Sunday, May 9, 2010

To NSW(2): Blue mountains National Park: Katoomba day1

The Blue mountains that made the World Heritage List in 2000,

is one of Australia's natural wonders. Stretching for over one million hectares the Blue Mountains is an inspiring mix of rainforest, canyons, tall forests and heathlands, combining eight individual conservation reserves - Yengo, Wollemi, Gardens of Stone, Blue Mountains, Nattai, Kanangra Boyd, Thirlmere Lakes and Jenolan Caves Karst Reserve.
It is a nature lover's paradise with an abundance of colourful bird and animal life, the greatest concentration of eucalypt diversity on the continent, and landscapes ranging from rainforest to heathland. (
The dramatic sandstone cliffs and rugged canyons are an adventurer's paradise. One of Australia's best network of trails provide numerous bushwalking and mountain biking opportunities. For the less intrepid a series of lookouts provide some of Australia's best views within easy access of car parking facilities.
And the Blue mountains National park is among the most popular tourism spot of New South Wales (NSW) and Australia. 81 km west of Sydney, and located in the Blue Mountains region of the Great Dividing Range. The park covers 267,954 hectares, and the boundary of the park is quite irregular as it is broken up by roads, urban areas and inholdings. Despite the name 'mountains', the area is an uplifted plateau, dissected by a number of larger rivers. (

It is such a popular place because of its made easy accessibility, that heaps of people and tourists from around Australia itself and the world visit this park to see its spectacular waterfalls, cliffs, canyons and caves. According to the NSW Department of Environment, climate change & water, more than three million people come to Blue Mountains National Park each year. For many it's enough just to find a lookout and gaze across the park's chiselled sandstone outcrops and hazy blue forests. Others walk or cycle along the cliff-tops and in the valleys, following paths that were created for Victorian-era honeymooners, or discovered by Aboriginal hunters many thousands of years ago. Over 140 km of walking tracks of all grades (some accessible for people with a disability) in diverse settings make the Blue Mountains a bushwalker's paradise.

Obviously, this place is a paradise for an intrepid adventurer like me, haha!!!

On my 1st day, I have to take a ~2hr train ride to get to Katoomba, the main town in the Blue mountains national park region where it all the adventures starts!!! The 2hr train ride was not boring at all because the train cross through different suburbs and then countryside and into higher plateau.  However, the weather was a bit of concerned, one side looked clear blue sky, the other side was dark clouds. Obviously the weather on the days i choosen to make this trip was not on my side, it was forecasted to be cloudy and rain many days while i’m in Sydney!!!

The excitement just overwhelmed myself when i finally step foot on Katoomba town. No doubt it’s another australian typical town, but the thought I’m not so far away from my first lookout point of the blue mountains, it just drive me crazily excited, haha.
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But first, I got to make my way to my backpacker house. On the way to the backpacker house, the view hidden among the trees that opens up to a big horizon and rugged mountains just get me more and more excited. The backpacker house NO.14 was not hard to find, and it looked MUCH much prettier than what I expected from the website (the website is just a simple website with 1 photo and little bit of description). No.14 is a colourful hilltop cottage like house. The warms colours kinda welcome anyone to stay in it and guarantees the interior is as good as the exterior!!!
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The owner just trust YOU with their room keys by leaving the room key on a notice board for your own check in anytime as long as you confirmed you are coming. I just find it so hard to accept a bit, but it just means that Australia is quite a safe country, haha.

