We are in NSW! On an adventure of discovery, checking out hiking trails we have never done before. This trip it’s the girls taking on the challenge, (we left the boys at home). We are hiking, camping, meeting new people and enjoying new surrounds.
Day one and we are on a high! 😜
Having last slept over 30 hr ago and going strong. 💪💪 We did the midnight horror from Perth to Sydney, with great expectation we would sleep the 4 hrs on the plane. 😝 yeah like that was really going to happen. Then the train ride up to the gorgeous Blue Mountains! That’s cool we will have a chill day before hitting the trail in the morning. Mmmm nope, running on coffee and jelly beans (a few beers as well 😳 ssshhh) we kept on going and going and have had the most incredible day.
On arrival at our accommodation we were told it’s too early for check in 😢 so we were recommended a great place for coffee and breakfast. Oh yeah Thunderbird’s a go! Thunderbird’s is the name and a go go we went. So yummy and great coffee. We then had to walk off all the food we consumed, (and it was a lot) so we walk the few km’s out to Echo Point to see the famous Three Sisters!
On walking there we met a white horse that we saw again later though it by then turned into a unicorn (no not smoking silly stuff) and while admiring the cutest house on the street an old man appears and told us it was the first house he lived in in the 1930’s! Then we continue down and Wow I have seen photos but nothing compares to what we are seeing before our eyes. We, like all the other tourists, ooohed and arrrhed and took a million photos as well as the classic selfies.
We spent the rest of the day exploring the area, took 2 cable cars as well as the steepest tram ride ever.
We were serenaded by a man playing the most beautiful piece of music on his violin while we stood and looked at one of the worlds most amazing scenery.
To end we sat in a terraced bar with a beer (and more food).
The evening after rearranging our packs ready for tomorrow we went back into town and discovered the quaintest restaurant where we had even better coffee and cake for dinner. Now bed and sweet dreams for a new discovery tomorrow.
Day 2 and the start of the Six Foot Track.
Today we begin the new trail and we are pretty pumped and ready to go. It takes a while to get to the start of the trail as it is about 3km out of Katoomba at the famous Explorers Tree in the Bonnie Doon Reserve, just along side the Great Western Highway.
This tree is named the Explorers tree as found carved into the tree are the names of 3 great Australian explorers Wentworth, Blaxland and Lawson back from 1813 when they were exploring the crossing of the Blue Mountains.
From there we headed our way down to ‘Nellies Glen’ and this is where the hard work begins. We went down, down and right on down, through the rain-forest and into the gully of the Glen. Awe inspiring scenery, bloody hard going and hot as hell. It descended hard and steep and this made for very slow going along with the odd swear word and AWWWW moment. We finally made it down safely though we weren’t really talking a whole lot to each other at that point.
From there the surrounds changed and we met a few horses, many wallabies and birds at the old Megalong Village Site. Looking back every now and then to where we came from the scenery was just incredible with the classic Blue Mountain Cliffs standing in all her glory. Simply stunning.
We crossed paddocks and yes there were cows! If you have ever followed my other journeys you would know that cows and I, well let’s say I’m not entirely comfortable being that up close and friendly. For some reason they have to stand on the trail, really! when they have the whole paddock but no, they stand right where I want to go!
We successfully got through but now the heat was really draining us and the walk is not a stroll in the park, we have walked through some varied terrain all day from rain forests, paddocks, back country dirt roads, forests, and a fair bit of down followed by steep ups.
The last part of the walk today was to cross over the Coxs River. This is a stunning river with big granite rocks everywhere smoothed off by the fast flow of the water, surrounded by the beautiful eucalyptus trees which all frames the infamous ‘Bowtell’s Swing Bridge’. I have not been looking forward to this bit as I honestly have a huge fear of the height and swing movement but today I was feeling strong and ready to tackle it head on.
Standing there looking up I send Michelle J on first to see how she goes and hats off to her she did it great! A little over 4 mins and she was on the other side. My turn. 😬😬Cautiously I walk up the side to the top and crap, it is very narrow and made of chicken wire! It’s long too! Real long! Deep breath and I step onto it and omg its wobblier than I thought. MJ singing out across the river encouraging me I start walking one very slow step at a time. About one quarter in and I freeze, I don’t like this fff#*ing bridge one bit. I’m scanning the river below planning how can I cross it as I need to get off the bloody thing but I can’t move. MJ sees I’m frozen and starts to convince me its all OK but meanwhile she was thinking that she might need to come get me, but nope with every swear word and lots of tears I edged my way forward slowly. Nearly 8 mins and I made it! As I’m getting off I said to MJ I need a bloody Beer! Omg it was hard and scary but I did it! Would I do it again? Nope.
