I decided to make the most of the Easter long weekend and head into the Blue Mountains for a few days.
So, with my bags packed, I jumped on the 15.19 train from Central Station to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, a journey that would take about 2 hours.
I made it to Katoomba Station at 17.30 and the first thing I saw as I came out of the station was an old red double decker London General bus! I really wasn’t expecting that!!
So, with a smile on my face, I went in search of my hostel (which was only a 5 minute walk away from the station).
I stayed at the Blue Mountains Backpackers hostel which is very noisy, very busy, and very run down. The bunk beds were rickety, the windows didn’t close properly and the kitchen was so gross that I didn’t even bother to attempt cooking in there! Thankfully I was only there for 2 nights!
I woke up on my first day in the Blue Mountains...and it was raining! Well, more drizzling than raining and what was worse was that drizzle had created a lovely thick mist meaning that you couldn’t see a sodding thing!!
I decided to get a pass on the explorer bus (the London double decker busses) which is a hop on hop off bus that drops you at numerous points close to the big landmarks and the best views. The drivers are great – giving useful info on what to do and see (especially in the bad weather!). With this pass you also get 1 ride on the Scenic Railway, Cable Car and Skyway at Scenic World.
I ended up taking a walk down to the Leura Cascades – a beautiful series of waterfalls at the end of a lovely scenic walk. From here I followed the path on to the Prince Henry Cliff Walk and trekked around for a while. I found some amazing view points...not that I could see anything from them, except for mist that is!
I jumped back on the bus round to the Blue Mountains chocolate shop which does the best hot chocolate! You get a jug of hot milk, a bowl of chocolate drops and a special mug with a tea light in the base of it. You get to melt the chocolate before adding in the milk – yummy!!
I had hoped that the mist would have cleared by this point, but no luck, there it was, as thick as ever!
So, instead I headed back to the hostel via Subway to get something for dinner.
There really isn’t that much to do in Katoomba if you’re on your own – so I grabbed a shower to warm up and turned in for an early night ready for an early start tomorrow morning!
Day two in Katoomba was a little more promising! I got up early and headed down to Echo Point early in the morning (which is great – it’s so much quieter there first thing in the morning).
After taking tonnes of photos of the views from Echo Point, I headed to the entrance of the Giant Staircase. The sign says ‘very steep – strong walkers only’ and boy they weren’t kidding! There were stairs and lots of them – sometimes it felt like you were climbing down a ladder!! But wow, the views were well worth it!
The giant staircase took you down to a lookout on the very edge of the 3 sister’s rock formation (from here you can look back up towards the Echo Point lookout) before it carries on down to the Federal Pass. The Federal Pass runs right the way through the Leura Forrest – the section that you walk from the bottom of the Giant Staircase to the Scenic Railway station is only a small part of the track.
From the Federal pass, I jumped on the Scenic Railway which is the world’s steepest railway. The journey is fairly short, but really impressive! When you first sit down, you’re sitting at a really odd angle. It’s only when you reach the incline that the train tips and you’re sitting upright! The upper station dumps you right in the middle of scenic world – which is basically a huge (and hideously over-priced) shop and central station for the 3 rides. I jumped on the cable car to go back down to the valley floor – the cable car operator was hilarious, his name was Happy too!!
I wandered around the boardwalked forest area, just past the scenic railway base station for a bit before heading back up the Federal Pass track to the Furber Steps.
The Furber Steps aren’t quite as steep as the Giant Stairway, but I would think twice before climbing up them again (down would have been so much easier!). Either way, the views along the track were just breath taking! There are several lookouts along the route if you’re willing to deviate off the track a little here and there! My favourite of these was the Juliet’s Balcony Lookout which has stunning views of the 3 sisters and the Katoomba Falls!
I finally made it to the top and back to Echo Point and jumped on the Explorer Bus round to the Honeymoon Lookout (which was so not worth it!). From here, I decided to head back to the Leura Cascades, but after walking most of the way, following the signposts, it turned out that a part of the track was closed! So I followed the signposts down to the Leura forest, but could find another track to the falls from there, so headed along the Federal Pass for the second time that day, walking the bit that it’s clear most people don’t bother with as much of it was overgrown meaning that you had to wade through ferns and climb over fallen trees to make it back to the well trodden section of the track. I had now been walking/climbing through the bush for over 7 hours, so I jumped on the scenic railway again before jumping on the explorer bus back to Katoomba to grab my bag from the hostel in time to head to the station for my train back to Sydney.
It was so nice to get away for a few days although I’m sure I’ll regret all that trekking in the next few days!!
Promise I’ll write again soon (ish!)