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Scenic From Start to Finish

Thursday 3rd September 2015

semi-overcast 16 °C

We woke up well rested after our first nights sleep at the Windradyne Bed and Breakfast in the Blue Mountains. The latest we could have breakfast was 8:30am although ideally we would have preferred a little later. Although our room is very nice it is a little strange in that it is on the ground floor and opens directly into the guest dining room! Nigel went for a cooked breakfast but I had selected the muesli and yoghurt pot when we had completed our meal selection form yesterday evening and it was huge and delicious. There were four other guests staying and we all chatted over breakfast. One couple were from Cambridge in the UK and the others from Southern California. We talked a bit about walking options and it appeared that there were lots to choose from, mainly in the medium to hard category. We decided to go for one graded at easy to medium, going along the top of the escarpment on a pathway named the Prince Henry Cliff Walk.

Before setting off we went and had a quick look at the mountain view from over the road at Echo Point. There had been quite a lot of low cloud hanging in the valley first thing this morning although it was starting to clear by the time we went out.

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We then started walking westwards along the footpath. It was generally fairly easy going with a few steps up and down and a bit muddy in places. The first viewpoint we reached is called Lady Darley's Lookout which gives great views across The Jameson Valley and then shortly after Allambie Lookout (Allambie is an aboriginal word meaning 'quiet place'). Thankfully it was pretty peaceful while we were there.

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The walk then takes you down some steps and after about three quarters of an hour you reach the eastern end of the Skyway cable car. We could have used this to cut across the valley but we decided to save that until later in the day. Instead we continued on the track for a short distance before having to detour into the road as some maintenance work was taking place. We then rejoined the path and walked down to the Katoomba Cascade which eventually feeds into the much larger and more spectacular Katoomba Falls. When we arrived at the cascade there were no other people there so we were able to take a few minutes to enjoy the solitude and take some photographs.

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Once a number of other people arrived we continued on our way, walking through a short lush valley that links the cascades to the falls. When you are on the ground you don't really have a sense that you are near the edge of a steep precipice, something we only really appreciated later in the day.

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There was a deviation that we took up onto an area called Reids Plateau which affords great views of the Katoomba Falls. Whilst we were there enjoying the view, we saw a large flock of sulphur crested cockatoos. At one point they flew en-masse in front of the falls which made for quite a dramatic sight.

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From the plateau we continued past more stunning viewpoints until we reached Scenic World. Once there we bought our tickets and then went for a much needed coffee. Next we travelled down through the cliff face on the Scenic Railway. At a 52 degree angle this is the steepest incline railway in the world. They have recently modified this so that you can adjust your seat so that you either take the 'cliffhanger' option at 64 degrees, the laid back option or the original 52 degrees which is what we opted for. The railway travels for 310 metres through a tunnel entering near the valley floor.

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Originally the train was built for miners who worked in the vicinity and on emerging from the train there are a number of exhibits and information signs about the areas mining past.

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We chose to do the longest of the Scenic World walks which takes you further down into the valley on over two kilometres of boardwalks that weave through the rainforest. For much of the time we were on our own and it was fascinating seeing what grows in the vast area of forest that makes up most of the Blue Mountains National Park.

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Once we had finished the walk we travelled on the Scenic Cableway 545 metres back up the valley walls to the top. Once there we had a meal on the terrace of the restaurant which has amazing views sitting as it does 270 metres above the valley floor.

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We then finished our time at Scenic World by travelling three times backwards and forwards across on the Skyway Cable Car which gives amazing views of the valley and the mountains beyond. It also afforded another view of the Katoomba Falls and you could see the cascades and valley where we walked several hours earlier.

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We then made our way back along the Prince Henry Walk, up the 100 or so steps and past some incredible rock formations

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until we got back rather tired and weary to Echo Point. Once there we took a few minutes to admire the changing sun light in the valley and on the rock face.

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We had been walking for four or five hours and probably covered about five miles or more so all we wanted to do was go back to the B & B and relax for the evening which is what we did.

Posted by Gill's Travels 06:19 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes waterfalls mountains australia katoomba blue_mountains Comments (0)

Stepping Out

Wednesday 2nd September 2015

sunny 16 °C

Breakfast at Tara Guesthouse was a bit more of a sociable affair this morning, and we were able to chat to the two other guests (who were both in the area on business) as well as talking some more to Julian and Brom. They had kindly offered to take us to the airport to pick up our car, so after a bit of checking to clarify exactly where the car hire company were based and the last few bits of packing done, were soon on our way. When we arrived at Avis the guy who served us was very friendly although it all seemed a bit vague in terms if who was having what car. In the end we were given a bit of an upgrade and came away with an automatic Toyota Corolla so we were pretty happy. We had decided to leave the city on the motorway and with the sat-nav this turned out to be quite straight forward. We didn't have any maps for this leg of the journey so once we were right out if the city we stopped at a petrol station and brought a road atlas.

We continued in the motorway for a few more miles before the road turned into the Great Western Highway just after a town called Penrith. The road was very good, and quite fast if a little featureless. I searched in the map for somewhere were we could venture a little bit into the National Park, and also where we could perhaps get some lunch. In the end we pulled off the highway at a town called Wentworth Falls. I directed Nigel towards some lookouts (these would be termed as viewpoints in the UK) at a place called the Conservation Hut which was essentially a cafe and visitor centre. We went and had lunch of toasted sour bread sandwiches and coffee and then decided to go on one of the shorter walks graded as moderate. Initially this went to the Queen Victoria Lookout, down quite a steep and slightly muddy path.

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Beyond this it continued down to the Empress Lookout and further still to the Empress Falls. We didn't walk the whole way to the falls as it started to get very steep and hard going with a number of ladder sections.

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We went down a way and then decided to turn back which involved going back up the ladder sections and then the long incline up to the Conservation Hut. It was a long climb and I estimated that there were well over 500 steps, so by the time we got to the top we were both pretty tired.

Nigel then drove the short distance into Katoomba to our new bed and breakfast. We could see as we pulled up that the view was amazing and so after dropping our bags off we decided to go and have a look at the Three Sisters rocks over the road before settling in properly. We took in the amazing view of the rocks and the mountains beyond and took quite a few photographs.

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Perhaps rather rashly given the walk we had done previously we went to have a look at another lookout nearer to the Tree Sisters. Initially this was an easy walk of less than half a kilometre but there was then a short but steep stretch down to Honeymoon Bridge which connected the escarpment to the first 'sister'.

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This involved going down about 100 steps some of which were on a steep ladder section, hard going down and equally tiring coming back up. It was interesting to see the way some of the trees had their roots barely hanging on the the ground. Whilst we were walking back to the car park we also saw a number of small sculptures representing some of the local indigenous animals.

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Once back at the B&B we got settled in and had a cup of tea but both decided that we fancied another quiet night in and that we weren't really hungry enough to go out for a meal, and so we went with that.

Posted by Gill's Travels 03:42 Archived in Australia Tagged mountains trees animals australia katoomba blue_mountains Comments (0)

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