04.02.2016 15 °C
Today I woke up to grey skies and rain but unperturbed I set off early to the Blue Mountains. A change of train at Central station and I was on my 2 hour journey through Sydney suburbia which then turned to pretty countryside before arriving at Katoomba.
Once arrived I realised it was still raining and the temperature had halved so I decided that a new raincoat was in order, then coffee and brunch to see whether the rain was going to improve. Katoomba is a little like stepping back into the 80's, all the shops are oldly-woldy and I even walked past a pharmacy that was offering film processing - I didn't even know films were still available! I decided on a cafe offering locally roasted coffee and while this was lovely, the poached eggs I also ordered were not, they were watery and topped with chopped coriander of all things! Parsley yes, coriander no - I'm quite particular about poached eggs but please don't try this at home.
Brunch eaten and coffee drunk, I set off for the three sisters, a good place to start seeing the Blue Mountains from, but the rain was still falling and on arriving at the visitors centre there was not a sister nor mountain to be seen. Due to the rain a heavy mist had descended into the valley and with the visitor centre being above this I could barely make out people on the other side of the car park let alone any views. A wander round the walkways to see whether that made any difference (it didn't), a chat to the people in the centre and a sit down in the centre, where I noticed a white postcard with heading 'Blue Mountains in the mist', I was seriously considering heading back to Sydney. At one point I was riffling through my bag for some unknown item when I glanced up and all of a sudden I could see to the other side of the car park. A quick walk down to one of the lookouts and between the swirling mists the three sisters could be seen, together with the floor of the valley, full of eucalyptus forest. This was the way the weather was for the rest of the day but the times the mist lifted it was truly stunning.
Photos taken at the start I set off walking along the Prince Henry cliff walk towards the Katoomba Falls, taking in some lovely lookouts and tackling a number of steps up and down! Once at the Falls I decided to continue a little further towards the Furber Steps, which took me off the cliff and down into the rainforest. As I walked along, another path to my left offered a 10 minute walk to Underfall Pass, intrigued I took this path, which finished at a dead end and the most magnificent waterfall I have ever seen, it was really beautiful and as the only walker there I was very lucky to have that piece of paradise to myself for 5 minutes.
Back onto the main path and I continued walking until the Furber Steps dropped steeply down to the valley floor and I decided the walk down and then having to come back up would be too much. I then walked back along the road to the Three Sisters, seeing parrots and cockatoos on the way. My walk then continued back on the Cliff Walk, although I plucked up the courage to walk down the steep, narrow steps to sit on the first sister rock (with the help of a couple of fellow walkers!),and towards the Leura Cascades to pick up the train at Leura to bring me back to Sydney.
I missed my first train at Leura by a matter of minutes so decided on dinner while I waited for the next train in an hour. As I headed back to the station I tapped on with my Opal Card (like an Oyster card you top them up then use them to pay for train journeys) and I expected to pay about the same price I did for the outward journey - about $7 for a 2 hour train ride! However, once I got to my final station back in Sydney I tapped back out to find that $0 had been charged for the journey. When I queried why I had not been charged it appears that the maximum that can be charged on an Opal Card within 24 hours is $15........
So lets get this right - you can make numerous, sometimes long journeys, within 24 hours and not be charged more than $15. Yes, that's correct I was told, and on Sundays no more than $2.50, all to encourage people to use the trains more (although it only applies to the Transport for Sydney trains). Someone needs to tell the train companies in the UK.
So my rather dismal start to the day turned out to be really lovely and tomorrow is my last full day here, albeit I will most certainly be back. Tomorrow is another trip to Manly for more walking.