Please enjoy this guest post by Matt and gosh I want
to go hiking in Australia in flip flops!
Except I don't plan on wearing flip flops the entire way! ;)
Hiking the Blue Mountains in Australia, Flip Flop Style:
Okay, it’s probably best to establish first off that my hike (or stroll) of the Blue Mountains in Flip Flops lasted a grand total of about 4 minutes. Taking the Easy grading, and not being from an area remotely rural or descended from a notable hill tribe, I thought this would be a great morning’s stroll and an admirable booster to my jealousy-inducing travel photo album for everyone back home. However it didn’t even take the first descent to put a halt to proceedings, rather an impressively elongated muddy and puddle-strewn stretch of path to reveal my blatant flaw in footwear. So back at the camper-van puzzling over when in the 5 days I’d been in Australia had it rained, I quickly dug out my trainers. Heading back with a renewed vigor I was now definitely much more determined and focused than originally, as a quick snap and peek had been the day’s original target.
Caption - The Blue Mountains, taken from near Wentworth Falls
Flip Flop Hiking
I have left Flip Flops in the title of the post to make clear just how easy and accessible the Blue Mountains are. The grading system isn’t anything revolutionary, it does the simple job of differentiating between Easy, Medium and Hard, but care should be taking between Easy and Medium paths. The difficulty really can shoot up, particularly in only mildly wet conditions, as many steps are roughly hewn out of the mountain rock. The phrase in the medium classification ‘for those who walk occasionally’ should not be interpreted as ‘I walk to the shops and am pre-retirement age so I’ll be fine,’ but rather that you’ve walked Australian bush walks in the past and know what to expect. Whichever difficulty you go for, it’s an excellent way to stretch to stretch your legs after the usual long and arduous Flights to Australia.
Medium is / isn’t Difficult
I don’t want to create the impression that Medium is difficult and not for the amateur on a spur of the moment trip to the Blue Mountains. The Blue Mountains are a destination that, like me, you can dip into for a couple of hours in your journey away from Sydney, spend the night there and then promptly move on in the morning. The thing to bear in mind with the Medium trails is that you really should be prepared for turning back and not completing the trail if it’s a long one, and that grabbing rocks, foliage and leaping over puddles is likely going to be needed. Aside from that, if you have no real physical difficulties then it is more than doable, especially around the ‘Three Sisters Location’ that I visited.
The Three Sisters, a popular and unique attraction
The Blue Mountains
Australia is known for offering more than people would expect. Red dirt, surfing and the Sydney Opera house are only a few of must see destinations that make Australia a country to come back to time and again. The Blue Mountains are one of these destinations living somewhat in the shadow of the normal tourist hotspots. The first fact you learn upon visiting them is that the name comes from the blue hue coming from the chemicals released by the eucalyptus trees. The sheer number of eucalyptus trees and the distances involved create this blue tinge, and some of the views are simply stunning. My visit took in the famous Three Sisters rock formation, with the view of Jamison valley. This is one of the most popular sites to visit, and is easily accessed by road as the town of Katoomba is virtually built on top of this. Shuttle buses are cheap and there are trains that go up the mountain if you don’t want to walk back up.
A short drive away is Wentworth falls, which has a brilliant lookout point but feels more isolated than Katoomba so creates a different experience. This is less touristy and aside from the picturesque waterfall there are several short, rocky paths that aren’t too challenging.
Wentworth Falls offers a stunning scene as
the water tumbles over the cliff edge
This ability to drive between various tourist spots coupled with the isolation created by immersing yourself under the forest canopy is what makes the Blue Mountains great. On a trip that was aimed at surfing up the Australian east coast all the way to Cairns, the Blue Mountains were a welcome and convenient addition! The challenge is there for the determined, as is the isolation and rich beauty that the best national parks in the world can offer. For the rest of us, hiring a car can enable you to ping around the different locations, and the easy and medium tracks offer a quick and enjoyable immersion into the Mountains and Valleys.
Bio – Matthew has seen some amazing places on his RTW trip in 2011, with Australia being a highlight. He is now planning and looking forward to his Sardinia holidays in Italy.