I'm climbing up the sunshine mountain!

Trip Start Sep 07, 2011
Trip End Sep 06, 2012

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Elephant Backpackers

Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Friday, December 23, 2011

Today was my trip to the Blue Mountains.  Wasn't sure what to expect as the weather over the past few days has been bad.  When I say bad, I mean it's been raining a lot and the temperature is only about 23 degrees.  This is summer and it should be hot and the sun should be shining!  I also wasn't really in the mood for it after the news yesterday, but I needed something to take my mind off of it.

I was picked up from the hostel at 7.30 am and we then headed off to pick up the other people.  It took about 2 hours to get to the Blue Mountains which is actually a National Park around several towns in that area.  We got to our first destination where we should be able to see the legendary 3 Sisters.  Whilst driving there, I should tell you that we left in sunshine and then hit fog and rain.  We got off the bus at a place called Flat Rock.  The tour guide led us to the edge of the cliff where we saw................................................................................................ nothing but fog.  It looked as though if you walked off the cliff, you were heading into snow.  It was so bright but you could see absolutely nothing.  I thought to myself that I had wasted my $55 as there was going to be no view at all.  Jim, our bus driver, then took us to another place called Kings Tableland, where he was hopeful that we would see something.  This was a little further west and took us about 20 minutes to get there.

When we pulled up in the car park, yet again we were greeted with low lying clouds and could see nothing.  Jim explained that it's the nature of the beast and unfortunately we have no control over the weather.  When he came there yesterday, it was beautiful and sunny. Whilst he was talking about the area, right before our eyes, the clouds suddenly began to break and we could make out the landscape.  It happened as if by magic.  We suddenly saw into the valley with the lush green trees and the cliff tops alongside us with a beautiful waterfall.  Just as we were about to take photo's, the clouds began to close again, but only for a minute or so and then cleared.  Mother nature was playing with us!

You could really see why they were called the Blue Mountains.  Once the cloud had cleared, there was a blue haze.  The reason for this is that it is the vapour from the eucalyptus trees evapourating into the air.  How amazing is that!

Jim told us that there was a walking track that we could take alongside the clifftops which would take about an hour to walk.  Some people didn't want to do it as they were either not able, or had small children.  I wanted to do it so headed off on the track.  Jim was going to take the others for a ride around the area and meet us at the other end.

I really didn't have the right footwear on.  I knew we were going to be walking, but didn't expect the ground to be so soggy and wet as it was.  Typically, I had my merrell walking sandals on.  Parts of the track were covered in water and muddy puddles, but hey, I'm a dirty backpacker, it really doesn't matter that my feet get covered in mud.
The walk was lovely.  We walked alongside the clifftops for around 3 km walking over waterfalls and taking in the breathtaking views.  It took us a little longer than an hour as every couple of minutes we kept stopping to take photo's.  We eventually got to the other side after getting pretty wet and muddy, and Jim took us off to Blackheath where we stopped for lunch.

The rest of the afternoon was spent at Katoomba where the 3 Sisters are.  I do not know the whole story as to why the rocks are called the 3 Sisters but I do know that it is an Aboriginal dreamtime story.  I'll need to look it up.

We got to Scenic World, which is a bit of a tourist attraction.  You don't have to pay anything to go in, but if you are not fit enough or stupid enough to climb the 1000 steps back out of there, then you need to pay to get back up, either by the train or cablecar.  Firstly I thought I would walk down and up and then I decided to get the train back up.  I'll explain why later.

For the people that were walking down, Jim led the way.  We walked through dense rainforest where there were waterfalls cascading down the sides of the rock face.  This place was amazing.  The temperature was cool, just what you needed for a good old hike down a mountain.  We got our first glimpse of the 3 Sisters about a third of the way down.  It was such a spectacular view.  The clouds had gone completely and the sun was shining.  I love you mother nature!

The next spectacular view that we saw was Katoomba Falls.  Katoomba, in Aboriginal terms, means Waterfall, so the Aussies have named it Waterfall Waterfall.   I wonder why the Aboriginal people think they are stupid!  Most of the walk down was fine, apart from it being very damp and muddy, but some of the steps were pretty steep and you had to keep an eye on your footing, otherwise you could end up in a very sticky situation.

Just before we hit the bottom of the mountain, we met a young, fit guy that was walking back up the other way.   He was really puffing and panting and that is why I was glad to get the train back up.  Those thousand steps are a killer.  Not for the faint hearted!

There were several walking tracks when you got to the bottom which ranged from 30 minutes to 1 day.  We didn't do any others as we had to get back to the top to come home.  It would have been nice to do them, but hey, it gives me a good excuse to come back, as there were certain towns, including Katoomba, that I would like to come back to and stay.

The train ride back up was an experience in itself.  The railway is in the Guinness Book of Records for being the steepest in the world.  It was like being on a rollercoaster ride when you go over the top and it drops off to nearly a 90 degree angle. It went really slow but when you sit right at the front, so you are the closest to the drop, it's pretty scary.  I want to do it again!!!  I had such a fun day.  It was not what I expected at all and never thought I would see anything after our first initial stop.  How pleasantly surprised I was.  

Once I got dropped back into the city, I was on a frantic search for my friend Lone who had been waiting for me in the Opera Bar since 4.30 pm.  She didn't have a phone so I couldn't call her to say I wasn't going to make it. I walked as fast as I could as it was now around 6.30 pm.  Just as I was getting round the corner to the Opera House I heard this voice call out my name.  It was Lone and she was sat in another bar.  Good job she spotted me.  I was so glad to see her.  One of the reasons why she wanted to see me was that she wanted to give me a christmas card and she had bought me a present.  I burst into tears.  It was so kind and thoughtful.  She is such a wonderful lady.  It was a handmade felt bag with a bag of british lollies.  I was overcome with emotion, which then set her off.  We had such a lovely evening together walking around The Rocks.  There were markets on in the area and also performing artists.  We got dragged into a side street where we watch two guys entertain us for 3 minutes.  It was the last show of the night and we did not know what to expect.  The two guys were playing flutes and they played christmas songs, and also random tunes by Michael Jackson.  It was so funny.  I got Lone to show me her hostel as she was staying in the YHA at The Rocks.  This is where I wanted to stay but unfortunately they were fully booked and I now understand why.  They have a roof terrace which overlooks the harbour and you have a fabulous view of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.  I was so jealous.  Serves me right for leaving everything to the last minute.

What started off as a day that I really didn't care what happened, turned into a really fabulous time.  Thank you Blue Mountains and thank you Lone.  You made me smile!
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Carla on

Why don't you watch the fireworks from Lone's terrace? Also, thanks for my christmas card lady! xxx

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