Posted by: Kristen Hicks | February 17, 2011

A Day in the Blue Mountains

While most of the time I recently spent in Australia was devoted to business in Sydney, I was very lucky to be able to devote a day to seeing some of the nearby Blue Mountains.

While a lot of the thinking and talking done about travel is focused on the primary big cities of the world, I’m of the type who really enjoys travel opportunities that take me outside of the big cities into the smaller communities and more natural surroundings.  Thus, I was so pleased to learn that my colleague on the business trip was likewise willing to spend one of our free days on a tour of the Blue Mountains.

The hotel had ample pamphlets for different tour options around the Sydney area and we ended up booking a day trip with Oz Tours that cost $68 for an excursion that lasted about 10 hours and well lived up to the cost, in our opinion.

Our tour guide was named Mouse (a nickname derived from having the first name Mick) and filled the tour with an impressive number of random bits of information about Australia, the particular sites we passed and entertaining personal anecdotes.

Our first stop was a ledge in the midst of the mountains with a breathtaking, highly photogenic view of the area.  The pictures above and to the right only give a sense of the extent of the beauty we were able to take in from this spot.

From there we headed to Wentworth Falls.  We had a very short hike down to a viewing area that offered a fairly nice view of the waterfall.  Mouse mentioned that for those with more time than our hike would allow, there’s a nice hike (about 3 hours, if memory serves) to get down to the bottom part of the falls.

As it was, we were able to get a nice view and take some good pictures.  I did make a mental note of the spot for possible future trips to the area when I can spend a little more time taking it all in.

We stopped in a small town in the mountains for lunch called Leury.  We didn’t have time to do anything more there than eat there.  We had a great lunch at the Red Door, a pleasant little cafe full of diners who were clearly regulars who all knew one another, but were friendly enough to let us in on the conversation.

After lunch, we were taken to the Scenic World which offered several different ways of experiencing the great views in Katoomba.  There was an added cost to participating in the Scenic World offerings, which included the Scenic Skyway, Scenic Cableway, Scenic Railway and the Scenic Walkway.  Each of these “experiences”, as the website refers to them, is just a few minutes long and while they do offer an entertaining and novel experience, I couldn’t help but wonder how they views would have compared on a hike (which has the added benefit of a physical challenge), had I had more time to give to the area.

The picture on the right is of the famous “three sisters” that are visible from most of the experiences offered.  The walkway takes you through a smallish area of the park that is considered rainforest, very shaded and quite lovely.  Towards the end of the walkway, there’s a spring producing fresh water clean enough for consumption (which seems like such a foreign concept coming from the United States). The railway finishes the Scenic World experience off, feeling a little closer to an amusement park ride than the other experiences had.

Our last stop was a park which kangaroos are known to frequent, between our general lateness (the tour got going a little behind schedule) and some coming bad weather, we didn’t manage to see any kangaroos on this trip, but we were told the tour is usually much more successful in this regard.

In any case, it was a thoroughly enjoyable day and made me feel like I managed to get some a glimpse of the more natural side of Australia.

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