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Blue Mountains National Park (Australia)

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Country: Australia / World Region: Australasia / Pacific

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      30.10.2009 12:17
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      Blue Mountains National Park

      This next review is on my time on The Blue Mountains National Park, located in Sydney Australia. A few friends and I had decided to hire a van and take a tour of the national park, as we had been recommended it by several people we had met along the way. I am usually a fan of national parks; it gives you a chance to take in the scenic view, it gives you a chance to relax and unwind if you have had a busy week, and you even get to see some wildlife. It's a great experience, which allows you to camp overnight, whilst also have a magnificent driving experience.

      History & Park Info:

      The park covers 267,954 hectares, which included several mountains and rivers along the trek. The highest point of the park is Mount Werong (1,215 m), and there are some breathtaking views from the top. The area became a national park in 1932, and ever since has become a tourist hotspot for people who like walking and hiking.

      How to Get There:

      There are several ways to get to the national park; you can either take a car, or a van through the major highways, which leads you into the park entrance. Public transport is also available from many stations across Sydney, all taking you towards the park.

      This park is near...
      Katoomba (2 km, 5 minutes)
      Penrith (9 km, 15 minutes)
      Lithgow (20 km, 15 minutes)
      Sydney (50 km, 90 minutes)

      Fees and Opening Hours:

      The park is open from 8:30 am in the morning and closes at 7:00pm daily, the fee to enter the park if you have a car or a van is $7 per day and is operated by a coin machine, so it might be useful to have some change on you at the time.


      The Park and Tours Available:

      The park has several tours that are available for visitors to take part in and this is truly a great experience as it allows you to get an in depth view of the natural beauty of the park and its surrounding areas. The guides also give you some information about the wildlife you might see there, what plants and trees there area, and some general information about the park, which you may not have thought about. The tours are also a great way to meet like minded people, who you can enjoy the day with.

      The main tour has several key features which include a guided bush walk, a night time spotlighting tour which gives you a detailed tour of the park once it's dark, allowing you to really get a feel for what the park is like during the night time.

      There are several other detailed tours, which charge you for the experience, these include a detailed tour of the underground caves present within the national park, The Scenic Railway tour which takes you around the old train tracks within the park, also giving you some insightful historical background about the area. You can also opt to watch a documentary in one of the visitor centres, which gives you a detailed background of the park, which the first settlers were on the grounds and how the parks transformed within the last 250 years.

      If you do some research before you go its worthwhile booking a tour with Blue Mountains Tourism, which again offers a wide variety of packages for things to see and do within the park. They also offer some great accommodation if you choose to stay the night in the park.
      The website listed below gives you some great info on where you can find a place to stay, thus making you journey more pleasant and memorable.

      Great Blue Mountains Drive is a self service driving opportunity which allows travellers and hikers a chance to drive around within the park, I often found this to be more of a family orientated and thus only take it if you're willing to spend hours and hours of driving.

      My Experience:

      I had a brilliant time when I went to park; there was so much to simply see that we had to cover the park over a period of three days. The tour operators picked us up from or hotel and took as to the entrance of the park. One of the first things that hit us was Jamieson Valley, which was a vantage point and overlooked a magnificent view of the horizon, the sun was glaring down on us, and all we could see was the rich green trees, which looked very moist and rich. You also get to see some rock formation, which really emulates the beauty of the park and its surrounding area.

      We carried on with the tour and we came to some very key points such as the nearby rivers which are located towards the bottom, it's a long walk down, and it's a great feeling when you finally get to the bottom and see the clear water, which on a sunny day allows you to see you reflection against it.

      The next point of stop was Three Sisters rock formation at Katoomba. It's one of the most iconic parts of the tour and consists of three rock formations with and earthy texture to them, overlooking the surrounding park, which has mass amounts of trees. It was at this point that we got ourselves comfortable and had some lunch, which we had bought with us. It's important to note that anything you bring with you must be taken back, they done accept littering and it would be a shame to see litter so be considerate.

      I could go on about the tour for hours, but I don't want to make this review to extensive, however if your going to visit the park, its always worth doing some background information on what you want to see etc.

      Happy Travels.

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      04.09.2007 13:19
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      A must see visit if you go to Sydney

      ***Background & History***

      It was a lovely May day in Sydney. Clear blue skies, little breeze and cool, 20 degree weather. I feel that this is the only time of year that the British weather and Sydney weather is virtually the same. A small, annual window of opportunity to share something with our Antipodean friends without even knowing it.

      Some friends of ours had invited us the day before to visit some horse racing stables “out West” as they had a race horse in training and given it was destined to be a lovely day we decided on an early start. The trip itself was uneventful and the race horse certainly looked magnificent. However, there is only so long you can walk around a horse waxing lyrical as though you know what you are talking about, no matter how good it looked. One of our friends said that given we are out here then we may as well go to The Blue Mountains as we are only 30 minutes away. “Sounds great” so off we went.

      The Blue Mountains are approx 100 kms West of Sydney (60-90 minutes drive) and form part of The Great Dividing Range. This was an impenetrable barrier on the voyage of discovery and it wasn’t until 1813 that they were crossed by Gregory Blaxland, William Charles Wentworth and a Lieutenant Lawson, along with four servants. By July 1814 a 47 mile road had been built and within six months the road extended all the way to what is now Bathurst, 101 miles away.

      They were originally named Carmarthen Hills and Landsdowne Hills in 1778 although not long after were renamed The Blue Mountains due to the distinctive blue haze surrounding the area.

