When we got off the train in the town called Katoomba, immediately, the station was cute, the town was cute, the weather was perfect, it was quiet and there were not a lot of people. Then we noticed a few trees in bloom which was a plus. Then we walked to our hotel, an old Inn style place with potential to be musty and rundown. It was adorable, spotlessly clean, quiet, and situated on a hilltop with sweeping views! We were so pleased with ourselves and we hadn't even seen what we came there for - the mountains and the flowers.
We had no real schedule and we were both on the same wavelength so we just wandered down the streets, through the town and neighborhoods, down towards the visitor center in the park. We were stopping every other minute to take photos of cute buildings or gorgeous flowers. We were overwhelmed by the number and the quality of the gardens in the area. It seemed every single house and street was groomed for Better Homes and Gardens. (The next day we were in the neighboring town called Leura, and we realized that Katoomba, despite its charm, is the poor step-sister to the perfect Leura! It was ridiculously cute.)
|Seriously, this is a private home|
|this is the neighbor|
|a typical house in Leura|
|Leura main street|
As we approached the end of the road, I saw a huge parking lot and visitor center, busses and loads of people, and I realized this was not just a regional park. I also realized that the Blue Mountains were not mountains. They are what we would call mesas and the park was, in fact, a huge canyon! I could not believe my eyes. I felt like I was suddenly transported back to the Southwestern U.S. The only difference was that this canyon was lush, surrounded by flowers, filled with eucalyptus trees and ferns, and echoing with the cries of swarms of huge, brilliantly white, cockatoos.
|The shells of cicadas were everywhere and the newly morphed bugs were around too|
|Waratahs - the flower of New South Wales super cool looking|
|The Blue "Mountains" view from the rim|
|Blue "Mountains" with Three Sisters rock formation and Me and Aude|
|cockatoo in flight over the canyon|
|a face in the rocks|
|In the Bush looking across to the 3 sisters|
|how many cockatoos can you count?|
|luckily, Aude had more ambition and a better sense of direction than I did or we would have either never gone or died lost at the bottom somewhere!|
I am attaching a lot of photos because words aren't enough to convey the magical, natural beauty of this place. I hope they help you get a sense of it. While I was there I kept thinking of all the friends and family that would love to see this if they could. September seems to be the perfect time in case anyone is interested.
I noticed when I got home and looked at my photos that they seemed out of focus, even though they were not. I realized that it must be the haze. The bus driver on the bus we took to the garden, told us that the reason they are called blue mountains is because all of the eucalyptus trees give off a fine mist of oil that creates a haze that refracts the light and makes them look blue. I photoshopped it out of most of my pictures so they would show the details clearly. They are definitely not named Blue Mountains for the mood they produce. If it was an adjective describing mood they would be Pink, or Yellow, or Rainbow Mountains.
|seriously, a pink tree|
|wall of azalea|
|The delicious smelling lemon myrtle|
|for my darling Valerie Violet|