The name Blue Mountains always fascinated me. We have the Nilgiris in India which also means blue mountains. After having stayed in the Nilgiris, I wanted to know what is the similarity or the difference between the two. What better way to know it than to go there….
A brief note on the Blue Mountains:
The Blue mountains is a rugged mountainous region in New South Wales bordering the Sydney metropolitan area. Its foothills start approximately 50 km from Sydney. It is part of an extensive mountainous region associated with The Great Dividing Range.
Known for dramatic scenery, it encompasses steep cliffs, eucalyptus forests, waterfalls and villages dotted with guesthouses, galleries and gardens. Katoomba, a major town in the area, borders Blue Mountains National Park . Echo Point offers views of the famous Three Sisters sandstone rock formation.
The Blue Mountains get their name from the natural blue haze created by vast eucalyptus forests in this World Heritage area. Tiny droplets of oil released from the eucalyptus trees mix with water vapour and sunlight to produce the distinctive colour. To be noted here is the fact that our Nilgiris also have large eucalyptus forests.
Enroute to Blue Mountains,we visited The Featherdale Wildlife Park.
The park is located approximately 40 km from Sydney and contains various species native to Australia, and provides displays, events and interactive experiences. The site covers more than 3 hectares and has animal enclosures and display areas, visitor facilities, picnic spaces, shops and basic amenities. It specialises in Australian native wildlife and birds, as well as reptiles and marsupials
Focusing solely on native animals, here you can see koalas ,kangaroos ,wallabies, dingos and Tasmanian devils.
Kangaroo feeding is an important activity here. The kangaroos are so adapted to humans that they literally force you to feed them and if you don’t, they express their resentment too!
Kangaroo enclosure and feeding a baby kangaroo
A Blue and yellow Macau and a Cassovary
Penguins and a Cockatoo
I must add here that Cockatoos are a very common sight in Australia…almost like the crows we see here in India. In Sydney you find them on windows and balconies of apartments.They are very noisy and get aggressive at times!!!
After a wonderful time at the park, we continued our drive to the Blue Mountains.
We reached Leura village for our lunch break.This is a picturesque village in the Blue mountain area and has lovely shops and cafes . Since it was autumn time, the place looked beautiful with the coloured leaves.
Some pictures from Leura…
Our next halt was at Echo Point close to Katoomba from where we had a view of the famous Three Sisters rock formation.
The Three Sisters is the most spectacular landmark of the Blue Mountains varying in height between 900 and 925 metres. They are floodlit at night offering spectacular views.
These rock formations were formed by erosion 200 million years ago when the sandstone of the blue mountains was eroded by wind, rain and rivers causing the cliffs around the Jamison valley to be slowly broken up.
As per the legend of the indigenous people; these rocks represent three sisters who were turned to rock .These sisters Meehni, Wimlah and Gunnedoo lived here as part of the Katoomba tribe. These sisters fell in love with men from another tribe and in order that they do not marry away from their tribe, they were converted to stone with the implicit understanding that they would later be reconverted to women. But the witch doctor failed to reconvert them and so we have them as rocks today.
The Giant Stairway:
From Echo point, a bush walking trail leads to the three sisters and down to the valley floor via 800 steps called the Giant Stairway. Walking another 1.5 kms one can reach the base of the Katoomba falls. Needless to say, we did not attempt it!!!
The Three sisters and the clouds descending on the Jamison Valley
The Three Sisters with the tourists at Echo Point
The Boar’s head look out is another famous destination here with a rock formation in the shape of a boar’s head.
The Boar’s Head look out
Scenic World is a private family owned tourist attraction at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. Originally a coal mine; dating back to the early 1800s ; it now has four main attractions: Scenic Railway, Scenic Skyway, Scenic Cableway and Scenic Walkway.
This was originally constructed for coal transportation after mining in the Jamison valley in 1800s . It is an inclined railway now used for tourism. It has a sharp incline of 52 degrees and covers almost 400 metres distance. It is claimed to be the steepest passenger railway.
We took a ride on this railway. I must confess that inspite of all the preparation, I could not shoot a picture from inside the train as it slid down the slope…partly due to the speed and partly due to fear….had to hold on to our seats tight!!! You are always feeling that you are slipping off your seat!!
A cable way that traverses the gorge 270 metres above the valley floor. It provides great views of the Three Sisters and the Jamison Valley floor. The Katoomba falls is another breathtaking sight .
The opening image of this blog is of the Katoomba falls.
This walkway gives one the experience of walking under a rain forest canopy. …an easy 20 minute walk between the railway and the cable way stations on an elevated boardwalk. The flora and fauna seen here belong to the native species and some are claimed to date back to the Jurrassic ages. Also on display along the walkway are old mining equipment.
Along the walkway there are clear directions If you miss the directions, getting back to the correct location to meet your bus mates can be challenging!!!
On the Walkway under the canopy
After the wonderful experience of walking in the rain forest, we took the cable car up and reached the cultural center where the traditional performances by the indigenous people is organised.
The cultural center
You cannot talk about Australia and not mention the Boomerang. Widely used by the indigenous people,it forms an integral part of their cultural performances.
Essentially it is a throwing stick made of wood, but boomerang-like devices have also been made from bones. A popular memento in the gift shops; they are painted and decorated with traditional art work.
After finishng the Blue mountains trip, our next programme was a cruise on the Paramatta river to Sydney. We were dropped off at the ferry terminal and we boarded the ferry. As we approached Sydney, we had great views of the harbour, the bridge and the iconic Opera House lit up in all glory….
Some pictures from the Paramatta Cruise:
The Cruise Boat
The Harbour Bridge lit up at night
After an exhausting but gratifying day at the Blue Mountains, we returned back to our hotel . Next morning we were to say goodbye to Sydney and head to another amazing destination….Melbourne.
See you folks next week at Melbourne..
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