      I must say that the name to me is a bit of a misnomer. To my mind they are neither mountains nor blue and this is after three visits there. The Himalayas are mountains. The Rockies are mountains. The Blue Mountains are to me, The Green Hillocks but this does not sound very appealing and completely un-Australian so The Blue Mountains they are. Given the highest point is 1017 metres above sea level then I don’t think I am exaggerating. Having said this, I have heard and read many times about this blue haze (said to originate from oil from Eucalyptus trees that cover the area) but have just not been fortunate enough to see it or else I am colour blind.

      £1 = AS$2.40


      ***Time Difference***

      There is a 11 hour difference ahead of GMT during UK Winter and 9 hours ahead in Summer.


      ***Climate***

      Winter is max 16 C/min 5C and Summer max 29C/min 18C. However, as we found to our cost several times these are just averages and the only constant in Australian weather is its unpredictability. It can be warm in winter and cold in summer so be prepared.


      ***Getting There***

      As indicated, we went by car and as I wasn’t driving and we took a detour I was taking little notice of directions. However, The Blue Mountains are signposted from way back in Sydney and are difficult to miss (if they are shining blue!!). From Sydney, get on Highway 4 (The Great Western Highway) and head West following the signs.

      You can also get there by train from Sydney (circa $25 return to Katoomba) or alternatively there are many companies that do organised day trips there from the City (AAT Kings being the best known and the cost is circa $100 but depends exactly what you want to see). All the operators will pick you up at your hotel and return you there.

      The first thing you come to is the local town, Katoomba, which is a major stopping off point in the Blue Mountains. This gives you the first impression that these are not really mountains at all as you arrive by car, not realizing you have climbed given it appears a rolling, gentle incline. It is a bit of a disappointment when you find out you then have to go down hill to reach Echo Point, a main look out over the mountains and gorges. I was hoping that Katoomba was base camp then we could trek up to the peak but it turns out Katoomba is the peak and then you go downwards.

      Each visit I always felt I was visiting a wild west town as it had that kind of feel although it is a modern, thriving town with a main street packed with gift shops, bars/cafes, restaurants, shops where you can book tours, banks etc. However, on this occasion it had a different feel given it was blanketed within 30 minutes of arriving in a light covering of snow.

      The snow continued to come down fast. By this point the locals were out in the streets having snow ball fights and all around us cars were crashing into others and it became apparent that the Aussies had either not seen snow or not driven in it before.

      The weather closed in very fast and we were hearing reports that the road out was blocked and shut down and that it would be likely that we would have to stay overnight. It was all very exciting because we had not foreseen this and as it turned out it was the worst snowfall for over 90 years. As a result we had to book into a motel (can’t remember the name) which luckily had rooms available and they didn’t take advantage price wise of us being stranded (about £25 for a double room) and as it happened we had a fantastic night in the town. Firstly, we had a trip around the bars and something to eat and then got back to the hotel where the owners had a roaring log fire going and the brandy out. We were all in the lounge area, the fire was crackling, a guest was playing the piano, the staff and locals were very excited about the snow and the proprietors were handing out free brandy and everyone was in a great mood. People were out in the streets singing and having snowball fights. It all went to create a terrific atmosphere and togetherness and it was all because of that snowstorm!


      ***Where to stay***

      From Youth Hostels to top class hotels the choice is yours. If you were planning on a stop over then I would recommend pre booking and there are many web sites providing detailed information. This one has links to accommodation http://www.bluemts.com.au/tourist/Default.asp


      ***Eating Out***

      You are spoilt for choice here from a basic burger to fine dining it caters for everyone and there are lots of choice. Also seems to be an abundance of lovely, local bakeries.


      ***Shopping***

      If you are a shopaholic then don’t bother going – go to The City instead. You will find lots of gift shops selling local trinkets but if you are coming here for the shopping then don’t bother.


      ***Things To Do***

      The whole place centres around things to do. If you want a lazy holiday then don’t come here. It is the kind of place where doing nothing is not an option. Given our planned itinerary had gone to the wall and time was limited, the day after we woke to glorious blue skies and sunshine and we had to rush a few things. It was actually quite warm and all the previous nights snow was slowly melting away.

      Everywhere you go there are advertisements, posters etc detailing activities and providing numbers/addresses to go to book. There are also numerous visitor information centres as well as shops where you can book trips etc so it is not difficult when you get there to book something quickly.

      Firstly, we went to Echo Point, about five minutes drive away and from there you can overlook the Three Sisters which is a rock formation named after three Aboriginal sisters and is a spectacular view and a great photo opportunity and they can be seen from several different sites given their height. It is said that the name originates from three Aborigine sisters being encased in rock for ever more although there are seemingly several versions as to why. Whatever the reasons it is a superb sight. There is also a visitor information centre and several gift shops. There is a great photo of the three sisters here http://www.bluemts.com.au/tourist/thingsToDo/threeSisters.asp

      We then took the scenic railway ($6 each way) which has been described as the world’s steepest railway as it goes right down the mountainside to the bottom. This short trip is spectacular in that it is a very gentle incline which is disappointing, then suddenly you are face down to the valley floor which takes you by surprise. At the bottom you can then have a walk round a 2km scenic walkway but given the snow it was very slippery and you couldn’t really see anything. You then have the option of taking the scenic cableway back up but it was shut. We therefore got the train back up although you can also trek it if you like.

