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Having woken to the sun rising over the botanical gardens I was unsure how breakfast would compete. However it did and more. The restaurant overlooks the bridge and had views of the new cruise ship which had arrived early in the morning. The food was just as spectacular, I had a pork cheek with a side of egg whites on a bed of vincotto. It looked amazing and tasted even better! There were also a variety of toasts and teas to try, which I’m definitely looking forward to exploring tomorrow. We had to leave quite early as the blue mountains are a reasonable distance from the city.

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The view from Circular Quay Station

Train travel in Australia is quite slow, but seems to be very effective. We travelled from Circular Quay station (which must have the best view from a station in the world) to Central to ride an intercity train to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. Sydney is a vast and sprawling city which takes nearly and hour and a half to get clear of but when it does its worth every minute of the wait. The railway line climbs up hills for another hour and gives breathtaking glimpses of the valleys in the foothills of the blue mountains as it winds slowly around the edges of them. Often the view below the train feels like a similar distance to that across the wide valleys as the sheer drop numbs the mind somewhat!

On arrival at Katoomba we swapped our Link tickets for a tour bus pass and joined the Blue Mountains Explorer Bus which gave us a hop on hop off access to all the attractions around Katoomba. The bus included a loop around the Scenic World centre. We debated whether or not to get off at the start of the loop or take in the loop on the bus and then walk to the centre. I’m really glad that we decided to do the loop by bus as the centre had nearly 12 coaches waiting and didn’t seem to be the serene and calm place I had imagined. Because of this, when we jumped off at the end of the loop, we walked away from the centre and along the Prince Henry Cliff Walk. Every corner I turned took my breath away. The rocks and the views reminded me of the Grand Canyon and certainly just as spectacular. The blue mist (which gives the area it’s name) only added to the effect.

Our walk along the cliff tops gave us incredible views of the cable car which tourists were using to complete the crossing from one side of the valley (at the Scenic World centre) to the other.

We walked around the path and took in as many views as possible especially as the Three Sisters came into sight. It’s quite understandable that the three rock towers are important for the aboriginal people. The sight of them is quite breath taking and set against the deep blue background of the haze I found it quite intoxicating and can’t begin to imagine what the first explorers must have thought when the first stumbled upon them.

As with other parks around the world, the closer we got to the major attractions the greater the density of people. As we arrived at echo point with the ‘best view’ of the three Sisters, a school party of at least 3 coach loads arrived. Pupils dressed on full school uniform descended upon the area and reminded us that we were in the second most visited attraction in Australia (I couldn’t believe that fact when I first heard it either!)

Like other parks the solution was to walk away from the area for around 2 minutes before being plunged back into tranquillity. Having enjoyed stunning views from the cliff tops we chose to descend into the valley several hundred meters below. The route involved climbing around the back of the Three Sisters and walking down the thousand steps to the forest below. The noise from the cacophony of birds as you climb down increases exponentially the lower into the valley you walk until finally you are immersed in the din!

It took nearly an hour to climb the whole way down but was definitely worth every step. The temperate forest below was filled with palms and some of the tallest trees I’ve seen. It left us in almost complete shade, which was almost a relief as the Sun’s rays were very strong.

As we climbed out at the end of the valley we came across countless and seemingly endless waterfalls every time you thought you’d climbed to the top of one you found that it was just a ledge onto which fell another. higher and just as spectacular as the last. We climbed out with a French lady and were followed by and Australian couple and another man. Everyone was very friendly and the very strenuous climb was quite enjoyable.

Worrying about making the final bus we didn’t end up walking around the valley to the falls at Leura, this was possibly a mistake, but walking over the top was still impressive and just means that there is more to explore next time! We managed to join the penultimate bus but only after not being able to find the bus stop. However, it just meant having to wander aroubd the path a little further and along the road up to Leura village. We rejoined the bus outside a train and toy museum but couldn’t go in as the entrance was an unmanned gate which needed a two dollar piece (which I didn’t have in my pocket!)

We took the bus back through several golf resorts (a bit of a change to the scenery we had enjoyed the rest of the day!) and caught the train from Leura station back to Sydney.

Having enjoyed a great meal in our room last night I went back out to the supermarket to pick up some more salmon and sauce. Sydney was great fun to wander through and very easy to find where I was heading.

I’ve felt like Sydney is a place you just need to take in with your eyes and enjoy the views. everywhere I’ve been there’s been something to look at. I’d quite like to stay a little more, but with only one day left I feel I’ve only just scratched the surface.

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