Thursday, April 19, 2007

Blue Mountains

Big day yesterday. So handily broke into headings.

Road Trip

Yesterday was a tourist day and a visit to the Blue Mountains.

Nick from Canada, whom I met on the first night, had bought a car for A$1000 and was eager to try it out despite it having 246,786 kms on the clock and a dodgy radiator.

By 9.30 he had managed to recruit enough people to fill his 42nd hand Ford Falcon station wagon.

Trip didn't start well. We took a wrong turning out of the hostel and sent ourselves on a huge one-way circuit of Central Sydney. For the first 20 minutes of the journey the conversation went like this:

We need to go left somehow

No. Right

But this is one way.

Take this left

This one? (Nick's brakes heavily)

No. Not this one sorry. The next one.

Yeah. But we need to head South.

We are heading South.

Who's got the map?

The map's wrong

No. We can go West if we make a turn here

But thats one way

No it isn't. Or is it? Is that light green?

Can't tell

Haven't we passed that kebab shop once already?

Etc etc ad nauseum

But once we had navigated George St (the Oxford St of Sydney), we found the straight road out of town. The rest of the trip passed fairly smoothly apart from the bit where Nick met a roundabout.

What the fuck is this, man?

It's a roundabout. Don't you have them in Toronto? You have to give way to traffic from the right.

What does that mean, "give way?"

It's your right of way

What? Aaargh!

All this took place as we were careering round the roundabout. I think in Toronto they refer to it as "yielding".

Climb Every Mountain

We reached Katoomba and Echo Point in about an hour and a half. Straight away the mountains loomed. The only way to describe it is as a more grassy, Aussie version of The Grand Canyon. It's fantastic.

What you get when you're there, and what you DON'T get from these photos is the sense of depth. When you peer over the rail the drop is unfathomably huge. Is it 100ft or 1000 ft? How far away are those peaks? 20 miles? 40 miles? How tall are those trees?

Everything is just so...well.....huge.

To the left of the valley were the Three Sisters, three totem polls of rock which can be reached by a very steep metal staircase to its base.

When I reached the bottom I saw a fat American tourist in a bit of a mess. Stupidly he had ventured down to the bottom and was now clearly looking at the almost ladder-like steps back up to the top and thinking " erm....okay....there isn't an elevator is there?"

Love Train

The Blue Mountains is home to the world's steepest train.

They're not kidding. Think about how steep a train could be. Nope. You're not even close. It's nearly vertical.

The train itself is more of a series of oversized shopping trolleys attached by a system of pulleys and counterweights. You start horizontal before surging over a precipice and down into a tunnel through the rock. It's not really a rollercoaster, but it's close.

I did take some photographs but due to an optical illusion, it doesn't look steep at all. Trust me this thing is steeper than the price of a coffee and a flapjack on a Virgin Pendelino.


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