      Also here is the scenic Skyway which travels 720 metres, 270 metres above ground and has the world’s first state of the art Electro-Sceni Glass Floor. Unfortunately this was shut but seemingly the views from it are both stomach churning if you suffer from heights and stunning.

      There are also numerous other things that you can see/do that we unfortunately didn’t get to do:

      • Cycling and mountain bike tours
      • Heritage walks
      • 4WD tours
      • eco tours
      • abseiling and rock climbing
      • guided and solo bushwalks
      • horse riding
      • Jenolan Caves
      • Govetts Leap
      • Leura Cascades;
      • Gordon Falls Reserve

      The list is endless and for a detailed list for each town in the Blue Mountains this can be found here:

      http://www.bluemts.com.au/tourist/thingsToDo/attractions.asp


      ***Conclusion***

      The Blue Mountains are a must see experience if you go to Sydney on holiday. You can spend anything between a day and a week there and still have plenty to do. The scenery is breathtaking and the experience sensational and although you are just over an hour from Sydney it feels like a different country altogether, but still with the Australian charm and laid back feel.

      The whole place is bursting with activity, the people are friendly and there are no airs and graces about the place. It is set up for tourism and the Aussies know how to deliver.

      It has lots to offer with many things unique and because of this it doesn’t feel as though the place is competing with Sydney and other Sydney-side destinations simply because it doesn’t have to. It offers things you cannot get elsewhere and this comes across in the typical laid back, confident Australian style.

      It is a place you can just decide to sneak up on and have a peek although if you are planning on going then I would recommend doing some research beforehand and drawing up an itinerary even if you change this on arrival.

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        20.06.2007 15:30
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        Breathtaking scenary only an hour from Sydney!

        I take a day out of the city, to join a tour of the Blue Mountains along with several English tourists and a Scottish guide (who incidently hates Scotland!).

        The 'Mountains' lie 70 miles outside Sydney near a town called Lithgow and are named so because of the blue tint that rises from their peaks on the release of eucalyptus oil from surrounding forests.

        A colossal valley extends across a wide distance in the middle, with forests and greenery hugging every inch of the landscape. To each edge of the plateau are rising cliffs which arn't so much mountains, rather adjoining ridges.

        We stand on a long plate of rock with no natural barrier from the gaping drop beneath. The scene is stunning. From here, it's possible to see at least 30 miles in any direction. We have morning tea at a colourful park next to affluent, well hidden country houses.

        It's quite an adventure and a welcome escape to be driving around such an area of natural beauty. In and around small towns and navigating large thick forrests on what are no more than dusty tracks.

        We drive to several lookout points and before heading out after lunch again, I journey off the beaten track a little to discover an even better view than any before, overlooking the entire 1000 square kilometer area.

        In the afternoon, we take a trip down the world's steepest railway (which better resembles a slow moving, almost vertically steep rollercoaster drop) and into the deep rainforest for a bush walk. We ascend again in the cable skyway, and get yet more amazing views over the region.

        Later, we wind and weave twisting sandy roads only metres from deep gorges, and arrive in a whole secluded park area of daytripping topless Australian rules fans with steam rising from their barbies and little kids running after prancing Kangeroos.

        We decide to assume the role of the children for a while and do some Kangeroo spotting ourselves.

        Before heading back to the city, we stop off at the site of famous Aboriginal rock paintings and then return to modern life with a visit to the Olympic Village and Telstra Stadium.

        Our tour ends at a 'River Cat' station on the Paramatta. From here it's a 30 minute ferry ride back to central Sydney.

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          29.08.2006 12:15
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          blue mountains- fun exciting..the possibilities are endless

          The Blue in the Blue Mountains comes from the haze they give off from the trees. I would recommend them to any active, beauty seeking people.

          Heres my personal experience of the Blue Mountains:

          We were staying in australia with friends and decided to visit the Blue Mountains. It was really easy to hop on the train from Sydney and did not take long to arrive. The train fare was less than anywhere in England and as soon as we arrived it was like we were in a haven.

          We stayed in this really secluded camp site, in a log cabin looking out into the forest surrounded by wildlife. Above our heads in the evening we saw massive fruit bats flying through the air.
          An experience i recommend to all.
          Also, hopping around the campsite were these cute wallaby type animals called Padymelons and Bush Turkeys. A truly wonderful thing (they are not shy at all).

          There is a tourist area where you can view the interestng three sisters rock, with a variety of walks leading from it.


          Walking throught the rainforest, was something i had never done before and it was magical listening to the cicadas. Small insects that sound like a radio transmitter and had my mom convinced we were being followed! And all manners of wildlife were surrounding us. I went swimming with eels, we saw lizards and had hundreds of ants swarm over a dropped crisp.


          Walking in the blue mountains is plentiful, with a large range of different walks to suit many capabilities although in the heat it may be hard to do an extended walk. We got suntans from walking in the forest, without direct exposure to the sun!


          Walking is not the only attraction in the Blue Mountains, we abseiled down massive cliffs, with wonderful view of the mountains in the Background. We also did a ropes course that was situated next to the camp site.

          My advice to you if thinkong of travelling to Australia and visiting the Blue Mountains is this:

          take note of the time zones!

          we had not realised that the Blue Mountains were in a different time zone to Sydney (1 hour behind) and were complaining to our selves about how it was 10pm and people were not being quiet while we were trying to sleep. We were also getting worked up about the ropes course instructors being laid back about the time and had thought that the restaurant and toilets was staying open late just because there was a tropical rainstorm!


          I would recommend this area as a must for anyone travelling to Australia and it is suitable for Young and Old alike. There are even wheelchair friendly walking paths, allowing easy access for all.

