Having A Bit Of A Play In The Blue Mountains

On Sundays you can ride public transportation anywhere in the Sydney region with your Opal card and only pay $2.50 for the whole day. We used this to our advantage and took what is normally an $18 train out to Katoomba and the Blue Mountains. We had left a bit early to catch the two hour train so I spent most of the ride snoozing while Lynn read a new murder mystery book. A gaggle of German girls sitting next to us made both of these activities fairly difficult.

Our whole train emptied in Katoomba even though it continued on into the mountains, it seems we weren’t the only ones with this plan today. We had planned on taking a bus from the train station to the start of the hikes at Echo Point and this had been cause for some concern the previous night because they don’t run very often, if at all, on Sundays this far out of town. Luckily we quickly found a map of the small town and discovered it’s only a mile walk downhill through the cute mountain town to our planned start. Making our way through we both agreed that we like what we affectionately called Kute Katoomba and agreed it reminded us of Asheville.

We quickly arrived at Echo Point and took in the view of the Asian tourists and the Three Sisters rock formation that the mountains are famous for. We knew from here we wanted to do a hike around the park but weren’t sure where to go so we had a chat with the visitor center. A nice gentleman recommended a difficult multi-hour hike for us because “we look like keen walkers.” He promised no one ever really goes to these parts of the park because the trails are so steep and escaping the crowds sounded great to us. We were on board and took a picture of the map because we didn’t feel the need to pay $6 for it. Satisfied with our plan, we plopped down on a bench with a view and split a cold calzone while we watched people take selfies of themselves with the mountains.

The three sisters.
The three sisters.

Feeling nourished with the energy of pepperoni, cheese, and bread we headed off towards Leura Cascades, a series of waterfalls about an hour away and the first leg of our walk. The path was easy enough, following the cliffs at the top of the valley with lookouts every quarter mile or so. After a little confusion when the trail briefly joined a road and our faithful signposts disappeared, Lynn found the way and we made it to some lovely falls.

Leura Cascades. This picture looks so fake, kind of like a dream, but I promise it's not. The lighting was just really hard.
Leura Cascades. This picture looks so fake, kind of like a dream, but I promise it’s not. The lighting was just really hard.
Further down Leura Cascades.
Further down Leura Cascades.

We briefly admired them before heading back towards where we had come and took a fork down hundreds of steps along a stream into the cool depths of the rainforest below. Down and down and down we went, ocassionally passing panting hikers headed up the other direction. We both knew as we went further down that that was our future on the other side of the valley. The visitor center man was right though, we quickly found ourselves alone and enjoyed the large gum and fern trees, creeks tumbling over fallen rocks, and the birds, some as big as turkeys, rustling around in the leaves.  As we went along, the birds in the canopy got louder, especially the ones that sounded like squeaky castor wheels.

Down in the rainforest. We thought it looked like this tree was grabbing the rock.
Down in the rainforest. We thought it looked like this tree was grabbing the rock.
A giant spider that did not care for our presence.
A giant spider that did not care for our presence.
A large brown bird rustling around in the leaves. It was about 2 feet long and brown, that's the extent of our birding expertise.
A large brown bird rustling around in the leaves. It was about 2 feet long and brown, that’s the extent of our birding expertise.
A lizard!...of some kind. He started running as soon as he heard the camera shutter.
A lizard!…of some kind. He started running as soon as he heard the camera shutter.

Eventually we made our way to the end of the trail and began our stair climb up the 780 Furber Steps.  We kept pace with an old man who seemed to just be out for his daily jaunt and made us both feel very out of shape.  The steps cut by the Katoomba Waterfall and under limestone overhangs as we made our way back out of the canyon.  Finally, with legs burning, we did it!  Our reward was a 30 minute walk uphill back to the train station where we collapsed on a bench and munched on some carrots and nuts.

This is our life now :(
This is our life now 🙁
The steps did have some great views out to make up for the awfulness of climbing them.
The steps did have some great views out to make up for the awfulness of climbing them.
Katoomba Falls from the steps.
Katoomba Falls from the steps.

The two hour train back was even less eventful than the ride out though after sitting for two hours after the day our legs had had we were a bit stiff.  We walked the fifteen minutes back to our Airbnb to stretch them out again a little before making a dinner of grilled pork roast, cottage fries, and grilled onion.  We topped it all off with some more milkshakes because we felt like we had earned them.

Grilled pork roast, onions, and cottage fries. The fries were a giant pain because we only have a small pan and we set the smoke alarm off when the oil got too hot.
Grilled pork roast, onions, and cottage fries. The fries were a giant pain because we only have a small pan and we set the smoke alarm off when the oil got too hot.

Daily Walking Miles : 13.1

Daily Flights of Stairs : 245

Fun Facts:

  • The Blue Mountains get their name from the blue gum trees that make the mountains sillhouettes look blue in the distance.
  • There are a ridiculous number of Germans in Australia and specifically the Blue Mountains. Lynn thinks there may be a compound.
  • The title of the post comes from our dive master back in Cairns who used to always recommend we “have a bit of a play” around certain areas of the reef.
  • We should never, ever have a milkshake machine in our house.  We have gotten far too good at making them these past few days.

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