Monday, 6 March 2017

A day in the mountains

Yesterday morning the girl and I met at Central Station as we had organised to go to the Blue Mountains for the day. We met in the Main Concourse near the newsagent. Inside the gates we bought sandwiches and water for the journey. On platform 18 there was a huge crowd of people waiting to get on the train. and once we were on-board and had secured seats the rest of the people crowded in, with young people sitting on the steps up to the top level and down to the bottom level.

The journey started, with stops at Strathfield, Parramatta, Westmead and Penrith before the long, slow ride up the mountain.We had eaten our sandwiches by this time and most of the other passengers around us were asleep. Slowly, the stations in the mountains passed one by one. We eventually arrived at Katoomba and got out with the crowds. We walked down the footpath to the Paragon and went in. We ordered pumpkin soup and a vege burger but the girl couldn't eat either of them, she said they weren't fresh. I realised later that the burger wasn't fresh but I ate it anyway. When we got out of the cafe I had to use the toilet. I went back to the cafe but there were too many new people waiting, so I found a public toilet. A man went in just before me. I heard splashing and a tap running and eventually knocked on the door. The man opened the door with a toothbrush in his mouth and said he'd be finished in a minute. He was soon out and I ducked in to use the lavatory.

We walked down the hill and turned off right toward Scenic World. There was a group of young Japanese men ahead of us walking down the road. We trudged along in the mist, eventually arriving at our destination. We went inside and bought tickets, then got onto the Scenic Railway and went out to the outdoor platform to get on. We queued in a line and eventually sat down in the cockpit. The vehicle took off with the music from 'Raider's of the Lost Ark' playing on the stereo. Down into the valley the train shot, like a bullet, and we all leaned forward and went "Ohhhhh" as it descended into the green treetops. We arrived at the bottom, where the rain had started falling lightly but persistently, and got out of the cramped cars. We all walked down the path away from the railway, into the bush.

The Hammond family that runs Scenic World has built a raised pathway through the rainforest. We saw a female lyrebird go down through the bush. Apart from the brief sighting the bush was mute today, except for a fairy wren - a tiny brown bird much smaller than a sparrow - who popped out and said hello while we were sheltering from the rain. We trudged along the path for about an hour and a half and eventually emerged back at the Scenic Railway, which we caught back up to the top. There was one photo stop on the way: a small, variegated waterfall that tumbled down the hillside under the pathway and over the rocks into the Jamieson Valley. There must be hundreds of waterfalls like this in the valley, all feeding the streams that congregate at the bottom in a creek.

When we got to the top the girl bought some icecream and ate it while we sat on some seats in the shop at the top of the hill. We used the toilets, then left, and waithed for the bus. When it came we paid with the Opal cards we carried and went down to Echo Point then back up to the station. After we got off the girl said she was hungry so we stopped at a kebab joint and had half a chicken kebab each.

At the station, I bought the girl a cappuccino before we went onto the platform. We waited for the train, which when it came was almost empty. Lots of people got on. We went down the mountain, onto the plain and across the Nepean River. When we stopped at Blacktown a girl seated near us asked us if we had passed Seven hills. I told her we were at Blacktown and that out next stop was Parramatta. She asked me to tell her when we arrived at Parramatta, We sat there waiting. When we got to Parramatta, I told her where we were and she got off, presumably to catch a train back west.

We got off the train at Central and waled to the Capitol Square shopping centre to buy some Thai takeaway. Then we caught the light rail back to Pyrmont and mooched around in the evening. It was cosy and dry. We were tired and felt lazy, and just hung around watching the Mardi Gras coverage on SBS. Then we went to bed.

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