Sparky Travels

December 24, 2009

Sydney & Blue Mountains

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — admin @ 11:30 am

For the few days up to the 22nd of December I continued to settle into life in Sydney. I went for a trip to Bundeena beach in the Royal National Park with Amanda and Chris. The Royal National Park is 30km south of Sydney and the beach was pretty and quiet. I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art (*** stars), The Rocks Museums and walked along Sydney Harbour Bridge. The Rocks museum had a particularly comprehensive amount of information on the history of Sydney.

On the 22nd I met Helen at some ungodly hour at Central station and took the train up into the blue mountains. Within two hours we were at Katoomba, a charming town perched not far from Megalong Valley. Our hostel was the aging but perfectly adequate Katoomba Mountain Lodge which is in the centre of town and isn’t really a lodge. We explored the town, had lunch in one of the many cafes and walked to Echo Point. Echo Point is the main attraction around Katoomba where the ground falls away to reveal a vast rainforest valley and impressive rock formations. Photos were snapped and we headed back to the hostel. On Tuesdays pizzas from Dominos are only $7 each so we combined these with a few beers in one of the cosy communal rooms within the hostel. We spent the evening chatting with the ‘two Johns’ one from England, one from Canada who were here to escape the pace and cost of backpacking in Sydney.

We had impressive trekking plans for our first (and last) full day in Katoomba. Unfortunately, after diligently going shopping making sandwiches, hydrating, checking routes and having lunch we left it too late to do our planned route into the valley. Instead we did the leisurely cliff walk between Echo Point and Scenic World which afforded good views of the valley at the various viewpoints and a couple of waterfalls. Dinner was a sumptuous meal at one of the cafes in town. My chicken dish was real quality restaurant fare and enough for two people. We finished the evening frequenting one of the few pubs in the town for a couple of shandies. Partly to taste the nightlife and mainly cos we’d forgotten to retrieve our beers before the hostel kitchen closed for the night.

To make amends for the day before, we got up early on the 24th with sandwiches and a resolve to do our missed trek. This involved heading down the Giant Steps, a network of 900 stairs, some of which were hewn out of solid rock and some which were metal staircases. It tested my knees but we we reached the bottom glad in the knowledge that we didn’t have to climb them after the trek. Down here at the bottom of the valley, the views were less impressive but it was much more enjoyable to be walking through paths in deep forest cover. it was quite quiet down here other than the half dozen Germans and Japanese who seemed determined to catch us in some Axis-style pincer movement. Using our best “pidgin-deutsch” we evaded capture and followed along behind enemy lines.
After a few kilometres we reached scenic world. This is a naturey tourist attraction with wheelchair accessible ‘walk’ways based at the site of Katoomba’s 19th century coal mine. We wasted a bit too much energy seeing exactly the kind of stuff we’d just trekked through before choosing our route back up to Katoomba. Our choices were:

  • Lots of steps
  • A cable car
  • The STEEPEST furnicular railway in the world. 54 DEGREES!

We chose the furnicular. It was short and quite steep.

The walk back to town was made easier by ice-lollies and the thought of retrieving what would be our recovery beers from the hostel fridge. The beers drained us as fast as we drained them so I slept all the way back on the sweaty airconditioner-less train. After parting with Helen at Central station I went back to Chris and Amanda’s for dinner before we headed out to Coogee for the traditional Christmas Eve drinks. it was nice to meet some more of the people I’d be spending the next day with celebrating the birth of our saviour Brian H. Blessed.

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