192. The Blue Mountains

The camp at Richmond, in the grounds of the Richmond Club, proved an ideal base from which to explore the Blue Mountains.

Our first exploration took us through Kurrajong Heights with an old church and graveyard right beside the highway. Not my best photo, shot from a moving car. We intended to visit Kurrajong Village itself at a later date.

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We drove along Bell’s Line of Road, said to be the most scenic route into the mountains, climbing higher and higher to Bilpin where the guide books assured us there would be a multitude of roadside stalls. But it was late in the season and only apples were still available. This area supplied all the food to early Sydney.

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During the fruit growing season we’ve been told you can download an App called the Farm Gate Trail to help discover the best local produce.  A pity we did not pick a better time to visit!

Then on to the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens at Mt. Tomah. There was a weaving display there which I wanted to see.

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Young waratahs, not yet fully formed.

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Beautiful woven baskets using a variety of natural materials. Many years ago I did a weekend course in weaving and have never forgotten it.

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The view from the main information Centre was breathtaking. Millions of years ago the valley would have been an extensive sandstone plateau, then violent volcanic eruptions capped the hills with lava which hardened into basalt. Over time rivers then cut ever deeper gorges and canyons.

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The Information Centre was indeed informative: The blue haze that envelopes the mountains comes from oil vapours rising from the leaves of eucalypts below. There are more than 700 species of eucalypt in Australia.

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The Wollombi Pine was featured. (I first saw a single specimen some years ago in Armidale, where I was informed of its unique history):

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In the gardens was an unusual equatorial sundial, it reflects the basalt columns characteristic of the mountains, and was also inspired by the magnolia flower which has many features of the earliest flowering plants. P1140907

A little further on we took a side track….P1140910P1140912P1140915P1140918P1140919P1140920P1140921

Lunch time! So we stopped at this little cafe in Mt. Victoria, I did not catch the name but the food was superb.

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Mt. Victoria was the turning point for our Blue Mountains exploration. Autumn colours were just starting. P1140930

Govett’s leap beckoned…..  it’s actually a waterfall, not a place where someone called Govett jumped out into space.P1140931P1140933P1140935P1140940

We spotted this insane tourist trying to attract attention; I think she was with the people on the left, we were studiously ignoring her:P1140947

Still high up in the Blue Mountains but heading downhill very gradually, we came to fabled Katoomba, absolutely awash with tourists. When I was very young we used to take the train up to Katoomba for a holiday. I loved the place. The very air was different from that in coastal Sydney, so much fresher, brisker and definitely colder (!).

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Fighting our way through hordes of tourists, after having parked the Jeep ($4 for an hour) we finally reached the Three Sisters. The light was changing all the time.

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There are various legends but basically the three sisters were belonged to an aboriginal tribe which was at war with another tribe, and the witchdoctor changed them into pillars to protect them during the war, intending to return and change them back … but he was killed so the three sisters have remained imprisoned ever since, as nobody can un-cast the spell.SS

The tourists had eyes for nothing but the valley and the Sisters, but we soon spotted something else, lording it over the whole valley: a Grey Shrike-thrush, Colluricincla harmonica. At least that’s what I think it is.

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P1140963P1140964P1140966P1140969With dusk falling we headed back to Richmond down the fast highway.

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