After five nights in Sydney, we decided we’d take a car and drive up to the beautiful Blue Mountains, then take a road less-travelled and make our way up the coast a little to Newcastle. No longer held hostage by torrential rain, we still had a mixed bag of sun, clouds and some rain.
One of the highlights of the trip so far, the views are actually more like looking down into a canyon from various points around the top. There are several lookouts and lots of hikes you can do, but since we only drove up for one night in Katoomba, we only did one hike down to Wentworth Falls, and drove around to various viewpoints.
In addition to Wentworth Falls, we hit Evans Lookout, Govett’s Leap and toured through the towns of Leura and Blackheath, before ending in Katoomba with Echo Point and the Three Sisters. Below is a mix of views in roughly the order we hit them. Honestly, though, with so many things of such beauty I can’t honestly remember where every one of them was.
Katoomba was our first experience with a hostel on this trip and it wasn’t too bad. The Blue Mountains YHA is an older building, but we had a functional shower and a very quiet stay, so it gets a good grade. In general, all the towns in the area are kind of hippy by nature. Finding good vegan grub throughout the area wasn’t a problem at all. Evans Lookout provided great views the Three Sisters.
To head up the coast from Katoomba, you can either drive most of the way back into Sydney then up a busy motorway, or take a more scenic, slower route to view wildlife and avoid traffic. We opted for the latter, but as you can see below, the evidence of bushfires was very strong, while most wildlife was nowhere to be found. There are signs of rebirth in the trees, but the devastation in this area was clear. We found a very odd long-abandoned gas station with metal statues out front, too.
As with Katoomba, we only had one night here before driving back to Sydney, so running or heavy exploration really weren’t possible. Newcastle is about two hours north of Sydney and blessed with too much beach, like everywhere in the area. It’s a city currently being reborn a bit with posh hotels, touristy shopping and eating, while still boasting the biggest coal exporting port in the world. We stayed close to the city centre and avoided the coal. I wish I’d had the time to do a run around the peninsula covering all the beautiful waterfront the place has. We did, however, take the cool Memorial Walk that separates the two large beaches in town. It’s a nice tribute to those who gave their lives in WW1.
After returning to Sydney, we had a mostly nondescript evening and flight to Brisbane the next day. Mostly nondescript, except for the really awful experience we had at another YHA hostel, at Railway Square. I chose the location because it was a quick train ride to the airport.
Somewhat inexplicably, they put one of their most expensive private rooms (still cheaper than a decent hotel) in the absolutely noisiest spot in the entire hostel. We were situated directly above, and a pane of glass away from, the loud common area that had partying well past midnight. With rising at 6am to get to the airport, I doubt we got four hours of sleep even with earplugs.
Oh well, first world problems, right?