Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Blue Mountains

If you've already spent time in Sydney checking out the glitz, glamour, nightlife, attractions and all of the wonderful things to experience, perhaps you're ready to venture outside of the city for a while.  One of my favourite nearby regions is the Blue Mountains.  They got their name from the distinctive blue haze that surrounds the area, created when the oil dispersed by the eucalyptus trees, combining with dust and water vapour, scatter short-wave length rays of light that are predominantly blue.   Incidentally, the region was listed as a World Heritage Area by UNESCO in 2000.  
The Blue Haze the area is known for
I took a train from Sydney to Katoomba, the largest city in the area, taking only 2 hours.  It was nice to sit back, relax and watch the scenery change from large, bustling metropolis to virtually untouched landscape in the Blue Mountains National Park.  It was June when I visited, and although the weather in Sydney had been quite nice, it was considerably cooler by the time I got to Katoomba, making me grateful for the jumper I had brought with me.  The main reason for my trip was to get a first hand look at the biggest drawcard of the area - The Three Sisters.
View of The Three Sisters from Echo Point
From the Echo Point lookout, I had a wonderful panoramic view of the Jamison Valley.  After taking a bunch of photos, I made my way around the other side of the gorge to Katoomba Scenic World, where I just had to ride the Scenic Railway and the Skyway.  The railway is the steepest cable-driven funicular railway in the world, with an incline of 52 degrees at the steepest section.  The ride was great and took us through some very dense rainforest, giving a completely different perspective of the area than I got from the lookout.  After getting off the train, I noticed that the wind had picked up considerably but thought "what the heck" and decided to give the Skyway a go.  Boy, am I glad I did!  The view was spectacular and the feeling of being suspended over the gorge and Katoomba Falls was heart-pounding (in a good way)!  As the cable car was returning, a huge cloud of mist started moving up the valley.  It didn't take long before The Three Sisters were obscured from view, so my timing was perfect.  Due to time constraints, I didn't get a chance to experience the Scenic Cableway or do any bushwalking (of which there are lots of options).  If you want a good workout, try the Giant Stairway walking track - it makes my legs hurt just thinking about it!

If you're thinking about visiting and looking for a place to stay, we have a section dedicated to this region on the Blue Mountains Australia Hotels page on our website.  From this page, you can also link to Day Trips & Excursions to the Blue Mountains.  Although Lilianfels is probably the most well known accommodation, there are plenty of other options to choose from.

My trip back to Sydney was uneventful, which I guess isn't all bad.  I have to admit, I did smile smugly as we got closer to the city centre and saw the gridlocked traffic as we glided by on the train.  Sometimes public transport really is a great option.  Stay tuned for my next Australian adventure....

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