Checked in, toss my unnecessary stuff, off i’m running cum walking as long my legs allowed to try to get the first lookout, Echo point right at the end of Katoomba town. Trust me, the walk on the map looks quite short, but it is actually quite far, plus uphill and downhill. Still, nothing can stop me at that moment, haha. I know it’s abit silly to walk all the way which is what i pretty much will be doing around the HUGE town and national park. Of course, there are special buses that take you to all the major tourist spots around Katoomba and Leura (the next town beside) using the paid once, hop on and off concept. But my style is always not to follow any tours, as economy as possible, as much freedom as possible, and to do that, my legs is my best car :)  (I was running cum walking because the wind was blowing dark clouds towards the Echo point, so i have to be there before it rains)
The walk was nice too but a bit chilly as well, looking at the different houses along the streets. Many hostel or house for rent too.
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After ~30mins walking+running, i’m finally at Echo Point. There were many tourists though luckily not as many I heard could be. My friend told me they can be times where a few holiday buses just come and drop heaps of tourists majority japanese, koreans and other asians which sounds so scary because they would clog out the lookout point.
One of the small shopping place+restaurant near echo point
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The bus stop stand for the hop on and off bus; mailbox at echo point
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Apparently, Queen Elizabeth was here too in the year 1954!!! and a marvelous piece of rock with words carve into it saying: “ When i reached the lookout echo point, the light was thick and golden:, wondered what is it supposed to really mean?? haha
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The lookout point has a big platform with railings that offer a sparse panoramic view of the valley below and high plateaus, mountains as far as your eye can stretch!!!

My 1st impression was simply AWESOME. To me, it’s not the single mountain or single high plateau that is impressive, it’s the WHOLE Jamison valley consisting of different mountains, high plateau and cliff walls that make it so impressive. And it does live up to its name “blue mountains”, the whole valley does look blueish everywhere. Even the photos taken have the blue effect, haha.
The scenic world that allows you to ride on the scenic cable car, scenic tram down to the bottom of the valley, scenic skyway & walkway is on the far right hand side. Though I did not try any of those, haha. (
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Valleys among valleys as far your eye can see…
Mt.Solitary & Mt.Jellore which to me stand out quite impressive.
And the no other famous three sisters!!!
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Click to see full size :)

The Aboriginal dream-time legend has it that three sisters, 'Meehni', 'Wimlah' and Gunnedoo' lived in the Jamison Valley as members of the Katoomba tribe.
These beautiful young ladies had fallen in love with three brothers from the Nepean tribe, yet tribal law forbade them to marry.
The brothers were not happy to accept this law and so decided to use force to capture the three sisters causing a major tribal battle.
As the lives of the three sisters were seriously in danger, a witchdoctor from the Katoomba tribe took it upon himself to turn the three sisters into stone to protect them from any harm. While he had intended to reverse the spell when the battle was over, the witchdoctor himself was killed. As only he could reverse the spell to  return the ladies to their former beauty, the sisters remain in their magnificent rock formation as a reminder of this battle for generations to come.
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Next to Echo point is the three sister’s track leading to the three sister rocks which is part of the Prince Henry cliff walk.
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The walk was an easy one. I really like this spot of entrance, which is just like entering a world of nature paradise!!!
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You get different effect and views of the cliff walls when the sun show his face on them.
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The track is pretty well maintained with steel stairs like these :)
These walls are just overwhelming when looking at them!!!
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Yup, I’m at the Three sisters rocks dy :)
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The plants on top one of the sisters, haha.

A huge storm was coming when i was heading back to Echo point :(
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The last bit of sunshine, love it vs pouring of rain!!!
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Jamison valley is so big that the rain took quite a while to reach echo point!!!
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Finally the rain was over, and the sun showed himself again :)

The whole area looked so fresh after the rain, love it!!!

A blue mountain idiot lover excited after the clearing of the rain :)

Too bad, no matter how me and some others waited, there will not be a pretty sunset as the cloud was so thick over the west side!!!

Somehow I was still very energetic and bound to try to complete the Prince Henry cliff walk!!!
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Along the way, there are so many lookout point, but none beat Echo point, but you can see some of the cliff walls closer, for example the one below on the right bottom pic – the king’s tableland
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One of the waterfall which I somehow don’t know which falls is this one, haha.
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There’s even a honeymoon lookout!!!
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Somehow even though it was getting darker and darker and yet I still tried to press on which I should not have, though I knew very well that I am very safe even if it’s dark, but as it got dark, I couldn’t find the entrance/exit at the mid-way of this track which did made me panic/felt creepy a bit because I don’t want to walk back to the echo point entry which i could. Luckily I have my head torch with me and i was able to find my way out of the track to cut into the Prince Henry scenic drive road. Lesson learned to not be so stubborn, haha.

One of the house X’mas deco and some shop X’mas deco along katoomba street :)
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Got back to No.14 late at night, excited and tired. Told myself I got to wake up early morning to see the sunrise!!! Till then…
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