2018 – Part 10 – Sightseeing around the Blue Mountains
After a delicious continental buffet breakfast, we were filled with energy so we walked to Echo Point. This is the most popular of stops along the Blue Mountains. Echo Point allows you to look south over the Blue Mountains, where the haze from the eucalyptus trees in the valley changes the colour to blue, giving the mountain range it’s name.
It’s a straight forward walk down the street to the lookout. I admit that the road was more hilly than I expected, however it certainly helped us get our exercise in for the day.
As we got closer to Echo Point, it was easy to look back to the town centre and see the Carrington Hotel perched on the top of the hill.
Blue Mountains & Echo Point
As the road converged to guide us to Echo Point we got our first glimpse of the view that awaited us. As I was drafting this post, I did have some difficulties selecting which pictures to share, as each seemed show the beauty of this area in its own way.
One item we spotted before we continued our walk to Echo Point is an alternate option of reaching the valley floor that doesn’t require significant effort. This attraction offered a funicular train to the valley floor along with a cable car to view the forest directly above it.
Here is an example of one of the paths that lead towards the valley. The signs states it’s a 100m to a lookout, and it connects with the Prince Henry Cliff Walk. The Cliff Walk can also be accessed at Echo Point and is a way to explore the Blue Mountains without traveling all the way down to the Valley Floor.
What bus tours miss
The setup for Echo Point is great for bus tours. It has an area for drop-off & pick-up that is less than a 5 minute walk to the edge to view the Blue Mountains and Three Sisters. However, if you make a short walk away from that, up to the public car park there is this Memorial.
We came across this memorial and there was a total of 5 other people in the park. This was in stark contrast to the hundreds of people just a few hundred feet away. Finding this park and memorial felt like a private park. The memorial, titled “The Road Builders Memorial” is to recognize the efforts of constructing the road from the western edges of Sydney through the mountains into the interior and the town of Bathurst. This was the route that we took to get to Katoomba, and will continue onward to Bathurst when we leave Katoomba.
This is the busiest lookout for the Blue Mountains. It is well connected and spotless. Beyond the rolling hill walk from the town, there is a taxi stand, bus stop and public parking. We arrived late in the morning and the crowds would surge with the arrival of every tour bus, however after a few minutes the crowds would move on to the next photogenic spot. For us, we just had to wait a few minutes and space at the railings to view the Mountains would quickly reappear. As this location is less than 2 hours away from Sydney there are many day tours offered to shuttle people from the city up to this lookout. As I didn’t look into where else the tour stops, so I cannot comment on if it’s a good option for those interested.
The view from the lookout was stunning. The weather was wonderful, and had warmed up sufficiently that we changed from our jeans into shorts to be comfortable.
The rock formation in the picture is the “Three Sisters”. For more details click here for the Wikipedia link. From the Prince Henry Cliff walk it is possible to walk to the rock formation closest to the cliff. From that location you can either return using the Prince Henry Cliff walk or walk the stairs down to the valley floor.
Information board on landmarks visible from the lookout:
Echo Point has an information center, complete with kiosk of items for sell, as well as public toilets.
One of the first things that stood out for us during our walk to Echo Point, the trees! We definitely do not have trees like this in North America. And in those trees was no shortage of Cockatoos. We learned quickly that Cockatoos in the wild make a lot of noise. Imagine a cranky toddler that wants both a nap and food at the same time and will condense their sound into one second. It’s a loud, and sharp piercing sound!
We didn’t attempt to climb down to the valley floor to explore all the plants that the Mountains hold. Instead we enjoyed our leisurely pace absorbing the views from the lookout before returning to the hotel to retrieve our vehicle to head to our lunch spot.
Teapot Museum & Tea!
Located in neighbouring Leura (approximately 10 km east of Katoomba) is a restaurant and museum that Amber wanted to check out, the Bygone Beautys Treasured Teapot Museum & Tearooms. We arrived and were excited until we read the fine print — in order to have High Tea served, guests have to call and reserve a minimum of one day ahead to ensure food and staff can be arranged. Although we were crestfallen and unable to have high tea we went through their menu and decided on lunch. I had a Pie with salad. The pie was filling, and little bit of potato salad was a nice touch to lunch.
The building is all-in-one. In order to get to the restaurant you do walk past a portion of the museum. After our meal we then strolled through the teapot museum. The museum is not the size of the Louvre, however each display case is jam packed with lots of teapots. They were of many different shapes, sizes and styles. I enjoyed looking for the unique teapots, such as this Humpty Dumpty teapot.
After our walk through the museum and gift shop we then headed to our next stop. The building is easy to find as it’s located at a corner, and having a rabbit coming out of a teapot in the front, the place is easy to spot.
Shop like a Local
Before we stopped at a second lookout, we went shopping! First up was groceries. The next portion of our trip was going to involve many days where we would be spending many hours in a car. During our trip we found out that there are essentially four choices for grocery stores in the country: Woolworth’s (typically called Woolies), Coles, IGA and Aldi. Woolies & Coles were setup like the typical grocery store, complete with large produce, meat and fresh bread sections. The one IGA we visited came across as a discount store, as the selection of fresh fruit, and produce available was less, and reminded us of No Frills back home. Finally is Aldi. This is the same Aldi that you see in Europe. These were the smallest stores, had many items but limited selection. Examples would be Tim-Tams, one flavour is available. Want a bag of pre-made salad? There were three kinds to select from, no difference in sizes. Amber and I went through the store looking for familiar items but also things that we don’t have in Canada:
Our visit to the grocery store got us stocked up on drinks, snacks, and Amber picked up items for a picnic lunch (fridge in the hotel room was a great help to pick up more items). We continued to act like a local by picking up a power bar. Yes! The power bar was to help minimize us having to look and search for power outlets in our hotel rooms, and it had enough space that we could plug in our universal adapters without issue. A bonus was that the bar came with 2 USB sockets.
Once we had everything we needed we stopped at another lookout before heading back to the hotel. From our second lookout, a neat “pick-up your trash” sign that featured a Wombat!