Monday, 10 November 2014

Katoomba - The Heart of the Blue Mountains


Ever since my days in youth group I've known about Katoomba, namely because of the Christian Convention Centre there that holds an annual Youth Convention. I've never been to that convention (and these days I would hardly qualify as a youth) so 2014 was the first time I visit\ing this town nestled in the Blue Mountains (though nestled is probably not the word I am looking for since the train driver, upon arriving at the railway station, described this place as a 'tourist mecca').
My initial understanding was that there was really only one thing that people came to Katoomba for, and that was to see this particular rock formation;
Three Sisters Rock Formation
So, tell me, how does this look like three women?
I'm not really sure what is so special about that particular rock formation since there are plenty of rock formations for people to look at anywhere there are mountains, however this particular formation has been given a name, which is probably why people come and see it.
It was not so much the rock formations that stood out for me, but rather the view itself:
Blue Mountains Panorama
I finally get to publish a photo taken with the panorama setting
So, here I was, standing on the lookout in the rain, having taken my brother for a two hour train ride (not that he was upset about that since he loves trains) and then dragged him through the rain to see this view (which I am not sure he was really impressed by, since it was raining), and had lunch, so it seemed that all there was to do now was go back home. Okay, we could have gone for a hike, but since my brother is not a big fan of hiking (especially when it is raining), we decided to catch the bus back to the station (since walking back was not an option).
As it turned out, there was more to Katoomba than three rock outcroppings with a name (and a Christian Convention Centre). The bus didn't go directly back to the station but took us by a round-a-bout route past a sky train. Well, a train that travelled through the sky would certainly be something that my brother would like, so after taking a video of it:


we climbed on board to go for a ride. While we were watching it approach I noticed that it would stop, then start, and then stop again. I didn't think much of that until I got onto the skytrain to take the return journey across the gorge, and in doing so discovered that the reason it stopped was so that we could all look at the waterfall. I took a photo of it and then realised that waterfalls have moving parts and photos simply do not do it justice, so I then proceeded to take a video: 


Waterfalls look so much better when it is raining

Once we got to the otherside we discovered that there certainly was more to Katoomba than those rocky outcroppings – Scenic World. Well, I've been to Sea World and Movie World, and I'm sure we have all heard of Water World, but Scenic World? Well, we had to spend some time here just to see what it was all about. As it turns out it was supposed to be some sort of Blue Mountains amusement park (though they never got the roller coaster operational):
Old Scenic Railway
Actually, I didn't get a photo of the Rollarcoaster
However there were a couple of other, dare I say it, rides. For instance there is the Scenic Train which is touted as the steepest train in the world. My brother was pretty taken back when we discovered that it descended the mountain at almost a 90 degree angle (and we took the easier way back up, namely a cable-car), but once we were at the bottom we discovered that there were a number of walks that you could do before ascending the mountain to go home.
We ended up taking the short walk, but from what I gathered these walks are designed for people who don't spend huge amounts of time hiking in the wilderness. The tracks are all paved, and the one we travelled along was like an open air museum, telling us of the old mining operations that occurred down here (and I would not be surprised if there are some mining companies out there that would like to continue said mining operations)

Katoomba Coal Mine
I reckon I saw Gina Reinhardt hiding down there
Once we had returned to the top of the mountain, it was probably time we made our way home, but not before I managed to get a video of a goods train passing Katoomba Station:
This blog post wouldn't have been complete without a train video
I also spent sometime visiting the handful of pubs in the area, this one being my favourite:

Old City Bank Bar 
15/47 Katoomba St, Katoomba
I decided that I would try out this place to see if it was somewhat better than the other pubs that I visited it Katoomba. It turned out that it was (though there was only a small outdoor area on the porch, but at least it wasn't on the street, and it was sheltered from the rain). This place seems to cater for the backpackers (or at least is visited by backpackers) so it has a rather hip atmosphere. There are some pretty decent beers on tap (though I only had one because I didn't want to miss the train, and I am sure my brother would not have been pleased if we did), but what caught my attention were the number of games stacked on the shelf, most likely set aside for wet days like the day I was here (not that anybody was actually playing them).

This post has also been posted on my travel blog



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