I’m scanning through my photos during our holiday trip in Sydney when the photos I took at the Blue Mountains, NSW took my attention. I’m originally just looking for photos to include on my Instagram feed and I just posted one of those that I found last Saturday. Some of my fellow bloggers asked me and wondered if we hiked our way there. Now, I didn’t just found photos for my gram. I also found another place in Sydney that I’m going to blog.
Note: I mostly upload my photos on my instagram account (@dextograph) too late. Currently, I’m posting series of throwbacks from our holiday trip in Sydney. To think that it’s been two months since that trip, either I really loved the New South Wales that much or I’m not much into trips lately due to busyness at work and some financial difficulties. But I know soon enough we’ll be able to have another of those trips.
Blue Mountains is a mountainous region in the state of New South Wales located at the Sydney border. Technically, it’s not part of Sydney but most of the people travelling to Sydney include this into one of their long lists of places-to-go especially for mountain enthusiasts. This region is home to the Blue Mountains National Park which is listed as one of UNESCO Heritage Sites in Australia.
“Did we hike our way to the BLUE MOUNTAINS?”
Well, I understand why my fellow bloggers asked this question. Aside from the great view, the name of the place is Blue Mountains. The first thing that could enter everyone’s mind is “hiking.” It’s the same way for me too the first time I came to know about this place. Actually, one of my younger sisters was in-charge of the planning for the itinerary given that my wife and I just tagged ourselves along in this trip. I only heard about this place when we just arrived in Sydney.
I almost decided to not blog about it especially that we didn’t do much that day. Well, since we’re travelling with our parents, my wife and my sisters have to choose doing less-strenuous activities unless we want to hear a lot of whining the rest of our trip (LOL!).
Now, the answer to that question would be “NO.” We didn’t hike our way to the Blue Mountains. It would be nice if we did. Not hiking had its own version of “nice” though. As usual, it seems like I’m having another reason to revisit this place.
BLUE MOUNTAINS for a day
We left our flat at 6:00 in the morning that day given that my sister’s friend told her that it’s going to be a long trip going there. From Sydney Central Station, we took the first train trip going to Bathurst, NSW at 7:00 AM and disembarked halfway at Katoomba, NSW Station after 2 hours.
Note: I found the NSW’s train system a little confusing. Train routes vary in time. That’s why it’s important to double check the train you’re going to ride. Also, I can’t give how much would it cost to go there since we’re using the Opal Card. Frequent use gives higher discounts. But for the record, we’re charged AUD 8.00* going to Katoomba and AUD 5.00* going back to Sydney Central.
Upon arrival, we went to the visitor center first located just outside the train station to prepare ourselves for the whole day. We availed the Lyrebird Pass Package for AUD 83.00* which includes unlimited rides at the Scenic World and the Hop-on Hop-off Blue Mountains Explorer Bus. Now we’re ready for an adventure.
* AUD 1.00 is approximately PHP 40.00
But first… food
Of course, we can’t function properly on an empty stomach, so we decided to take our breakfast at a restaurant near the bus stop. I can’t remember the exact name but I saw the word SAVOY somewhere on it’s OPEN sign. Maybe that could be its name. I managed to take a photo of its exterior facade though.
I ordered ham and egg sandwich for approximately AUD 13.00. A typical English Breakfast. No rice (LOL!). But was able to sustain me for the day. Still terrible taking good food pictures eh?
Hopping-on and hopping-off the Blue Mountains Explorer Bus
After the meal, we immediately headed to the BM Explorer bus stop to make the most out of our day. I don’t think it’s the only mode of transportation to get around the Blue Mountains but could be the easiest and most accessible. It’s great that this bus stops at each main attractions of this town and we can ride or disembark anytime and any attractions we planned of going. If we missed the bus, we have to wait for 30 minutes for another. Maps of the bus stops were provided for us at the visitor centre.
