Submitted by alvin on Tue, 2016-07-26 11:12 The Blue Mountains National Park, situated about 80kms west of Sydney, is one of the most popular tourist spots near Sydney. It is the Australian equivalent of Grand Canyon. Apart from the mountains, the park has lovely forests and bushland, and is home to a variety of flora and fauna. One should not miss visiting it, said the receptionist of our hotel. He said we had two choices – take a conducted tour by a coach or catch a train from Sydney. We opted to go by train and went to Sydney Central Station and brought a return ticket to Katoomba, the entry point of Blue Mountains. After an hour’s ride, we reached Katoomba railway station and from there we took a bus to the skyway complex. We bought tickets for the rail and skycar rides and stood in the queue for the skycar ride. The skycar is a cable car which takes you on a ride over the Blue Mountain Range. As the car moved a few metres, we could see a beautiful valley and the spectacular Mount Solitary. A few minutes later, the most famous mountain in this area, the Three Sisters, came into view in all its glory. It looked like the trishul in the Himalayas without the snow. As the sun lit its face, the mountain gave out a golden glow and I felt I was in Grand Canyon, seeing one of its famous rims. Blue Mountains Cable Car The Three Sisters are all pervading in the Blue Mountain area, rising above a rain forest which almost carpets the valley floor. Against the pale blue backdrop of the sky, the green and ink blue colour of the mountain was a visual treat. The Blue Mountains, I am told, are blue because of the eucalyptus trees found in abundance there. From the skycar I could see the Katoomba waterfalls, the orphaned rock and the ruined castle, which are some of the most famous landmarks in this area. After a fifteen minute ride, the car came back to its station. We got down and entered the next platform to have a ride on the “steepest railway in the world”. Dissused Coal mine Soon the railcar arrived and we sat in our cars. In fact it is nothing but a cable-trolley car which we normally come across in theme parks. The car is open on all sides and takes us down for about half a kilometre. The ride itself is very thrilling as the car moves very fast and there is a near vertical descent. As soon as we got off the car, we came to the mouth of a disused coal mine. The cable trolley was originally laid to transport coal and coal miners from the mines to the hill top. We had a brief walk in the coal mine area and enjoyed the greenery. We returned to the rail platform to proceed towards Cook’s Crossing picnic area situated about three kilometres away. This is a leisurely trek in the rain forest which takes us below the Katoomba falls. A 500-year-old turpentine tree is one of the attractions on the way. Within twenty minutes, we reached the picnic point. We spent half an hour there and returned to the hilltop via the rail car. As we came out of the skyway complex we were told that the most famous place in the area is Jenolan caves to the west of Katoomba. These limestone caves were discovered in 1813 and the natural limestone formations in these caves are most picturesque. For lack of time we skipped visiting these caves. Panoramic view Steepest train on earth Three sisters View from the cable car Later, we strolled in the beautiful town of Katoomba, which is a typical hill resort whose main business is tourism. It has nice places of entertainment, souvenir shops and eating joints. The fresh mountain air was at once relaxing as well as refreshing. It was late in the evening and time to go back to Sydney. But the few hours spent in Blue Mountains was really refreshing indeed. Author: Dr. DV Guruprasad (Former DGP) is presently the Chief Executive of the Gokula Education Foundation (Medical) which works in the field of education and health care.