved steps to reach Wentworth Falls, because of all the rain the waterfall was spectacular after a few piccies we tried searching for the path but then realised it had been washed away so we had to cross the river at the base of the waterfall, if we weren't wet we were after that! We crossed other smaller waterfalls and dodgy paths after that before ascending the steps to finish the walk and to catch the bus back to the hostel and the log fire.
We made Damper that night like the one Carol made for us in Tannum Sands; it was scrummy and warmed our bellies up!
Wohoo! Sunshine on the Saturday, we went for a walk to Leura Cascades when we eventually found them that is. Our intended route was then blocked off half way round due to a landslide so we walked along the Prince Henry Cliff top instead back to Echo Point where this time we saw 3 sisters instead of the orphan one that we saw in the mist. It didn't stay sunny for long though and it rained all night and all the next day but we opted for a well-deserved day of rest on the Sunday.
Back to the walking on Monday, this time to the Grand Canyon at Blackheath. This walk involved fumbling through a tunnel in the cliff, slipping under waterfalls and crossing creeks and rivers then crossing them again in the other direction! Again there was a helluva lot of steps to climb on the way out of the canyon and even after that it was a long walk back to catch the bus - it only rained a little though - fantastic walk and so much fun getting lost!
Our tent leaked that night but we found out it was because the water was holding underneath it, it had rained that much the ground had become saturated. We moved to a drier spot. Couldn't face another climb up any more steps today so we opted to look around the shops in the town centre, avoiding the loons there (one ruddy faced woman in a yellow hat dances in the street to her little stereo while another has a serious case of turettes - the language was obscene but hilarious).
Not raining on our last day when we caught the train back to Sydney - probably won't rain until next year now that we've gone!