Today was set aside from travel so that we could explore some of the sights of the Blue Mountains. This area of New South Wales is densely populated by oil bearing Eucalyptus trees. The atmosphere is filled with finely dispersed droplets of oil, which, in combination with dust particles and water vapour, scatter short-wave length rays of light which are predominantly blue in colour.
In 1788, just after the first western settlement, the Blue Mountains were originally named “Carmarthen Hills” and “Landsdowne Hills” by the colonies first Governor Phillip. However, it wasn’t long after, that the distinctive blue haze surrounding the area saw the change in name to the Blue Mountains.
Due to the rough terrain and lack of resources, the Blue Mountains were seen as an impassible barrier for future exploration from the time of Captain Cook’s landing in 1770. Then, in 1813, Gregory Blaxland, William Charles Wentworth, and Lieutenant Lawson, along with four servants, four pack horses and five dogs, set off on an exploration which was to create history.
For Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson, the trip across the Blue Mountains was a tremendous struggle. Having insufficient food for their journey, they recorded that their trek required constant hacking through thick scrub and treading through “damp dew-laden undergrowth”. They were also in fear of attack by Aboriginals. These factors, in combination with sickness, nearly saw the men defeated by the rugged terrain. Eighteen days later, on the 29th May 1813, the Blue Mountains was no longer considered an impassible barrier following the discovery of the gently sloping mountains to the west.
We spent today visting some of the major lookouts to see the views of this very scenic region. We began by visting Evans Lookout near Balckheath with its stunning view towards Grose Valley.
Following on from there, we drove up Victoria Falls Road only to find out that the walk to the falls would take about three hours return. We decided that this was not a good use of our time, so we headed east towards Katoomba. We seem to have the season of ‘peak’ Wattle as these golden flowered plants have been in full bloom over most of the country that we have passed through over the last two days. The watltle is Australia’s national flower. A low growing form of this plant carpeted the undergrowth in many places that we visited today.
Echo Point at Katoomba is the location of the iconic Three Sisters feature. These three rock outcrops really chararcterise the Blue Mountains. We arrived there just before lunch only to find crowds of tourists and nowhere to park. In the end I left the car three blocks from the lookout area and walked down to find five busloads of tourists enjoying the view that I wanted to see.
We continued on to Wentworth Falls where we found a very conveniently located picnic table where we could eat our lunch of crisp bread witn cheese and salami. A medium level walk took me down to the falls lookout. Going down to the lookout with all of its steps was relatively easy but I was puffing hard on the return walk back to the car park.
For most if the afternoon, we pottered along the clifftop overlooking the Meggalong Valley capturing some of the stunning views from places such as Sublime Point..
On a previuos vist to this area, I had taken a rather poor photo of the cascades at Leura anf I wanted to revist them to take a better one. The only problem was that the road to the carpark was closed , so we had to find an alternative way to get there. With the help of my GPS and advice some for local people I eventually found the cascades and began a walkk down mant steps to the bottom.
The track was quite eroded and the spot where I had taken my original photo was closed because of trees and branches that had been washed dowbn the valley in the last heavy rain storm. I found some alternaive places to take some photos that I am quite happy with.
Tomorrow, we continue driving north to Merriwa in tbe Upper Hunter Valley.