The Blue Mountains
Two weekends ago Paul and I rented a car and headed up to the Blue Mountains for some hiking. As much as I love our urban exploring and as good as Sydney is for beautiful green spaces, there is something wonderful about escaping the hustle and bustle and getting up into the mountains. The Blues aren’t as mountain-shaped as I expected; they are more like plateaus that have canyons eroded into them. There are trails that traverse the upper edges of the plateau and look down, trails along the canyon floor, and trails cut into the sides of the cliffs. We hiked the National Pass trail, which has stunning rock staircases and ladders past Wentforth Falls and connecting to Victoria Falls. It was amazing how many different landscapes we went through over our 8 or 10k’s of walking, it was Arizona dry and sandy to Jurassic Park jungle and back again. They are called the Blue Mountains because of the oil that the gum (eucalyptus) trees release into the air that refracts the light and makes the bluish haze that blankets the mountains.
According to the park website, the National Pass hiking track was built with picks, shovels, crowbars and dynamite between 1906 and 1907 for about £430.The Grand Stairway, as it came to be called, is the tallest outdoor staircase in Australia. Construction details are sketchy, but it’s said that the project involved its workers being suspended in a Bosun’s Chair. The 2002 renovation, on the other hand, used helicopters and cost ~$1.5M
Since it was still early in spring, the trails weren’t too crowded. The occasional cockatoo call disrupted the peaceful silence and added to the Jurassic Park feel (they sound quite like I imagine a Pterodactyl once did). Sometimes the different plants and animals and really old looking rocks make me feel like I have gone back in time or something. The real reason I was doing all that half marathon training is to be able to outrun Paul in the event of a velociraptor attack. It is hard to express how much I loved this place, it was so different from anywhere I have ever been and so beautiful. We will definitely be back, hopefully for an overnight camping trip next time!
One final anecdote
We sought to reward our hiking efforts with some lunch. In hindsight, choosing a Mexican restaurant in the middle of nowhere Australia was probably not that wise, but let’s just say we were deliriously hungry. We ordered our burritos and, while waiting, asked the waitress to add on an order of guacamole and chips. 15 minutes later, she brought out a bowl of french fries and a tiny ketchup-dish-sized gauc. I was speechless. For background, the terms are somewhat interchangeable and vague here; chips means fries, and it means regular chips, or sometimes hot chips is used for fries, or sometimes they just say fries. Why they haven’t established clarity on this, I don’t know, but generally, waitstaff will ask a clarifying question if it isn’t obvious. We asked our Aussie friends and they said that guacamole and fries is not a thing here…but also asked what we expected trying to eat Mexican food in the mountains…
We’re off to Melbourne for the weekend to watch the footy finals (Australian Rules Football). Go Sydney Swans!