Now that I’m home i’ll be using my time to catch up and tell you all about my time in Australia, let me start by taking you back to the end of January when we took a weekend trip to the Blue Mountains.
After the Australia Day long weekend the girls and I made a plan to leave Sydney for good. We gave ourselves 2 further weekends to explore and see any sights we had missed and then we were out of there. The girls in particular were keen to visit the Blue Mountains so we knew it was a must on the list of places to visit.
I had already been to the Blue Mountains in October but it was quite a rushed experience as Haley and I had to rush back to the city so I could get to work, so I knew back then that I’d be returning when the girls arrived.
On the 31st January and after missing 3 trains we finally took the 2 hour train journey from the city to Katoomba home to the majestical Blue Mountains and the legendary Three Sisters rock formations. The journey was a pretty standard trip, stopping occasionally at picturesque villages on the way. The sun was shining when we left Sydney and the closer and higher we travelled the cloudier it got but our spirits never dampened, it was just nice to be getting out of the city.
I kept commenting on the way up that you couldn’t hear the train driver speaking when he was announcing which stations we were stopping at. Thinking nothing more of it Kasa delved into a slumber, while Anna and I took pictures to pass the time.
The next thing we know, the trains stopped, several passengers were getting off and we were still sat down procrastinating. Only then did we hear the driver mutter something virtually inaudible on the tannoy, “did he just say Katoomba?”, I asked. We couldn’t tell, but we looked out of the window to see the sign in big, bold letters staring back at us confirming we had reached our destination.
Anna and I jumped up quicker than lightening, in the commotion Kasa woke up, and the race against the doors closing on us began.
It was pure carnage we grabbed our backpacks from the overhead shelf and in the haste everything went flying, loose biscuits flew one way, crisps went another, water toppled to the floor and i’m sure you imagine the sounds that went with it. Juggling our jumpers, backpacks and any items that didn’t escape onto the train floor in our hands we literally jumped off the train as the doors closed seconds behind us. I’m sure the other passengers on the train had a right laugh at our expense, hell we were in hysterics too at the situation too.
After an obligatory photo op at the station, our next task was to find the mountain lodge I’d booked for us a few days before arriving.
The station opened up onto the main street of Katoomba, which looked like scenes from an old American Western film, all we needed next was for tumble weed to blow passed us and we’d be right there in a movie.
A few minutes later we were heading up the main street (find out street name) to our accommodation confident we knew where we were going. We were told at the info centre that the street we were looking for was a 4 minute walk from the station… a 4 minute walk it was not it turns out, asides from all the camping shops we stopped in on our way up the street it felt like we’d been walking for an eternity. When it looked like we were nearing the end of the street the conclusion was we’d walked too far and somehow missed our turn off. It was one of those situations where we couldn’t figure out how we’d missed the turn off when we didn’t see that there was any turn off to take.
The attendant in the last camping shop we went into confirmed we’d gone too far but didn’t blame us for missing it as the lodge was tucked away down a small street behind a church, which made perfect sense as the street we were looking for was called ‘Church Lane’ after all.
Our abode for the night was adorable. The name ‘Katoomba Mountain Lodge’ was the perfect fit. It was a small cosy place, the living room area looked like a grannies lounge, the decor was outdated, the sofa looked like it’d never been replaced, and was set amongst a fireplace that didn’t work and an out of tune piano (you’ll have to use your imaginations for this one as I failed to take pictures). But it was homely, it was cheap and the best bit was the amazing mountain views we from our room. Once we checked in, we changed into ‘hiking gear’, grabbed a map from reception and set off on some exploration.
We followed the map to Echo Point, home to the Three Sisters. For those who don’t know the Three Sisters are essentially 3 rock formations and as with all aboriginal legends the sisters have a dreamtime story behind them. The legend goes that three sister’s Meehni, Wimlah and Gunnedoo living in the Jamison Valley as members of the Katoomba Tribe fell in love with three brothers from the Nepean Tribe, however tribal law forbade marriage. The sisters were in danger so a witchdoctor from the Katoomba Tribe turned the sisters in to stone to protect them. A battle ensued and the witchdoctor was killed before he could return them to their former beauty. These rock formations are a reminder of the battle.
