February 20, 2013

The Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains are spectacular. Mountains is perhaps the wrong thing to call them, speaking as a person who comes from a place with some pretty nice mountains. What they are is flat tabletop highlands, about 700m high. They have sheer drops off the sides which go down hundreds of meters to the forest below.

They are near enough to Sydney, less than a couple hours away in fact. Josh and I drove up there for a little day trip. When we left Sydney, the weather was a bit iffy. By the time we started ascending into the mountains, it was looking worse and worse by the second. By the time we got near to Katoomba, the town were were visiting, the visibility was less than a hundred meters in driving rain and fog.

We arrived to the first lookout on Cliff Drive. We were both a bit bummed that it was so cloudy and foggy, but at least the rain had let off. We hopped out of the car, and noticed a couple of people over by a stone wall looking very much like they were searching for something. As soon as we got out, they walked way down a trail.

I thought I saw a GPS with them and I said that I bet they were Geocaching. We checked on Josh's phone, and sure enough there was a cache in the wall. We started looking for it, and after about ten minutes of unsuccessful looking, we saw them coming back up the trail, but they were waiting as if for us to leave. I called out to them and asked if they were geocaching, and they said that indeed they were.

We joined forces and chatted with them for about a half hour. They were from the Netherlands. It was pretty neat to chat. Just as we were about to give up, Josh found the cache, and we all logged it. They headed on their way, as did we. The short trail they had hid down leads to the actual lookout. We went down there and as we walked up to the edge, the clouds began to lift. It was amazing to see them disappear and reveal the incredible view they had been hiding.

After quickly stopping to get another cache, we headed along the Cliff Drive to the tourist center and the Giant Staircase. Basically it is a giant staircase which goes all the way down the cliff to the bottom, then there is a hike through the forest to a cable car back up.

From the top one can see the Three Sisters. Three rock monoliths which stick out from the edge of the escarpment.

The giant staircase is exactly that. It has something over a thousand steps, all very steep and many hewn out of the rock. It winds its way through the first of the Three Sisters, then down into the dense forest below.

It is about an hour and a half to the bottom of the cable car. The ideal way to get back up is via the railway, in fact it is the steepest railway in the world at over 52 degrees. It was closed for repairs though when we were there which was a bit disappointing. At least we did not have to walk back up the stairs!

Up on top again we walked back to the car and headed home. This was the view from that walk.

That was our trip to the Blue Mountains. They are spectacular, and I highly recommend a jaunt that way if you are ever in the Sydney area.

Next on the list of posts is the aquarium and the wildlife park. Here is a taste of what there is to come.

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