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            26.09.2005 09:41
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            Picturesque part of New South Wales, a must-do must-do

            Though I am usually loathe to pay someone else to do for me what I could feasibly do for myself, there are some exceptions to this, most notably when paying someone costs very little more money overall and saves me a considerable amount of time. I’m at the beginning of a 4 month trip to Australia, 3 months of which will be spent working in Sydney, so technically I could have sorted out our trip to the Blue Mountains myself. However a quick glance at google told me lots of organisations had already done the leg work and were offering organised tours to the region so I pictured myself spending my spare time on the beach rather than planning a trip and booked us on one of these.

            The Blue Mountains are in New South Wales, about an hour and a half driving from Sydney or a couple of hours by train. The main tourism site, http://www.bluemts.com.au/tourist/Default.asp gives details of how to get there, driving directions and so on. The region has lots of things to do and see, but there are a few ‘must-do’ things that most day tripper tourists get through.


            THE THREE SISTERS at ECHO POINT

            This rock formation of 3 large imposing blocks, each towering over 900m tall, is accompanied by a number of different legends that come to different conclusions as to why 3 sisters from a time gone by came to be encased in stone for all eternity. One version I heard claimed it was because they’d fallen in love with brothers from a rival tribe; another said it was because they’d got in trouble for throwing stones into a water hole and their father turned them into stone to prevent them from the baddie conjured up by their misdoings, but then managed to drop his magic stick before he could turn them back. Whatever the story the rocks are impressive, and due to their height can be seen from several outlook points in the area, even when the camera clicking Japanese brigade are in town. Nearby there is a visitor information centre, a selection of gift shops selling souvenirs and opals and a few food outlets. Another good lookout is Sublime Point – similar great views but without the crowds as only small tours can stop there unlike at Echo Point which seemed to be a compulsory stop to anyone visiting nearby, with groups herded in at regular intervals.


            SCENIC WORLD - www.scenicworld.com.au

            Located in the town of Katoomba, Scenic World is home to various Blue Mountain ‘experiences’ including the world’s steepest railway, a cable car, a scenic rain forest walkway and a glass-floored flyway. Most people seemed to do the same as us – got down to the valley floor on the railway, walk along through the forest, come up on the cable car and skip the flyway entirely. This is due to time constraints but also cost – if you go across on the flyway you have to come back on it at a cost of $16 return, whereas with the other 2 trips you can go down on one and up on the other and get 2 different experiences for that same price. The queues for tickets were huge so we were glad to be on an organised trip as tour guides can skip the queue and buy tickets in bulk without a wait. The railway was indeed steep, and slightly different from the funiculars I’m used to, but quite exciting as you sit tilted back in your seat and plunge into darkness for a few moments as you speed up or down the hill. The temperate rain forest walk was a bit of a disappointed – it was devoid of wildlife and seemed too dry and like a normal British forest for what we were expecting, but it’s free of charge and wasn’t too crowded as we strolled through it. The cable car was a large one which they certainly packed full – I was pinned to the front window by a throng of Japanese tourists while an old woman in the group groped my arse – but at least I had a good view. Both trips are shorter than you might like – no sooner have you set off than you’re almost there – but they’re well worth doing although you can walk both up and down the hill on foot for free. Cunningly you exit the ride through the gift shop which sells the same stuff they have everywhere but at higher prices than the Chinese souvenir shops near the harbour. The food outlets were also disappointing – pies, pre-made sandwiches, cakes, chocolate bars and crisps were almost all that was on offer, and prices were high as there’s nowhere else within walking distance for them to compete with.


            WENTWORTH FALLS

            Wentworth falls is a cute little town in the region whose main attraction is the spectacular waterfalls. We took a short bush walk into the national park, down to a lookout clearing that was across the valley from the main cascade and enjoyed fantastic views. Some trips take people to the water itself but you really have to be a reasonable distance away to enjoy it – we could see it in the context of the whole valley while others only saw it as the water right there in front of them.


            LEURA CANDY STORE

            Leura is ‘the garden village’ but to most tourists it is simply home to a tiny sweet shop than manages to pack in over 1000 types of sweets and other imported goodies from England, Switzerland, America and across the world. It’s very olde worlde – I’m surprised they’ve not christened it ‘Ye Olde Candy Shoppe’ – and about as big as a hotel bathroom. Because so many tours stop there it it’s always packed full and they have no sort of limit to the number of people inside so at times if can be hard to turn round, let alone meander around, nosing in the shop’s little nooks and crannies. I’d love to have been there first thing in the morning and had the place to myself, but we were there mid afternoon so had to make do.


            BOOMERANG THROWING, DIGERIDOO PLAYING AND BILLY TEA DRINKING

            In between the sites, many tours including ours make time for the above. We found a random field en route to Scenic World and had a go at throwing boomerangs (mine went up and circled back, but didn’t make it back into my hand). Later on we stopped for afternoon tea made traditionally in a Billy can, and the madder members of the group swapped spit and slobber in an attempt to play something resembling music using a Didgeridoo.



            There are tons of organisations offering trips to the region, many of which are vaguely similar, and almost all of which include excursions on the way there and back to neighbouring places in the region. Our trip included a few stops in Sydney for example – at the Olympic Park and at a wildlife park where we got to play with koalas and hand-feed kangaroos, and each got a free toy. We also cruised back into Sydney rather than coming back on the minibus – the trip was about 45 minutes and quite cold as the sun was going down but had great views. Most trips include all stops and entry fees apart from Scenic World – mainly because there are a few options there so they have to ask people en route what they want to do. Our trip cost $69 (= 30 GBP) for students and $72 for adults. That was terrific value given the number of things we did, and we didn’t stop all day from our 8am pick up to our arrival back in the harbour at 6pm.

