The Blue Mountains – mindful walking and wilderness seeking

The more I travel the more I realise I’m happiest when surrounded by nature, observing the birds and animals and listening to the wind in the trees. After returning from Cairns and my amazing Barrier Reef experience I threw myself into Sydney sight seeing and catching up with friends. Knowing that I had two entire weeks until I left Sydney though I knew I needed a dose of nature and to escape the city. The brilliant thing about Australia being so sparsely populated is that you’re never very far from some wide open spaces. I hopped on the train (super cheaply, nationalised rail for the win!) and headed out of the city towards the Blue Mountains. As the train trundled through the suburbs, gradually getting less dense as we went, I could feel myself relaxing and settling into a slower pace. Don’t get me wrong I love cities but they have a tendency to get on top of me and I begin to feel overwhelmed and I like I can’t think after a while. I’m very much a city for the day kind of girl and then retreating to the country at the end of the day when I’ve had my fill.

I was headed to Katoomba where I was going to walk a couple of the trails through the Blue Mountain National Park. The town of Katoomba is a cute old town with plenty of little cafes and shops but its main draw is it’s proximity to the Three Sisters and the top of so many walking trails. As soon as I arrived I headed down to Echo Point and the view point that over looks the Three Sisters, as a first view of the scenery it doesn’t disappoint! The Three Sisters are rocky monoliths that jut out from the cliff edge, towering over the forest below.

From Echo Point I started a lovely four hour hike, there’s lots of different options of walks to do from here, with varying levels of fitness and lengths catered for and most are really well signposted. Mine climbed steeply down the Giants Stairway to the side of the Three Sisters and then wound through the forest half way down the cliff edge passing various waterfalls before climbing steeply back up the cliff near Scenic World, up the Furber Steps. Unfortunately what’s goes down must go back up again! Luckily it was quite shady under the trees because it was a warm day and otherwise would have been sweltering. The path then followed along the top of the cliff following the Prince Henry Cliff Walk all the way back to Echo Point, it was absolutely stunning!

As well as being breathtaking though my walk served another purpose. For a while now I’ve been using walking as a way to clear my head. If I ever have any feelings of anxiety or mind fog that I can’t clear then getting out into nature helps me so much. It’s not that I think everything through as such, because some days there’s no obvious reason for the feeling, but more that you can switch your brain off in nature. I just wander, taking in the view and the sounds around me. At that point that’s all that matters and for the full three or four hours of hiking that day my mind was free, a version of meditation, mindfully walking and clearing the mind. Give it a go when you next feel overwhelmed by life and I’m sure you’ll find it helps. The healing power of nature!

There’s plenty of options for staying in Katoomba, youth hostels, BnB’s and hotels, but I found myself staying in the cutest Airbnb ever. I’d booked myself into the Hikers Hut and honestly I couldn’t have asked for anything more. After a long day hiking an early night in bed with a toasted cheese sandwich and Gone in 60 Seconds was the most perfect evening! I’m so easy to please!

My little hut for the night

The next day I was travelling back to Sydney but I had the entire day to explore more before hopping back on the train. My Airbnb was situated close to a footpath through to Leura, the neighbouring town to Katoomba so I decided to do a hike from there and then wander around the town after. I was pretty achy after the hike the day before so I opted for a shorter walk from Leura Cascades to the Gordon Falls Reserve also taking in the Pool of Siloam. Again this was well signposted and the trail well maintained and full of gorgeous scenery. As you walk through these forests of tree ferns and dripping mossy rocks you can see why the area was the inspiration for Jurassic Park when Conan Doyle stayed there. It’s so Jurassic looking you wouldn’t be surprised if a dinosaur suddenly approached you on the path! The waterfalls on this hike were beautiful and so worth seeing and the pool of Siloam is the most peaceful little spot, perfect for a spot of yoga….

Jurassic Park?

Leura itself is a very cute little town, old shop fronts filled with the most gorgeous homewares and fashion shops. All quite unique and with very few high street names. Most appear to be independent and they’re interspersed by cute little cafes. Definitely a town that’s worth a wander around. I could definitely bought lots but unfortunately there’s only so much you can fit in a rucksack to bring home! Instead I settled on a cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a steak sandwich before hopping back on the train to Sydney! Perfect end to a couple of days in the countryside!

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