All Cooped Up With Nowhere to Go

Trip Start Dec 03, 2004
Trip End Nov 31, 2005

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Flag of Australia  ,
Monday, January 24, 2005

Lately the weather has not been amenable to being active outside the hostel. But we did get one day of grace between the thunderstorms; after another night of frantic hail (stones bigger than jawbreakers!), the day dawned clear and we (myself, Michaela, Marah and our new friend George, from London) hurriedly set out for the final "big" walk that the area has to offer, The Grand Canyon in Blackheath.

Our friend Danny had described this walk as "first, sand and lizards, then rainforest, then, sand and lizards, then, rainforest," a description which we mocked as simplistic until we arrived and found out that exactly describes the walk.

After descending a sandy staircase through an area of burnt-out eucalyptus from the brushfires a few years back, the trail winds along through a deep canyon, criss-crossing the river on stones (method of finding the correct path: look for worn, non-mossy spots on the stones) before descending steeply up out of the valley and onto a sandy plateau top. In total we probably saw fifteen lizards, with Marah shrieking as she almost stepped on the tail of a particularly large one. The lizards don't seem afraid of human contact, as they scurry a few feet off the trail and then turn and stare balefully at the intruders.

At the end of the trail we had the option of trying to get a ride back to Blackheath or Katoomba or walking a further hour and a half to the train station; everyone but me was weary enough to want to try and hitch up the road, but I took off down the final bit of the track, which wound along a small stream back towards town.

The path was a little overgrown and had some of the worst marking I've ever seen, to wit, no markings at all; at one point it split into a track and a dirt road and I decided to take the dirt road, which then split back into two tracks through the grass. Fine, I thought, I'll go to the right, because it heads in the direction that the other track I rejected earlier went. Then that track split again, at what appeared to be a dirt-bike jump. To the right again, and eventually I joined back up with the other track. The trail then split again and I figured that right had been lucky and went that way, finally crawling up a steep hill onto a road in the middle of Blackheath, but not the road I'd expected to come out on.

I got to the railway station forty-five minutes after I'd started out on the track and had to wait an hour for the train. By the time I got back into the hostel the other three had already arrived, having crammed into the back of a passing car with three snot-nosed children and a harangued father.

But that was the last of the sunshine, and we were reduced to roasting marshmallows in the hut outside, playing endless rounds of cards and generally wishing the rain would let up. Last night the cold that I've been nursing for a while burst into full raging coughs and chased me out of my tent to sleep on the couch. The next morning I gratefully booked to stay inside and have a mattress of my own for a while before I head off for my next adventure.
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