THE BLUE MOUNTAINS- Australia
The Blue Mountains
By Lauren Looft
While studying abroad in AUSTRALIA, my literature class took a weekend trip to the BLUE MOUNTAINS. Our goal was to not only experience the majestic mountains, but to also explore a landscape that is described so vividly by Sumner Locke Elliot, a famous Australian writer whose novel EDENS LOST takes place in the Blue Mountains.
We departed from Sydney by train and arrived in KATOOMBA in the early evening. Our class was set up at the METROPOLE GUEST HOUSE, a quaint lodge settled in the main town of Katoomba.
The next morning we took the EXPLORER BUS to SCENIC WORLD, where we were able to ride the world’s steepest cable car down a mountain. It’s good to mention that after purchasing an Explorer Bus ticket, you can use it to hop on and off the bus at different locations for the rest of the day.
We traveled to ECHO POINT to get a closer look at THE THREE SISTERS, a famous rock formation in Australia. Their names are Meehni, Wimlah, and Gunnedoo. One of our main goals was to find the “emu” shaped shadow that appears on a cliffside within the valley; the emu legend is explained in Edens Lost by Sumner Locke Elliot. We were unsuccessful in finding it, however our professor who has been to the mountains a dozen times proclaims she has seen the infamous shadow.
Following a trail near Echo Point leads visitors to THE GIANT STAIRWAY, which descends down to the valley floor. Those who continue along THE FEDERAL PASS will find themselves reaching KATOOMBA FALLS.
In the late afternoon we explored Katoomba and the neighboring town of LEURA. In Katoomba, RENE’S PIZZA is worth taking a look at. The log-fired pizzas don’t start coming out of this shop until 5PM, but are definitely worth the wait! If you’re looking for some dessert, try BAKEHOUSE ON WENTWORTH and ask for a slice of flowerless chocolate cake, it’s pure decadence!
THE EDGE CINEMA located in Katoomba, not far from the Metropole Guest House, shows a gorgeous documentary on the Blue Mountains, which explains the history and legends of the mountains. It is definitely worth sitting through if you want to experience the mountains in every way possible. The theater also screens current releases throughout the week.
If you’re the adventurous type, you may want to check out THE BLUE MOUNTAINS ADVENTURE CO., who specialize in rock climbing, mountain biking, and canyoning. The JENOLAN CAVES system offers various tours at different times of day; take a bus from Katoomba to get there. Several companies run horse rides in the area and most will pick you up in Katoomba; check them out at www.centennialglenstables.com, www.australianbluehorserides.com.au, and www.megalong.cc.
Finally, seeing some wildlife is definitely a must when visiting Australia. So stop over in DOONSIDE on your way back from the mountains and check out the FEATHERDALE WILDLIFE PARK. The park features all types of Australian animals, such as Kangaroos, Koalas, and Emus. The best part? Since it’s a wildlife park, the animals are free to roam around, so you can see, feel, and take photos with the animals up close and personal.