Blue Mountains

Trip Start Feb 17, 2005
Trip End Feb 27, 2006

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Having temporarily postponed our trip to the Blue Mountains, we spent Thursday morning mooching around some more. It was cloudy to begin with, but the sun eventually appeared and so we walked over the Harbour Bridge to North Shore, for yet more views of the Opera House. Rie made fun of me for taking too many photos, but I reminded her that I wasn't the one with 10 penguin photographs from our visit to the zoo!

At this stage, there were no "thunderstorms" in the area at all, as the sky was clear and it was red hot. So determined to take advantage, I suggested getting a bus to Bondi Beach and doing another coastal walk, this time to Coogee. Rie agreed that it was a good idea, so after wolfing down a hotdog, we set off on our way.

The walk began with a walk along Bondi's seafront, and the famous beach was overflowing with tourists. Despite only just starting, we stopped at the far end for our daily smoothie ("smoogee" in Japanese) from the New Zealand Natural shop. To prove we'd been to the one and only Bondi, we took a couple of photographs, but I tend to agree with Donna's assessment that Manly Beach is nicer.

The walk followed the coast after Bondi, and we passed a couple of smaller, less crowded beaches that were more my kind of thing. However, with about half of the walk still to do, the weather changed and in came the black clouds. I felt sure that we were going to get absolutely drenched, and when we got lost in a huge graveyard of all places, I had visions of spending the night in a small shelter accompanying the dead bodies!

By some miracle, and fast walking, we reached Coogee just in time, as the rain started just as we got to the bus station. Unfortunately, we then proceeded to miss our drop off point in Sydney, and consequently spent the next 30 minutes sat in a bus shelter a further 250 metres down the road. Rie had forgotten her umberella, I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, and the rain was as relentless as I'd ever seen. The downpour didn't look like stopping in a hurry, so I flagged down a taxi and in we jumped. The driver joked that Wake Up was too far away!

After breakfast the next morning, we walked to Central Station to get the early train to Katoomba, the Blue Mountains' main township. It was a lovely two hour journey with beautiful scenery, made all the more special by the clear blue sky. Rie slept for most of the ride, and I wasn't surprised as she is like a cat in that she can sleep anywhere, a fact that I enjoy ribbing her about!

A guy in my dorm, David from Austria, had given me some useful information about the Blue Mountains, especially regarding transport options. In fact, he'd given me his $29 'hop on hop off' ticket for the Explorer Bus that did a loop around all the attractions and lookouts. The date on the ticket was 13th February, but he said that the drivers didn't look at it anyway...a simple wave of the ticket usually suffices. To be on the safe side, I easily changed the '3' to an '8' (even though it was only the 17th)...if caught, I would have said that the salesperson had made a mistake!

Rie had to buy her ticket, but I treated her to a KFC later in the day to compensate for that, and we ended up having no problems whatsoever with the ticket scam. In fact, we didn't use the buses that much as we tended to walk from place to we didn't feel guilty!

Our first drop off point came at some nice, if not spectacular waterfalls, before we walked through the bush to Scenic World for our first glimpse of the spectacular scenery. We chose to take the novelty train to the base of the mountains, billed as the steepest railway in the world...and it certainly was steep!

The first photo opportunity came at a lookout soon after departing the train, and it was the first of many on a day the bus driver described as "the best for weeks." I had to smile when Rie took a picture of me which turned out really nice, except for the fact that you could barely see any of the scenery in the background! Her second attempt was much better, but this gave me even more fuel for our regular exchanges of banter...

An interesting walk through the bush, passing old mining sites and tunnels, brought us to the cable car that was to take us back up to the top. We really had picked a perfect day for this trip, as the views on the upward journey were crystal clear. At the summit, we relaxed in the cafe for a while and ate a gigantic fuel for the cliff top walk that was ahead of us.

For the next couple of hours, we made our way along the cliff and towards the famous 'Three Sisters,' stopping at many lookouts along the way. When we eventually reached the unusual rock formations, we discovered lots of Asian tourists who were doing the organised day trip thing. I'd thought about this myself, but it cost around $100 compared to a meagre $14 on the train (plus bus ticket of course!). I was lucky to have met David as he made my mind up for me.

In the afternoon, we walked down some very steep steps that actually took you onto one of the 'Three Sisters,' but it was very tiring walking back up again! As a result, we caught a bus to the next lookout where we got our final look at the Blue Mountains (by the way, I have no idea why they are called 'Blue' Mountains as they are clearly a mix of brown and green!).

I felt shattered on the train journey back to Sydney, but again I resisted the temptation to sleep as I would have felt worse afterwards. Once again, we visited the market in Chinatown that night, and Rie bought herself a nice ring, but in truth I was more concerned about getting some much needed shut eye. Thankfully, we had no plans for Saturday and I was certainly looking forward to a quiet one...
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