Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains is a great place for a one or two day trip out of Sydney, it’s easy to get to as you can catch a train from the central station and they run pretty regularly, one per hour if my memory doesn’t fail me. We took a train from central station and only 2 hours later we were in  Katoomba, where we had booked ourselves in for 2 nights at the YHA Katoomba (really nice hostel!). The hostel was about a 10-15 min walk from the station, but easy to find as it was sign posted and a lovely little walk through the local high street of Katoomba. It was a bit like stepping back in time, a lot of the shop fronts still look the same as they did when they were first built and there are quite a few art deco shop fronts too.

We dropped off our things at the hostel and changed into our hiking boots, good choice as it had been raining a bit up there the last couple of days so there were a few muddy trails. We then headed in the direction of The Three Sisters, but we took the long way around and went for a 2 hour hike. It was rather warm, around 28C, so we took plenty of water along with us and our packed lunches. The walk through the forest was really nice, it was like a mixed rain forest, some parts were cool and shady and others were more exposed to the sun so a bit hotter and drier. There were plenty of viewing spots to stop at to take photos and just soak up the view and look out over the millions and millions of trees. It’s so easy to navigate around, from Katoomba it’s all sign posted, we had a local map that we had picked up from the hostel, so with that and following the signs we were ok. We eventually ended up at the famous Three Sisters at Echo Point. They are three unusual rock formations, that according to Aboriginal legend were three sisters that were turned into stones, the reasons vary according to different Aboriginal stories. They are some 900m high above sea level.

Our second day we packed our ‘swimmers’ (as the Aussies call it) and headed towards Wentworth Falls. You can easily reach it from Katoomba by catching a train from the station, it’s only 5-10 min from Katoomba and the tickets are cheap. Once there, just follow the signs, so there’s no need to buy an expensive map. When you get there you have several different options of hikes that you can do, they all vary from easy to extremely strenuous. You can wander down to the first viewing platform, this will take about 15 min return. But that would be a wasted journey in my opinion. If you’ve made it here, you owe it to yourself to at least go down to the second or third level of the falls. The hike back up is tough, but well worth it and if you’re clever, you pack some food, plenty of water, a travel towel and your swimmers and head down to the lower levels. We stopped off about half way down, where there were a few rock pools that the waterfall was flowing through. We stayed there for about 2 hours lapping up the sun, eating our lunch and sharing a beer that was offered to us by a lovely local guy we got talking to. He told us that he had retired to Wentworth Falls from Sydney only a couple years ago, he used to live in Manly, but he said he preferred to head down to this spot on a hot day as it offered a much better view than any beach. And I can only but agree! The view is magnificent, the water in the rock pool refreshing and you get no sand in your bag when you’re done!

If you fancy it, you can go all the way to the bottom of the falls, but this is only for those brave and fit, from the half way bit it’s about a 2 hour return climb, as it’s very steep at times. We went down a bit and it’s a great hike even though we decided not to do the whole thing as we didn’t have enough water and it was getting a bit too late in the afternoon. But as you can see on the photos, you’ll need to be prepared to climb some seriously steep ladders and the pathways look like something out of Indiana Jones!

On our third day we had a few hours to kill before we headed back to Sydney in the afternoon, so we headed back towards Echo Point and went for a little hike to Katoomba falls, but after seeing Wentworth Falls the day before, we weren’t quite so impressed. But the walking trails around there are still very nice.

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