Sydney and Blue Mountains

Our hostel in Sydney, the Funk House, was pretty cool. The walls were all painted really funkily and there was a rooftop patio which was nice when it wasn’t raining. Jos took these three photos.

We left Sydney on the morning of the 4th for a short trip to the Blue Mountains, a 2 hour train ride outside the city.

After a 15 minute walk from the Katoomba train station (after all, we were in the little mountain town of Katoomba), we found a YHA and checked in. Expensive, at $27.50 each for the night, the place was almost a hotel. We got out money’s worth though, as we used their kitchen more than once and returned after checking out to use the facilities again (they told us we could, we weren’t just freeloading). Our room was pretty nice too, with a window out onto the main drag, Katoomba Street.

Ian, however, got roomsick and had to grab the nearest bread bag quick.

After getting ourselves set up, we hit up the local supermarket for food supplies and headed out to do a few hours of walking on the mountain trails. With my excellent navigational skills, we managed to walk the completely wrong way and waste almost an hour, though the weather was nice and we were all in a good mood nonetheless. I found a shortcut to where we were supposed to go, and we got there pretty quickly to leave the road and enter the forest.

You can see the blue mist in the canyon, which is caused by the steam from the Eucalyptus trees, hence the name Blue Mountains.

We spent about 3-4 hours walking along the trails and taking loads of scenery photos.

Below: Jos, Ian, Me, Marcus, and Ron. Todd took this photo.

These are called the Three Sisters. I think every country in the world must have a Three Sisters or a Seven Sisters or some other similar natural formation named after sisters… I really don’t understand the preoccupation with naming rock formations or mountains after sisters. I couldn’t figure out which sister is older either, and no one seems to know if they each have a name…

Todd wasn’t in the last group photo, so he and his cousin Ron get their own special feature photo, taken by Todd with his extendable bionic arm.

At the end of our walk, we reached the steepest railway in the world (supposedly – in some places it’s called ‘one of the steepest).

At it’s maximum incline, the train is climbing or descending at 52 degrees! That’s more than halfway to vertical. I was particularly keen to pay the $8 for the 2 minute ride up the cliff side to the top. Jos was tired and Todd was sore, so they also came with. Ian, Ron, and Marcus all decided to walk up the stairs (about 1000 up – we had already walked down 900 odd stairs). My knees were bothering me, which was a good excuse to help justify the very expensive train ride, compared with the $11.40 we paid for the 2 hour train ride from Sydney.

It was a scary ride, in my opinion. Unlike a funicular or cablecar, this train is really a train. That is, it runs along a track on wheels, with no cables attached to pull it up. There were no cable attached at all in fact. It was originally designed many, many years ago to transport miners down to the coal mine entrance.

We relaxed that evening at the hostel, watched a movie, and went to bed.

To be continued…