We spent many lovely days in Sydney – walking, beaching, sightseeing, even some shopping … but one of the best days we had was a trip out to the Blue Mountains, a recommended experience if in this magnificent city. There had been many planning discussions – Greg had gathered hundreds of brochures, Mark had discussed with their hotel reception, Steve had googled train routes, hop on/hop off bus routes etc. – Kaye, Shirley and I just sat back and awaited instruction!!
So we met at Central Station and caught the train to Katoomba – a pleasant, scenic ride. Alice and Marc had joined us too so we were a party of 8 – (Tom chose to do his own thing, continuing to discover the city areas, inspecting the bars). Katoomba is a beautiful little town with its colonial style properties – full of speciality shops and cafes, and the Art Deco styled Carrington Hotel, built in 1880, a unique heritage property. From here we selected to use the Trolley Tours hop on/hop off bus … and after some refreshment we set off to discover the 29 stops of this beautiful Blue Mountain area. We had already carried out our research and discovered that the ‘blue’ is a result of the moisture from the Eucalyptus trees (which famously keeps the koala bears in a drugged condition) creating a blue haze in this mountainous area.
The bus ride involved some steep climbs in a fairly old bus – seemed at times that we might have to get off and push! And of course that meant steep descents too, sometimes with heart-thumping drops at the side (just don’t look). Stopped occasionally for photo opportunities but kept the bulk of our time for the area known as ‘scenic world’ (or in my words, the land of transport terror – cable cars and a 52 degrees railway ride)!! Alice and Marc alighted at Gordon Falls and did the hour bushwalk to Leura cascades – they said it was stunning – came across a few creatures on the way!!
Scenic world starts with the Skyway ride over Jamieson Valley and Katoomba Falls. Bravely made my way on this great thing in the sky – there was no getting out of it – have to be honest, actually enjoyed it. It was incredible looking down on the ‘tiny’ people stood on the rock levels below, near the Falls, some precariously close to the edges – what is it with backpackers these days!?
From the other side we had an amazing view of the Three Sisters and the Jamieson Valley. (Aboriginal legend has it that three ‘nasty’ sisters were set in rock – so beware)!!
Our route from the skytrain led us through some retail opportunities which we managed to resist and into the queue for the ‘scenic railway. Well, what is scenic about tipping over the side of a mountain into a dark tunnel whilst screaming and cursing is yet to be explained to me!! As we made our way to the front of the queue and witnessed the carriages literally tip over the side of the mountain in roller coaster style, I was all for going back … but oh no, we were just ploughing on with it. When the train started with us on board, it was that impending doom stuff as we neared the edge … I just held onto everything I could and kept me eyes closed … Shirley and I screamed our hearts out … after the initial ‘tip over’ it levelled into a 52 degrees descent and we reached the bottom of the valley in no time!!!
At the bottom we embarked on an hour’s walk in the rainforest – stunningly beautiful – this was the ‘scenic’ I was looking for. A fair few steps and plenty of looking out for all things slithery but a fabulous experience.
Then we had to choose between a long arduous walk up (which Alice and Marc chose to do) or the ride up in the cableway. By now we were all brave (and couldn’t face the 190 steps!) so cableway it was. Very manageable … and scenic views (probably because I actually had my eyes open)!
Hopped back on the bus after this … and by this time the heavens had opened. Back in Katoomba we decided to drop into the Carrington Hotel for refreshment, while we waited for Alice and Marc. Some drinks and shared platters – just the job … and lapped up the history and splendour of this magnificent hotel.
By the time we left the hotel and met up with Alice and Marc it was a full blown hail storm.
So, some soggy passengers made it onto the return train to Central Station, Sydney. Still feeling a little damp on arrival we were pretty indecisive about our next move – should we go home and change? No, we headed straight for an Irish pub – Tom came to meet us there and we ate the most incredible beef and Guinness pies and enjoyed the crack!! Some delays with some of the meals and the pouring of Guinness but all ended well … a great end to a great day. 😊☘️