            I would like to go back to the Blue Mountains, and might squeeze it in before leaving the region. Now that I’ve done a tour and hit all the main sites, it would be great to go back alone and just wander through the little towns and villages, and along the woodland paths that connect the areas. There are numerous places to stay there, from youth hostels to deluxe spa hotels, and trolley and regular bus tours offer hop-on-hop-off style travel to transport you from place to place, so car hire is not necessary. However if it’s your first time in the region I would recommend a set tour. Our guide was a fountain of knowledge about all things nature related, and was happy to answer any questions people had, and it was reassuring to know someone else was watching the clock and keeping us on schedule so we didn’t have to do it ourselves and could get on with enjoying the trip.

            There are so many random things to do in the Blue Mountains, from rock climbing to art gallery browsing to bathing in Japanese bathhouses. We went in September which is Spring here, and though the mountains are supposedly 5oC cooler than Sydney, it was one of the warmer days we’ve had so jackets and jumpers spent all day in the minibus as we went out and about exploring. It was a Saturday and was busy but not unbearably crowded, and I presume the area has an almost all-year-round tourist season as Sydney seems to and most of the visitors here have come from the city. The scenery is stunning, and completely unlike the coastal region of Sydney and its suburbs. I can see the sea from where I live and work, but that’s the nearest I get to ‘nature’ – the Blue Mountains on the other hand offers a completely different experience and it’s a well-advertised must-do that truly is a must-do.

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              31.05.2005 07:14
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              The Blue Mountains are situated about 65 Kilometres west of Sydney in the State of New South Wales. Forming part of the Great Dividing Range, which runs all the way up to Queensland, the Blue Mountains were impenetrable for 25 years after European settlement when it was decided to give the job of building a road through the mountains to the convicts. The deal was if they could build a road through in six months they could have their freedom, of course they did it in four.

              This week I made my second visit out to the Mountains, I did it in 2003 as a backpacker, but this time, as a fully fledged Sydneysider I took the car, which meant a 90 minute journey, the first 45 mins crawling along in the Sydney morning rush hour traffic. Once we got on the Highway 4 – The Great Western Highway, it was plain sailing and we fair flew.

              I was day tripping with two friends from my last job back in England who are out here travelling, separately but together, if you know what I mean. As we are all in the same place at the same time we though a day trip out to the mountains would be a good plan. Having been before and being the designated driver I was in charge, Whoo- hoo!

              Arriving in the pretty and compact Blue Mountains town of Katoomba at 9.20 am we ate breakfast in one of the many cafes along steep Katoomba Street, the main street where you will find a pub, a hotel, the station the bank and quite a few new age type shops. Though not far from Sydney in distance, in ambiance they are worlds apart with Katoomba managing to retain an old fashioned charm which gives you a hint of the real Australia which Sydney, as charming and vibrant as it is, never manages to hint at.

              After Breakfast we found the shop on the main street where you book your bus tours and we booked on a Trolly Bus tour for $12 about £4.50. This allowed us to hop on/hop off and boasted 29 stops but in reality there were only 6 or 7 where there was anything worth seeing. We decided to do a lap on the bus then get off at Scenicworld which boasts the steepest railway in the Southern Hemisphere, it has a 57 degree angle I’m told, pretty steep anyway .Once you go down Katoomba Falls Gorge on the train you get to come back up in a cable car which affords excellent views of the majestic mountains surrounded by the swirling blue haze of the eucalypts it is indeed a sight to behold. It’s a feast for the eyes.

              We hopped back on the bus until we reached Gordon Falls, at which point we decided to do a bit of Bush Walking. The path was well marked and it was in our guide book as an easy walk which would lake us an hour to reach our destination which was Leura Cascades. The walk was beautiful, and although not really hard it was tough enough to make us break a sweat and to feel like we utterly deserved the Beer we had at the end. In fact we didn’t stop at Leura, we carried on to Echo Point which was about 4 K’s in total.

              It was about 28 degrees which is a hot day in the Blue Mountains as the temperatures are usually three or four degree below what they are is Sydney, four K’s felt like hard work but we enjoyed it. The lizards and birdlife we saw blew us away and the camera was out almost every dozen steps.

              Echo Point is, in my book one of the must do spots in the Blue Mountains. The span of the view is like no other point and the view of the 3 sisters rock formation which is (to use that phrase again) breathtaking. Although I’ve not seen it I believe the Three Sisters are floodlit at night which I can imagine really would be something to see. There is not much here aside the view and a gift shop but I promise you won’t be disappointed, it’s hard to look away.

              The area around Katoomba would make a great weekend break if you are keen on walking, even if you’re not a walker if you get as far as Sydney it would be a great shame not to spend a day in this truly beautiful part of the world.

              One of the recommendations I do have though is to stay away from the organised tours. Not that there is anything wrong with them from what I’ve heard it’s just that they seem very expensive for what you get, typically you are looking at in the region of $100 each for transport to the Mountains with the same stops as we got on the Trolly Bus tour for 12 bucks. If you get the train in from Sydney Central station it costs $23 return so save the remaining $65 for your beer money after all that walking, you know you’ll be glad you did!


