An Indulgent Weekend.

It was our weekend away to spoil ourselves, to celebrate the end of Silvio’s assignment in Melbourne with a bit of luxury. It wasn’t quite as relaxing as we’d hoped, with the apartment almost-but-not-quite settled and our to-do list for the move growing with each day, but you know … first world problems!

View from above Wentworth falls

View from above Wentworth falls

The drive up was pretty easy, despite taking the wrong road at the junction just after Neutral Bay, will I ever learn that road layout? We arrived just after eight, found a parking spot in town to go to a restaurant, stepped out of our warm car, and BRRRRR OH MY GOD THE LAST TIME I WAS THAT COLD WAS IN THE UK LAST SUMMER. What a pair of wusses Sydney has turned us in to! We found a warm restaurant and ordered soup and far too much food before venturing back out into the cold.

Upon arriving at Melba House, we met Sue and the adorable Izzy, a fluffy bundle of a dog who immediately demanded cuddles before sniffing our bag in search of snacks :)

We were staying in the Dame Edna suite, a gorgeous room decorated with plenty of pink (I loved it), a huge, comfy bed piled with blankets and a bathtub with pink candles! Unlike most houses in the UK, Australian apartments rarely have baths, so this is definitely a treat.

Yummy breakfast

Yummy breakfast

Sue brought us a breakfast menu to place our order for the next morning, it all sounded yummy, but I can’t resist pancakes with maple syrup – done! It arrived around 9am, with a steaming pot of tea, fruit juice and piles of strawberries … all finished off with home baked cookies.

Just checking emails ...

Just checking emails …

Water blowing back up

Water blowing back up

On a cliff edge

On a cliff edge


On Saturday, we flicked through the book of bush walks, and feeling brave, picked the National Pass – classified as “hard”. Hey, we’re fit enough, it was a beautiful sunny day (albeit rather windy), we have hats, scarfs, gloves, plenty of layers :)

It's cold up here

It’s cold up here

The walk started off easily enough at Wentworth Falls picnic area, with views across the valley and look out points down to the falls, where the wind was blowing the flowing water back up, creating a rainbow. Further down, we crossed the waterfall on stepping stones, then embarked on a downward path, around stony cliff edges and down a lot of stairs.

Stepping stones

Stepping stones

Heights are not really my favourite thing, but luckily there were plenty of rails to hold on to, and some breathtaking views across the valley and back up to the waterfalls. Going down the steep steps was harder than I’d anticipated, well, there was half a pancake worked off maybe. I couldn’t help thinking that to get back to the car, at some point, we’d have to come back up again …

We were lucky though, throughout most of the walk the path was virtually empty and the weather stayed sunny the whole time.

We've made it halfway!

We’ve made it halfway!

We passed the halfway mark, carried on across another waterfall, then found ourselves on the way back up. It wasn’t too bad at first, a few stairs, a flat bit, a few more stairs, until we got closer to the end and I found myself on what seemed like a never-ending staircase up. Hundreds of the bloody things … I stormed breathlessly up, past groups of tourists taking a break, wishing now that I hadn’t worn quite so many layers. On the bright side, I think I worked off the pancakes.

Under the waterfall

Under the waterfall

Looking out from under

Looking out from under

Under the overhang

Under the overhang

The entire walk took us around two hours (the book said three, the signs said four, we win!) and was really beautiful. By the end, my scarf was tied around my waist, the gloves were in my pockets, and Silvio was down to a t-shirt. After our energetic walk, we clearly deserved a good meal. We drove into Leura and meandered along looking for a parking spot on a busy road … the driver behind us did not have much patience though, and soon sped past blaring the horn, how rude!

We walked past a few places advertising scones with jam and cream (I looked longingly back …) and ended up in a pub, with mulled wine and a yummy charcuterie plate with thin salty fries … it hit the spot! Service was pretty slow though, so we headed back to Melba House for dessert, Silvio had had his eye on the homemade banana bread since we had arrived. We weren’t disappointed either, it was so good.

Watching the water

Watching the water

Later in the afternoon, we tried to build a fire in the bedroom fireplace but without much success – the kindling sticks caught OK, but we couldn’t get the larger logs to catch. It was disappointing, after our long walk I was looking forward to cosying up by the fire with a glass of wine, but it wasn’t to be.

There was a book of menus from local restaurants, so we browsed through and decided to go to the Rooster, called and booked a table. It was only a couple of blocks away, so we bundled up and made our way along the dark road … only to realise as we’d arrived that we’d left our bottle of wine at home! So it was all the way back to get it, and then back to the restaurant, by which time we were nice and warm and HUNGRY! (I was kind of glad that we went back, it was a nice New Zealand Pinot, but I have to admit I’d have happily ordered a bottle in the restaurant and not done the extra walk :) my legs were still sore from all the steps).

Walking across the falls

Walking across the falls

I had duck with orange sauce, Silvio had lamb and a good portion of my duck. He observed that he eats 70% of the food, while I drink 70% of the wine, sounds like a perfect balance to me.

We woke up on Sunday morning to more delicious breakfast smells! A delicious plate of bacon, eggs, tomatoes, and mushrooms arrived in our room, with tea, juice and toast, mmmm, I love being spoilt with food.

After another lazy breakfast, we packed up and headed out to Echo Point to see the Three Sisters and wander along the paths through the wood – it was another gorgeous day, but I wasn’t really in the mood for more steps.

