The Blue Mountains

Trip Start Aug 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 15, 2005

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Up and early at...11:00 ?!, well, see, there was this girl, some alcohol, one thing led to another... Hah, yea right, it was the free Internet. Anyways, I get ready quickly and headed out the door at around noon knowing only that if I walk south I should come to the ridge and further information about the Blue Mountains. The town of Katoomba is the kind idyllic place that you see in the movies but can never really find in the USA. Everything is on the main street, including dozens of family owned cafe's, restaurants, churches, etc. The only scar upon it is a Domino's Pizza right in the middle. Past the commercial area, the street is line with small houses similar to those where my grandparents once lived.

Following the signs (something I won't take for granted ever again), I easily come to "Echo Point". This is one of those really touristy lookout points with lots of shops, etc. The view is really nice, but there's no such thing as a good view with 100 people standing around you. I find the information office inside of a gift shop and buy an A$3 booklet that has a decent map and some simple descriptions. A man there explains a route that will be simple, quiet, and take about the right amount of time. I head out the door and down the trail, into what, I don't know.

The first part is walking along the cliffs, sort of. It's more like a trail that is mostly level and occasionally has overlook points. As I neared the second one, I see a red and blue bird flying down the path directly at me. It flies right past my head and on down the trail as I spin to look at it. This all took place in about 1/2 of a second. Once I got to the second overlook, a different bird flew through my hair. I thought, what the hell, what a stupid bird to fly into me. I suppose it had a nest nearby, or was preparing for great bird war against humans, because it then began repeatedly dive bombing my head and giving a shrill cry each time. Even when I ran a ways down the path, it kept up the chase. I jogged a good 100m before it would leave me alone. At that point, I look around and find a good stick to arm myself with. Any more birds, and they're getting whacked.

Moving on, the path eventually changes to a steep downhill and I descend about 250m into the valley area. The rainforest is very thick here and I have to take off my sunglasses. The rainforest here is really all that I expected out of Thailand, but didn't get. Thankfully, Australia delivers. The path is well marked, exotic birds are flying and singing all over the place, and there are no large snakes or spiders. On top of that, I see maybe 20 people on the trail in five hours. The weather today is so nice, I really can't believe there aren't gobs of people walking these trails. There were so many at the lookout point. I walk on and on through the forest seeing waterfalls, birds, and strange trees. There are quite a few large ants walking about too.

After crossing back to the other side on the lower level, the trail climbs steeply back up to the cliff top near the main waterfall. All along the way I keep getting spectacular photos with my camera, and then 50m later, an even better at a higher altitude. After checking out every lookout point on the trail, I wind up on the side of a mostly desolate road running along the cliff. Under it is a series of culverts that seem to be providing the "spectacular natural waterfall". While I'm sure the real source of water is naturally occurring, the culvert made me laugh. Really there's little else to verbally describe about the park, it's more of a photograph day, so check out that section of the site. I hike back into town, grab a burger at a local shop and watch TV at the hostel with some British guys. We end up watching some reality TV show where Australian girls compete to be crowned the "Australian Princess". It is about as bad as any American reality show, except maybe a little over the top with the suspense (oh wait, yeah just like in America).

I don't think there will be much to gain in going back out to the park tomorrow, so I may just explore the town a little more and relax before catching the train, and then the bus up north. For certain I won't be posting for a couple of days (unless the bus has wireless Internet).
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