Thursday, January 06, 2011

18 Nov 2010: The refreshing Blue Mountains

18 Nov 2010, Thu:

It was yet another day of touring Sydney with the AAT (Australian Accomodated Tours) Kings. Our tour was to bring us to Blue Mountains and the Featherdale Wildlife Park. After breakfast, I was ready to head to the Holiday Inn Darling Harbour to wait for the coach. Breakfast is as usual, wonderful.

The coach headed West of Sydney. That meant that we travelled across the Anzac Bridge! We had very good luck to have Steve as our tour guide and driver. He drove safely and he offered very interesting commentary throughout the journey. Some of the commentary included the way of life of the people in Sydney.

Our first stop for the day was the cosy town of Leura. It was a beautiful little town along the Blue Mountains Railway Line. I was attracted to the slower pace of life at Leura. I bought my lunch at the town of Leura. It was a chicken and salad sandwich.

Soon, it was time to leave Leura to head for the Echo Point of Blue Mountains. One thing I have to try to come to terms with when it comes to joining a tour group was that we have to stick to the limited schedule. We had only 20 minutes at Echo Point. Echo Point has the reputation to be one of the best look-out point in the Blue Mountains. Here, one can get a good view of the rock formation known as the Three Sisters.

When we stopped at Echo Point, I was thankful that one of the passengers on the same tour helped me to take a few photographs with the Three Sisters in the background. Perhaps it was because my state of health was better than the day before, I could muster the energy to strike conversations with a few of the passengers who were on the same tour.

Our next stop was the Scenic World. We had about two hours at Scenic World to spend the way we would like. I decided to purchase a ticket that would allow me a ride on the Scenic Railway, a ride on the Scenic Cableway and a return trip on the Scenic Skyway.

I took the Scenic Railway that plunged me down to an ancient rainforest about 415 m below. It was reputed to be the steepest incline railway in the world. I still recalled that I was feeling frightened when I last took the Scenic Railway about two years ago. Two years later, on 18 Nov 2010 when I took it once again, it was a positive sign that I could manage the descent with greater ease.

I found out that the descent had such an impact that all the juices from the beetroot of the sandwich that I had bought at Leura had oozed out and caused a bit of mess. The learning point is that if I were to take the Scenic Railway, it may help to either put all food in ziplock bags or to buy the food only after taking the Scenic Railway. Anyway, I was feeling quite proud of myself for managing the descent onboard Scenic Railway.

After getting off Scenic Railway, I wandered about the Scenic Walkway. I wished I had a bit more time to walk about the Scenic Walkway.  The Scenic Walkway comprises 2.8 km of boardwalk through an ancient rainforest. I enjoyed hearing the sounds of Nature as I journeyed the Scenic Walkway. Due to the limited time, I had to choose a very short path to walk about. That meant I did not walk the entire 2.8 km boardwalk. That, I supposed, was the trade-off for visiting Blue Mountains with a tour group. On the more positive note, it meant that I had more time to visit another place in Sydney other than the Blue Mountains on that same day.

After some hiking about the Scenic Walkway, I took the Scenic Cableway up the valley. I enjoyed the ride way better than the previous time. I wonder whether being more familiar with the ride could have helped boost my level of ease and confidence in taking the Scenic Cableway?

My favourite of all the rides was the Scenic Skyway. I was very lucky that on my first trip on Scenic Skyway, the cabin had relatively few passengers and that afforded me a pretty good view onboard the Scenic Skyway. The Electro-Sceniglass floor continued to amaze me even though it was not my first time riding the Scenic Skyway. I still find it intriguing how at the flip of a switch, passengers could see through the cabin floor some breathtaking views of the Katoomba Falls and the valley underneath.

Passengers onboard Scenic Skyway could also have a pretty good view of the Three Sisters rock formation. The most exciting part was that I felt I was riding a magical cabin across the valley. The ride felt like I had taken some kind of horizontal flight.

After I had taken all the various rides, it was time for me to start having my lunch before it was time to board the coach. That was not an easy task since the impact from the Scenic Railway had the sandwich, that I had bought for lunch, rather shattered from the oozing of the beetroot juices. Nevertheless, I was contented that I had food to make me fill me up after close to two hours of hike and taking rides about the Blue Mountains.

I would prefer to have more time to explore the Blue Mountains on my own. In fact, I missed the solo hikes that I had taken about the Blue Mountains when I last visited it about two years ago. A solo hike demanded more of me emotionally, physically and perhaps spiritually, than merely visiting the Blue Mountains with a tour group.

Nevertheless, thanks to good coordination by AAT Kings tour agency, the wonderful tour guide-cum-driver and the kind folks onboard the coach, I very much enjoyed visiting Blue Mountains with a tour group as it offered me a less physically tiring trip to the Blue Mountains and allowed me to have the time to visit the Featherdale Wildlife Park, our next destination, on the same day.

People and moments that I am grateful for:
1) I am thankful for a wonderful tour guide and a group of kind tour-mates onboard the coach. I had managed to strike some interesting conversations with a few of them.
2) I am thankful for a good weather.
3) I am grateful to Nature for providing such beautiful and awesome creations.

New things that I did:
1) I visited Blue Mountains with a tour group.

My learning points:
1) It helps not to bring food or fragile items onboard the Scenic Railway.
2) Every event has its merits. Look for it and one will feel blessed. While I would prefer visiting Blue Mountains on my own, a trip there with the tour group offered me a different experience that allowed me convenience in many ways.


AAT (Australian Accomodated Tours) Kings

AAT Kings Tours Head Office
Level 7, 35 Grafton Street
Bondi Junction, NSW 2022
Tel: +61 (2) 9028 5182 (outside Australia)
Tel: 1300 AAT KINGS (1300 228 546)

Blue Mountains


Jammie J. said...

Wow! What a wonderful adventure you had... great pictures (as usual).

oceanskies79 said...

Jammie: Thank you for sharing the journey and adventure with me, and for your nice compliments. :)