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                06.08.2004 15:04
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                While on my trip to Australia in January 2004, my friend and I spent a few days in Sydney. This was my third trip there and I?d always wanted to visit the Blue Mountains. The first time I went, in 1995, my whole week?s stay in Sydney was marred by bad weather, so we didn?t go. Last year there were bush fires. So ? third time lucky! * Booking * Many companies travel to the mountains ? it?s one of New South Wales' most popular attractions. We booked with AAT Kings, they are Oz?s number one day tour operator. My friend booked at travelthere.com (a company based in Queensland) as it was 8 dollars cheaper than the brochure price. The total cost for the day online was $92.82 (about £37). Payment was by credit card. A voucher is then emailed to you so be sure to print that off as it will be collected at your pick up point. Collection and drop offs are at your local hotel. * Trip duration * 8.45 am to around 5.45pm (we arrived back at our hotel at 6.10 pm). * Itinerary * 1) Featherdale wildlife park - opportunity for mid-morning snack, tea/coffee. 2) Blue Mountains and lunch at own expense 3) Scenic World 4) Quick tour of Olympic Stadium Back to hotel * A little history * In the early 1800s many people tried to cross these mountains but all attempts failed until 1813, when three men, Gregory Blaxland, William Wentworth and Lieutenant Lawson had a go. They took over two weeks to reach the other side but it was to create history. In 1814 a road was constructed by 30 convicts and 9 soldiers. The convicts would be granted their freedom if they built the road within six months. It was done in four. The road was 167 kms in length. Only the w
                ealthy travelled to the Blue Mountains, they had holiday homes to escape the humidity of Sydney. In 1867 a railway line was completed and opened up which brought in even more people. But it wasn?t until the 1940s to 1970s that the place really boomed and became popular. This was primarily because Sydney was becoming busier. The mountains were an ideal escape as they are around one and half to two hours drive from the city. There are 26 suburbs between Penrith and the other side of the mountains. * Useless info * The mountains are 218,000 hectares and are part of the Great Dividing Range. The highest peak is 1,070 feet above sea level. The Blue Mountains are so called because of rays of light striking dust particles and small droplets of moisture in the atmosphere cause the ever-present haze. The area is covered with Eucalypt trees from which tiny droplets of oil evaporate. The Great Western Highway takes you up to the Blue Mountains. Driving along the highway you leave suburbia behind and travel towards the mountains, faintly in the foreground, yet never seeming to get any nearer. * What?s there? * Among other things, a hospital, college, retirement home, churches, shops, restaurants, art galleries, emergency services and hotels. * Temperatures * During winter (June-August), the average temperature in the Upper Mountains is approximately 5°C, while in summer (December-February), the average temperature is approximately 18°C. The rainfall is similar to that of Sydney. * Popular spots * Katoomba is the second most visited spot in New South Wales. The main attraction here is the Edge cinema with its six storey high screen. Scenic World - be sure to travel on the
                Sceniscender, the newest $8 million cable car, carrying you smoothly up or down the mountains. {My tip - travel down by the scenic railway if you like a fright and go back up by the Sceniscender}. The railway has the world?s steepest incline. Tall people beware ? there?s a cage above and on the right hand side of the train so if you don?t want to have your head resting on the ceiling, sit on the open side where there?s more room! It can feel very claustrophobic otherwise. The trip only lasts a couple of minutes and is a very slow ride, although the dips do seem nearly vertical! The Sceniscender is more serene and is a large cable car surrounded by large windows, enabling stunning views to be seen and photographed. 84 passengers are carried up on a 3 minute journey over the valley 454 metres below, past the Three Sisters. Three Sisters - named after 3 Aboriginal Sisters, this is a rock formation and a photo of this is a must! Echo Point is another popular attraction although we didn?t stop there. The Sceniscender handily brings you up into the gift shop (!), where there?s a large variety of mementoes just begging to be bought. And don?t forget your postcards and bush tucker for the relatives back home! Railway/Sceniscender return ticket costs $12. Last rides are at 4.50pm. * Govett?s Leap * This was our first stop. We were given the option of taking the 20 minute walk down to the lookout but as time was short, my friend and I stayed on board the coach. There are restrooms here and this is a popular picnic spot. I have to say the picture that greeted me was spectacular - straight ahead were the mountains. The shaded ones did, indeed, appear blue. Down below were green trees and to the side, cliffs with matching horizontal layers, the sandstone. On the right hand
                cliff the red shale halfway down indicated there?s vegetation growing. Comparable to the Grand Canyon some say, although greener! * Food * Our lunch stop was at Leura. The restaurant was called Terra Firma and was a set menu of $20. Some of our companions had already paid for their meal (included in the tour price) and our driver said we were welcome to come along as the portions were generous! (Err, you didn?t have to ask me twice!). Garlic bread and a soft drink were included along with four main meals (I had a warm chicken salad) followed by either ice cream or pavlova with fresh fruit and cream. Well worth the money. Leura had many shops including a bakery. Sandwiches can be purchased and eaten al fresco. There?s also a quaint Christmas shop that?s worth a visit! * Experience it * I can?t possibly describe all the places one can visit here, I?ve just given a small indication. Wentworth Falls is another popular stop. The mountain air is bracing ? don?t go up there in teeny clothing! You?ll feel a lot cooler up there than in the glare of the Sydney sun. The scenery is dramatic and peaceful away from the busy pace of the city. It makes you feel insignificant. This is a long day, and involves an early start and a fair amount of walking (sensible shoes are a must). Go away with fabulous memories and photographs to remember your day by. * Recommended * Obviously, yes! The highlight for me was going on the world?s steepest train. I was apprehensive, especially after the young coach driver showed us a dvd onboard of all the tourists screaming when they were on it! He lined up with us and continued to wind me up (hmph!). However, I was not deterred and was secretly pleased I didn?t chicken out. The ride on the Scen
                iscender is an excellent way of seeing the depth of the mountains and valleys and getting some idea of the scale. I think there?s something for everyone. The kids will love the train and Sceniscender and the adults will appreciate just being able to sit and enjoy the beautiful views and spectacular rock formations. However, there are plenty of other activities for the more adventurous such as hiking, cycling, abseiling and rock climbing. The beauty of the mountains is apparent from the start. The vulnerability of the trees on show from previous bush fires. It?s a day I won?t forget. This is a highly recommended tour on your trip to Sydney. The full 5 stars for a great day and professional service. It was worth the nine year wait! * Getting there * Train from Sydney Central to Blue Mountains around 1 hour service to Katoomba. For accommodation: www.bluemountainsbookings.com AAT Kings (02) 95186095 Thanks for reading!

