1st October 2008, Wednesday
We started the second day early in Sydney. After light breakfast, our friend dropped us at the train station. We got ourselves tickets to Katoomba station where Blue Mountains is situated. Thinking it would be freezing cold at the Blue Mountains, we packed extra warm clothing.
It is convenient to get to Blue Mountains. You need to buy train ticket to Katoomba from any major train stations heading for Blacktown and also a bus pass. The bus pass itself is AUD32. You get to hop on and off the Blue Mountains Explorer Bus all around the Blue Mountains area. I spent a total AUD46.60 for two-way ticket from Parramatta to Katoomba inclusive of the bus pass.
The trip from Parramatta to Katoomba took about 1.5 hours. I dozed off in between the stations and woke up to see some views of trees, hills and residential area. One thing about the trains in Sydney, you can actually move your seat to face where you are going instead of sitting with your back forward. I didn’t know this till I saw people pushing their chairs to face where the train is going!
One incident happened while we were on our way to Katoomba. Apparently, there were a bunch of people did not pay full fare for traveling all the way from the city to Katoomba. Some officers came up to check for tickets and found these perpetrators did not pay a full fare. If caught, AUD200 penalty could be issued. I guess the officer must be in a real good mood to let those people go. So, don’t even think about cheating!
The moment you got off the train, you just need to go to look up the overhead for instructions. You change the bus pass you bought at a shop facing the entry to Katoomba town. You will never miss it as hoards of people would be there waiting to get their bus passes. The bus pass comes in a form of a booklet with useful information. What you need to do is to wave your bus pass whenever you see the Explorer Bus to get in.
I grabbed a quick lunch to go with me at the café next to the shop – a delicious panini turkey bacon sandwich with extra tomatoes!
There are a total 29 stops along the way around Blue Mountains. Some important stops which are worth to spend time at are the Katoomba Cascades, Scenic World (you have to pay AUD25 to ride the cable car), Echo Point – Three Sisters, Honeymoon lookout (where you set to descent along a bridge that leads to the Three Sisters! We missed this point! Damn!) and Leura Village (my favorite – no trekking and lotsa shops!).
For the life of me, I couldn’t believe that I actually trekked. Me? Trekking? You heard it right. I was telling ML that, FRIM is like 5 minutes away from my house and I hardly even go there. Probably once a year… and now, I paid so much money to come all the way to Blue Mountains to trek? Lol!
It was the drought season everywhere in Australia so I guess the Katoomba Cascades is not that spectacular. There were still some water but not as big as I thought it might be. We walked around to snap some photos of some plants instead.
At Leura Valley, if you happen to go during spring, you would be greeted with luscious cherry blossom decorating the pavement dividing the roads. The valley is peppered with little shop cottages where you could find just anything from scented candles to bras, antiques to little knick knacks. Not to mention, small little quaint coffee houses.
Why is it named Blue Mountains when it’s not even blue?? I found some explanations here.
The Blue Mountains are so named because, from Sydney, they look blue. They are clad in vast forests of eucalypts (commonly called gum trees), which in the hot sun discharge a fine mist of eucalyptus oil from their leaves. The mist refracts light, which makes the haze look blue at a distance.
It was an enjoyable one day trip. We bid good bye to Blue Mountains at 5.30 pm to catch a train to Parramatta. On the way home, we were sandwiched by four guys from India and a few girls from Germany ( I gathered from the phlegm inducing language they speak!) and a mother and son pack from other parts of Australia.
I suggest you go early so you could slowly take your time in taking pictures or enjoy your long walks in the luscious forest and waterfalls.
The explorer bus starts to operate at 9.45 am every day and the last train to depart from Katoomba to Central is at 11.16 pm.