If you’re ever travelling in Australia and you find yourself in Sydney, you simply must not miss out on a trip to the Blue Mountains in New South Wales. These awesome creations of Mother Nature get their name from the blue hue that is formed from the lush mounds of green rolling infinitely into the distance.
It takes just 2 hours on the train out of Sydney to get to the national park, and there are oodles of stations where you can get off and explore different regions in the mountain range. You could quite happily spend a couple of nights in the area and hike all day every day. The national park is absolutely vast and I’m quite sad that I could only dedicate a day to it. But that just gives me more excuse to go back!
Nevertheless, if you only have a day to spare, like myself, still get yourself out there and do a 4- or 5-hour hike past waterfalls, around cliff edges and into the valley. Most people hop off the train at Katoomba to go and see the world famous landmark, the Three Sisters. It’s an interesting rock formation that, according to Aboriginal legend, represents three sisters that were turned to stone for their own protection, but the spell proved to be irreversible when the witch doctor who cast it was killed. I can’t deny that I regret visiting this area… and at night it’s supposed to be even more magnificent as the rocks are lit up! However, I decided to take some local advice and seek out an area that’s slightly less touristy, for one of my special solo adventures. The advice led me to Wentworth Falls, and it was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.
When you arrive at the station, it is a half-hour walk to the edge of the national park. Now when I say edge, I mean it. You find yourself on the edge of an almighty cliff with the whole mountain range beneath you. From any of the lookout points near the picnic area you will see the falls on your left. They are epic. We’re talking about a 187m high waterfall with views onto the entire Jamison Valley to the south. Depending on your fitness level and how much time you have, you can choose to do a number of different walks around the area. I mixed up walking along the National Pass route, with a few treacherous detours. I followed the gorge down the three tiers of the waterfall right onto the valley floor and then back up along the underside of the cliff to another waterfall called Empress Falls. Even if you’re tight for time, you can complete this walk in 3 – 4 hours.
You will spend a large amount of time right on the edge of a cliff during this walk. I found it to be a pretty special feeling, particularly as a sufferer of vertigo. There were moments when I couldn’t move because my legs had turned to jelly, and there were moments when I felt mentally and physically on top of the world. You will quickly descend further and further into the valley, down steep steps carved into the rocks and even some sketchy ladders surrounded by cages so that you don’t fall to your death! The water follows you all the way and the three tiers of the waterfall all look completely different, so you continue to get a new perspective as you move. Once I had reached the bottom and treated myself to a homemade peanut butter and banana rye bread sandwich, I decided to climb back up the caged ladders and get back onto the National Pass route that journeys around the cliff face towards Empress Falls.
Call me sad, but I have developed a bit of a penchant for hiking alone! The numerous hiking experiences I had in New Zealand have left their claws in me, and I now use a challenging walk amongst spectacular scenery as a form of therapy. In my opinion, there are very few things more empowering or mentally cleansing than a challenging hike/tramp with nothing but your own ego for company. I like to plug in my music and go. Sometimes it’s completely necessary for smoothing over all sorts of thoughts clouding your brain, and other times its almost a form of meditation when you stop thinking about anything at all and just focus on breathing and moving forwards.
These empowering moments are such a wonderful part of travelling alone, and Wentworth Falls was the perfect place to set the scene. For the last hour of my hike I didn’t see a single soul, and the only time there were a lot of people around was when I got to the car park. If you are looking for somewhere to clear your mind, sweat out some toxins, and be at one with a magnificent slice of nature, don’t miss out on the Blue Mountains! My one regret was not staying out in the national park for a couple of days and abseiling down some waterfalls like this guy…
…watch this space!