We ended up leaving Graham and Cindy’s much later than we intended, it took all day more or less to finish everything and pack up and we headed out into the Sydney traffic at 4pm not a great start. Luckily we did not have too far to go and we arrived in the Blue Mountains at Katoomba at about 6pm. It was dark by then (remember it’s winter here) but Karen had looked up a couple of campsites online earlier. We expected the Blue Mountains to be cold (after all they are mountains and altitude means a drop in temperature) but we didn’t expect it to be quite as freezing as it was.
In Katoomba we spotted a roast shop which are a bit of an Aussie and Kiwi phenomenon, as it was getting cold and late and we were both hungry it seemed to good to refuse. After a good hot feed for 10 bucks each we pushed on to Blackheath campground arriving about 7pm it was $26 to camp or $50 for a cabin so we wimped out and got a cabin. Sorry !
In our defence it was flippin cold, the cabin had a small plug in radiator and even inside with that flatout and us in thermals we were both freezing and resorted to turning both electric hob plates on to keep warm. On the plus side the cabin is warmer than being outside and it has mains power so we can charge our new (secondhand laptop) That night we sent the second Sydney blog which means we are up to date…..woohoooooo!!!!!!!!
Next day we discovered why it was so cold, there was a massive cold front coming up from the south and the temperatures are record breaking lows for the time of year. I had a few things to finish on the computer in the morning, photo sets, emails etc so we didn’t get away until about 11am. At least it gave it time to warm up a little, when we arrived back in Katoomba at lunchtime it was a balmy 2 degrees with a -6 windchill.
Ironically the ride in was the warmest we have felt since we got here as the roof and screen keep off the wind so well and we cranked up the heated clothing. When we arrived at the naff titled Scenic World we didn’t want to get off and unplug it. Scenic World was actually really good, it is based around the massive Jamison valley in the Blue Mountains that was once a coal mine. The entry at $28 was quite reasonable considering it included three different rides down into and out of the valley. The train ride down is the steepest in the world and goes down the old incline similar to Denniston in NZ that was used to haul out the coal. It plunges you straight down in darkness through the cliff to emerge on a platform half way down.
These pictures show the incline railway and some of the mining relics and views. The strange picture of Karen leaning back is a Turpentine tree which had it’s center burnt out in a bush fire in 1948. Turpentine trees are incredibly tough and it’s still alive, there is another picture looking up into it. The rock formation is this areas most famous feature, it’s called the Three Sisters and is the subject of a million photos. The cable car is called the scenic ascender and gives some great views.
The following pictures are the views from the skycar that took us across the Katoomba falls, the wind was blowing so strongly the water was going sideways rather than down. The tree is a Eucalyptus or gum tree and it’s not dieing, they shed their bark like this naturally. This one is a baby they grow incredibly quickly. The statue at the end is going to be a water feature, Karen jumped in and improvised. I said she ought to be naked really but it was a bit cold in her defence.
Our second night in the Blue Mountains was just as cold, tomorrow they forecast snow for the next day down to 700metres which was not good news considering we were at over 1000m. The next morning we packed up and decided to head North and hopefully down in altitude. Just up the road from the campsite was a viewpoint we had been told not to miss so we went via that, Govetts Leap was impressive, it’s a huge canyon that leads your eye way off into the distance right up to Mount Strzelecki and Mount Caley. To the right was a beautifully delicate waterfall that disapeared into mist every time the wind blew.There are some pictures below.
At Ilford we turned off toward Kandos and Rylstone along the Bylong valley, we stopped at a council run campsite in Rylstone as we were beginnig to lose the light. That evening we were invited over by some locals who had obviously been there for some time judging by the way they were dug in. They had a roaring fire going in an old oil drum which was most welcome and they kindly gave us both some beers as we didn’t have any. It turned out that one of them was an ex professional Rodeo rider, it seems that is big out here like it is in the States.
We were on the road by 09.45 that morning still late by most peoples standards but we are heading in the right direction. From Rylstone we had some nice roads up the Bylong valley, we stopped a farm entrance because we spotted some clever tyre sculptures, there are some silly pictures below.
Further up the valley we stopped at Fern Tree Gully as a few people recomended it. There was a 2k dirt road into it and then an amazing bushwalk through a sandstone valley. We stopped and had lunch here as well. There are some pictures of it below.
After getting a few km’s under our belt Karen spotted a pull in with a view just as we started to descend. We had to walk and climb up some rocks to get above the treeline but it was a cool view. That night we stayed in our first National Parks campsite at Lake Liddel a beautiful spot on the lake edge.