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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The grandeur of the Blue Mountains

Part of my three-day Sydney escape

 

One day and night in 'the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city' were quite enough for me and I was happy to leave Sydney on an early train of the Blue Mountain Line up for Katoomba (Platform 7 at Central, hourly departures, starting 4.20 am until midnight).

The two-hour-ride on the electrified train was smooth and relaxing, even more so in the first or last carriage which are QUIET CARRIAGES that ban all music and loud talk on mobile phones which means you won't have to listen to such inane one-sided conversations as, "Yes, we're just pulling into Granville Station." Do none of these people have the ability to go, for say, five minutes without being in contact with someone else? What are they afraid of? Confronting their own thoughts?

Trvelling in the QUIET CARRIAGE

Speaking of which, somewhere before Auburn the train passes the Auburn Gallipolli Mosque, the new in-your-face of multi-cultural Australia. On and on until, after Springwood, the train starts to labour a bit as it begins to move uphill from Faulconbridge to Linden, Woodford, Hazelbrook, Lawson, Bullaburra to Wentworth Falls and Leura, before arriving at Katoomba.

As a keen youth-hosteller, I had booked myself into the Katoomba YHA, so when I saw a sign just outside the station that pointed to the right and read 'Blue Mountains Backpacker Hostel', I went in that direction.

Nice hostel but wrong place! I should've gone straight ahead, crossed the road, and down (with the emphasis on DOWN) Katoomba Street, past all the shops and motels and restaurants and cafés, until the next round-about which has ALDI on its right (they have ALDI here? can't be too bad a town!). Another hundred metres or so, and there's Katomba's YHA. An even nicer hostel!

I was early and asked if I could just leave my backpack behind the reception desk but they let me straight away occupy my private room with ensuite. Nicer hostel; even nicer people! The room was squeaky-clean, had a nice view, tea- and coffee-making facilities, and a reading light over the bed. Hoorah!

Katoomba is a town that lives on the edge - on the edge of the Blue Mountains, that is - because just a leisurely walk down Katoomba Street is Prince Henry Cliff Walk with Scenic World directly across.

The SKYWAY - walk right on, pay $35 at the other end for an all-day pass on the SKYWAY, WALKWAY, CABLEWAY, and RAILWAY - takes you to the other side but not before making a bowel-moving stop half-way across for a view through its glass-floor into the deep, deep valley below - if you dare!

I didn't and instead took the twenty-minute walk to the Three Sisters and Echo Point (marked as number 14 on the map below).

There were wonderful views along the way and very few people as most tourists shunned the exercise and chose to get bussed about on the Blue Mountains Explorer Bus. My reverie and solitude came to a sudden end at the Three Sisters Lookout - now rightly named 'Three Sisters PLAZA' because it was a huge concrete expanse tightly packed with mainly Asian visitors with cameras on selfie-sticks.

Stay tuned for more in my next blog.