Gooooood morning, Sydney!
We planned something special for our last day in Sydney – a full day tour of the Blue Mountains. This required us to be up extra early, but sure enough by 7:20AM we were boarding a bus to the nearby national park. Unfortunately, we procrastinated a bit on booking this trip. By the time we actually called companies to ask about available seats, most were full. We managed to find one that still had some open spots, for an even cheaper price. It was a bit sketchy, but that ultimately made it a more personal and less tourist-y experience.
This tour was very much not a bus tour, at least in how I think about the term. We drove into the heart of the Blue Mountains, and from there hiked a few hours in a large loop around the area. It was chilly and windy at times, but the views were spectacular.
We stopped for lunch after our first two hour hike, picking up pies from a local bakery. As we entered the bakery, I was confused until I realized we were talking about meat based pies, not fruit ones. In retrospect, the girls we met on Saturday were clamoring for pies very late that night, which makes way more sense now that I’m thinking about the right kind of pie.
Our tour guide was very knowledgable about both the history and the science of the national park. We kept seeing this same weird rock formation and eventually asked him to explain:
The Blue Mountains, he explained, are mainly made of sandstone. Water chews through sandstone relatively quickly compared to other types of stone, settling in whatever cracks it finds along the way. That same water transports the minerals of other rocks it has dissolved, such that when the water stops moving, the minerals settle back into rock. At this point we have a rock resembling a marble cake, with ribbons of harder stone throughout a sandstone block. When later rains wash away the sandstone, the ribbons of harder, less dissolvable rock remain, which is what you see above.
Our final two stops were distinctly different. The first was the most tourist-y of the day – the lookout over the famous three sisters.
It was packed with people, and though the view was really pretty, it was hard to get any kind of full-valley picture without someone’s head or arm in the shot. In contrast, our tour guide took us to his “Secret Spot”, one he won’t even tell his colleagues for fear that they would overpopulate the area or later change tour companies. The views from this secret spot (which I could not find again) were the best of the day, boasting well over 180 degrees of full visibility.
It was quite windy up on the secret spot, so after taking pictures to our hearts’ content we scrambled back to the bus. I fell asleep on the ride back, listening to a mixture of music on my phone and Australian news radio.
For the evening, we decided to finally eat at Tipple, a bar/bistro right next door to our Hostel. The whole environment was fairly American, from the early 2000s pop on the radio to the bar to the BBQ sauce in the condiments box. We managed to randomly pick their two meals for the price of one night, so our dinner was, again, quite cheap.
Because it was our last night in Sydney, we decided to go to Vivid again, trying to fully soak in the festival before our time ran out.
When the lights finally went out, we headed home and started pre-packing for our flight to Melbourne. Onwards!