Two buses were operating during that day. We encountered both buses but one of the drivers, an Aussie (slang for Australian) named Jimmy, had a sense of humor that made almost everyone’s day. Unfortunately, I failed to take a picture of him. By the way, he speaks a lot of languages too (LOL!).
The Scenic World and the first sight of “THE THREE SISTERS”
Jimmy the driver recommended that we should go to the Scenic World first given that our package include the access for its rides. Another thing, lines can be very long so we needed to go through that line for an incredible experience.
We decided to ride the Cableway (or cable car) first as it’s the nearest one from the Scenic World bus stop. I’ve rode cable cars before during my trips to Singapore and Hong Kong but what made the ride here special is my first sight of the iconic Three Sisters.
The Three Sisters is a three-rock formations that serves as Katoomba’s icon; towering at 922, 918, and 910 meters above the Jamison Valley.
Both science and old-wives tales had their accounts on how these rocks took place. Geology says that these may be effects of long-time erosion due to the wind, the rain, and the river. But an Aboriginal legend says that these are real people from the Katoomba tribe who lived in the Jamison Valley turned into rocks by their tribe elder for protection yet suddenly died. Now, you can choose which one to believe in. As for me, seeing this God’s creation is breathtaking.
On the other side of the Cableway was the Walkway. We can easily roam around the serene rain forest by strolling around the designed boardwalk. There are two paths to choose from in which both lead to the Scenic Railway: the full 30 minutes or 1-hour trek or the shortcut which is a 15-minute trek. Knowing ourselves, along with our “young” parents being with us, we chose the 15-minute path.
By the way, it seemed like people had other perception of “shortcuts.” The said 15-minute walk took us half an hour to reach. Still, I found the walking experience great. Besides, everyone needs a little exercise. Of course, we took our receipts (photos) along the way.
Before reaching the Scenic Railway, we’re able to bump into the Katoomba Coal Mine. It looks like a dummy though. I have no idea if the mine is real but it showcases how important mining is for the people of Katoomba and the Blue Mountains.
Few steps and we’re now on the Scenic Railway. Like the Scenic Cableway, its way is from the entrance (near the Bus Stop) to the Walkway or vice versa. Since we took the Cableway going down, it’s kinda fair to try the Railway going back.
Seats can be adjusted according to each riders’ preferred angle. We don’t know how to set it up, so we just left it the way it was. Not knowing that it can be an uncomfortable ride given that the seat was very steep (LOL!).
Upon arriving at the starting point, we could’ve rode the Scenic Skyway (a suspended 270 meter cable car, higher than the Scenic Cableway) leading to East Station that had trail going to Echo Point and some scenic view of the Jamison Valley. But given that my parents are little tired already, we decided to walk a few steps at the Prince Henry Cliff Walk then waited for the bus to go to their other main attractions.
A glimpse of Katoomba Falls through the Prince Henry Cliff Walk
Nearby the Scenic World was the Prince Henry Cliff Walk. A 30-minute to 1-hour of trekking will lead to Katoomba Falls. We got interested in taking the trail to the falls but as usual, our parents decided to just rest nearby so we just took a few steps (not that few), found a nice lookout, appreciated the view, took some photos, then went back.
Well, my photos of the Katoomba falls would’ve been better if we took that trek. But I can say that it’s not that bad either. Also, there’s the Three Sisters in another angle.
A very short stop at the Narrow Point Lookout
As part of the hop-on hop-off bus route, we stopped by the Narrow Point Lookout but decided not to stay that long. The bus stopped for 5 to 10 minutes and allowed us to appreciate the Jamison Valley in another angle. Of course, we took some receipts.
A whole new kind of “hot chocolate” from Blue Mountains Chocolate Company
When the bus stopped at a place that looked like a typical Australian residential house, it almost didn’t rang a bell for us. But upon seeing the sign that says “Blue Mountains Chocolate Company,” we suddenly changed our minds and decided to disembark.
