Our second day in Australia, we took a two-hour train from Sydney west into the Blue Mountains National Park which separates the heavily populated eastern coast with the dry and desolate Outback.
Our train stopped at Katoomba, an interesting counter-culture community. Katoomba’s main street was lined with cafe’s, coffee shops, antique shops, arts and crafts stores, organic food markets with flavors of alternative life styles. It reminded us of Eureka in Humboldt County, CA where everything looks out of the ’60’s. But with gelaterias and bakeries.
We passed on the expensive bus tour around the Blue Mountains and walked a mile down a hill through residential neighborhoods to Echo Point, a lookout over the canyons with mountain ridges in the distance in a hazy blue shroud.
Three Sisters rock formation at Echo Point is the Blue Mountains most prominent geological feature. The three towering rock formations are the subject of aboriginal legends, one about three maidens captured by a rival tribe who were transformed into rock formations when their tribe was defeated.
After viewing the canyons and Three Sisters, we took a three-hour hike along the canyon’s steep rocky walls. The vegetation was semi tropical with gum and eucalyptus trees, vines and ferns, and streams trickling down the hills into the canyons. Colorful small parrots and white cockatoos flew across the canyon, squawking like noisy children.
We stopped at several viewpoints to look across the canyon and the thick canopy of trees below. One misstep . . . you’d plunge a couple hundred feet into the trees.
We met few hikers along the dirt trail, enjoying the quiet, interrupted by squawking of cockatoos and parrots and the rustle of leaves in gentle breezes. The mountain air was refreshing, with a hint of minty resin from the gum and eucalyptus trees.
Our destination was Leura about five kilometers from Katoomba. Leura is a more upscale community with modern homes, landscaped gardens, shaded walks, and two blocks of retails stores and arts and crafts shops. But only two cafes, both French, with eye-popping prices; $18 for soup and $95 for Chateaubriand.
We ended up at a British style hotel pub looking over Leura and had excellent dinners of veal schnitzel burger and prawns in marinara sauce for about $50. Just what two tired and hungry hikers need before getting on the train back to Sydney.
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Next: Sydney Opera House
As many of you know, I also write mysteries and romantic suspense novels.
I recently published my first international thriller, Thirteen Days in Milan, which is available on Kindle as well as other ereaders, tablets, and smartphones.
I’m back in Europe for the summer to hire a translator and to research my next book which will also be a thriller based in Milan. I’ll be posting along the way from Milan, Stresa, Zurich and other locations.
I have a few posts on another blog, Anatomy of a Thriller, where I write about the process of researching and writing an international thriller. I’ll add more posts there as well.
Please share these links with writers or readers who might be interested.