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                  27.11.2001 07:57
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                  Oh I'm blue dabi... Oh hello again, you caught me singing. I know that I've promised some ops on Australia, so here's the next on in the series. What the heck are the Blue Mountains? ------------------------------------- The Blue Mountains are firstly called so as they actually look blue from Sydney when looking out to the west and inland. They are a "mountain" range that lie between the agricultural west and Sydney itself. These words have been summised from the Official Tourist Bureau, but they do start to put them into perspective. If you want a few more words, that I could just copy into here, but won't. You can obtain these from: http://www.sydney.visitorsbureau.com.au/page2-12.html Why should I go? ---------------- Initially I did think the same slightly. I had heard from some others that it was worth seeing. The views are allegedly not like something you'll ever see again. Being only about an hour away from Sydney, you can easily visit as a day trip by minibus. I believe the travel guides say you can do it by other means ie car rental, but I wouldn't recommend it. A minibus will have a local tour guide to tell you loads you wanted to know, and loads you didn't want to know. They'll also know where to go and do all the driving. Plus you get the company of other people on a bus to enjoy the day. You can either organised when you get to Sydney, or from here. From here your travel agent should be able to do something if you ask nicely. Otherwise you can easily wait and just contact a tour company such as www.ozexperience.com once you are there or just look out for posters, flyers, cards, everything you could imagine. Basically, if you want to decide at the last minute, even the night before, you should be able to book yourself on a minibus. One night's notice would be preferable of course though. The day ------- You can usu
                  ally, as we did, get collected from your doorstep if you're staying in a youth hostel. If you stay in a proper bed for the night, I'm not sure what the arrangement is, just make sure you finalise it before your day starts. You start the day mighty early as I remember. It was a scratch before breakfast started to get served at our hostel, so if you plan it right, get some breakfast in you by buying it the day before. Interestingly enough, I recently wrote an op on breakfasts. Coming back to the op in hand, it was about 6.30-6.45AM so I guess it wasn't THAT early, just beware about jetlag if you book this the day after you get there! You can try and get some shuteye on the bus there, but getting to know the people on the bus is half the day. The latter half of the journey also starts to wake you up as you realise where you are and what you're here for. The stops --------- Whichever tour company you take, you're bound to stop at the same places, be it in a slightly different order. 1 - Govetts Leap Here we actually got some fantastic views over a canyon, not too dissimilar to the Grand Canyon, which I have been to many moons ago. We also took a little stroll (understatement) across the face of a slope, round the corner, down another face to get a good view of an age old waterfall that's the longest freefall one in Australia. You should therefore take layers of clothing for this leg as the gusts of wind can definitely give you a wind chill factor, but by the time you've done your climbing the way up again, you'll wish you didn't have so much on you. There are some great opportunities to take some very artistic photos, both with people or just scenic shots. My advice is to take loads of reels of film, and just snap away. On the way down I remember thinking that I'll take that shot on the way up. On the way up one of two things happened (1) Couldn't find the same spot
                  (2) Too busy climbing, that I missed it. 2 - The Scenic Railway - Kataoomba Now this isn't quite what it seems. We too thought, oh, that'll be nice to go on. That was until we were told that it was built in 1958 and runs at an angle of 52 degrees to the horizon! This journey takes you down into a tunnel before stopping at it's final destination. From here you have the choice of walking back up, or catching the train back up. Of course, if you think about it, it makes more sense to walk down to it, then travel back up in the train as they charge for each trip made in the train (Aus$5). At the top there is a cable car that will take you out to the centre of the valley, stop for a bit, then come back again. I opted not to do this, as this is again, extra. Whatever you decide you'll get a good view of the valley. The train ride is not one to be missed though. Further details http://www.leisurenet.com.au/skyway/ 3 - Echo Point This is merely a good photo opportunity to get some shots of the famous "Three Sisters". These are three rock formations, which, legend has it that are actually three sisters. If you're around Sydney before you venture into the Blue Mountains, you might see some postcards of this. You can get exactly the same shot here. There is another little rock formation next to these three, which we were told was the wizard who turned the sisters into stone for their own protection. What we couldn't therefore work out was, who turned the wizard to stone? It could have been our guide just talking more than he knew, but I never followed up on this. 4 - Featherdale National Park This is quite a unique park, which is more like a zoo really. It was supposed to have all the native animals of Australia in it. In fact we were greeted by a man holding a satchel. Odd. Only when we got closer did we find that there was little Joey hiding inside! In the
                  park we did indeed see animals such as the Kookaburra, Koalas, Kangaroos... wait, enough of the K's... where's the platypus? This place must have had everything in it but the platypus. We were well disappointed. There was another opportunity to see one at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, but it wasn't worth it just for that. Overall ------- What a fantastic day. Again, like my other Oz op I'd recommend doing this trip. It's only a day trip from Sydney and didn't put us too much out of pocket. You won't need that much film but you will layers of clothing. It is quite a tiring day so make sure you have an easy morning planned the next day. There are trips available to take more than one day doing the whole trip into the Blue Mountains, but I'll be honest and say that I was "scenery-saturated" by the end of the day. Check the leaflets though as you may want to do some of the other things available such as horseriding, bushwalking, fourwheel driving. Just some of the things you could do on longer trips. As a bonus on the way back, we did get to drive through the Olympic Park, just to see the place. If you want to see this properly, you'll need at least another day. But that's... another op. :) Thanks for reading.

