After another hearty breakfast, we checked out of the hotel. [We
learned from the clerk that people here have never heard of the Outback
restaurant chain in the States.] We took a taxi to the Central Rail
Station, dropped off our larger bags at the coat check, and rode a train
The rental car agency picked us up from the train station. Soon,
we were driving on our own. We chose an auotmatic over a manual transmission
- a good choice, considering that I kept confusing the windshield wiper
controls for the turn signal. We drove to Echo Point, where we gathered
information on the local bushwalking trails and got a view of the Three
Sisters rock formation. Two bus fulls of noisy tourists chased us
on our way.
The trail we chose (the Prince Henry Cliffwalk) was a circuit - going out along the tree line of the Blue Mountain cliffs, then returning up on top. The Blue Mountains are really plateaus; soil and sand eroded away into valleys now covered in eucalyptus trees, which give off a blue haze.
We first crossed a bridge onto the largest of the Three Sisters.
On either side of us was a spectacular view of the Jamison Valley.
Even though the sun was shining, the wind was quite chilly. We descended
a long, steep stairway (the Giant Stairway) that was set into the side
of the biggest Sister. Many park benches along the way provided a
nice place to rest.
Once we got down to the lower trail along the treeline, the temperature
rose. We hiked a couple kilometers, weaving in and out among the
cliffs - sometimes in the sun, sometimes in the shade. We crossed
over the Katoomba Falls, a small waterfall hidden by rocks and foliage.
Then we arrived at the foot of the Scenic Railway. This was composed
of several cars that looked like they came from a roller coaster, except
that the seats were tilted at 45 degrees. That way, when it climbed
up the side of the cliffs, the seats had righted themselves. It only
took us two minutes to ascend, compared to the 15 minutes we spent hiking
down the Sister's staircase.
We looked around the gift shop a bit before heading back along the top
of the cliffs. The sun was shining through the trees, but the wind
was chilly - especially when we stopped at one of the many scenic overlooks
along the way. During this hike, we didn't see or hear much wildlife
(apart from the occasional hiker). We were glad to reach our car
after spending 2.5 hours on our feet.
We ate a late lunch at the Paragon Cafe, a place whose walls and booths were covered in mahogany. Above each booth was an ivory fresco of different Greek gods. The food was cheap but delicious: I had a meat pie, and Daria had a chicken and asparagus triple-decker sandwich. We learned of a few language differences: we ordered lemonade but received Sprite; the menu said that the meat pie came with "tomato juice", which turned out to be catsup. After the meal, we looked over their display of homemade chocolates. We bought some for later, but we got as far as the nearest alleyway before devouring them all.
Now we decided to check in to the hotel. We drove out of Katoomba
along the Great Westeren Highway (only 2 lanes, speed limit = 80 kmph)
and turned onto Evans Lookout Road. The houses gave way to a sparse
forest which looked a bit like Arizona. We arrived at the Jemby-Rinjah
Lodge. As we approached the lodge, we could smell wood burning in
the fireplaces of the cabins. Inside, we saw the lobby, which had
a sunken lounge area with a central fireplace. Thick, dark timbers
supported the bamboo (?) leaf ceiling Our hostess led us to
our cabin, which like the others was located in a secluded part of the
woods. Inside, she showed us how to use the wood burner which heated
the whole cabin. The walls were unfinished wood paneling, and many
windows added natural light to the place. The furniture was upholstered
with Southwestern-like patterns.
||We were feeling tired from our hike, so we planned an early evening. We drove back to Katoomba, bought food and wine for dinner, and returned to the cabin. We cooked and ate a simple spaghetti dinner and was only able to drink half the wine. After cleaning up, we could no longer stay awake; we went to sleep at 8 pm.|
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