Monday, October 14, 2013

Why Are They Blue?

A few week ago, when I was on break from school, I went on the train, with my friend, to the Blue Mountains.  It wasn't that far, but the train stopped at every station, so it took about 2 and a half hours.  We went through all the inner suburbs, then the outer ones, then it quickly changed to country, or what Australians call "bush."  I had heard that this area was beautiful and amazing, but I had been all over the U.S., to many amazing places, so I wasn't expecting much.  I just wanted a quiet place away from the chaos of the city for a few days.

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
We spent the next two and a half days trekking up and down and around the sides of this place.  It was cool in the shade of the trees, dripping with waterfalls, and smelling of eucalyptus and lemon myrtle trees that were in bloom.  We also walked around the neighborhoods, Leura, and the historic national trust gardens.  We walked about 5-6 hours a day.

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


  1. these are breath-taking photos Sheila~great writing. I want to go to those towns. Beautiful charming and a true hidden treasure of Australia!

  2. Shelia, thank you for writing and posting all these beautiful pictures---it feels like reading a travelogue , written by a very experienced world traveler and writer---I really enjoyed reading your descriptions and looking at these pictures---thanks again---love from Auntie E

  3. I would love to see those places but I know I couldn`t do all that walking so I will content myself with your great photos and written descriptions.

  4. So glad i stopped by and saw these magnificent photos, Sheila; It sounds and looks like a wonderful journey. Thanks for the tour!

  5. Thanks everyone! glad you liked it. I took about 300 pictures so I had to limit myself!