No visit to Sydney is complete without a day trip to the nearby Blue Mountains.
Regarded as one of the best day trips on the East Coast of Australia, the beautiful, forested mountains are full of wildlife, history and mythology. I went out on the Blue Mountains Day Trip with Stray for an outstanding day, jam-packed with activities, an awesome guide, friendly bus buddies, and beautiful scenery.
A LITTLE ABOUT THE BLUE MOUNTAINS
I had heard of this mountain range before, but never thought to wonder how they got their name. It was one of the first things I learned on my Stray trip, and I was pleased to discover there is an actual reason for it – the mountains are covered with millions of eucalyptus trees, which produce oil into the atmosphere. These droplets of eucalyptus oil distort the light so that the entire mountain range appears under a blue haze.
We were picked up early by our bubbly guide Alex. I seriously don’t know where she gets her energy from at that time in the morning, but she was bouncing around and picked up the vibe of the whole bus. As we hit the road, Alex explained to us how the day would pan out, and each stop we would make.
BUT FIRST, COFFEE
We arrived at the tiny mountain town of Glenbrook for a coffee and a snack. Alex also bought our sandwiches here that would later be our lunch. It was cool knowing that we were helping a really small town’s economy (population around 5,000) by buying our food and coffee there, rather than in the bustling metropolis of Sydney. Not to mention the pastries at the local bakery were absolutely delectable. On the bus, Alex told us a bit about Aboriginal culture, and how historically, they passed on their wisdom and lessons through storytelling.
THE THREE SISTERS
Our first lookout of the day was the famous Three Sisters. We eagerly disembarked and raced down to the viewing platforms. You could hear a collective gasp when we laid our eyes on the prize. Our sisters did not disappoint.
After each of us got our “totally candid” shot admiring the views, we stopped off at the information centre and small art gallery selling Aboriginal art, before heading back to the bus.
THE JAMISON VALLEY
Our next stop took us to the viewpoint of the Jamison Valley. The whole Blue Mountains region is rich in history, and this valley is no exception. It is thought that the Gundungurra Aboriginal people resided here for over 50,000 years. Now that is mind blowing, and really gives you a feel for how ancient their culture is. More recently (basically yesterday in comparison), there are stories of Charles Darwin visiting the area, and being absolutely blown away by the views – and that is where the similarities between old Charlie and I start and finish. We took in the views of the valley, and then picked our jaws up from the floor to get back in the bus.
Finally we were ready for our big hike of the day – Stray makes no secret of the fact that they’re going to make you sweat, and we had some appropriate tunes on the way to the starting point. Armed with our sandwiches, we made our way down the steep track, through cliffside caves and down stone staircases. We learned about the native wildlife of the area (all murderous) and saw a bearded dragon sunbathing on the rocks.
We stopped at a lookout of the falls, before weaving our way down the valley, crossing the staggered falls several times before triumphantly landing beneath it. Everyone was so hot and sweaty at this point we were determined to take a dip – a determination that faded quickly after we stuck our toes in the ice-cold water. After struggling to capture the sheer size and magnificence of the scene on our phones, we sat down with our packed lunch.
Slowly it dawned upon us that in this situation, what goes down, must come up and we had a hell of a hike ahead of us. Slowly we gathered our willpower and set off up the track. I can tell you that you appreciate the views just as much on the way up, if only for a chance to stop and catch your breath. With a few wistful glances back to the Blue Mountains, we were back in the bus for our next adventure.
One thing I love about Australia is that the wildlife is so visible. There is no such thing as a shy kangaroo. In New Zealand you’d be lucky to ever see a wild kiwi (I still haven’t), but Australia is bursting with kangaroos and other national treasures. It definitely felt like we were heading off the beaten track on our way to Eureka Clearing.
Upon arriving, an eskie (Australian for cooler) magically appeared with cold beer, cider and soda in it. We picked our poison and set off for a wander among the trees. Within minutes we had spotted kangaroos, wallabies, cockatoos and kookaburras. Lizards were lazing in the sun while the roos cautiously ignored our approach. We managed to get pretty close to them for photos. At one moment I had a kangaroo, cockatoo and kookaburra all in my line of sight. Talk about showing off! Sulphur crested cockatoos are highly intelligent and social creatures, and yes please they would like some of your apple.
Finally we climbed aboard the bus for the last time, destination Sydney. Everyone slipped off into a doze on the ride back, heads full of the amazing scenes we had witnessed, phones full of kangaroo selfies. What a day!