A favourite day trip from Sydney is visiting the Blue Mountains, about 100km to the west of the city, easily reachable by train or car. I still hadn’t made it there after living in Sydney for 3 months. Holly kept telling me off for being lazy so I thought I’d show her and make an effort to get off my butt and go. So I did. And this is the blog post about it.
The journey from my new flat to Katoomba took around 3 hours, in which time I read half of my new book (in case I haven’t mentioned it previously, I am aiming to read 50 books this year) and admired the scenery. After the last suburbs of Sydney were left behind, it was just green trees on big hills as far as the eye could see. Not a particularly poetic description but that’s what it was. The vastness of it all was the most surprising aspect. Just green trees and blue sky.
I arrived in Katoomba, the railway station of which reminded me heavily of any old train station in England, and then managed to navigate myself down to Echo Point, one of the most famous scenes in the entire national park. Looking down the valley at the distant hills, it is clear to see why they are named the Blue Mountains. The colour of those trees are unmistakably blue. Up close they are of course green, but apparently it’s due to Rayleigh Scattering. Because you know, physics. At any rate it’s an extraordinary sight, definitely not one I’ve witnessed before.
I asked the woman in the information kiosk about what walk she would recommend taking if one was searching for a bit of solitude. She directed me north east up towards the Leura Cascades. Part of the trail was closed, but after diverting through a park I found myself on the largely deserted clifftop path. I was somewhat amused but to be honest a little disappointed by its simplicity and lack of inspiring views. I reached a fork in the path – one that went on towards Leura train station. The other sharply descended off the cliff to the rainforest floor. I knew it was a long one-way walk down through the trees, but wasn’t particularly satisfied with what I’d seen so far. And I had a lot of time till sunset. So enthusiastically I bounded down the cliff, ruining my clothes and getting mud all over myself.
I clambered down past waterfalls, through tunnels made from lush, thick foliage, under overhanging rocks, through pleasant picnic areas, up and down metal staircases (where the ground was too steep to create a path), past fallen trees… the only noise to be heard was the chattering of tropical birds and the distant thunder of running water. I was completely blissful in my solitude, and thought about a million different things, I loved it.
Near the end of my walk, I rested on a rocky outcrop overlooking the entire valley. A few kilometres away in front of me to the left, a huge raincloud produced a deluge of rain onto the rainforest below. To the right, the sky was warming in colour as sunset approached. There wasn’t a single thing in sight that was man-made. I felt frozen in time, ecstatic and tranquil in my solitude. The view was inspirational. I definitely appreciated it all more for having done the 4 hour hike. My feet were sore and my trainers stained with mud… but the view wouldn’t have been half as good without those things. It was difficult to tear myself away from that place… but the chill pervading the air got me going again.
I made it back to Echo Point just as the light started to fade, and before boarding the train enjoyed some beers in an Irish bar. Well deserved! I had pushed myself a fair bit, my legs were aching for days… but I had an extraordinarily enjoyable day, and was glad to tick the Blue Mountains off my Sydney checklist. Definitely a worthwhile trip!