The Blue Mountains National Park of Australia is remarkable on many levels. Paths lead to breathtaking vistas overlooking waterfalls and a rain forest. In the distance are sandstone formations like The Three Sisters, and a eucalyptus forest that emits a fine hazy mist that gives the Blue Mountains their name. Wild cockatoos fly overhead. The park protects sites of significance to Aboriginal culture. No wonder this place is part of a World Heritage area.
We were part of a day tour which picked us up and dropped us off at our hotel in Sydney. We
learned that tour operators in Australia do this type of excursion very well. We could just relax with other visitors in a small bus and leave the driving and all the details to our genial host.
One of our destinations in the park was Scenic World, with its skyway ride over fern trees in the rainforest valley below. We also took a ride in an open air “train” (like a caged-in roller coaster) that plummets into a hole in the ground – the world’s steepest railway plunge – in what used to be a coal mine. Of course, Cliff and I, along with our new friend from the tour, Tamara, climbed into the front seat of the train so we could be the first to take the dive!
Our instructions were to take the boardwalk path to a skyway ride that would lead us back to the bus in Scenic World’s parking lot. Somehow, the word “boardwalk” dropped out of my memory and I led Cliff and Tamara astray, hiking along a steep, rocky path. I thought the occasional signs that said “Landslide” referred to the trail’s name – until we came to an actual landslide area! By the time we realized our error and turned back, our bus had left without us. Luckily, there were other tours there. A guide was able to track down our driver and arrange a rendezvous in a nearby town. I bought a package of fine chocolates to share with our guide and tour mates – hoping the treat would help put me back in good standing after causing a delay! Lucky for me, it all ended well, and we even saw our first kangaroos in a golf course on our way back to Sydney.