My partner Rob and I are making our way home from Sydney to the Blue Mountains by rail; a two hour journey. As the train begins to climb, an American lady sitting behind us asks someone a question across the aisle;
‘Excuse me, will I know when we are at the Mountains?’
‘Oh yes…these are just the foothills.’
I feel a little uneasy about this response. I hope she isn’t expecting mountains like…well the French Alps. The Blue Mountains are really an extensive area of sandstone ridges, eroded into deep gorges and outcrops. Spectacular, but definitely no snowy alpine peaks.
However, we are in a ‘quiet’ carriage, where even talking is supposed to be kept to a minimum. I reluctantly let things be.
Eventually we arrive at the main town in the Mountains (where we have left our car). I hop off, but realize Rob is not behind me. He has had to rescue the American tourist. The poor woman was still sitting in her seat, oblivious to the fact that Katoomba is the final stop on this service.
She is full of gratitude. It is now 4.00pm and we notice she has no luggage. Rob tentatively mentions that it’s getting a bit late for sightseeing.
‘I know, but I had a migraine last night and slept in. I have to fly back to New York tomorrow.’
Oh my hat!!
Thank goodness nobody had checked the tickets on the journey. She shows us hers and to our amusement we see she bought one to Mount Druitt, a dormitory suburb of Sydney. At least it wouldn’t have cost her much. Apparently it was the only station she could see that mentioned a mountain!
She asks us if there is anything special for her to see. I am sorely tempted to drive her around the area myself, but we are expecting visitors and in a hurry to get home. The best we can do is direct her to the Red Explorer bus.
We tell her it will take her to the Three Sisters and other local lookouts. Recognition dawns;
‘Oh yes, that’s what I’ve read about!’
Well, it will be a late arrival back at her Sydney hotel, but I hope she will fly off to the Big Apple thinking the trip was worthwhile. Mind you, the best and least commercialized beauty spots in the Mountains are near my village of Blackheath (aka Bleakheath or Lackheat!)…. Govett’s Leap, Evans Lookout, Anvil Rock, Pulpit Rock etc. I may be prejudiced of course. Make sure the train you catch from Central Station takes you beyond Katoomba!
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