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Published: November 23rd 2015
Leaving Coolah Tops was difficult when we had had such amazing experiences with the kangaroos and parrots. We were tempted to stay a second day to really explore the park which had been so difficult to get to. This temptation was tempered by two things... firstly, a second day without power would drain our battery and the fridge containing a lot of meat would turn off; and secondly, the gentle rain which had started was threatening to get heavier and we were worried it would make the road down even more difficult.
We were also keen to get to the Blue Mountains which we were planning to spend a few days exploring. The drive there was uneventful but felt very long, coming straight after the descent from The Tops. We arrived in the town of Katoomba and were surprised to discover it has the sole caravan site in the area. We booked into the site, despite only being able to get an unpowered pitch. The site was a huge disappointment. The only facilities were an ablution block and there were no views. As this was our most expensive site we had expected more. That evening, we parked on a patch
of grass and the rain came pounding down. I cooked outside and was joined by a friendly cockatoo sheltering from the rain under our back door. We ate inside the van for the first time and generally felt quite downcast.
In the morning we set off as quickly as we could, keen to get away from a lousy campsite. We drove into Katoomba to find the Echo Point tourist information centre. This turned out to be on a spectacular lookout overlooking the Three Sisters rock formation. From the lookout we spotted that there was a bridge over to the first of the Three Sisters and we just had to take the path. We pushed our way through hordes of slow moving Chinese tourists and wandered down a steep path. At one point the path narrowed and became a bottleneck so we had to wait a while for all of the people coming back up. The area was crowded but we were glad to get the chance to see the Blue Mountains from one of the rocks. The walk back up the hill was arduous, especially as we were against the ticking clock of our parking ticket.
are the Blue Mountains actually like? In some ways I think they are absolutely indescribable, however, as I am writing about them, I guess I need to try. The Blue Mountains are a collection of long flattish plateaux and escarpments which, where not sheer cliffs falling into the valley below, are covered in dense dark green eucalyptus forest. Katoomba, and the nearby village of Leura, lie on one of the plateaus. From here there is a spectacular view out over the region, which includes areas with such wonderful names as 'Narrow Neck' and the 'Wild Dog Mountains'. The cliffs are generally a reddish shade, which means they stand out as a buffer between the greens of the forest and the blue of the sky. The plateaus also provide an excellent location for waterfalls and there are many in the area.
After climbing back up we drove into the town centre to find some lunch and wifi to plan the rest of our trip. We found that there was still loads for us to do so we decided to check back into the campsite we'd stayed on the previous night - it may have been a rubbish and expensive site
but its location was perfect for exploring the region. We went back to the site to check in, ensuring that we got a powered site by arriving early. The afternoon was very hot, so we took it easy, preparing for an evening walk.
Below the cliffs upon which Katoomba and Leura stands is a scenic trail which provides great views. We did this walk as the sun was setting and caught the last golden orange rays illuminating the Three Sisters. It was such an amazing view and a wonderful walk through forest, past waterfalls (the Katoomba Cascades) and along a cliff edge. We saw lots of wild flowers, birds and lizards. There was always something to catch our attention. At one point we just stopped. This gave us the chance to watch the changing light playing over the Three Sisters and just to experience the serenity and peace that came from contemplating such a magnificent expansive vista. After a long walk, as the temperature was dropping, we went for a hot chocolate at a café near Echo Point. Then we took the shorter walk back through the town in the dark.
In the morning we went to explore
the town a little more. In the car park we we're greeted by a friendly woman who seemed to enjoy talking to wanderers. We then walked into an Aladdin's cave of a deli and wine cellar - sadly most of the products had a luxurious price tag so we didn't buy much. We did some shopping and here, for the first time on our whole trip, our credit cards were declined. This puzzled us. I went to draw some cash out and was almost run over by a woman reversing. Her response was to shout at me, "That was stewpid!" to which I shot back "Thanks!"
We drove to Leura, a quaint little village with much more charm than Katoomba's centre. We found a place called Sublime Point, a large rock on the opposite side of the Three Sisters, which gave us nice views from a different perspective. Here we came across a Japanese tourist who wittered on constantly, seemingly without taking a breath, destroying any hope of enjoying the calmness and tranquility of the spot. From there we took a short drive to the Gordon Falls. This was a steep scramble down to a beautiful waterfall. Here we
met an old couple coming up the hill who warned us about the skinny-dipping man in the pool. He had left by the time we got there.
From Leura we travelled to Blackheath, an area a few kilometres away. Here we found Blackheath Glen, a small free camp site where we spent the night surrounded by trees. As usual for a free site, the facilities were extremely basic but were sufficient for our needs for one night. Lots of other people had also taken advantage of the free site so it was quite crowded and we didn't get to see much wildlife.
After a freezing cold night we had to get up early because we wanted to get to Sydney in time for the Remembrance Day commemorations. We were delayed slightly by the key breaking in the lock of the camper van... just one more piece of the adventure.
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