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                    04.10.2001 23:24
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                    There is no doubt that the Blue Mountains are really blue. I have photos to prove it! The scenery was spectacular and quite different to what I expected of Australia (dry arid land covered in red dust.) In fact, I got the complete opposite - much greenery and and an abundance of waterfalls. I had booked the one day tour as part of a package back in London. (we were told it works out cheaper that way but I'm not so sure that it does). I think if you paid for the trip out in Oz, it would cost around AUS$60 which is about £25. The name is Wonderbus tours. The good thing was that the bus picked you up from wherever you were staying. I was staying in Sydney and it is about an hour and a half away from Sydney. There are also trips which are longer in length: 3, 5 and 7 day tours. Initially, I thought that I should have gone for the 3 day trip but once I got to the Blue Mountains, I knew that my legs and muscles could only take one day of climbing and trekking that was required. The terrain is quite rough and the rocks can be quite unstable. The fact that the ground is wet doesn't help either. To get down to the bottom to see a beautiful waterfall involves descending (and worst of all, ascending) 600 'steps'. When I say steps, I mean rocks which have been levelled out a bit. I have to say it was a real struggle on the way up -they were very steep and the next day every muscle in my body was aching. I thought that for a person who likes scenery but hasn't got that much stamina, one day in the blue mountains is ample. Although each scene was magnificent, as the day passed and the group grew more tired each scene looked pretty similar to the last few. It was nice to see the rock formation called the 'Three Sisters'. I got some great photos of that. Even an amateur's efforts are bound to look professional. My bit of advice is to wear layers if you are going to the mountains. Although it is qu
                    ite windy and the cold can cut through you, when the sun shines, it really hits you. Unfortunately, we weren't lucky enough to see some of the wild koalas that live in the blue mountains but the day was definitely worth it. We did manage to hear some laughing cuckaburra's though. Perhaps if we had the luxury of more time, we would have been able to see some more wildlife.

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                      31.01.2001 20:58

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                      If you are staying in Sydney and want a break from the hustle and bustle, take a day trip to the Blue Mountains. Only a short train journey away but it feels like a different world! Up in the montains it is a bit colder so take a jumper! The spectacular scenery and fresh country air make the Blue Mountains a really nice retreat, I had a very pleasant stay at the Katoomba YHA, where a double room was less than $40. Katoomba as a place isn't anything special, but a short walk away the gondola and three sisters rock formation are big attractions. I recommend taking a pleasant walk through the countryside and enjoying the spectacular views!

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                      08.11.2000 21:23
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                      It was tipping it down with rain when we arrived in the Blue Mountains - locals told us that the weather here can be changeable, and so you should be aware that fog or rain may be a problem. However, the appalling stormy conditions soon abated and we managed to rush around the place quite happily. The Blue Mountains are very close to Sydney (no more than a couple of hours once you escape the city traffic), and many people in the city spend the weekend there. You can take day trips, but I would advise anyone to spend a couple of days in the area if you're visiting Sydney. We stayed in Leura, a pretty little village close to the clifftop drive which is the main attraction in the area - the biggest town is probably Katoomba, where the Three Sisters, a spectacular rock formation, can be seen. Essentially, the Blue Mountains are a hugely impressive range of mountains, very similar to what you see at the Grand Canyon, except incredibly lush and green. The blue haze, which you really can see, is supposedly due to the eucalyptus oil in the air. You can walk down the mountains and along the forest floor, climb some of them, or just be a lazy but amazed tourist by driving around, stopping at the frequent car parks and being gobsmacked. I'd particularly recommend going to the clifftop drive along the mountains into Katoomba, and also going to the Jenolan caves, which are a wonderful system of caves found with the national park. There are aboriginal sites, abundant wildlife (lots of parrots) and stunning views As with everywhere in Australia, I think it's quite hard to eat badly - there were some lovely cafes and bakeries in Leura, and Katoomba had some very classy restaurants - if you're in the area, in Katoomba there's a superb Indian restaurant run by a very nice woman (I curse myself for forgetting the name). We spent three very full days in the Blue Mountains, and would love to return - don't mis
                      s them if you have a chance to visit.

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                    • Product Details

                      The Blue Mountains National Park is a national park in New South Wales (Australia), 81 km west of Sydney, located in the Blue Mountains region of the Great Dividing Range. The park covers over 247,000 ha, but the boundary of the park is quite irregular as it is broken up by roads, urban areas and inholdings.