OM NOM NOM

OM NOM NOM

Scones and JAM

Scones and JAM

Selfie

Selfie

We stopped off at Solitary in Leura, a favourite place of mine that I’ve visited with Andrea and my parents on previous trips. Our final indulgant feast was scones with cream and jam, my mouth still waters just thinking about it …

We headed back to Sydney, full of carbs and sugar, warm and slightly sleepy and definitely more relaxed than on the way in!

Camping in the Blue Mountains.

When I was working in Edinburgh and planning my trip to Oz, my colleague Rachel (not the same one who also moved to Sydney) recommended a few places to visit, among them the Blue Mountains. She told me about waking up in a tent above the clouds, which sounded amazing, so camping there was definitely in my Things To Do list.

View across the valley

When I heard that another work friend Sarah was organising a trip, I jumped at the chance! The others on the trip were not really into camping, but Andrea decided to come along and was happy to camp with me, despite the mickey taking that started even before we arrived … I guess not everybody likes to sleep in a tent when you could have solid walls and an ensuite bathroom but I’m weird like that :)

We set off on Friday night in the little GoGet car that lives around the corner from me, packed to the gills with tent, blow-up beds, blankets, camping stove, and whatever else we could squeeze in. It was slow going getting out of Sydney, and the route we chose had loads of roadworks, so it was ten thirty at night by the time we arrived at Katoomba Falls. Having driven through bucketing rain and then fog, it was quite a relief that it was only spitting lightly when we had to set up, and we did a pretty damn good job in the dark. Finally, exhausted and hot (hammering tent pegs is sweaty work) we collapsed in the tent with two bottles of wine and talked about anything and everything, but mostly boys (as girls do). We forgot that the tent walls were so thin, until somebody from a neighbouring tent shouted at us to keep it down … whoops.

Our tent (the first go!)

The Campsite

All set up for breakfast

Although the night was chilly, by the morning the tent was warming up pretty well. The air in the mountains was beautiful, it seemed fresher than in the city or by the ocean. I think maybe it was just less humid, but it had a pleasant coolness without being cold.

The facilities at the campsite were pretty good, it was mostly taken up by cabins and camper vans, we were the only tent without a trailer. Andrea was tempted to go into town to find food, but I was determined to use my camping stove, so we cooked the eggs we’d brought and made tea and coffee … note to self, must bring salt and some kind of seasoning next time though. After breakfast, we decided to reposition our tent slightly to avoid the heavy drips from the tree above us – and I have to say, this time we did a pretty marvellous job of pegging it in properly, so that the fly was well and truly secured away from the inside of the tent to avoid drips inside. It looked great :)

Ta da!

We were expecting the others to leave the city early in the morning, so hung around the campsite chilling while we waited for them. Pam and Michael turned up around eleven and opened their cabin, it was small but kind of cute with bunk beds in one room and it’s own bathroom (luxury!).

Chilling at the campsite

Enjoying a beer

Enjoying the sun

Turns out Sarah, Shaun and Rachel had been detained in Sydney by a faulty alarm clock, so Pam and Andrea headed out on a “bee double ee double are you en”* and we settled in to wait for them. We eventually met them in town for pizza and beer, and debated whether and when to head to the Ukelele festival up the road …

… we never did make it though. By the time we’d eaten, picked up more beer and wine and snacks, and got comfy back in the cabin, it just didn’t happen. We ended up in a raucous game of Uno, followed by charades, followed by bed …

Don't let me see those cards!

Got a red or a seven?

Fun playing Uno

Sunday, we headed out to hike in the area around the Three Sisters after packing up the cars and eating a hearty breakfast in Katoomba. The views from Echo Point across the three jutting rocks were awesome – the vast valley between the cliffs, with hazy blue peaks in the distance. I took loads of photographs, but they don’t quite capture the beauty of the place.

The Three Sisters

Sarah, Rachel and Shaun were ahead of the rest of us and had headed down the giant staircase, which apparently has 900 stairs. We finally met them on the way back up, looking slightly broken … after 900 stairs, I’m not surprised. Andrea, Pam, Michael and I headed down but the steps were steep and I lost my head for heights (actually, I was just too much of a wuss to climb all the way back up) so I only made it to the first platform before heading back. Pam and Michael went on down the entire staircase though, while Andrea and I headed out on a short hike towards Leura Cascades.

Look out point

Hiking through the woods

Another great view

It was a lovely walk along the cliff, with loads of lookout points across the valley. Despite being warm and sunny, the recent rain had left loads of mud – my legs were filthy by the time we got to the end. The original plan was to hike to the cascades, then hike back through the woods, but when we were nearly there we cut out of the wood to grab some water and discovered a restaurant with views across the mountains and a yummy looking menu …

We didn’t have enough time on the parking ticket to stop, and they would only be serving food for another hour. We walked on for ten minutes or so to see Leura Cascades from up above, then decided to cut back along the road and hope to make it back to the restaurant in time to eat … we couldn’t believe how close it was along the road, how on earth had it taken us so long to walk all that way through the woods?! It didn’t look so far on the map … but we made it for the food! Yay! It was great, and we spoiled ourselves with dessert too … but then it was time to head home and return the car.

Lunch with a view!

We finished the weekend with a surf in giant waves on North Steyne beach. I had such a great time, so glad I got to see the Blue Mountains, although I still want to go back and stay longer, explore more. My weekends are filling up but I guess there’s always next summer :)

* beer run