Katoomba and the Blue Mountains, Australia

We stayed in ‘La Maison’ Guest House in Katoomba; which meant a 20 minute walk into the town centre, but the walk was a necessary addition to my new fitness campaign (I have put on rather too much weight recently!!!) We had 2 full days in Katoomba which gave us time to experience most of the activities on offer. We found all the people here so friendly. They were all waving to us all the time – although they looked a little puzzled when we waved back. David – the cynic – thought the waving might have something to do with the flies, but I am convinced that they were friendly gestures!

On the first day we bought tickets for the Blue Mountain Trolley Tours (a hop-on hop-off all day ticket.) This trolley bus continuously loops around 20 of the best tourist spots in Katoomba. Our first stop was the Scenic World Skyway. This is a cable car that crosses the edge of the Jamison Valley with the most spectacular views. Once on the other side, we descended into the valley by way of the Scenic Railway, This is the world’s steepest incline railway and was originally built to haul coal and shale out of the valley from the mines at the base of the escarpment. When the mine closed, the facility became a tourist attraction.

Once down in the valley, we walked along 2.5 km of elevated boardwalk in the temperate rain forest. As we strolled along, we could hear birds calling and sometimes the rustling of leaves on the forest floor, made by some animal or other (although we never actually saw anything, it was quite eerie!) The forest itself was very beautiful with massive gum trees soaring above us and strange Jurassic ferns sticking up between them. We eventually climbed up out of the valley in the cable car and caught the bus back to Katoomba and a very satisfying evening meal in the one of the town’s restaurants.

Echo Point was within walking distance of our hotel. This has spectacular views over the Jamison valley to the Blue Mountains beyond. We ventured down one of the walks that hug the steep sides of the valley until we reached the so-called giant steps. These steps (more than 800 of them descending approximately 300 metres) enable passage to the valley floor. I declined, fearing I would have to climb back up them again! David walked down more than 150 of them – he is the blue spot in the middle of the photo I took!

On Monday 17 December, we caught the train to Sydney, where we stayed at the City Gates Central Hotel near Darling Harbour and China Town.

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