Waiting For The View

While the fog had lifted above the town of Katoomba the mist was still swirling around in the valley below. It was the third time in the last few days that we had stood at this point in the hope of catching the magnificent view of “The Three Sisters”, a rock formation in the Blue Mountains National Park. They were only a couple of hundred metres away but were still shrouded in dense mist. It was not going to be.  
After a wonderful week in Sydney it was time to collect the truck from the garage. The service had been completed but the garage had found some other issues that needed to be fixed. They had managed to fix some of these but for a couple they needed parts from Germany. As tempting as it was to hang around longer in Sydney while waiting for these we decided to push on and made arrangements to have the work done at a garage in Brisbane. The good news was that this work would be undertaken on warranty. Not bad timing since our warranty only had one more month to run.
We were headed to the Blue Mountains just outside Sydney. The park gets its name from the bluish hue that comes off all the gum trees. Whilst the route into the Blue Mountains is a well trodden tourist route, parts of the area is still an amazing wilderness area. It’s less than 100kms from the centre of Sydney as the crow flies but much of it is deep wilderness. People get lost there every year. We were looking forward to doing some hiking and enjoying the scenery and the views.  
It was a lovely day when we drove in and we found a quiet little camp spot in the woods for the evening. I say quiet. It was when we arrived, but as evening rolled in more and more people arrived. In fact there were so many vehicles there at the end we had to get someone up the next morning to move their car so we could get the truck out. The next morning the weather had also changed and there was a thick mist in the valley. As we drove up to Katoomba to see the views the mist turned into dense fog. We thought it would clear so decided to do school but it did not get any better and the forecast was not good. You couldn’t see anything from the viewpoint.
We then decided to head to Jenolan Caves. The most extensive cave complex in Australia. After all you did not need good weather to do a cave tour. We had been warned that the road down to the caves was extremely narrow and twisty however we knew that coaches drove down so thought we should be fine. However the coaches go down at a set time of day when they make the road one way only. We thought great, we will go down at the same time so went down when it was one way. We were glad we did. The road was very narrow at the end and we were glad we did not have to worry about other vehicles coming up. Right at the end we had to drive through a massive cave to get to the car park.

  
There were lots of caves to visit but other than an easy self guided tour they all could only be visited on a guided tour. We booked ourselves on the tour of Lucas Cave. It was an amazing cave that took us over an hour to walk through. There were lots of crystals and stalactites and stalagmites and some amazing large caverns. We were a little concerned Alisha and Lucy may not like it as they don’t like the dark but they absolutely loved it and were fine even when the guide switched all the lights out to show just how dark it was in the cave.

   
   
From there we headed deeper into the National Park and found a quiet camp spot for the night. The next morning the weather had improved so we drove to the end of the road to do a walk at Karanga Walls. We walked along the plateau of sandstone cliffs with wonderful views into the valley below and across to some waterfalls. From here you could really see the scale of the park and its wilderness. It was hard to believe we were only 80 kilometres from Sydney.

From there we headed deeper into the National Park and found a quiet camp spot for the night. The next morning the weather had improved so we drove to the end of the road to do a walk at Karanga Walls. We walked along the plateau of sandstone cliffs with wonderful views into the valley below and across to some waterfalls. From here you could really see the scale of the park and its wilderness. It was hard to believe we were only 80 kilometres from Sydney.

From there we headed deeper into the National Park and found a quiet camp spot for the night. The next morning the weather had improved so we drove to the end of the road to do a walk at Karanga Walls. We walked along the plateau of sandstone cliffs with wonderful views into the valley below and across to some waterfalls. From here you could really see the scale of the park and its wilderness. It was hard to believe we were only 80 kilometres from Sydney.

   
   
We decided to head back to Katoomba as we hoped with the better weather we would now be able to enjoy the views. On the way back we pulled down one of the many tracks in the forest to camp for the night.
The next morning the weather was looking ok but as we climbed up to Katoomba it got cloudier and cloudier until again it was foggy. We thought ok let’s have the kids do school and then it will clear. Well, it didn’t clear, instead it started to rain. When the girls had finished school the rain had lightened to drizzle but it was still misty.
Undeterred we still decided to do the cliff top walk. After all we have not used our Goretex jackets much recently. As we passed the Three Sisters viewpoint we still could not see anything. The walk took us right up to the side of one of the Three Sisters and whilst we could see the sheer sandstone wall in front of us we could not see its top. From there we descended the 900 steps down into the valley below. Of course having had to walk down after a few Kms in the valley floor we had to walk back up. It was a pleasant damp walk which I am sure would have been spectacular in better weather.

    

 We headed a few Kms out of Katoomba to some viewpoints facing down into the opposite valley. Here we were more lucky. Whilst it was not clear there was no mist so we could enjoy the fantastic views. We were going to leave the area but as we found somewhere to camp nearby decided to stay for an extra night in the hope the weather would be better in the morning.

   
 
We woke up to some sunshine so decided to head back to Katoomba. The weather was fine until we entered the town when the mist descended again. When we reached the viewpoint the mist had lifted above the town but was still swirling around in the valley just giving fleeting glimpses of the valley floor and those elusive Three Sisters.

  
This time it really was time to go. We headed along the road that connected the Blue Mountains to the Hunter Valley, another famous wine growing region. Along the way we camped at the Grey Gum cafe. The cafe is a well known stop on motorbike rides from Sydney but it closes at 5pm so it’s a quiet free night stop over. It opens early and as they had let us stay for free it only seemed polite to enjoy the huge full English breakfast on offer the next morning.
We headed to the uninspiring town of Cessnock which is at the heart of the Hunter Valley. As regular readers of our blog will know we have been doing a pretty comprehensive tour of the Australian wine regions. This was likely to be our last, heading North the weather would become more tropical, not conducive to making good wine so we were determined to enjoy it. The Hunter Valley is famous for its Semillion wine as well as its Shiraz. As our wine stocks were running low in the truck we thought it appropriate to do one final stock up. 
The plan was to spend the day driving between a number of vineyards. They are all located very close to one another so there was not much driving. Still with being the driver, Gilly again got to do most of the tasting. As it was likely to be our last wineries visit we felt we really needed to do it justice so we managed to visit four separate wineries. Fortunately for me the last one was right next to where we camped for the night so I could fully enjoy it. We also found time to visit a chocolate factory and “The Smelly Cheese Factory” where we picked up some wonderful cheese.

   
 
Fully stocked, it’s time to head for the beach.

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