On the morning of our drive to the Blue Mountains, I remember feeling sufficiently tired that I spent most of the journey asleep in the back passenger seat. I could say I feel a sense of regret for missing the sceneries of the Sydney outskirts and the splendour of its natural beauty laid for miles around; but were it not for that brief recess, I wouldn’t have had enough vigour to experience the living majesty of the Blue Mountains and beyond that would last the day.
Our journey started at Mercure Sydney where we collected our rental car from Europcar. Even though I fell asleep almost immediately as I stepped on board, it took us 2 hours to reach the Blue Mountains from Sydney. We did not do any intervening stops other than the one very close to Echo Point (where you’ll find the Three Sisters) in Katoomba, the centre of Blue Mountains. This was to be our first sight of the southern valley of the Blue Mountains. The shrubs and the densely forested surroundings could not obscure the magnificently picturesque valleys that laid beyond. The arresting scenery was even more amplified once we reached Echo Point.
A few steps off Echo Point is the main street which hosts the Lookout and Waradah Aboriginal Centre– a compact centre housing tourist information, souvenir shop, cafes and bars, Aboriginal art gallery and my favourite- the Aboriginal cultural performance. All my life, I had always wanted to learn more about, and possibly immerse myself in, the Aboriginal culture. A one day trip out in the Blue Mountains couldn’t possibly give this justice but I was nonetheless very grateful to be able to witness a glimpse of this ancient culture from the rich Aboriginal performance at Waradah. The cultural performance gave a wealthy narrative of the Aboriginal history; the origins and distinctive features of the many Aboriginal tribes across Australia including the dances, or Corroboree, unique to each tribe; the smoking ceremony; and the dreamtime story of the quintessentially Australian didgeridoo. If you are into history then this is definitely a must-do. At AUD20 per entry it is great value for money.
Our great escape did not end just then. After Waradah, we ventured further west of the Blue Mountains circumnavigating the national park to the north through Capertee Valley (purportedly the second largest canyon in the world- 1km wider than the Grand Canyon but not quite as deep) and Wollemi National Park before making our long way home to Sydney. A few times on the way we witnessed a large group of wild kangaroos either basking in the sun or hopping along/towards/away from our car. Throughout our stay in Australia we did not visit the Australian zoo or the wildlife park, so this magical encounter with the kangaroos (and wallabies at Wollemi) was deeply gratifying.
I loved everything about this day. The Blue Mountains, the trees, the valleys, the lands, the Aboriginals, the history, the tradition, the stories, the iconic animals, the parks, the sun, the sky, the moon and the stars we witnessed were all so extraordinary and enchanting. All this is what makes Australia, Australia but what touched me the most- what I felt was the most captivating for me- was the spirit that lives in it all. It is something that cannot be replicated elsewhere, something that is purely and uniquely Australia. It’s the spirit of the place, the history and the people that I’ll treasure forever.