Friday 25th April – ANZAC Day
It is just possible that I have found paradise in a country with more spectacular beaches than I have seen anywhere before.
I am writing this while watching the sunset over the bay at Palm Beach. I hadn’t intended coming out this way today but after such an early start my afternoon seemed to get delayed.
Today Lauren went home!
Her flight was at 6am which meant that we were up at 3! The big advantage to an airport run at that time of day is there was no traffic. I guess we were at the airport around 4.30 which meant there was only time to check in, have a hug and she was off through the barrier. It’s safe to say I have missed her today.
After I left the airport I headed back to the hotel via McDonald’s for breakfast. My intention was to have a rest and then head into Sydney. Those regular readers of my blog will be aware that often my plans don’t quite work out and today was no exception. Having had a cup of tea I thought I would lay down and have an hours sleep; I woke up at midday!
By the time I was finally with it enough to head out I decided a drive was probably a better idea and so headed to Palm Beach as I heard it was nice and not too far.
Palm Beach is on a peninsular with a calm protected bay on once side and the open sea on the other. Right on the headland is Barrenjoey Lighthouse which sits high up on the rocks with impressive views out on all sides. I tried walking all the way up but the climb, early start and lack of proper food defeated me. One for another day.
The path up the hill is being repaired but was generally made of the original sandstone used in the 1880’s when the lighthouse was built.
Part way up there were signs of an ever present danger our here; bush fires. The trunks of the trees were blackened from when a fire once went through.
The sand on the beaches both sides is soft and golden; absolutely stunning, but very hard to walk on as I found getting back to my ute.
It’s now 6pm and very dark. Lauren will be a couple of hours from Dubai I guess. Time to head back to the hotel.
During my journey home I had the radio on. After every few records there has been a small statement or reading about the campaigns during the wars, the battles at Gallipoli and the soldiers who paid the ultimate price; all in commemoration of Anzac Day. This is a huge day for the Australian nation. We could lean a thing or two for November 11th.
Saturday 26th April
As you look out over the valley it is very clear why these mountains were given their name. All round you the mountains are blue.
It is not that the rock is actually blue of course, but there is a haze which combined with the light provides the colour. I have no idea exactly why this phenomenon exists but the result is absolutely stunning.
The beauty of this national park is well hidden from the main roads; you get glimpses as you drive through but you need to head down the side roads and tracks to really see the mountains, rocks and valleys.
My first detour today was Pierces Pass. I saw the signs as I was heading towards Lithgow on the B59 and thought it was worth a stop. I am so glad I did. The car park was very close to the road, the walk out to the view point however was just over a kilometre and extremely steep and rocky in places. But without any doubt it was worth it.
Again today I saw signs of past forest fires, but what I also saw on this path was a fascinating glimpse of the regeneration process. Trees which had been burnt almost completely through their trunks had new growth. Green shoots coming from charcoal black timber. One tree in particular I noticed barely had enough wood at the base to hold up what was left, but new growth was flourishing towards the top of what was left.
The path out to Walls Lookout was steep and rocky, without doubt the most challenging of my day, but the views were magnificent and the sense of achievement made it all the better.
I have taken loads of photographs, some of which are included, but they can’t do justice to the magnificence and beauty of the place. The vast unspoilt valley floor covered in trees which, although huge, look no bigger than match sticks from the viewing point. There are ways down into the valley, an adventure for my next trip assuming I am lucky enough to come back, but it is easy to believe that you are looking out over a lost, uncharted, world. These mountains were first crossed by the British in the early 1800’s and it is thanks to the conservation work of the NSW National Parks Service that it is easy to image the excitement of those first explorers as you stand on the lookout points and view the landscape below.
I stopped at a number of viewing points as I drove around the park from the north down through to Katoomba via Blackheath and then east back to Sydney.
The wind formed caves near Anvil Rock Lookout were another highlight of the day. The cliff rock face has been eroded by the power of the wind to expose the rock and create unusual formations.
After my previous trip out to the Blue Mountains I purposefully avoided the principle tourist sites of the Three Sisters and Echo Point. In my opinion the beauty of this place needs to be experienced with the eyes and ears; with all the senses. To do this you need peace and quiet. All though at no point did I experience complete isolation today; generally I was sharing the view points and paths with others. When passing people on the walk out to Walls Lookout a few words of encouragement both ways was appreciated. But thankfully on only one occasion did the actions of others affect my experience. For reasons known only to themselves two family’s travelling together found it necessary to shout at people only a few feet away. Unfortunately the parents were even louder than their children. What I don’t understand is what you can take from such stunning locations when you ignore one of their most special features; silence. I guess as a solo traveller this is not something I will ever get my head round.
Sunday 27th April
It’s very easy to forget when the sun is shining and the temperature is high, that this is autumn here in Australia. Yesterday while in the mountains I felt chilly a few times; today it’s been drizzling all day, sometimes heavy rain. Although the gloom almost had me staying on the sofa in front of the telly, I did venture out for a drive and some fresh air.
First I headed to Spit Bridge, parked up and had a look at some boats I wouldn’t be able to afford in a million years. The guy in the showroom pointed out a very nice one for $27k, then I saw something almost perfect; I would be able to live on it! Only $127,000. A bargain! However that was for only a 10% stake.
From there I have headed back alone the coast towards Palm Beach. Right now I am parked at Whale Beach watching the surfers. It’s amazing just how much time they spend waiting for a wave.
So that was my weekend. Only one more left before I head home.