A day in the Blue Mountains
Posted by redracer on March 18, 2007
Yesterday we spent a nice day out (except for the latter part when it rained) in the Blue Mountains.
Whilst they are certainly not the Rockies or Alps (at not much over 1,000m), they are the highest places you can go to within an hour’s drive of Sydney, and there are some spectacular scenic viewpoints. It is a very popular tourist destination, particularly with coach-loads of Asians on their see-this see-that whirlwind one day trips.
(click on the thumbnails for a quite larger version)
Not too early in the morning, we set off and soon reached our closest entry point to the new M7 Motorway.
This new road has certainly cut travel times for us, whether heading south or west, and also toward the city.
It didn’t take long before we were at the interchange between the M7 and the M4, which is the Motorway that takes you west from Sydney right to the foot of the Blue Mountains. This interchange, call the ‘Lighthorse’ in commemoration of the WWI infantry division of the same name, is the largest in the southern hemisphere, but unfortunately it is very hard to take a picture of it whilst driving 😳
Once again, it is not long before we are approaching the mountains, which you can only just see as the hazy line in the distance, due to the weather being quite overcast.
Here we are, just about to hit the foothills at a place called Emu Plains.
No this is not Sydney Harbour Bridge, which is having it’s 75th Birthday today!!!! Just as you start the climb up the mountains, you pass under the main east-west railway, and this is it’s bridge over the road.
Now we are actually climbing up the mountain, and the road follows ridges at quite a few points, so the scenery each side is spectacular. The railway line also follows the same route for quite a lot of the way, so if you are lucky you may see a train, like the Indian Pacific which we saw on the way home in the afternoon.
After just an hour from home, we had reached Leura, where we planned to have lunch at a nice Japanese restaurant that we have been to before.
We were a little early, so decided to go for a short walk to have a look at the nearby shopping street.
Leura is a small town just before you get to the most famous one in the Blue mountains, Katoomba, which you can just see here in the distance (look for the tall chimney) in this shot overlooking the Leura railway station.
This area is inhabited by a lot of ‘artistic’ type people, so the shops here are mostly galleries, crafts or cafes.
This prized possession is your very own cow to take home, for just A$549 🙄
By this time we were ready for our lunch, so we worked up our appetite in the steep walk back to the restaurant. I am not sure if this building used to be a house or not, but the open area dining room is above the tourist guide shop below, and kitchen is at the back as you come in. The staff are friendly, and all Japanese.
After that long walk, we were very thirsty, and there is nothing better to fix that than an ice-cold Sapporo 😆
A popular dish that is eaten whilst driking is ‘edamame’, which are soya beans still in their pods and boiled for a short time in salty water. Not exactly my favourite, so I think my wife ate most of them 🙂
We decided to order a number of ‘assorted’ dishes and share them between us. Entree was a selection of sashimi – tuna, salmon & kingfish. The first piece of tuna seemed a little cold to me, as if it had been frozen and then thawed, but the other fish were OK. After it had sat for a while, the other pieces of tuna were better, but I didn’t think the texture was very good 😦
For main courses, we chose sushi and tempura. These came with small bowls of rice, and a miso soup (which was delicious). The tempura was very lightly coated with batter, and was delicious.
Even though we shouldn’t have, after that we chose green tea ice cream for dessert 🙄 However it seemed to have been made from normal ice cream with green tea powder mixed in. The mixing was not consistent, and sometime you got lumps of bitter tea, and the ice cream itself was not smooth and creamy as I expected – it was very crystally as if it had been frozen. Unfortunately a disappointing end to an otherwise enjoyable meal.
However I would certainly recommend that you visit Hana if you have some time when in the Katoomba area. They are open for lunch and dinner most days except Sunday, so if you go up on the weekend make it on the Saturday.
The other purpose of the day’s trip was to visit the Springwood Model Railway Exhibition, which is held every year around this time. This is held around this time every year (when I had my layout at this exhibition in 2005, it was here that I met the photographer who ultimately took the shots for the article that appeared in Continental Modeller magazine), and also has a quilt show, fete, craft stall and carnival rides.
Here is a small selection of photos that I took …
Smalldon Curve – this is a small HO scale Australian layout from Geoff Small, and here you can see restored steam & diesel locos running together on a tourist special.
Ottertail Canyon– this is a long HO scale layout from Steve Pettit, is based on the Rocky Mountian area in Canada and is one of the best layouts going around the current exhibition circuit.
Duck Creek– this is a small HOn2 1/2 scale layout from Tim Stewart, and whilst it is representative of a typical narrow gauge Australia line, it is not modelled on a specific area. However it does run rolling stock from Melbourne’s famous Puffing Billy 🙂
D.I.R.T. – this is an HO scale layout from Denis Gilmore and represents a busy steelworks which has trains automatically running up and back actually delivering load to various industries.
Bellbird – this is a small N scale layout from Col Veale, based on elevated lines in the Australian mountains.
Because it was still raining, we decided not to look around anywhere else, and went straight home.