Not only was it the start of our 3 week holiday, February 2nd was James’ birthday (awwww). So the four of us; James, myself and James’ parents, kicked things off with an adventurous trip to the Blue Mountains National Park, New South Wales. The rugged region just west of Sydney took 2 hours to reach by train so we were up early (although we missed the 8:18 train by two minutes and they’re only scheduled every hour!), so that we could take in as much of the dramatic scenery as possible and jump on the steepest railway in the world a few times!
I hadn’t looked up pictures or much beforehand so didn’t really know what to expect when we got off the train in Katoomba. So far my experience of the countryside here in Australia has consisted of quite dry grasslands, more like straw instead of grass to be honest, and full, leafy backdrops have been out of site. Here though, covering 11,400km squared, eucalyptus forests and waterfalls encompassed steep cliffs among a number of bushwalking trails that led up or down steps, around rock formations and provided multiple viewing points, each one taking your breath away a little.
If all you did was walk the trails and take in the vast views of forest covered mountains you would be more than happy with the day, plus it’s completely free to enter so walk til your hearts content, stop for a sandwich and then pop back on the train when you’re ready! There are more perks to the Blue Mountains though and we indulged by purchasing the Scenic World Unlimited Discovery Pass.
For $35 we got the ultimate Scenic World Experience and could enjoy rides on the Railway, Skyway, Cableway and Walkway. We’ve been on a few cable cars in our lifetime and so I think I had a relatively low expectations, however, these cable cars weren’t your average rickety pod hovering over some average looking trees. The comfortable and modern cableways could fit up to 80 people in and were perfectly positioned to give the riders exceptional viewing experiences, complete with ride like thrills as it dipped over the verges, reached a 52 degree incline or revealed a glass bottom. Each came with a guide who achieved the odd applause for saying something comical too!
All the rides had something a little different to offer and allowed us to enjoy the Jamison Valley from every angle as well as amazing views of the Three Sisters – often referred to as Blue Mountains most spectacular landmark. We took the railway 3 times, every time choosing ‘cliffhanger’ as our custom seat position, giving us an extra 12 degree incline and held on as glass roofed carriages descended 310 metres through a cliff side tunnel before emerging to reveal the glorious rainforest.
We could’ve easily spent the whole day exploring the many walkways and trails and Katoomba is just one area of the mountains, but after a few hours we made our way back to the station so we could get back to Sydney for reservations at the Rockpool Bar And Grill, yum!