At 15 degrees celsius, it was the perfect vacation – winter during summer in the Blue Mountains, NSW. Normal summer temperatures would typically reach up to 40 degrees celsius in the mountains, but thanks to global warming, we were experiencing winter in the middle of summer in one of the most fantastic places to introduce my partner to the laid back, Australian lifestyle.
The Blue Mountains are situated in Australia’s New South Wales, past the Western Suburbs of the greater Sydney metropolitan area. By car it would normally take between 1.5 to 2 hours to drive the approximately 100 kilometers from Sydney CBD. There are also rail and coach options but I prefer driving because of the fabulous scenery.
But there was not much to see on the way up to Katoomba, the most commercial town, because of the heavy fog. It was wet and gloomy weather all the way up with occasional drizzles and several bends with poor visibility. It felt like a scene from a horror movie.
When we got to Katoomba, it started to rain. Luckily, we were able to get out of the car and onto the roofed foot paths. We started browsing around the interesting antique stores, thrift shops, olden times hardwares, and had lunch in one of the cozy cafes. Our spirits were not dampened by the weather and we found the temperature and the fog quite befitting the landscape. My partner was having the time of his life watching the steam escape from his mouth as his breath reacts with the cold weather.
By the time we got out of the cafe, the skies had cleared up a bit and the sun started peeking through the heavy white clouds. The heavy fog also lifted, revealing a fresh and crisp surrounding, as we walked down to the viewing deck to see the Three Sisters – the Blue Mountains’ most spectacular landmark.
The Three Sisters is a magnificent and unusual rock formation that changes characters depending on the time of day or season, as it catches the light. There are various Aboriginal dream-time legends about the origin of this formation and my favorite is the one with the Lyre Bird.
According to this legend, the 3 sisters – Meenhi, Wimlah and Gunnedoo – had a father, Tyawan, who was a witch doctor. Tyawan loved his daughters so much and would do anything to protect them, especially from the fearful Bunyip who lived in a deep hole in the valley below a rocky cliff. Everytime Tyawan would search for food he would leave his daughters in a safe place behind the cliff to make sure that they are not seen by the Bunyip.
One day, as Tyawan left in search for food, one of the daughters, Meenhi got scared by a giant centipede. She threw a stone at it, which rolled off the cliff and crashed into the valley below, awakening the angry Bunyip. The ground began to shake and split open, the sisters found themselves trapped on a thin ledge, everything stood still as the fuming Bunyip approached the girls.
Seeing this, Tyawan used his magic bone to turn his daughters into rocks. Enraged, the Bunyip turned its attention to Tyawan and a chase followed. Tyawan was finally cornered by the Bunyip but before it could do any harm, Tyawan turned himself into a Lyre Bird and flew away, dropping his magic bone in the process.
Once the Bunyip disappeared, Tyawan went back to retrieve his magic bone to turn them back to humans but he couldn’t find it. To this date you could still hear the Lyre bird, Tyawan, when you visit the Three Sisters who stand silently…waiting for their father to one day reverse the spell.
We only got to see the Three Sisters during this trip to the Blue Mountains. There are plenty of other attractions including caves, trail rides, bush walks, cable car, spas and mystery tours, but they wil have to wait. Afterall, it wasn’t really part of the itinerary and had it been a regular summers day I wouldn’t want to be there for fear of being swarmed by uber-friendly Australian flies! I was very thankful for the weather though, it cooperated, and by the time we reached the viewing deck the Three Sisters were in their full regalia standing majestically and glowing in the mid-afternoon warmth of the sun.