After the hustle and bustle of Sydney, Katoomba was a complete contrast - a small village atmosphere, low buildings and a feeling of wide open space (much needed after a few days in the big city).
En route from Sydney we stopped off at Wentworth Falls and were blown away by the dramatic landscape. The sheer drop of the mountains and the flatness of the plains was breathtaking. It was almost as though the ground had just fallen away and left these sheer rock faces - in fact the opposite happened and the rock pushed its way up out of the grond - amazing!
The photos don't give you any sense of the real thing - so if you ever find yourself in the Sydney area - you cannot possible leave without visiting the Blue Mountains!
The weather the following day was a great deal better (it had been overcast the day before with a promise of rain), but we woke to clear blue skies and a wonderful crisp chill in the air. Venturing from our hostel to Echo Point was a mere 30 minute walk (or a very short car drive) - perfect
way to begin the day. Looking over Echo Point to the Three Sisters and the vast plain below brought tears to my eyes (sounds melodramatic - but I can assure you it was really that good). The blue haze sat above the valley floor as 1000's of eucolyptus trees gave off their wonderful vapour and those trees went on for as far as the eye could see.
If you study the photo of the Three Sisters you can see a small bridge leading across to the first of the rock formations on the left hand side. Alongside of this bridge is the Giant Stairway (900+ steps) that winds round the back of the rocks to a terrace just above the valley floor. So a deep breath and off we go - Mike always in front to guide the way (and allows a soft landing if I trip!) - I am hopeless with heights and didn't think I could manage these, but I've been outside my comfort zone quite a few times over the last few weeks so another challenge faced head on and after all there was only one section where the open iron wrought steps had absolutely
nothing below them and I just tried not to look!
Once down to the terrace we followed the trail through the rain forest for a few kms until we reached the Ferber steps (1000+) which we climbed to reach the cliff top path to take us back to Echo Point. Our legs were like jelly by the time we got to the top - know that feeling!
We got the chance to follow the Cliff top path in the opposite direction two days later. But the trail to the ruined castle, which we would loved to have done (a full day's tramp) elluded us - another time maybe!
We thought we would include a photo of yet another wonderful rock formation - no, not the picture of Mike and me - the other one - we don't want you thinking we don't notice them anymore. How do these things stay put!
Katoomba is a town full of Art Deco shopfronts. Many with the original ironized (is that the word?) window frames - far more than we had seen in Napier in New Zealand, where Art Deco is very much their forte. Here,
in Katoomba, it is almost an afterthought and yet there is a wealth of wonderful architectual features if you take the time to wander up and down the high street - stopping off to have yet another coffee and muffin on the way.
Our abode in Katoomba was at the YHA - a wonderful Art Deco building, which we are pleased to say has been brillianty restored, retaining much of it's original 1930's features. The building was a hotel and cabaret venue - the stage still exists for those wishing to take a 'turn'.
The day between these two walks we visited the Janolan Caves. We thought having been to Cheddar, all caves were pretty much the same! These caves were definitely not the same. With a choice of nine show caves to view - although over 300 have been found to date and exploration continues - it was difficult to decide which one was best. We chose to visit the 'Temple of Baal'. The 'Angels Wings' as shown in the photo was incredible being over 9 metres in length and only 12mm thick having taken 1000's of years to evolve. It was a visit that
we were pleased we undertook - a last minute decision that was very worthwhile - beautiful!
So we had to say a reluctant farewell to Katoomba and the Blue Mountains. We decided we would head inland to Dubbo - a wise decision as a few days later much of the coast around Newcastle was flooded and gale force winds caused lot of problems in the area. Dubbo ....... very interesting
Take care you all - lots more to come
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