Helen & Nigel's Around The World trip 2013/14 travel blog

The Blue Mountain National Park

Looking into the rain forest

The three sisters rock formation

Nigel giving his walk briefing

A simple description of the walks

Heading down!

Helen at the three sisters bridge

The rain forest

A Lyre bird

Heading up!

Probably the steepest railway in the Southern Hemisphere

Heading to the ruined castle

The rain forest cliffs

A misty day in the rain forest

Heading up, again!

The two of us at the ruined castle

Hi everyone,

When we left you we had just seen in the New year and had a day tour of Sydney.

On Thursday 2nd January we left the lovely apartment and caught a train to Katoomba in the Blue mountains national park where we had booked into a youth hostel for the week.

Our plan was to place ourselves in a location where we could wake up our leg muscles before we head to Tasmania and commence our six day backpacking trek along the Overland track.

We arrived at the YHA hostel in Katoomba shortly before 2pm. It was another enormous building which had an Art Deco interior with an large open plan communal area. The only problem being that the room had a sprung floor (formally the dance floor - all you 'Strictly' fans will know all about this) and every time someone walked past you it was like a minor earthquake.

We headed into town and found lunch before we did the routine food shopping, planned our walk for the next day and chilled out.

On Friday we began bush walking in the Blue mountains national park.

We completed a variation of a popular bush walk called the "Three sisters round" which descends into a valley just over 2,000 feet and then followed the undulating valley floor through rain forest for a couple of hours to a rock formation that has three peaks. (Photo)

According to the local aborigine legend/story, the rocks represent three sisters who were turned to stone by a witch doctor for various reasons depending on which story your reading.

Our descent was quite misty but cleared as we approached the valley floor.

We then ascended the same height using 1,000 steep steps which were either metal ladders or carved out of stone.

After reaching the top the sun had burnt through the cloud and the temperature was rising so we headed back to the hostel and took the afternoon off.

During the rest of the week we followed a pattern of getting up early and walking until lunch time. This worked quite well, rising early, getting sole use of the hostel kitchen and getting out there before the temperatures soared. As all the walks involve walking down from Katoomba town and then down into the valley and rain forest. The end of each walk means we have to trek back up.

Every return up is long and either steep or very steep. There are 4 routes and we have completed them all - up and down, avoiding the draw of the scenic railway.

During our walks we have been hearing an incredible amount of bird song and also had several close encounters with Lyre birds which are a wild Peacock type bird, they make an incredible screech if you surprise them. (Photo).

We must mention the famous cliff side railway that we didn't use and is apparently the steepest railway in the Southern Hemisphere. (Photo)

We saved the hardest walk until Tuesday and headed to a rock formation called "The ruined castle" - not an actual castle.

It was a wet and misty day,the temperature had plummeted making it easier to walk and there were no flies!

When we arrived at the rocks we thought we would have them to ourselves but saw a little tent with a heavily bearded man crawling out. He looked a bit like the hermit in "The life of Brian" but with clothes on.

We introduced ourselves and imagine our surprise when we found the the man we were talking to was 1.English 2. Came from Richmond and 3.Worked in the Cotswold outdoor shop in Kingston. He kindly took a photograph of the two of us.

Nigel clambered to the top of the rocks but Helen being far more sensible stayed at a more sedate level.

We completed our 7 hour bush walk and celebrated our return to the hostel with pizza and red wine in the evening.

For anyone who likes statistics. During our stay in the Blue mountains we walked an average of 10km every day and descended and then ascended over 3,000 feet every day. This made a grand total over the 5 days of about 50km and 15,000 feet. The distance doesn't sound a lot but when you add the conditions under foot, the heat and the ascent it's more than your average stroll.

We found the afternoons were good times to plan our next adventure after our visit to Tasmania.

We will be flying from Hobart into Adelaide and then making our way to Melbourne where we will fly out of Australia. During the week and after several hours of Internet surfing we have made a plan.

It involves a day of wine tasting in the famous Barossa valley (including a visit to Jacobs Creek) hiring another car, mountain walking in The Grampians national park and taking our hire car along one of the worlds best drives - The Great Ocean road! (Nigel wants to hire an Audi TT but we will end up with a Toyota Yaris)

Tomorrow will be Thursday 9th January and we will be traveling back to Sydney by train to stay the night at a hotel near the airport and then catch our flight to Launceston in Tasmania.

This is where we will meet our trekking guides and the group for the Overland track.

For those eagerly awaiting the next instalment our next update will be from Tasmania after we return to civilisation and having had our first shower for a week - around Saturday 18th January.

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