The trip to the Blue Mountains National Park provided a fascinating contrast of scenery to what I had experienced in downtown Sydney, and the walking trails around the park also gave me an opportunity to burn off those calories accumulated from those pub ‘barbies’ and drinking too much Fosters back at the hostel!
I was not really in Sydney long enough to make best use of the My Multi ticket, which allows you discounted access to many destinations on the trains in and out of the city. Therefore, my 31 mile train journey to the Blue Mountains cost me a lot more than I had hoped for, but it was still a worthwhile expense. Although trains run throughout the day to the Blue Mountains, you had better plan an early excursion so you can spend more time in the park. I found the trains to be very clean but very cold, so do bring a jumper or some lightweight trousers with you to survive the over-exuberant air conditioning!
I was interested to learn why the term “blue” was given to the mountainous area, and I could swear that in the distance the mountains did look somewhat blue, despite the desolate wildfire look! As a matter of fact, the real reason is that many eucalyptus trees in the area give off a gas, and when UV light from the sun hits this gas it gives off a blue colour! One of my extended walks was to a spot known as Govetts Leap, which was another lookout over the vast canyons, and once again all I could think was about this amazing scenery before me as I was perched up high – like nothing I’d seen before!
At various lookout points on the walking trails through the Blue Mountains you will get the chance to see beautiful waterfalls and megalithic cave systems. While I don’t think you can enter any of these caves you can still marvel at the sheer size of them from the exterior.
The Blue Mountains National Park has plenty of walking trails that all cross over each over so it’s easy to make up your own walk. One of the best walks I endured was the Grand Canyon trail, which started off as a really interesting walk through a narrow canyon, with the steep mountains rising up way above my head. It was a very well maintained path, with many stone steps and handrails (these were not really needed), so if you are worried about your physical condition when in the park, do not worry too much, as most of the trails are pretty easy – it’s not like climbing to the Taktsang Monastery in Bhutan!
I sometimes cannot tell the difference between a kangaroo and a wallaby, but I think I saw some ‘roos in the long grass. They seemed to be enjoying themselves but were somewhat startled by our presence as we drove past. I didn’t see any koala bears, although I don’t know if they even exist at this altitude anyway.
I saw these ‘roos along the Price Henry Cliff as I walking to a point named The Three Sisters, which are three huge sandstone rocks perpendicular to one another. It was a popular photo stop and there were lots of Japanese and Chinese tourists posing in front of them (these Chinese tourists get everywhere!). From here, I descended down the 900 or so steep steps of the Giant Staircase and joined the Dardenella Pass to walk along the valley. This then became the Federal Pass and the landscape quickly changed! There were lots of evidence of landslides, and trees that had landed in the way had been chopped through so they didn’t obstruct the path.
I began down here among the many waterfalls to see more types of birds, many that looked a bit like pheasants with blue tails, which mimic the songs of other birds. As you can expect when in the mountains, and especially within the Blue Mountains National Park, there are lots of peaks and troughs, and it was a steep path up to the summit that I had wanted to reach since reading about it online. The summit in question was known as the Ruined Castle, and the 360 degree view from here was fantastic and mesmerising, but the strong wind at this point made sure I had but a quick look before I climbed back down again!