May 8 Blue? Mountains (Day 224)

Our last day on the train and the weather has turned. We woke to cloudy skies and the threat of rain. At least the landscape is more lush and green, with rolling hills and big trees! After breakfast the train stopped at Mt. Victoria in the Blue Mountains and we disembarked, saying goodbye to The Indian Pacific train and boarded busses in the rain to our OTE at Scenic World! We had a winding bus tour to the venue at Skyway East Station and boarded the gondola ride across the face of the escarpment of which we saw nothing because we were in the huge cloud engulfing the whole mountain range! We then transferred to the Scenic Cableway and rode it down into the gorge.

The skyway has open barred windows and the moisture from the rain was dripping from the ceiling! The cable car rose from the mists in the depths to the station and we rode it down through the mist.

As we descended, the rainforest rose up to greet us, dripping with the recent rain.

At the base we followed the scenic walkway with our guide who led us through the forest giving us information about the natural history and European history of the area. A separate tour delves into the Aboriginal history, delivered by an Aboriginal guide, part of which can be seen HERE.

A huge coal seam runs along the escarpment and it was exploited starting in 1878 with the Katoomba Coal Mine, and led to the building of a steep railway to ferry the miners and the ore up and down the gorge. The model of the Irish miner and the mine pony are to scale! They were short people & ponies! Young kids, 12 or 13 yrs. old were employed to crawl through ventilation tunnels to open and close baffles and maintain a furnace to keep the air flowing through the tunnels!

We next took the steepest railway in the world, the evolution of that original miner’s railway, a funicular with a 52% grade, from the gorge up to the top! The huge Swiss cow bell must be a gift or symbol of the origin of the cable cars, gondola and funicular, Switzerland!

We all then boarded our busses to the town of Katoomba for our lunch catered by a local restaurant with a balcony overlooking the gorge with a view of the Three Sisters, a rock formation across the gorge. Which, again we could not see because of the clouds!Very interesting, Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains. Am I getting homesick?

After lunch we took a chartered local train into Sydney to collect our luggage and find our local train back towards the Blue Mountains and our Airbnb. We arrived after dark and our host thankfully picked us up to guide us to our place and point out restaurants and other amenities within walking distance.

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