Ain't no mountain high enough
Blue mountains 05.11
Sales people (Aussie and English, looking at you STA Rich) flog the blue mountains as:
'A must do'
'The most awesome views for miles around'
'You've never seen clouds like it'
' 3 days of exploration and stunning scenery'
Maybe it is.When you're not them in a lightning hailstorm! Raahh!
Ok so it may only be the second 'freak thunderstorm' ( I think this may be an Aussie lie and they're quite commonplace) since I've arrived
AND they are a result of the heat
HOWEVER it is windy
SO it's nippy and I'm talking potential for 8 cd's here...
But why would anyone check the weather before heading up a mountain...
Whilst this lack of weather preparation does put my inner Bear G to shame I did do a little bit of planning (calm down Overplanner) to ensure as a cynical tourist and for want of a better Sheffield phrase 'a tight get'; didn't get raped with some redneck with a microphone and an 8 seater, calling themselves a tour operator.
Tours to the mountains range from $70 to VIP to an excess of $250 (how you can be VIP on a coach up a mountain begs belief) but if I'm ever going to get to Canada I've got to stop holidaying it and start learning like a backpacker.
So I took myself... For free... With the trusty transport pass.
Scarlett 1 Tours 0
Arranged to meet Portsmouth boy, Central station, 10:30, I got lost in station (possibly the most signposted place in all of Sydney) good start.
Tours 1 Scarlett 1
Following a Painful conversation with 'information' (I'm sure I'm dumbing down) we were advised to catch a train not listed on departures. I've only been here 4 days but a theme has developed that Aussie information is rarely that...(misdirection would be a better name)
So becoming all English and arrogant, myself and PB ignored all person centred advice and put our faith in Aussie electronics via the departures board...Koombaaarrraa it is.
If I was easily pleased by the double decker trams- I was in awe of the trains (double decker as standard) but featuring flip over seats: so you can make your area a 2 person or 4 person depending on party size or feelings of sociability. Don't get this on a coach...
Scarlett 2 Tour 1
An hour later the train had still not moved.
Tour 2 Scarlett 2
At this point we were weighing up whether this would be worth it... A four hour round trip for a 4 hour mountain stroll....
Tour 3 Scarlett 2
Being the strong, stubborn northern soul I am; patience (& the lack of a better option) won. (Or wan, if you Mr Beanz) we stayed on train.
As the train slithered through residential towns; people got hairier, spitting increased and the smell got stronger. Australia may be vast -but if your not living on the coast -you may as well be living in Darnall ...(joke Cook clan)
Eucalyptus trees take over the general scenery about half way through the journey; apparently it is the vapour they release that forms the 'blue clouds' that give the Mountains their name. Tour guide what now?
Scarlett 3 Tour 2
Spying some clouds I screeched excitedly 'oohh look there's the blue clouds' ... PB: 'Erm no Scarlett they're just rain clouds'... 'Darn'... And rain it did, thunder and hailstones smashing against the window: I think someone forgot to tell the weatherman I'm in Australia. Coatless.
People in the mountains were a rather friendly bunch providing actual directions '3 sisters yeah that's quite a trek' and a general helpfulness 'you should have brought a coat'...bit late now mate!
The three sisters (pointed mountain rock feature based on my own skin and blisters) follows a cliff walk around echo falls, from there a downward mountain trek leads into the basin of the rainforest passing by some epic waterfall action and climaxing with a skyride back to the top. (Tour guide who?)
Scarlett 4 Tour 2
If only it was that easy...
As we trekked along the 'quite a trek' Main road, buoyant with our stinginess, the heavens opened and it started to rain... Proper big fat blobs the kind where you think your drowning and/or blind!
Sheltering under a tree, on some residential street emotions and views were pretty dismal; gambling on our chances of getting struck by lighting we moved to a structured bus stop. (Oh the spectacular scenery)
If I was on my own I would have turned back. I wasn't on my own. I'm competitive. If he doesn't suggest it then I'm not either.
It was crazy, never ending thunder and lightning. Positive optimism was waning... Then a true walker (better than you Fods) stalked past.hiking boots. Rain mac.sly smile. That was it we were off.
Powering through the rain, half frozen to the core, delirium or pneumonia kicked in and the whole shindig became pretty hilarious.
Reaching the 3 sisters the rain stopped! WHOOOP. And it really was breathtaking; acres and acres of rainforest, cumulating in various mountain ranges raising the question were there some lost hobbits out there. (Apple photography can't do it justice).
Following obligatory photos 'I'm falling off a cliff photos' it decision time. Go hard, channelling our inner Bear and trek through the rainforest blasé to the fact we had no food? Shelter, phone signal or go home... Go hard it was. Affirming to ourselves it couldn't get any wetter off we went. God was proud of our efforts...the sun shone for the rest of the afternoon...
Trundling around the cliff edge of echo falls, PB questions whether if he shouts it will boom back. He did. It didn't. Twat. :) (Further Aussies lies: naming national areas echo without any echos).
Skipping down past waterfalls, I undertook a 'photo off' with token Japanese Fan club of who could climb the highest point. He won. He deserved to fall.
Major sad face when reaching the waterfall crossing; Blue mountaineers say you can cross through the water (like they do In movies looking all fabulous)... However Barriers say no. These Lies are so disappointing.
Two hours of half skipping/ half tumbling (mountain goat style) down the mountain later, thoughts turned to the return journey... What goes down must come up. Due to our unfortunate train delay it was getting pretty late and we'd missed the last skyride back.... At this point I was so Bear Grylled out I was envisioning camping spots for the night. Using snakes as pillows and spiders web duvets...
Passing some deutschen brothers on their way back up complaining 'it was hard'; we knew this would be no easy feat.
1000 + upward steps later ( no exaggeration) we were a Quarter of the way back up ;)
Suddenly there was a noise (bearing in mind we'd seen 5 people all day)... Through the trees, sprinting full pelt, at dusk,a blaze of orange and black stripes, into the rainforest was.....
An Irish man. On MDMA. Shouting Good morning. It was 5pm. Talk to Frank.
Years later, with calves to make Shaun T proud, we emerged from the rainforest to begin the 'quite a trek' back to the station. Euphoric wasn't the word, I don't know whether it was altitude, endorphines, Irish had slipped us something ...but possibley experienced the best buzz of my life....singing - whooping- dancing along the street- everything was in technicolor, it had been the most obscurely brilliant day, well worth the trip.
Blue mountain, spaced out thoughts:
1- would it be better on a hot day?
2: what's supposed to be blue?
3: why does echo falls not echo?
4: why does the town looks like the s***ty town in the s***ty book twilight?
5: why when you have the whole of Australia to live in why choose the place which has an abundance of rain?
6: does Irish druggie live in the forest?
7: could I live in the forest?
8: at what point would it have taken 3 days to do this trip?
9: why do people pay $70+ for some lying dude to drop them at the mountain when they can catch the train?
On Last train home, thoughts turned again to food and beer- age old problem: we wouldn't arrive in Sydney Centre until 8:30- it may only be day 4 but I would have accepted a KFC.
Disembarking the train, forgetting we had been drowned earlier, forgetting we'd spent the day trekking through a rainforest. Forgetting that I'm a non efforter in life to start with; we rocked up at the most pretentious seafood restaurant (albeit in China town) but still...
The waitress looked us up and down and sent us up the escalator to the peasants area... Here were were placed on a table alongside Sydney's (and China's) elite business men and woman, smooching couples on date night, parties sharing platters of lobster over champagne.... And us... Stinking, wet, Brits eating satay chicken... In a seafood restaurant.