Bewitched by the Bunyip of the Blue Mountains!

A short hop from Sydney is the magical land of Australia’s Blue Mountains. Whether you’re fascinated by First Nations’ mythology or the splendid natural beauty that inspired it, this region is certainly worth exploring.

A day that popped up bright and sunny only to end with a hailstorm and a rainbow — that’s Sydney for you. Not that it has always been this way. The weather this year has made all Sydneysiders scratch their heads in unison.

Climate change. Global warming. Forest fires. Call it what you like. My bet is on the Bunyip, the ogre who disappeared in the Blue Mountains of Sydney.

Tyawan, a witch doctor who lived in the mountains, had used his magic bone to turn his three daughters into stone to save them from the Bunyip. And when the ogre chased Tyawan, he turned himself into a Lyre bird but lost his magic bone.

The three sisters at blue mountains await their father as he searches for his magic wand in the jamison valley.
The three sisters at Blue Mountains await their father as he searches for his magic wand in the Jamison Valley. Image: Girish Anthur.

You can still see the three sisters and hear the call of Tyawan echo around the Blue Mountains, but you can’t see the Bunyip anywhere… until you glance down from the mountains to see the beautiful blue-green valley full of eucalyptus trees. A shadow here, a shadow there — and that high-place phenomenon calling you into the void.

Is he still there then… the Bunyip, waiting for Tyawan to find his magic bone? Is he still roaming in the valley, frustrated and alone? Is it his rage that we see behind the changing weather patterns in Sydney?

You never know!

Mark, our local guide, told us about the Bunyip as he stood at the edge of a cliff braving strong winds. He had picked us up earlier from our apartment on Campbell Street from where we drove through Parramatta Park towards the Blue Mountains, which is about an hour and half from the city.

A hazy blue hue embraces blue mountains on a sunny morning. Image: girish anthur.
A hazy blue hue embraces Blue Mountains on a sunny morning. Image: Girish Anthur.

All around us were sunlit peaks that appeared blue to the eye. The sky — a massive dome — stared at the valley below where thousands of eucalyptus trees released oil droplets that then merged with the vapour in the air to scatter light rays that were blue in colour.

The cliff we stood on was full of tall shrubs and rocks with patterns of dune formations stamped on them. The world was at a standstill here, except for the angry roar of winds that rose and died down from time to time.

Like a bridal veil she sparkles and falls: wentworth falls.
Like a bridal veil she sparkles and falls: Wentworth Falls. Image: Girish Anthur.

We left the cliff to venture down to a park where groups of people sat, some with picnic baskets. There was a circuitous stairway that led to the lower reaches of the cliff. We followed it, to be surrounded by tea trees and bushes with lyre birds and doves hiding in them.

The Wentworth Falls — which originated in the mountains and joined the Parramatta River — gurgled down before us as we crossed its little path to go further down.

Gurgling along to meet the jamison valley.
Gurgling along to meet the Jamison Valley. Image: Girish Anthur.

We could see the falls in all their glory just a few steps away, a dazzling stream of fresh water dancing down to meet the Jamison Valley. The water rose and fell to the wind’s tune as the sun gave it a silvery hue. The air smelled of earth and leaves. The silence of the valley fell upon us like a ton of bricks, grim and heavy.

The perfect spot for meditation: a silent space over jamison valley.
The perfect spot for meditation: A silent space over Jamison Valley. Image: Girish Anthur.

We could see the valley and the formation of the three sisters from a skywalk that runs from Katoomba town, which is at a short distance from the cliffs. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Katoomba also has the steepest railway in the world. The town offers quick rides in what used to be part of its mining tramway constructed between 1878 and 1900.

The town of katoomba with its old bookshops and laidback lanes. Image: girish anthur.
The town of Katoomba with its old bookshops and laidback lanes. Image: Girish Anthur.

The gift shop next to the ticketing counter in Katoomba had an unusual array of soaps, oils, honey and artwork, mainly aboriginal art which showcases the lost myths and culture of the indigenous people of Australia.

East of Katoomba lay one of the sweetest towns — Leura — in the Blue Mountains local government area. The town was full of gardens and little streets with shops selling clothes, old books, food, and antiques.

Despite being in a hurry to get home (we could see a storm approaching!), we stopped at Josophan’s Chocolates, which is famous for its chocolate shots.

Josophan’s fine chocolates in leura town has some of the best combinations of spiced, fruity and nutty chocolates in sydney. It’s popular for its hot chocolate and ice-cream too.
Josophan’s Fine Chocolates in Leura town has some of the best combinations of spiced, fruity and nutty chocolates in Sydney. It’s popular for its hot chocolate and ice-cream too. Image: Girish Anthur.

Josophan’s sells a variety of milk and dark chocolates with interesting flavours like passionfruit, raspberry, honey and saffron, and many more. It caters to vegans and weight watchers too. We bought a tin of hot chocolate powder with orange peels inside, and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves a hot cup of sweet silky chocolate tinged with the zest of oranges.

The drive back to our apartment was slow yet interesting because of the sudden hailstorm that forced Mark to stop his car along the roadside. And as we rode on a while later, the joyful arc of a distant rainbow appeared along with a solemn but glowing sunset that lit up a light drizzle.

Outside, drivers looked up at the sky wondering what in the world was happening — climate change, global warming, forest fires?

My bet is on the Bunyip of the Blue Mountains!

Lincoln's rock lookout offers a magnificent view over the jamison valley in blue mountains.
Lincoln’s Rock lookout offers a magnificent view over the Jamison Valley in Blue Mountains. Image: Girish Anthur.  

Good to know

The Blue Mountains is made of seven National Parks spanning about 10,000 square kilometres. It is a World Heritage Area and has waterfalls and valleys, tableland, caves, canyons and walking trails.

Best time to go: It is popular in every season, but if you don’t like the rain, pick March to May.

How to get there: You can rent a car or hire a guide who can drive you via scenic routes, especially one that follows the edge of Jamison Valley. If you want to take a train, the Blue Mountains Line leaves from Central Station every hour to reach Katoomba in two hours. Buy an All-Day Pass from Katoomba to access a trolley car to get on and off at any of the 29 stops.

Where to stay: There are a lot of options here depending upon your interests and budget. Go to The Carrington, which stands at the centre of Katoomba, or Bilpin Country Lodge if you like to be close to farms. Kurrara Historic Guest House — which is a heritage property in Katoomba — is also highly popular. There are three-star motels, such as Echo Point Village, and facilities for backpackers as well.

Where to eat: Try the Leura Garage in Leura town that is a cafe by day and a tapas bar at night, or Darley’s Restaurant in Katoomba. Stop by the Wintergarden at the Hydro Majestic for a splendid view of the Megalong Valley or Echoes Restaurant and Bar that overlooks the mountains. You will also find smaller shops around the streets selling meals and good coffee.

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