As I previously touched on, Friday we went off into the Blue Mountains. It was a pretty brutal morning for all the girls in the group who had to suck it up and get up at 6am. Despite this hour and half to get ready, we still only barely made it.
As I said before, our driver who also turned out to be our tour guide was an absolute legend called Smokey. I don't know whether or not he was christened with this name, but he immediately reminded us of Crocodile Dundee with his rough appearance, Croc tooth ridden hat and shark tooth necklace. In short, he definitely looked the part. On the questionnaire we got to fill out at the end there was a question on Professionalism/Appearance of our guide, he couldn't have looked better. He also had a hilarious laugh where if he or someone said something he thought deserved a laugh, it would come delayed about three seconds later.
After picking up a few others from a collection of hostels in Sydney, Smokey took us over the Anzac Bridge and towards the Great Dividing Range (this is the name for the entire mountain range that stretches from Victoria to Queensland, covers 3,500km/2,175mi and is the third longest mountain range in the world of which the Blue Mountains National Park makes a very small segment).
Our first stop was a little village called Glenbrook where we first headed into the wild in search for some wild Roo's. We'd seen a couple on our drive, but these were not exactly the close ups everyone wanted. After a little while we found what we were looking for, a Male Eastern Grey just chilling and eating grass. We managed to get within about 10 feet before deciding that was far enough. Roo's are powerful creatures and could easily deal with the group, even Smokey. Making our way back to the mini bus we also came across a Wombat hole, for those who don't know what a Wombat is - in the words of Smokey - a giant ball of muscle.
On returning to the mini bus, Smokey went off and started pulling apart the bark on the gum trees looking for something or other. When he returned he was bringing a spider with him so we knew what was dangerous and what was not. It was a Huntsman, but only a baby and not the hand sized adults. Whilst these spiders are non-venomous, they still pack a hefty bite and have massive fangs. After freaking out the majority of the girls, we headed back into Glenbrook where we got a chance to chill for 20 minutes. I found a really cute lil gift shop and a bakery that sold the nicest sausage roll I've ever had.
Our next port of call on the road was another little place called Wentworth Falls, apparently a place for musicians, artists and those who like to write poetry. Wentworth Falls was the first place where our leg muscles were about to be tested with steep inclines and step after step after step. The weather also started to take a turn for the worse, which made the going even more precarious, and more annoying due to the girls whines about how the gorgeous views were really not worth it. Not that anyone else cared about what they had to say, so we got on with it.
Smokey, being a true guide led us and stopped us to talk about this and that, showing us the interesting properties of things like gum leaves. We found that snapping them in half, they smell minty, and crushing them up, like vapour rub (Eucalyptus Oil taken from the leaves is a massive export for Australia, being used in cough sweets, lozenges and vapour rub).
After seeing the beautiful waterfalls at Wentworth Falls, we headed into Katoomba for lunch at the YHA Hostel and then onto our last port of call in the Blue Mountains.
In Katoomba they have this place called Scenic World were the Three Sisters sit. The Three Sister are just three lumps of rock on the mountain that were the focal point of local aboriginal folklore. The moral of their story is to listen to your father, the actual story is too much to go into… Google it. We climbed down more steps with more spectacular views and a couple more waterfalls into the Mountains' temperate rainforest. Even my legs were starting to struggle with the sheer amount of effort they'd been put through during the day, so it was with relief that we were getting the train back up. The train in question was used by the old coal miners' and just happens to be the worlds steepest train, with an incline of 52 degrees. It doesn't seem much, but it's as close to vertical as you'll get on a train.
All in all, Friday has probably been one of my favourite days. Despite the weather, the views have more than made up for it and I know so many people back home who would love to see what I have today.