Friday morning, we packed up our bags (A. had acquired an outfit of opera clothes and some legos (his choice of souvenir), and I’d acquired a shiny new pair of ballet flats and another book (in addition to Bill Bryson’s Down Under, which is worth buying new in paperback, once I spied Bill McKibben’s Eaarth on the hostel’s book exchange shelf, it too was irresistible reading), so strategic packing and the toting of extra bags was necessary.
We’d spent four nights in a family room at the Rocks YHA, which I enthusiastically endorse. It’s built over an archaeological site, which you can look at as you walk down the open hallways.
We dropped all our linens and towels in the bin by the front desk, checked out, and walked into the brilliant sunshine of another gorgeous day.
We made our way down the hill to Circular Quay, where we took the tram to Central Station, then boarded the train for a 2-hour ride to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains.
The day we picked to hike was absolutely gorgeous.
The Three Sisters.
There were such interesting little flowers and plants to see, and all around us the birds swooped and sang. Well, not the cockatoos, which screeched in their peculiar hoarse and horrible way. But further in the dense forest, the beautiful bell birds chimed on and on. I just stood still with my eyes closed, and listened to the rustle of leaves and living bells. There weren’t very many people on the trails, just a few to say hi to and climb the 900 stairs of the grand staircase with. Every step stirred smells of sun-warmed rock and dirt, new grass, and the tiniest tang of eucalyptus leaves.
You know the 900 steps I mentioned? Climbing them brought us this view of the Three Sisters.
I really liked Katoomba, partly because they have an organic food co-op (hummus! baba ghanoush! carrots! snap peas! apples! people with smiles!) and an eco-friendly visitor’s center at the lookout, and partly because we lucked out with the weather—the next morning it dawned gray and rainy, with solid banks of fog. So we bid the Blue Mountains adieu and slid back to Sydney on the train once again.