Right in my comfort zone......

Trip Start Sep 20, 2009
Trip End Mar 01, 2010

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Sunday, November 1, 2009

We left the big smoke of Sydney via the wonderful train system (and a damn sight cheaper than the UK) and took off to the Blue Mountains which was about 2 hours by train. Away from the tourist areas and into the countryside which was beautifully stunning and very very lush!
The heat was picking up also and now for the first time we had to actually travel true backpackers style as in public transport, legs and carrying our homes on our back - mine comes in at around 13kg with my day-sack around 5kg. Quite a bit of extra weight for a 5ft person you know! So a slow slog from the station to our backpacker in The Blue Mountains - The Flying Fox in Katoomba!
We had a lovely welcome from Ross the owner who was expecting us. Another groovy place with a good vibe about it, guitars and didgeridoos around the place for us to play if we dare and friendly smiling faces dotted around. A hippy kind of place I guess. Home from home then eh Ma! A few people staying there have been there for some time. There was even a couple from Essex who have been living there for a year! I can see the appeal!
So after a guided tour and introductions, we were upgraded from the dorm we had booked to a double room. Our own bit of space which was nice and meant we could get EVERYTHING out the backpacks and leave it around EVERYWHERE without worrying about what might get lost/stolen etc etc.
We then had a stroll which turned out to be quite a trek to a viewpoint of The Blue Mountains and The Three Sisters in Katoomba and then we continued down a track which took us to some waterfalls. Of course this is where we behaved like children and found a 'secret spot' to climb down to paddle in the streams and of course I had to drink a bit of the water - something I have done since a child - if there is flowing fresh water from a waterfall into a stream then I have to drink it! I don't know why, I just do. It's better than the water you buy in a bottle thats for sure!
Three or so hours later we arrived back out of the national park area and found a welcomed bus stop as we were some distance from town now. Our bus driver was a lovely old fella who used to drive buses in London years ago but decided to retire and drive buses in The Blue Mountains - I can see why! Slightly less stressful than Oxford Circus! We got off the bus at the top of town and found a gorgeous little place to eat called 'Common Ground.' Beautifully decorated with natural wood carvings and unusual designs of furniture. It was run by a family / group of friends who follow their own religion which basically bases itself on living a happy life. Quite a straight forward religion but at the same time very charming. I wouldn't normally go into detail about what I ate but I had a chicken salad and a pumpkin soup. Quite ordinary one would think but it was BLOODY MARVELLOUS! How can something so simple be sooooooooooo tasty! All home made and freshly cooked - it was just awesome! Yum yum!! Ok - enough on the food.
The Blue Mountains is indeed a gorgeous area and I was looking forward to a hike the following day which Ross said he would recommend to us to take us away from the normal tourist areas. Perfect!
Back at base we spent the evening getting to know our fellowbackers around the fire in the garden, listening to some tunes, a glass of red (or whatever tipple peeps were drinking of course) and generally having a nice time. I was liking The Blue Mountains - peace, tranquility, starry skies, clear views, the smell of fire wood and the sound of laughter - makes you sick eh!
The following morning I was ready for some exploring of this beautiful area. Sarah was not so keen after a late night so she stayed in bed. I spoke to Ross about a route to take and there was a chap from Switzerland who was also looking to do a hike somewhere so I suggested we hook up and get on the road together. He was up for it so I had found myself a hiking buddy for the day - hoorah! The sky was blue and the sun was wearing one of his favorite hats! We took a train to a place called Wentworth Falls and started a 4 - 5 hour trek from there. It was a fun day! Wonderful surroundings of course, steep steps up and down through the forsests, crossing rivers on stepping stones, climbing down rock faces by rope, climbing up rock faces - without rope and a nice spot to stop for lunch by one of the numerous waterfalls that we came across throughout the day. Micheal (the Swiss chap) was a good hiking buddy. Good pace and adventureous - we decided to take a bit of a route we were told not too just to see what it was like. It was fine in fact - until a storm threatened above us. Lots of rumbles of thunder and dark clouds looming. We were nearing the end of the hike by this point so were not too worried and luckily for us the heavens only opened when we were back on the road heading for the train station again. It had been a hot day so the rain was quite welcome. It poured for 10 minutes and then mr sun put his hat back on for the rest of the day. I like this kind of weather!
The Blue Mountains is really a stunning area and I had only scratched the surface really so thanks to Byrney for the excellent recommendation!
My work here was done and the following day we would be moving on again and catching a flight to Coolangatta and heading for Byron Bay....
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