Just a two hour train journey from the hustle and bustle of Sydney’s CBD are the scenic Blue Mountains. Regardless of the difference between nearby surroundings however, the Mountains were the most picturesque location of my trip. At least they were eventually, there was one instance on the first day when the fog/cloud (is there even a difference at 3,337ft?) gave Katoomba a distinctly Silent Hill look about it, and I can’t deny that the YHA hostel I was staying at reminded me slightly of The Outlook Hotel from Stephen King’s The Shining. Despite these horror tale appearances however, the Mountains were as lovely as I had been lead to believe, and as far as being bitten by bloodsuckers goes, I got off rather lightly
Staying in Katoomba my first walk took me along the cliff edge just outside of the town and towards one of the mountains’ most recognisable formations, the Three Sisters. It also took me round them, as the better view comes from the other side of the Sisters, where the further two aren’t obscured by the big sister in front. There is also a great view from Spooners Lookout, which is presumably for those not quite committed enough for a Lover’s Leap?
An enjoyable hike and luckily the on and off fog/cloud had cleared by the time I arrived, but also made for some great sights of their own on the way. At times the entire view was obscured, but at others I was able to watch as the clouds rose from the forest floor below, and up over the mountains themselves.
The Mountains was also another location in which my trip coincided with that of my friend/travel buddy/co-stalker Lisa, and so we again spent a day together, this time at Wentworth Falls; the same railway which gives you passage up the mountains is also a gateway to other towns and areas, with plenty more hiking trails to enjoy. Although known as the Mountains perhaps Cliffs would be a better suited name seeing just how steep the edges could be, but nonetheless the waterfalls themselves were very impressive, as was the very steep path from top to bottom. The falls area offers three trails to choose from, essentially top, middle, and bottom of the surrounding cliffs, with the paths leading between them somewhat more extreme than those I’m used to on Exmoor; it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to add National Parks to the list of everything in Australia can kill you.
We walked along the bottom and then back across the top, each with no view of the middle so I can’t give any indication as to what that was like, but those which we did take offered unparalleled sights of the forest floor, and almost inconceivable views for miles and miles (and miles!). Six hours, two Lyra birds, and several leeches later however, we made it back to the station alive and well.
The next day I took the train two stations in the other direction, and went for a hike from Blackheath. This also involved a hike through Blackheath as the start of the trail was a lot further away than I anticipated, but like the others was well worth the effort. If for nothing else, I can now say I’ve walked from the top to the bottom, and back again, of the (a) Grand Canyon, and all in one day!
The following morning I had enough time before my return train to Sydney to head back down to the Three Sisters, and continue from where I left off previously. This took me on a short walk to Katoomba Falls, and underneath the Scenic Skyway, a cablecar which cut a short corner around Katoomba Falls.
In terms of elevation it might not have been much higher than where I was standing, but I much preferred to see the splendour of the Blue Mountains with my feet firmly on the ground.
And free of leeches.