As luck had it right before the Coxs River Campsite was an Eco Lodge and it had beer! That’s it, bugger camping, tonight beer wins. 😝🍺
We were welcomed by Pavel who owns the Eco Lodge and yes he had beer. The lodge has two bunk houses and accommodates up to 28 people but tonight it was just two. This lodge is a real Eco place with solar power, rain water and 💩🙊 composting toilet along with each cabin having a log burner and couch for that home comfort feel. So much I could write about this wonderful place but I will suggest you check out their website @ www.6FTTRACKLODGE.COM.
Long, long day and two very weary hikers, after hot meal and chat around the campfire we say Goodnight. 🌙
Day 3 and second day on the Six Foot Track.
New day with new discoveries ahead. Waking in peaceful surroundings of the mountain lodge with a heavy mist hanging in the air. The sounds of early risers chirping and singing, a local kangaroo comes up to say hello, all wonderful ways to wake up. A very restful sleep and now yummy scrambled eggs and coffee before we hit the trail.
Today will be UP UP UP and oh yeah Up. They weren’t wrong on that, well at least for the first half of the day. We began a long slow ascent up the mountains as today we were to climb to 1200m to reach the Black Range campsite.
As we climbed higher the surrounds changed with the stunning colours showing through of the Mountain Ash trees standing ever so still in the misty air. Saw a lot of wild Cows! I can’t escape cows can I. 😝😝 . Loads of wallabies and kangaroos to be seen but still no echidnas yet 😔
There were a few picturesque river crossings with ferns and granite rocks, then arriving at the campground with the misty rain coming down we were greeted by a troupe of Wallabies. All is good and now it is time to rest the weary legs and road test the new tents.
Day 4 and the final day on the 6’Track.
We awake, the air is thick with fog, that real distinctive fresh smell of the Aussie bush fill your nostrils. Birds, as always, singing their morning songs though I was surprised we weren’t greeted again by the wallabies. Nothing beats an early morning in the bush, to sit and eat your scrambled eggs, drink the fresh brew of coffee while quietly taking in the peaceful surrounds and the Blue Mountains is not disappointing us one bit.
Back on the trail and we have the last push to get to the Jenolan Caves which is the final end point. Not a huge walk today which is great as the weather is changing for the worse. Our mission today while walking is to find an echidna, all the hiking I’ve done in my life I have wanted to see an echidna and never been fortunate to. Fortune again was not on my side 😥 maybe next time.
Walking the whole way through misty rain and the low cloud just lingering through the Australian bush I couldn’t help feeling we were walking into a Frederick McCubbin painting. Expecting anytime now to come across the bushman tending to his brew on the fire or the pioneer woman just sitting and resting. As an artist and a lover of McCubbin’s work this felt inspiring.
Before long the trail starts the descent down to the caves and thankfully it’s not as steep as the first days descent and to spy the caves every now and then through the trees was exciting as we stared to plan what we wanted for lunch. Burger and a cold Beer!
Arriving at the bottom I felt like I was back in one of the ski villages in Europe. Very European look and quaint. Beer and burger were good! 😝🍺🍔.
We had also met a Frenchman out on the trail who walked in a bit behind us and joined us for our celebration drink, this trail is MJ’s first end to ender of any trail 😄👏👏👏. Will she do it again? Well we will soon find out as we are soon heading off to the next part of our Discovering NSW.
Happy hiking. 👣👣👣
Day 5. Travel day.
We head out of Katoomba today to the southern suburbs of Sydney but not before one last breakfast at Thunderbird’s and another explore of this lovely village.
When you have to line up to wait for a cafe to open then you know it’s good and my word this guy knows how to do a great breakfast. Thunderbird’s is a quirky Mexican place so we had a cooked breakfast with a Mexican flavour, and of course amazing coffee. ☕ After MJ found a great place for a Thai massage so she is a very happy girl.
If you haven’t been to Katoomba before then I will try to describe it, a lot of the buildings are a combination of Art Deco and weatherboard with picket fences so it shows the different times that this place was developed. The gardens are all lush and full of green with the autumn colours starting to appear. I would imagine in another month a lot of the green will be reds, browns, ochre’s and yellows.
The central part of town is the typical one Main Street littered with endless coffee shops and Antique stores as well as a number of outdoor stores. The atmosphere is warm and friendly without the “touristy” feel. As for accommodation there is endless B&B’s, a couple of Youth hostels as well as hotels. I was surprised at the large amount of accommodation there actually was.
We dragged ourselves away from Katoomba promising we will return as there are still another 63 or so trails in the area I’m yet to explore. 👣👣👣
On the train and an 1 1/2 later we arrive in Sydney central. Wow a culture shock! Always is when you are out in the peace of the bush trail then next thing the hassle and bustle of a busy city. Two extremely different worlds and you know which one I prefer.
