We couldn’t spend time in New South Wales without a trip to the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains. Less than two hours drive from Sydney by road, the Blue Mountains are one of the Australia’s most spectacular icons.
The first time we visited this area was in 2001, when our son Daniel was taking his Gap Year in Australia, along with his old school-friend, Lee.
We visited the boys while they were staying in Sydney and took them on a trip to the Blue Mountains and Katoomba’s Scenic Railway, said to be the steepest railway in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records, and originally part of the Katoomba mining tramways. Constructed between 1878 and 1900, the cable railway line descends 415 metres through sandstone cliffs, via a rock tunnel with a maximum gradient of 52 degrees. Also, at this location is the Scenic Skyway, a glass-bottom aerial cable car that traverses an arm of the Jamison Valley, and the Scenic Cableway, the steepest aerial cable car in Australia.
Of course, those were the days before I had a digital camera, meaning that we wanted to return on a subsequent visit, to once again capture the splendor of the area. Sadly, on a return visit a few years later, the clouds rolled in, making clear views of the spectacular Three Sisters impossible.
So, this time, we waited until we awoke to a beautiful Sydney day and decided that this would be our Blue Mountains day!
The Blue Mountains National Park is a scenically dramatic region of forested ravines and pristine bushland, noted for its extensive eucalypt forests and natural biodiversity.
These eucalyptus, or “gum trees”, give off an oil from their leaves, some of which merges with the atmosphere to form a bluish haze, which is particularly pronounced on hot days, thereby giving the Blue Mountains their name.
Along the route, there are picturesque villages and breathtaking views – but first of all we headed to the town of Wentworth Falls and took the half hour hike down to the Falls. There was a faint smell of smoke in the air from bush-fires burning in the distance.
Later we drove to the up-market garden town of Leura, where one of my favourite shops, Elizabeth Rosa is situated. I first discovered Elizabeth Rosa about five years ago, and return each time we are in the area. They have the most exquisite stationary, pens, wrapping paper and the thing that I particularly come for – leather bound journals.
After lunch we took the Blue Mountains scenic drive where we stopped at various places for wonderful views until we finally found our way to the Echo Point lookout for great views of The Three Sisters rock formation at Katoomba, I so wanted to photograph.
This is a very ancient landscape, and the view from Echo Point would have looked much the same 6 million years ago. Perched 500 metres above the valley floor, the view offers a spectacular overlook of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage area of sheer sandstone cliffs, talus slopes and deep clefts worn by creeks and rivers through the soft sandstone over eons of time. This area has been the spiritual home of the Darug and Gundungurra peoples for at least 20,000 years, and there are many stories associated with the land and its people.
So, we finally got back to the Blue Mountains in the end, and it was surely worth the wait!