What can you do if you’re in Sydney, but just need to get out of the city for the day? Jump on The Happy Coach and take a day trip out to the Blue Mountains. I think so! The name alone spells FUN. Anyways – for myself, not only did I want out of the city for a day, my time was limited as well as my funds. This was a perfect option.
Ideally, I wanted to go camping for a few days and do a couple longer bush walks offered in the area. Things aren’t always ideal and this was currently not an option. I was waiting nearly broke in limbo for my flight to Townsville in a couple days to start the monotonous work of a mango farm and get the much need paycheck. Killing time, I stumbled upon this budget tour for 70 dollars. A full day out with lunch included and my favorite part – no additional costs.
Picked up bright and early by what I considered to be a stereotypical Aussie in my naïve days before travel, we beat the morning traffic and left the city behind us. Humorous commentary booming from the microphone in his boisterous voice, he stirred us out of our early morning stupor. Before long I found myself staring out the windows at the captivating, eucalyptus covered landscape.
Due to our small group size of 6, he claimed he was taking us to a secret spot few visited. ‘F*#king awesome’ was how he described it and he wasn’t lying. We pulled into a vacant parking lot without a car or person to be seen. A short walk down a gravel road and onto an unmarked path through the bush, we emerged on a cliff overlooking the Jamison Valley. The view stretched for miles and the echoes boomed.
This is where I learned that the ‘Blue Mountains’ have been falsely named. Fun Fact – This stunning landscape is actually a sandstone plateau, not mountains, with canyons carved out over thousands of years in a similar fashion to the Grand Canyon. The ‘blue’ part of the name makes sense though. While walking through the trees it may seem green like most vegetation, but look over the trees from any of the vantage points with a weather-eye. You will notice an ethereal blue haze that hangs over the bush caused by evaporating eucalyptus oil mixing with dust from the dry earth underneath. Isn’t learning fun?
Moving on, our second stop was at Wentworth Falls. Described as a huge waterfall in wet season, it was now a mere trickle of water. Slight bonus though – the strong wind had it defying gravity making it seem to be falling upwards to some extent. Waterfall or not, the view overlooking Gross Valley was still impeccable and the bush walk was a great break from the bus.
Lunch time! One of my three favorite parts of the day other than breakfast and dinner. We stopped at a quiet park under a pavilion and the spread was laid out. Build your own turkey and veg wraps with that Australian touch. Beet root and pineapple! No complaints here – simple, healthy and delicious.
Back on the Happy Coach it was to the iconic ‘Three Sisters’. Located in the village of Katoomba, this is a must stop and the only place we visited that was flooding with tourists. Viewing platform, visitor’s centre and all, but with good reason. The panoramic view extends for miles as the Three Sisters watch over the Jamison Valley below. If it wasn’t for the crowds, I could sit here for hours enjoying the view.
There is an ‘aboriginal legend’ that goes along with these. The short version is three sisters who fell in love with three men from another tribe were forbidden to marry. A battle ensues caused by the men in an attempt to capture the sisters, but they are turned to stone by an elder to protect them. Sure enough, the elder is killed in this battle and the sisters remain encapsulated in stone to this day. All the while reciting this story in a sardonic tone, he informs us that this is actually made up by a Katoomba local to add another draw to the landmark. Whatever works I guess.
It was nearing late afternoon and there was one more brief stop at another quiet viewpoint before making the drive back to the city in time for dinner. Day trip, on and off photo tours are not generally my thing, but I would recommend this to anyone on a budget or time restraint. Knowledgeable and humorous, it made for a fun day out of the city and into the Blue Mountains I so desperately wanted to see.
Have you ever been to the Blue Mountains? Let me know what you thought of them below.
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