A quick swap of trains and we are heading to Cronulla for the night. We booked an Abnb (first for that) when we arrive at the time we arranged, no one! I ring and he was late as he is heading down from the Blue Mountains! Ha so did we and we made it, to kill time we go for food. 2 hrs later he shows up but with other people who are staying in the small 2 bedroom shoe-box apartment with one bathroom. So that is 6 of us. Not happy Jan!
Now it’s after 7 pm and we just want to crash as we have more hiking in the morning so we suck it up, lights out see you tomorrow. 🌙🌙
Day 6 and the start of new adventures.
Today we got up and out quicker than we have done yet. This was not the best place to stay but it’s done and now time to get a hearty breakfast, catch a few trains, a tram then hit the trail.
We are heading off to the Royal National Park so from Loftus Station at the Tram Museum we catch one of the historic trams into the park then hike the Uloola Trail to Uloola Falls were we will be camping the night.
We pick up the trail at the Audley Dance Hall where it starts with, you guessed it, up up up and more up! This trail is 11kms (the campsite is about halfway) with many rocky outcrops which they call “whaleback” as they are shaped like the backs of the whales when they surface. On one of these “whaleback’s” you can see the views all the way back to the city! I could see Sydney Tower!
You also walk through a lot of heath land and woodlands, this is quite over grown so you feel as though you are really having to bush bash your way through. Lots of birds dancing around and they say there is over 700 different species of flowering plants, spring time would be just amazing!
As you approach the falls you can hear the distinctive sound of running water. You never know when heading out to places like this if the waterfall is going to be flowing or not especially just after summer. We weren’t disappointed, not a lot of water but enough for me to jump in and splash around. MJ just sat with her feet in saying I’m mad as the water was cold ❄❄
Found a great place to pitch the tents right beside one of the ponds with a little waterfall going into it. Absolutely magical! It’s places like this that just make me love the bush so much more. This is nature giving us her beauty to enjoy and energy to soak in.
We sit and eat dinner on the granite rock beside the pond enjoying the last of the warm rays the sun was giving and as it grew dark we pull out the head torches to the biggest surprise of the day, there are marron! Some are big! Looking at us with their bright fluro orange eyes and huge nippers! Now that I didn’t expect or even think of being in the water. We spend the rest of the night being entertained by these fellers.
Time now for the end of another day, we crawl into our tents and sleep before the next part of our adventure. Night. 🌙
Day 7 time to leave the bush.
Today we take our time and not rush to pack up the tents, when we do we have chosen to change the trail and take the Karloo Track out as we heard that the Karloo pools were worth a visit and swim.
This track is considered hard and I could see why, it has a lot of ups and rocky outcrops to climb over then a huge down as we head into the pools.
For me it was worth the effort as I got to jump in to the crystal clear water and have a swim, and boy it was freezing! ❄❄but rewarding. The pools were quite deep and surrounded by large rock platforms so you can jump in off the rocks and have a great swim.
As it’s school holidays there were a lot of kids and teenagers having a great time, it is good to see them out exploring their natural environment instead of staying home and getting stuck with their computers, i Pads etc. Some were even curious to what MJ and I were doing as we had appeared out of the bush with our full backpacks and surprised we had camped. Hopefully inspired a few young ones to give it a go. ⛺⛺
The pools are approximately 2 1/2 Km in from Heathcote train station. Great spot for people to come and explore though we were watching some of the parents taking their toddlers in I couldn’t help thinking they were mad as I don’t think I would want to carry a tired toddler back up the rocky hill at the end of the day. The track out was very steep at points and narrow with cliffs on the side.
I would imagine Spring time this trail would be amazing as there is an abundant of different natives. No animals though I did see signs of wallabies and the usual lizard running past. Again on one of the whale back rocks you get a great view of Sydney sitting peacefully in the distance.
Once we were out of the Royal National Park and in Heathcote we headed for the city and for the next stage of our journey on Discovering Sydney. 🚉🌃
Day 8 We hit the city!
We have arrived in the City (Sydney) but this is certainly not the end of our Discovering NSW, in fact this is the next part of our journey. We have Discovered the Blue Mountains, the bush of the Royal National Park now we will discover the wilds of the urban walks that this incredible city has to offer.
First day in a new city after being out bush is always hard as you are trying the ground yourself while also pick up the fast pace that a city can throw at you. Lucky for us we both have been to Sydney before so it’s not completely daunting to us.
We settle into our accommodation which is located perfectly in the city close to everything and after the morning of clothes washing (cause our clothes really stink) then catch up with family to let them know we are still kicking we start our plan of walks.
