26 May 1999


Bushwalking in the Blue Mountains

  • Katoomba Train Station
  • 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 to Katoomba.


  • Echo Point Lookout
  • 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.


  • Looking down on the first of the Three Sisters
  • Pausing on the Great Staircase
  • 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.


  • Katoomba Falls
  • View from the Scenic Railway
  • 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.


  • Flowers on the trail
  • 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.



    The Jemby-Rinjah Lodge

  • Outside our cabin
  • The cabin's living room
  • Tobin at the stove
  • 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.


  • The cabin's comfy bed
  • 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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