About 2 hours by train from Sydney lies Blue Mountains National Park. We walked downtown, got on the city light rail, then took a train to Katoomba. Luckily (and with the careful planning of Katelin), we sandwiched our visit in between rainy days. There were still puddles of water on many of the trails, and it could have been a cold and wet visit. But no worries! The weather was perfect, bordering on hot (when you are climbing up and down trails). We got tickets to a “hop on, hop off” bus, and took 3 hikes through eucalypt forests.
There were loads of people, but the crowds decreased dramatically the further you walked from the easily accessible sites. We found the bus drivers particularly helpful... they would get out of their seats to point you to the trailhead and remind you where to be picked up.
You could spend a lot of time here. I think it would be a blast to explore Blue Mountains National Park for 2-3 days. As it was, we saw a flock of sulphur-crested cockatoos, heard 2-3 kookaburras, took photos of some interesting plants, and saw some gorgeous scenery.
One of my “limitations” is that I am directionally-impaired. I can get lost easily, so I depend on maps and planning to get me from here to there. This trip, I had Caroline and Katelin as guides... at every trail intersection they were looking over the map to navigate. But one time, we were on a trail to a small waterfall that kept going down, and down. Then the trail, normally well-beaten with thousands of visitors, started getting narrower and narrower, with ferns hanging undisturbed over the track. Where the heck are we? My pulse quickens, but Kate and Caroline are confident they know where we are (at least that’s what they tell me). I try not to ask. We are in lyrebird country, and we walk in silence, listening for birds. Then we found ourselves under a big, fern-covered rock overhang. “Wow,” I said, “We sure seem to be far from everything.” They glared at me. On Google Maps, we were just in a big green area, with no trails. After a break of apple slices and water, we started walking again and... were on a road in about 10 minutes.
Well, it seemed more remote to me!
Back to the train, then off to Sydney. We came back in a “quiet car,” with no cell phone use, minimal speaking, and no loud headphones. It was nice... a nice transition of calmness between walking in the woods and the hustle and bustle of downtown Sydney at 6 PM.
Our walks totaled about 7 miles, but there were a LOT of steps going up and down. I thought my quads were in better shape! No cats observed in the forests, in Katoomba, at the train station, or in Sydney.