Sydney is such an iconic city. Go anywhere in the world and people ask where are you from, you say Australia, they say oh yeah Sydney! The Bridge! They tend to not realise there are other states and cities in Australia. Who can blame them for a big city it is actually very beautiful and I’m not just talking about the Bridge or the Opera House (they are magnificent) I’m talking about the surrounds like ‘The Rocks’, the ‘Royal Botanical Gardens’, ‘Hyde Park’, ‘Observation Hill Park’, ‘Barangaroo Reserve’ and then you have the surrounding areas like ‘Bradley’s Head’ and ‘Chowder Head’. You also have ‘Sydney Harbour National Park’, ‘Manly Beach’, ‘Watson’s Bay’, ‘Bondi Beach’ and the list just goes on and on.
Today we decided to check out the Barangaroo Reserve Walk. This is a great inner City walk that gives you great views of the harbour and the convenience of the city as there are endless coffee stops and places to eat. The walk takes you around alcoves on the ‘Wulugul Walk’ with beautiful sandstone terraced native gardens and access paths to lead you up the ‘Stargazer Lawn’. It will take you approximately 1.5 hr to walk your way around, longer if you want to just chill and sit at one of the many areas along the way. You can find this walk easily enough from Circular Quay, Darling Harbour or the Wynyard Station.
This is one of Sydney’s renewal projects where they have reclaimed the industrial land of the past and now developing it to a more usable space with gardens and pathways throughout. This walk is still under construction and they hope to be finished by 2019. There is also an App for this self guided walk called ‘The Road to Barangaroo’ Check out www.sydney.com and get more information or www.barangaroo.com.
Now we finished our walking discovery for the day it night time at the Rocks!
Day 9 We discover some Urban Walks.
While here in Sydney we are discovering what urban walks are here. As in any city you don’t have to travel far to discover the beauty and peace of your surrounds you just have to explore and you will find.
Exploring is what we are doing and like anything the more you look the more you find! 🔍 Our only problem is where to begin! We only have a few days left and Sydney has so many places to explore that are easy to get to by train, bus or ferry.
One walk I have always had on my radar has been the cliff top walk from Taronga Zoo to Balmoral. We caught the quick ferry ride over to the zoo where we pick up the start of this trail. This walk is predominantly through Sydney National Park.
You walk are the cliff on mostly paved path with stunning views constantly sneaking through of Sydney Harbour and the different bays you walk around like Taylor’s Bay and Chowders Bay.
The walk all up is approx 7.5 km and takes as long as you want it to as there are plenty of cafes and rest spots along the way. You will walk through some quite tropical rain-forest parts as well as some native bush lands and keep an eye out for the local bush Turkey, dragon lizards and abundance of native birds including the funny kookaburras.
Finish this great walk at Balmoral which is a great family beach front community and have a swim then relax with the best fish and chips from ‘Bottom of the Harbour’ fish and chip shop.
Day 10 More Urban Walks.
Today we decide to explore from Watson’s near the heads of Sydney Harbour and head south on the Coastal Cliff Walk to the famous Bondi Beach .
The weather is not on our favour and is choosing to give us intermittent rain. We will not be put off though and hope that it’s just morning passing showers.
I have to say I am very impressed with what Sydney has to offer in Urban Walks. The cliff walk is very spectacular and dramatic with the ocean crashing thunderously against the rock face. You stand and just get mesmerised by the swirling waters below.
There is and abundance of sea birds darting in and out of the crevices that have formed over time. On the rock platforms you can see the very keen, perhaps crazy, fishermen that have braved the climb down the side of the cliffs in order to get their catch.
This walk to Bondi from Watson’s Bay is great with boardwalks placed in areas to protect the land below as well as make it easier to walk along the cliff side. A few times you leave the cliff briefly to walk around private homes, (lucky buggers, great location) but soon enough you are back on track .
Once at Bondi Beach there are plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants to choose from to have lunch. If you want to stop walking here there are plenty of buses to get you back to the city is not you can just keep on going.
Day 11 Time for one more discovery.
Today we leave NSW to return to our normal lives and the reality of family and work. This journey has been amazing to experience especially as this is the place I was born and a place MJ had lived briefly in her younger years. We both had never explored NSW in this way before so we have seen it in a very different light. I feel a lot more connected with this place now and am honoured to have been able to come and explore NSW’s incredible land.
We have time before flying to experience one last part of NSW and this was to explore her beautiful Botanical Gardens right in the heart of the city.
When walking in I read a sign and it says
“Relax. Contemplate. Discover. Enjoy! Walk on the grass, touch the trees, smell the flowers and listen to the birds. Connect with the natural world and indulge your passion for plants”
That is exactly what I did and what we all should do the same, especially if you live and work in a fast pace, high energy society like a city! We all should take a moment and step out of that world and into the world of nature, where the air is clear, the brain is charged and the body is revitalised.
I hope this journey as well as all our journeys have inspired some of you to step away from your everyday life for that brief moment and explore, discover what is around you. Take a day, half day, a week whatever you can spare and go make your own Discoveries!
See you out there! 👣👣👣
Happy Walking 👣👣👣