We took the residential route to Echo Point, passing streets lined with unique detached houses. Every house looked different from the rest, some big, some small, some depicting something out of a horror film. One of the houses looked so dilapidated, the garden was overgrown, the paintwork virtually non existent with a random boat stored outside – I decided that the person who lived there was a serial killer hiding out in the house and the boat was what he used to capture his victims and torture them and take them back to the house to then chop them up. We were that freaked I thought it best not to take a picture in case he saw me and came running out the house after me (I watch too many horror films), anyway apart from that one the rest were lovely. “I could live here” Kasa kept saying and she was right it seemed like a very liveable area if you’re a granny.
We passed an art gallery which was painted all in white with a massive statue of a bear placed outside and a little further down the road a chocolate museum with a great big sign with the big bold words “Free chocolate tasting”. Well of course the words ‘free’ and ‘chocolate’ is enough to entice anybody.
We made our way into the shop only to discover it was more like a cafe, with a few tables and chairs, chocolate displayed on shelves and a counter where it was evident the chocolate was bought and not tasted. Kasa being our designated spokesperson asked them about the sign outside, the lady told us we could try the chocolate that was on top of the counter. Seemed that was all the free tasting we were entitled to, so we took a handful of milk and white chocolates, said a cheeky but friendly goodbye and exited the building.
Shortly afterwards the road opened up further so we were able to make out a hint of the mountains in the distance. It was magnificent. The Blue Mountains gets its name from the blue hue that you can see when the sun shines. This is from the Eucalyptus gas that is given off from the abundance of gum trees below.
Even at a distance we could see a tinge of blue haze it on was incredible. As soon as we got to Echo point sounds of “oh wow” and “this is amazing came from the girls…I knew they would love it. Joining the droves of tourists we edged our way closer and closer to capture the views of the sisters in their full glory – it truly was magnificent.
Once we had taken in the astounding views from the top, it was time see what the top looked like from the bottom. Somebody told us that you could go down the ‘Giant Staircase’ and ‘into’ the first sister. So that is exactly what we did.
Getting to the staircase was an adventure in itself, we followed signs from Echo point leading to the Giant Stairway, and soon found ourselves walking through leafy paths with breath-taking views along the way until we came to the top of the stairway.
Towards the top of the stairway crowds were gathering, a commotion was occurring, I couldn’t fathom what the hold up was. While people were stopping and backing up I was getting closer, close enough to see a brave Frenchman holding a stick with a 2-metre snake dangling from it.
Mr snake (which I later found out was a harmless Diamond Python) had apparently been fast asleep on the stairs unbeknown to many. Maybe he woke up and frightened people, we are in the deadliest country in the world afterall. The Frenchman moved the snake to the bushes on the side and away we all went.
A few steps later and we had reached the ‘sisters’ well the first sister anyway, we were now up close and personal baby it was brilliant. We ended up spending quite a while here, contemplating whether to continue the walk down into the ‘jungle’ or come back the following day. We sat and took in our surroundings while we mulled things over; witnessing people coming up from the valleys below looking exhausted and warn out, that it didn’t take long for us to decide that we’d come back the following day to do the main trek as we didn’t want to run the risk of missing the train going back up the other side and subsequently having to walk back up 900 steps. The drama queen in me had already stated on the way down, “I’ll probably die coming back up” so it just was not going to be an option.
We settled in a place that was so serene and calming, you could literally stay for hours, Kasa also did some meditation while I looked out over the mountains contemplating. After taking more pictures than my camera could handle and messing around shouting out into the valleys below listening to our voices echo around the mountains we decided to call it a day.
We ended the day with a bit of child’s play with Anna and I launching ourselves at some intricately painted life-size Rhino’s set up outside a restaurant at the top of Echo Point.
Our belly’s were speaking to us and a small child was watching us eagerly to have a go so we soon got down in search of food.
Along the way we met Geoff – owner of The Lost Bear Gallery -and his beautiful pup Nugget and of course dogs spark conversation – we got speaking to him and he kindly recommended some great places to eat in town. Mouths watering we said our goodbyes and promised we’d visit the gallery the next day. After checking out a number of restaurants we finally settled on a Korean restaurant, treating ourselves to a deliciously, spicy mixture of noodles and seafood.– (a first for me and my god it was outstanding, a highly recommended cuisine),
We’d heard that Katoomba was a great place to view the Milky Way, so we had every intention of following the advice given to us by a local and get back on the train one stop and sit in the park opposite the station, but after stuffing ourselves stupid on Korean food the laziness took over and we opted for a relaxing evening on our balcony with a glass of vino instead. We had hoped it would be a clear night so we’d see it anyway but alas on this night it was not to be.
The following day was “ADVENTURE” day.
Click Here to find out what happened on adventure day.