It became a necessity for us to just have a place where we can just sit down and rest for a while especially that standing and walking around drained a huge portion of our energy. Also, a sign that says “chocolate,” who can resist that (LOL!)
What caught my attention was their very unique form of hot chocolate worth AUD 5.50 which also served as one of their bestsellers. What they served is a cup of milk and a bowl of chocolate bits. I didn’t get it at first. But I suddenly understood that I can mix them the way I wanted to upon seeing the candle underneath the cup.
Amazing, was it?
Aside from that, they serve other forms of chocolates…
and non-chocolates too.
ECHO POINT: The most visited lookout to see the THREE SISTERS
Seeing the clock, it’s almost 3 in the afternoon. Knowing that there are still more interesting things to do and places to visit, we decided to take the bus and see where it leads us next. Few minutes later, we’re already at Echo point. This is said to be the best spot to enjoy the panoramic view of the Three Sisters along with the Jamison Valley. As expected, crowds are flocking the area and it’s hard to find the right spot to take photobomb-free photos.
But of course, as soon as we got the opportunity, we decided to make the most out of it… and the photos doesn’t lie. We loved the view. Now I have something for my instagram account… (LOL!).
We decided to spend the remaining minutes taking some pictures before the next rotating bus comes by the stop.
Upon riding the bus, we decided to go back to where we started and call it a day given that we still have to take a 2-hour train ride back to Sydney. We’re able to ride the train by 3:45 PM.
Some final notes and recommendations.
We’re fully aware that there are much more Blue Mountains than the things we did and the places we’ve visited. Well, we could’ve did more though. As usual, it left us hanging and wanting to go back. I can say that one day wasn’t enough to enjoy it.
Now, here are some others of things that I would recommend according to some quick research:
- Visit Museums. As much as I know, there are numerous art galleries around Katoomba. I can say that Blue Mountains is much more than just the nature.
- Eat and drink. Although, I can’t name one, I know that there are bars and restaurants around the city to enjoy through the day (and even the night).
- Have a closer look of the Katoomba Falls through the Prince Henry Cliff Walk. Seeing the falls close-up is a once-in-a-while event in which we’ve failed to do since it will take an hour of walking and another hour to go back.
- Take the 1000 steps towards the Jamison Valley Floor at the Echo Point. Yes it is. 1000 steps. I honestly don’t think I can do it (LOL!) but we’ll see when we return.
- Touch the “Three Sisters” at the Honeymoon Lookout. The iconic Three Sisters can be touched by taking a walk at the Honeymoon Lookout in which we decided not to go (LOL!).
- See other falls. Leura Cascades, Bridal Veil Falls, Gordon Falls, Pool of Siloam, Wentworth Falls, and the list of the other beautiful falls around the park goes on.
- Walk, trek, and hike. Blue Mountains is also about hiking and trekking. Now that I’m starting to love hiking and trekking, it’d would be interesting if I could take up the challenge of doing it when I return. Interesting would be an understatement though.
- And many more…
The lists could go on and on. Well, let’s say that those things are yet to be discovered. These are the reasons we want to go back here and if God shall permit it, we’ll stay for a longer time. Now, like my other blog posts, here are some of my pieces of advice when planning to visit this place:
- As usual, go early! I’m laughing out loud right now. I’ve been writing this in most of my posts now but it’s something I need to teach myself. Well, Blue Mountains had so much more so saying this would be necessary.
- Or plan an overnight stay. A day or two weren’t enough for this place.
- Check the weather. Weathers are unpredictable though. But we thank the Lord that the weather was great during our visit last September.
- Be a responsible traveler. Let’s help in keeping this place as beautiful as it is by instilling a discipline of not throwing rubbish everywhere by ourselves. “Leave nothing but footprints.” As they say.
I just realized that our day in that place was indeed memorable. I almost took it for granted until I decided to have a blog about it. Thank you very much! Now, to the Blue Mountains we go. Show me what you did there. Sharing this post would mean so much to me.
Happy and safe travels.
– Dex B.