We started off our trip into the Blue Mountains by taking a train to Springwood where we were staying with Deb Robinson and Graeme Atkins (Vancouver 2016). The Springwood train station is the oldest existing station in the Blue Mountains. Built in 1884, it is an example of Late Victorian architecture. Ok, I didn’t notice all that when we got off the train. I had to look it up.
Springwood, established in 1815, was so named because of its excellent spring water. Unfortunately, the growing population that resulted as the Blue Mountain area was developed, quickly depleted that water supply.
Deb and Graeme built a lovely home and were excellent hosts. We had met them while they were on exchange in 2016. Their home includes a chicken coop where Graeme discovered a python on the evening we arrived. That caused quite a bit of excitement as we stood around to take pictures while Graeme tried to move the snake along. Luckily that type is not very agressive, preferring to feast of rats than on chickens or people. But they are venemous, so we kept our distance.
While Graeme barbecued, 2 large cockatoos came out to feed in the yard and some king parrots flew around. He had to chase one of them out of his vegetable garden. Beautiful birds in Australia.
Today, Deb took us on a tour of the area. The goal was to visit the Three Sisters, see the view of Sydney from one of the lookouts and have lunch at the Hydro Majestic.
Our first stop was the lookout near Blackheath where we saw Bridal Veil Falls and a statue of Govett’s Leap. The legend goes that Govett was being chased by the police and leapt to his death, along with his horse. The truth is that Govett was a surveyor and when seeing the falls, he mentioned a “leap”, another word the Scottish use for falls.
While in this area, I mentioned I’d like to stop and look in the antique shop for a brooch for my daughter, which is what we did. I found a lovely piece at a reasonable price. Great momento!
We continued on to the Hydro Majestic. I thought it referred to a hydroelectric plant but realized that it was a health retreat where you could take water therapy. In fact the original owner was an eccentric gentleman who was a hypochondriac. Mark Foy built a lovely hotel and retreat in 1903 for people to enjoy the health benefits of water and sunshine. There was actually a sandy area that was created using the sand from Bondi Beach where patrons could sit and sun themselves. Today, the hotel was our destination for a nice lunch overlooking the valley below.
After lunch, we drove to the Three Sisters lookout. These are actually 3 rock columns that have stood in an area made of mostly sandstone. The reason they have not eroded as badly is their composition is higher in iron than the surrounding rocks.
The lookout was filled with tourist so we walked to a few of the many viewpoints at a slow pace. Getting an unencumbered view was difficult. There is a giant staircase that leads to a cave in one of the Sisters, but the wait time to go up and down the stairs was about 40 min. We took a few pictures and moved on.
As we drove to another viewpoint, Deb told us the legend of the Three Sisters. It seems there were two warring tribes and the men wanted to marry three sisters from one tribe. However, it was forbidden. They wanted to marry the ladies anyway, so one of the men turned the Sisters onto stone. But unfortunately, he died, so the Sisters could never be returned to human form again. I figure there weren’t too many children born of that union.
We finished off our tour with one last lookout, Sublime Lookout. This gave us a back view of the Sisters, but they were shadowed there, so the pictures were not as good.
We returned to our host’s home where Leon and I sat with a nice cup of tea while I researched the area we had just visited. This is what I read about the Blue Mountains:
After James Cook landed at Botany Bay, the area began to grow and it became necessary to find additional fertile land to feed the growing population. Several attempts were made to get over the Blue Mountains, which are actually high plateaus. Finally, in 1813, 3 explorers and their 4 servants managed to get to the last mountain, Mt. York, along their route to find the Hartley Valley below. It took them 18 days. Thereafter a road was built and eventually and railway, which is very much the one we took from Sydney to Springwood.
The Blue Mountains are so named because the eucalyptus trees let off a oil than when heated by the sun gives a blue tinge to the air. The plateaus do have several peaks the highest of which is Mt. Victoria at 1111 metres. The highest point of Mt. Victoria was also known as One Tree Hill.