Our drunk dorm room buddy Nathan, the Canadian girl in the room used to work here so looked up his info (not sure she’s allowed do that), was up to his usual antics of arriving late in the night but made no attempt to get in to anyone’s bed. He proceeded to bang around in the early hours of the morning when he left the YHA. So, with everyone else in the room now suitably disgruntled, we crept around like threading on broken egg shells, got our stuff, had breakfast and left.
Down the alleys and streets of ‘The Rocks’ we found ourselves a quick direct route that doesn’t come up on MapsMe or Google, and got to the railway station at Circular Quay just as a double decker train was arriving to take us back to Central. Quick chat to the lady at the info desk, we worked out that our Opal cards needed $10 top up and it would get us both up and back to Katoomba. Being a lot cheaper than buying an actual train ticket, we were delighted with the saving, but there’s no clear cut way of finding out the fares between stations or journeys like some of the other cities we’ve been to. Sydney… you need some more info boards, get your act together!
Having sat facing the wrong way on the train, we were amazed at how versatile and clever the train seats are – they slide like a fold out bed to face the other way. We of course didn’t find this out until other passengers boarded the train and did this straight away. Soon, we were on our way, passing a beautiful building designed by Florence Mary Taylor, Australia’s First Architect. Although reading about her on a Wikipedia page, she was born in Somerset, England, so not too sure if the big poster next to the building in Sydney can be taken as gospel. A lovely journey up to Katoomba, occasionally listening to the jerk across from us argue with his electric company, we went through some quaint towns, canyons and forests and wandered down the street to our hostel with loads of time in the day to have an adventure.
We strolled down the road to Echo Point. Deciding that because a) we wanted to save the money and b) we didn’t want to be stuck/restricted on a bus, we didn’t opt for the Hop On Hop Off tourist bus of the area. We weren’t really able to see the infamous ‘Three Sisters’ with the weather obscuring our view. The commonly told legend of the Three Sisters is that three sisters, Meehni (922m), Wimlah (918m) and Gunnedoo (906m), lived in the Jamison Valley as members of the Katoomba tribe. They fell in love with three men from the neighbouring Nepean tribe, but marriage was forbidden by tribal law. The brothers were not happy to accept this law and so decided to use force to capture the three sisters. A major tribal battle ensued, and the sisters were turned to stone by an elder to protect them, but he was killed in the fighting and no one else could turn them back. This legend is claimed to be an Indigenous Australian Dreamtime legend.However, Dr Martin Thomas, in his work “The artificial horizon: imagining the Blue Mountains”, clearly shows that the “aboriginal” legend is a fabrication created by a non-Aboriginal Katoomba local, Mel Ward, presumably to add interest to a local landmark. The story originated in the late 1920s or early 1930s and is unknown prior to that date.
Whatever is fact of fiction, the clouds drifting over the valley added a sense of fantasy and tranquility to the cliff top walk. The sun made some rare appearances during our promenade and we got to see the sights with different hues and colours changing the landscape and stone to various shades that were all captivating and breath taking. There were quite a few ‘Wow’ moments along the walk and we didn’t feel we missed out once by skipping the cable car across the headlands.
We finally reached the Scenic World lookout points and took much longer than the suggested trail markers to reach our destination. I don’t think the paths covered in water and muddy patches were to blame, but the scenic backdrops of every lookout we passed. But, we did call a halt to the day, walked back to the hostel via Aldi. Cooked a nice peanut butter paella-like chicken concoction and watched some Friends before snuggling up in a dorm that felt a lot more cosy than the one in Sydney. Thursday 21st July 2016