Sydney Day #20 – Blue Mountains.
Posted on February 3rd, 2013
If I had to pick favorite days, this would definitely be one of them. I got up early in the morning, put on some long pants, sneakers with good treads and packed a picnic, a bottle of water, a jacket, as well as my camera into my backpack. At Central Station, I boarded the train to Katoomba, a small town in the Blue Mountains. I enjoyed the ride through the suburbs of Sydney, the building density getting less the more the train moved to the west. The small towns we eventually passed looked beautiful from the train and I could already catch glimpses of the mountains, covered with a seemingly endless duvet of trees and ferns.
Getting off at Katoomba Station, I was delighted about the fresh air and beautiful Art Deco buildings surrounding the area around the railway. Before heading towards Katoomba Falls and the bushland, I stopped at a wonderful Art Deco café called The Paragon, drank some coffee and recovered from the train ride. The café is a gem! The wooden walls and ceilings with Art Deco details, original furniture and to die for salons in the back of the café. I actually could have spent the whole day sitting there, but that was not what I had come to Katoomba for.
Randomly following some street signs I decided to start my hiking endeavors at Katoomba Falls and see where the path would take me from there – actually nothing that is recommended, as later I read. Actually they say, that you should plan your hike and inform relatives or contact persons about your route in case you get lost. I might do that the next time and if you should visit these mountains I’d recommend you do the same. This time I relied on the fact that I grew up near the mountains and my parents frequently took me hiking when I was a child.
It actually is hard to describe the beauty of these mountains and woods. I have never seen so much trees in my life and often I had to stop and marvel at the beauty of the ferns, trees and shrubs. I passed an area that had been taken by a wood fire a few years past, the pitch black trees contrasting with beautiful new, delicate shoots and undergrowth in the brightest of greens. The air had the most beautiful smell and was filled with the screams of birds hiding in the bushes, black cockatoos and other species unknown to me. Looking up, the silvery bark and leaves of the blue mountains ash glistened in the sunlight. I was speachless.
I walked along the cliff, enjoying the view onto Lonely Mountain and the bushland below. There were many lookouts along the way. When reaching the infamous rock formation called the Three Sisters, it actually got very crowded, but after a few metres, I had the path to myself. By then I had reached a hiking trail called Prince Henry Cliff Walk – I can highly recommend taking this trail as it’s not steep and therefore not too hard to walk, yet not boring or very crowded. I walked all the way to Leura Cascades, taking little detours to different look-outs – each of them offering breathtaking views. Occasionally, I had to climb some rocks and crouch under fallen trees, it was wonderful. I ate my picnic at Lady Carrington Lookout, enjoying the sun and solitude. I was reminded of the hikes I took with my parents in the Alps when I was a child, it was always the a bit tricky tracks, that would make me the most eager and happy and nothing beats a picnic in the mountains!
Leura Cascades turned out to be a beautiful ending to my hike – a set of small waterfalls meandering through the bushland and finally dropping off into a deep sea of green leaves. I could have walked on for hours, but checking the time, I found out that I actually had hiked for 6 hours already and I could feel that I was getting hungry again. As the town of Leura was in walking distance, I decided to leave the bushland and seek civilisation.
Leura is a very cute little mountain town and I was a little bit sad, that I had not planned to stay there for the night. Not only is it home to the Everglades Gardens, a botanic garden built in the 1930s, that unfortunately was already closed when I got to the town, but it also offers some beautiful shops and cafés, as well as curious things, like a teapot museum, a shop offering chocolate appreciation workshops as well as small streets worth strolling along. The houses and gardens of this town were beautiful and I envied its inhabitants for having parrots sitting at their front porches and cockatoos circling their skies. Like Katoomba, this small town still seems to breath the air of the 1930s and I loved that. Through a really beautiful book I had bought at a small souvenir store at Echo Point earlier, I found out about a nice restaurant in Leura called Leura Garage and headed there for delicious coffee, dinner and ice cream.
Heavy heartedly, after another short stroll until the train back to Sydney would arrive, I left this paradise, accompanied by a beautiful and dramatic sundown. It really was a most perfect day. I will have to come back here and next time I will have to stay a little bit longer.