LEURA, AUSTRALIA — An old friend made an appearance today: the sun. It peeked through the clouds and rain stayed away, so we could explore the Blue Mountains’ main attraction.
But first, we gorged on a large breakfast that even Torsten couldn’t finish: fresh fruit salad, toast with jam, cereal, bacon, eggs, sausage and baked tomatoes.
With Torsten’s shoes still soaked from the previous day and the high humidity that made even Beth uncomfortable, we didn’t have the appetite for the four-hour bush walk our B&B host Bryan had mapped out for us.
Instead, we walked city streets over to neighboring Katoomba, the bigger but slightly seedy tourist hub for the area.
Its main street led us down to the national park, which doesn’t much feel like one. From the first overlook, we saw gondolas rising above the trees to Scenic World, a glass complex at cliff’s edge. A visitor-center clerk in Sydney had recommended we buy an all-access pass to this tourist trap, which offers gondola rides as well as a boardwalk in the bush. We were glad we didn’t bite.
Nearby, a sculpture showed convicts hauling stone blocks for the first road to the Blue Mountains, supervised by a smirking soldier holding a mug of coffee and observed by two distressed Aborigines. We were amused to see the inscription that lauded the “character and spirit” of the convicts, who were shackled in chains.
From there, a row of tour buses lined the street. We had reached the big tourist draw: the Three Sisters (called Seven Sisters by the Aborigines), a row of rock spires. The overlook was packed, mainly with exuberant Chinese tour groups.
When we saw the spires, our first reaction was: “Wait, this is it?” After the breathtaking scenery in New Zealand, and even Bridal Veil Falls the day before, the view was underwhelming.
We did our tourist duty and took some pictures, then headed for Spooner overlook, just five minutes away but ignored by most people walking to the more photo-worthy bridge between the sisters’ pillars.
We had the overlook to ourselves and enjoyed the relative quiet, even though we could hear the hubbub from the main overlook.
On the walk back to our B&B, we stopped at the Rooster, a French restaurant where a lovely young French waitress consented to make freshly squeezed orange juice for us, even though it wasn’t breakfast time anymore. We could see the hazy “mountains” from our table, just across the street.
We just missed the 2:14 p.m. train back to Sydney, so Beth did some more window-shopping in Leura and bought rum balls and sour-peach gummies at a great old-time candy store lined with jars from floor to ceiling.
The train was almost full on the way back, so Torsten sat with three friendly older ladies, charming them, of course. Once back in Sydney, we walked off the train and right onto a light rail to our neighborhood.
The nearly 3-hour, 100km trip back via train and light rail cost us $6.86, and our trip there was only $2.50 because it was Sunday. If only transportation were this cheap (and handy) in Minnesota!
For dinner, we again went to Thainamic, where Beth had laab salmon and Torsten had a seafood stir fry with cashew nuts. Once back at our cottage, we let the day end with our treats from Leura.