The only downside to taking a senior car on a road trip is that occasionally they do need some rest and recuperation. After warming up and packing up camp, we spent most of the morning in Katoomba, waiting for the car to get a bit fixed up, and planning the next little bit of the trip.
And then it was time to head into the Blue Mountains.
We started on a walk down the aptly-named Giant Staircase. A leg-shaking descent that took us behind the Three Sisters with a view of the valley before heading down into the forest.
The walk through the forest was beautiful, very different than the forests of the Southwest.
As per usual, we had no idea where we were going, but the hike was great.
And of course, there were waterfalls. So of course, we had to take a step off the path, get our shoes wet, and look closer.
The trail ended at Scenic World, a little area of the National Park with cable cars to take you up and out of (or down and into) the valley, complete with astounding views you can’t get at the Visitor Centre.
We realised when exited Scenic World that we were nowhere near where we thought we were, but a good half hour walk back to the car. Cursing Katoomba for being made entirely of hills, we got back to Echo Point just as the late afternoon sun was lighting up the three sisters.
Finally, we managed to get the tent up before dark and headed to bed, exhausted from all the walking, but thoroughly pleased with the day.
We were up before the sun to walk to a nearby lookout, excited to watch the sunrise over the valley and hear the forest come to life.
Upon returning to our campsite I was thrilled to see an Eclectus Parrot hanging out near our tent.
I really love parrots, it is hard for me to get over seeing them in the wild.
I’m not sure what this guy was, but he was really bold and inquisitive. It just walked straight up to our tent and hung around beside us while we made breakfast.
Not many people will believe me when I tell them I spent two years in Australia and less than five hours in Sydney.
I’m sure if I spent more time there I would come to see why it is a world-class city. Perhaps I am biased from spending so much time in Melbourne, but Sydney wasn’t really a highlight.
Although, the harbour did live up to expectations of being absolutely gorgeous.
After that it was a big day of driving, and an impromptu stop at a campsite around Noosa Heads.
This was the only time that WikiCamps let us down, leading us into what was possibly someone’s backyard beside a river, and old boat and a pile of broken furniture. After sitting in car for a moment and contemplating every possible horror movie scenario, we decided to break down and find a legitimate campsite.
From the owner we learned that free camping is discouraged pretty much anywhere along the coast from here on up because it is so heavily frequented by tourists. Fortunately the rest of our nights were already planned out.
The next day was a big long drive up to Byron Bay. Finally we were in the real tropics.
Before heading into town we made a detour to Nimbin.
I get the impression the town is becoming a bit more touristy than some of the locals would like, for the wrong reasons. But it stills holds onto its hippie roots pretty strongly.
Not to mention, it has the best bus stop of all time. More bus stops should have hammocks for those long layovers.
But finally we were facing down a few days in Byron Bay and the most exciting part of the road trip was still to come.