The act of hiking is as much a lasting memory to me as the final breathtaking scenery awarded at the end of the long journey.
Cutty grass slicing its name in my calf muscles, overgrown branches with wet leaves sliding across my face, lizards darting into deep bush at the sound of stones crunching under my feet. I feel like it adds to the experience, allowing me to truly feel I have earned the right to the majestic views it brings.
But that’s not for everyone, and what is so remarkable about Sydney’s Blue Mountains is that anyone can experience those same final lasting moments of truly breathtaking beauty, regardless if you walk four days (which we didn’t), four hours (closer to it), or four minutes – and it’s all within an easy 74 kilometre drive from Sydney.
From the city’s northern beaches, where my English girlfriend and hiking companion lives, we hardly covered two topics of conversation before we pulled into Katoomba township.
Our accommodation, Sky Rider Motor Inn http://www.skyridermotorinn.com.au,
proved a suitable choice. Clean and comfortable and well suited to our needs – a bed for the night in a central location allowing us to cover off the local townships.
It’s this reasonably priced, quiet accommodation which during peak season was little more than A$145 a night, which makes the experience so broadly appealing and accessible.
Our room had a double bed, couch which folded out to a small double bed, a desk, and small, but highly functional bathroom, equipped with all the little bottled bathroom necessities you’re left at any good hotel.
The staff promptly pulled out a map on our arrival and circled and pointed to all the hot spots, making some great dining recommendations along the way.
We decided to initially set off on the Blackhead’s Govett’s leap track after researching the Blue Mountains website. http://www.bluemts.com.au/info/thingstodo/bushwalks/
After almost half a day of walking, a small detour (which may have been a result of talking rather than observing signage), and a storm quickly brewing, we passed waterfalls dropping 180 metres to the base of the cliff and were met with what I can only describe as majestic views.
Since the 1800s the air of the Blue Mountains has been promoted as a health tonic, and my soul certainly drank it up.
There’s something spiritual about the uneven lush landscape and no matter how hard you try, you can’t see beyond the rolling mountain-scape.
For those not wanting to get amongst the bush, a visit to the Three Sisters in Katoomba is a must.
Drive to end of the main street in Katoomba and there they are in all their glory.
The Three Sisters is essentially a rock formation, which Aboriginal legend says represents three sisters who were turned to stone because they fell in love with three men from another tribe.
For an alternative to hiking and/or sightseeing a visit to the township of Leura will meet any shopping addict’s needs, with great cafes when you’re done perusing the quaint shops.
No visit to a local township is complete without experiencing local artisans and their wares, and there’s no better place than The Nook, which sells everything from hand-made children’s clothing and dolls to gorgeous art works, all at a reasonable price. http://www.thenookleura.com.au/about/
Back in Katoomba we decided to dine locally, and headed to the 100-year-old ‘Old Bank’, which is part of the Carrington Hotel.
We didn’t make it to the brasserie upstairs, we were impressed enough by the cosy English style pub and gourmet food on offer. Think aubergine, cumin and mint relish; smoked salmon with mini roast potatoes and dill, and king prawns wrapped in pancetta, all washed down with local wines and craft beer.
Driving back to Sydney reminiscing over the images of the blue haze of the mountainous terrain, this is a trip you need in your travel memory bank, and once you’ve done it, you’ll be left not just ticking it off the bucket list, but planning your next visit.