Relaxing Blue Mountains

Trip Start Dec 18, 2006
Trip End May 04, 2007

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Our original plan to go to the Blue Mountains was a blessing in disguise. It meant we could get away from hectic Sydney and return to nature. The train ride from Sydney to Katoomba took about two hours and we passed some stunning scenery along the way. Once in sunny (but slightly colder) Katoomba, we checked into the YHA which turned out to be a very cozy one.

We immediately walked down to the Blue Mountains World Heritage Site: The "Three Sisters". The view is just stunning - steep cliffs, gum forests and rock formations. The brief stop at the information center convinced us to go on a three hour bush walk. We first tackled the the giant steps (hundreds and hundreds of stairs passed the Three Sisters to the Dardanelles Pass Track) and then went towards the Leura Forest and further to the Leura Cascades. It was a brilliant afternoon walk as we hardly passed anyone along the way and the forest was just relaxing: for the eyes and the mind.

Following a small detour (i.e. me getting lost on the way back), we went to the supermarket and got dinner: it was back to pasta and sauce. Quite a downfall from the luxurious and delicious homemade cooking by Helen in Auckland. But it was delicious and quenched our hunger - washed down with a large bottle of Tooheys New (local beer).

Being immobile, our choices for hiking were confined to Katoomba so we decided to bushwalk to "The Ruined Castle" (which we could see from the viewing platform at the Three Sisters).Our bushwalk started at 8am from the YHA and took us down the valley via the fantastic "Furber Steps". After the Katoomba Falls, we got slightly lost courtesy of me running off in the wrong direction at the "Scenic World" theme park. Having corrected the slight mistake, we got back on course and traversed a major landslide (called, quite creatively, "The Landslide") before conquering dense gum forest. The birds created a stunning and memorable "concert" for us although most of them were nowhere to be seen. The hardest part of the walk was the short but steep ascent to the rock formation called "The Ruined Castle". The place was quite busy so we actually had to "take a number" before being able to climb to the top - to get a dramatic 360 degrees view of the Blue Mountains National Park. Nothing spectacular happened on the way back (beautiful walk, though), except for our decision to extend the hike to include the "Giant Steps".

The way up was tough but highly rewarding, especially when overtaking a lot of people doing just part of the steps. Reaching the top (the "Three Sisters" viewing platform) gave us a huge sense of achievement and tons of reasons to shower as we sweated and smelled like hogs. In total, the walk took 7 hours to complete! Back at the YHA (after the before mentioned shower), we had dinner and then we went for a walk through town (as if we hadn't walked enough during the day) ending up at the local supermarket to buy some sweets. We got more than we bargained for as the shop had a "must clear" campaign for sweets. Having been brought up in Swabia (The Scots of Germany), we ended up getting loads of sweets for less then 6 Euros (including a huge pack of Ferrero Kuesschen). Then again, we still had more than 10 days to go so fair enough, ey?

The next morning, we had a coffee in the sun at the "Belgian Waffle Shop" before boarding the train back to Sydney!
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