Tuesday, 12 March 2013

The Blue Mountains (part 1 / 3)

A posey picture of me and the Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains (part 1 / 3)

The Blue Mountains, a beautiful region where impressive rocky mountains and deep ominous gorges sit among a calming blue haze that lingers in the air.  Apparently the distinctive blue haze is a result of organic chemicals released into the atmosphere by the large number of eucalyptus trees in the area.

The Blue Mountains acts like a rocky shield that separates Sydney from the barren mainland of Australia, the bush or the outback as they call it.  Of course civilisation does exist beyond the Blue Mountain barrier.  Small cities like Orange and Bathurst quietly get on with their small city life.  Beyond these places still and further into the outback exists towns such as the beautifully named Broken Hill. 

I’d love to go beyond the Blue Mountains and visit Broken Hill and explore more of the outback, though financial and work commitments prevent me from undergoing such an adventure.  For now, I can only go as far as the edge, the Blue Mountains.

I have actually been to the Blue Mountains twice, but I will focus on talking about my first encounter with the rocky blue giants.  I was travelling with Marten (Dutch housemate) and we were going to meet up with Sri (Indian housemate) in Katoomba which is the main town in the Blue Mountains region.  Here we would have a quick glimpse of the mountains at Echo Point then stay the night in Katoomba followed up a full day of exploring the Blue Mountains in time to catch the late evening train back to Sydney.

Katoomba is where A is.
Image courtesy of Google Earth
Mountain town charm

The first thing I noticed when getting off the train in Katoomba was the drop in temperature.  Here up in the mountains it was bitterly cold.  I stupidly thought that because Australia was a hot country anywhere I would go in Australia would also be hot.  My University of Bolton hoodie did very little to keep me warm.
The high streets around the town were very clean and lined with rows of small local shops, bakeries and cafes.  There were no flat roads in Katoomba, all roads were either heading up hill or downhill.  With its hilly side streets, deep blue skies and small rustic local shops Katoomba really had that rural mountain town feeling about it.

Downtown Katoomba

For a small town, there were a lot of flyers on the lamp posts
A taste of the mountains

Before heading to Echo Point we stopped off at a small Asian restaurant for some lunch.  The mountain rustic feel of the town was very much present in the restaurant, if not more so.  The inside of the restaurant was lined with wooden decor and decorated with Asian ornaments of bright colours of red and gold.  The air like outside was cold and fresh inside the restaurant.  It felt like we were having lunch in a small restaurant in the Himalayas.

After our explorer’s lunch of authentic Asian curry we headed to Echo Point to capture a glimpse of the famous Blue Mountains that we would be exploring the following day before sunset.
As I was really not equipped for the cold weather I dropped by a small clothes shop on the way to Echo Point and bought a crochet bobble hat to keep me warm.  The guy said it was a cool and fashionable hat and he had one himself but looking back at the photos of me wearing the hat it was evident that the hat he sold me was exclusively for old women.

The small Thai restaurant
“This is why we came here”

Echo Point arrived in 20 minutes from leaving Katoomba.  We kept catching a small glimpse of the Blue Mountains between trees and building until we finally reached the end of the road where the ground disappeared over a cliff and we had our first unobstructed view of the mighty Blue Mountains.
It was very satisfying to finally see the Blue Mountains.  What we saw was golden cliff faces in the distance emerging from valleys of deep green forests, all within a cool blue haze.  The sun was starting to set when we arrived which gave the exposed cliff faces in the distance a warm glow that made them really stand out against the blue mist.  Overall it was an amazing spectacle.   “This is exactly why we came here!” I thought to myself.  The views were definitely worth enduring the bitter cold and wearing a stupid looking crochet bobble hat.

We spent a good hour walking along the edge of the cliff where Katoomba ended and the Blue Mountains began before heading back to town.  Katoomba had all the charm of a mountain town, but what would this place be like at night?  What would the night life be like up where in the mountains?  For a small town it certainly had its fair share of pubs and bars.

Walking down the appropriately named Blue Mountains Drive to Echo Point

At the edge, we drank a lot of wine and vodka which helped with the cold

The 4 of us, Sri, Marten, myself and that stupid hat.

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