House sitting brings us to locations we’ve never heard of, let alone visited. This gig is no different. In addition to sharing a great home with a couple of adorable dogs, we have easy access to Sydney, and we’re in The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.
The traditional home to the Darug and Gundungurra Aboriginal people, the region’s pretty little towns are starting points for countless bushwalking (hiking) trails. All we have to do is pick a destination, hop the train, and get walking. OK, that’s all I have to do; Karen finds maps, figures out the train schedule, reminds me to put on sunscreen, & basically sorts all other details. Onward!
We’re always ready to answer the call of nature, but first, we had to make our way through the hustle & bustle of Glenbrook Railway Station. I’ll never tell you that this kind of travel is easy!
We started by wandering the tree-lined streets of Leura. With a population of just over 4,000, the suburb of the City of Blue Mountains feels like a quaint, little village with murals and beautiful gardens. Spring time has the trees and shrubs in full bloom, so there was colour everywhere we looked.
We set off on the Prince Henry Cliff Walk with stunning views and some heart hammering climbs. We took advantage of several spots to have a seat and take in the sights (it would be rude not to use the seating provided; surely this had nothing to do with our level of fitness).
Buttenshaw Bridge links these two look-outs. NOT my favourite part of the hike! My dislike of heights (or, as I prefer to put it, my very reasonable hesitation at increasing the odds of my falling from heights) had me pausing to calm my nerves before crossing the metal mesh bridge (oh, good, the lovely views all the way down weren’t interrupted!).
Another 7km of breath-taking views (or breath-taking climbs) and we reached the big goal: Echo Point near Katoomba.
Not unlike some lookouts at the Grand Canyon, Echo Point plays host to bus after bus full of tourists, armed with selfie sticks, ready to snap pictures of the iconic Three Sisters, then, “Back on the bus, y’all!”
We had a bit more time than the tour bus crowd to enjoy a picnic lunch & explore Katoomba (more tour buses) before catching the train home to our waiting dogs, the recliners, and a glass of wine or two – hey! did I mention how far we’d ‘bushwalked? in the heat?
For another day trip, we hopped the train to Wentworth Falls and the trailhead of Charles Darwin Walk, following Jamison Creek. Birds, lizards, wildflowers, and tropical plants make it difficult to keep our eyes on the trail (more than a little treacherous at places).
After about an hour of hiking (and, I’m pretty sure, about 8,000 stairs), we reached the falls. As Karen said, “They’re not Niagra Falls.”
While they’re little more than a trickle without much needed rain, they are more impressive than this picture shows (for your benefit, I carefully placed some teeny tiny people at the railing for scale). The water cascades 100 meters down to the floor of Jamison Valley.
As I often say on these hikes, what goes down, must go up, so we trudged back up to the village to get the train home.
Well, what did I see but a sign advertising local cider?! This stuff comes from Bilpin, not 20 minutes away, so what’s a girl to do? The hike is free, and I have to support the economy somehow, am I right?
I’m no connoisseur of cider, but I will say that this crisp, refreshing, locally produced beverage is a great follow up to the hot, dry work of climbing mountains. I just might be ready for the next round of bushwalking!