Road Trip to the Blue Mountains

Trip Start Mar 15, 2010
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Trip End Jul 01, 2012


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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Niall, Steph and I woke up early this morning and checked out all the different prices for renting a car for the day.  Eventually we went with Hertz's Ford Focus because we could pay extra for 0 excess and peace of mind.  So we left for the Blue Mountains at around 9 o'clock and got there without too much hassle (bar a wrong turn 5mins into the drive!).

We checked out the information centre, picking up a decent map and rough itinerary for the day.  Our main mistake was being a bit too ambitious with what we did - as we crammed different stops with various walks into the time we had leading up to sunset at around 5:30.  However, our biggest mistake was choosing to stop off near Glenbrook and first check out Euroka Clearing for a chance of seeing kangaroos (there were no kangaroos despite trying to follow their trail of poo!), then secondly by driving along a supposedly "10.5km" gravel trail to Red Hands Cave.  Being careful not to break the car by driving fast over one of the hundreds of holes in the road, the drive there took forever and after following a short-ish path at the end of this trail we reached our destination.  What a waste of time!  There was a small cave with a few red hand prints and hand stencils, as well as 3 information slabs.  The silver lining is that these have to be the oldest hand prints/stencils I've ever seen at 1,600yrs old - but not worth the trip and clearly wasn't a very popular detour!

I picked up the pace on the way back and ended up over an hour behind our schedule.  The next stop was Wentworth Falls, which was a much better stop-off, with various walks leading to lookouts over the vast expanse of trees and blue mountains (the eucalyptus oils through the sunlight really gave a blue haze over the mountains) as well as to the falls themselves.  We scampered around the trails, reaching Fletchers Lookout with its fantastic view over the waterfall - we could see little rainbows in the spray - and then up to the very top of the waterfall, where I paddled in the pool of water for a great pic!  We took the Undercliff trail back to the car park, which gave us another opportunity for some good pics (on Niall's camera unfortunately) then got back to the car even further behind schedule but a lot more satisfied.

Our next and unfortunately final successful stop was in Katoomba, where we made our way to Scenic World and planned our route once more.  This link provides a good map of this area - http://www.scenicworld.com.au/map/  We took the Scenic Skyway across 720m of forest 270m below, eating our pies, enjoying the views around and down through the glass floor.  From here we picked up the Prince Henry Cliff Walk past more great viewpoints and reached the Giant Stairway.  At the top we thought it was too narrow to be a giant stairway, but we'd changed our opinion by the time we eventually reached the bottom!!  This stairway took us down the side of the eldest/tallest of the Three Sisters, which was quite an impressive site from afar.  At the bottom we dashed along the Federal Pass and the Great Round Walk through the trees in an attempt to make the last Cableway up to the top.  Typically, we got there 10mins late and had to walk up Furber Steps to get back to the car.  The trip was pretty knackering and already the sun had gone down (which did give beautiful views across the Blue Mountains and its 3 sisters) which meant we'd run out of time.

We did attempt to get to our final intended stops at Blackheath but it had become pitch black and after eventually finding Evans Lookout we could not reach the viewpoint as we had no torch.  So we made our way back, stopping off at McDonalds, and fairly pleased with our day.  We did though regret our trip to Red Hands Cave and wished we'd stopped at Blackheath beforehand for the 'incredible views'.  But for me, this just gave me a taster for what I will do when I decide to come back to the Blue Mountains, where I will dedicate a few days to camping and exploring the region even more.  I intend to follow a 4/5 hour trail around Wentworth Falls, explore the Scenic World map further by walking along the boardwalks and taking either the Cableway or Railway, and obviously by seeing the views from Blackheath.  If I have time and money I may even go further by going to Jenolan Caves but we shall see...
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