The Striking Australian Landscape: Exploring the Blue Mountains (Milena Maldonado, Australia)

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There truly is something incredible about the Australian landscape. So much of it feels untempered with, untouched by the human hand. The mountains and valleys rise imposingly, thick with green life poking the pale sky and wearing clouds as rings. The Blue Mountains are especially enchanting. Incredibly tall yet densely packed with rich vegetation, they bring the land closer to the sun, and their striking blue glow, emerging from the gum trees’ evaporating oil, paints the air a distinct ocean shade. 

It took us about 4 hours to get to the Blue Mountains from Canberra, a task that would’ve been nearly impossible a century ago. It’s no surprise that early English settlers struggled to navigate them. They are vast and intricate, and even from a high point of view, the terrain is difficult to map. Along the road, I marvelled at the saturated red dirt and deep-green vegetation. Red-bark trees on one side of the road and pale gum trees on the other, a peaceful coexistence, served as nature’s take on human divide. By the time we reached Katoomba, a popular area in the Blue Mountains region, we were too tired to explore. The next day, however, we set out full of energy.

We decided to buy tickets for Scenic World, which gave us access to a series of attractions. We started our day by taking the Scenic Cableway down a 510-meter descent from Eaglehawk Lookout to the Jamison Valley, where we walked along the Scenic Walkway, a 500m elevated boardwalk, 2.4 kilometres long, that allowed us to immerse ourselves in the alluring rainforest. Home to striking native fauna, we witnessed some flora dating back to the Jurassic era. Walking along the chirps and whirrs hidden among the rustling trees, I wouldn’t describe it as anything but an unforgettable experience. Down in the valley, we also learned about the site’s coal mining history while visiting the original mine entrance. Looking down the deep and tight mining tunnel, I did momentarily question whether I struggled with claustrophobia… let’s just say my respect for miners has greatly increased since. 

Concluding our rainforest adventure, we rode the Scenic Railway. With a 52° incline down a 310m descent in open terrain, this is the steepest passenger railway in the world! The original railway was constructed in the late 19th century to ease the coal mining process. However, after being acquired by the Hammon family in 1945, it started operating as a tourist attraction. I don’t regret admitting that we rode it more than twice.

Newly arriving at the top station, it was finally time for the Scenic Skyway. Perhaps the most famous attraction in the Blue Mountains region, the skyway took us 384m across a 270m suspense. with panoramic views of the Katoomba Falls, the Three Sisters, Mt Solitary, and the Jamison Valley, this ride truly lets you experience the rich beauty of the region. Suspended in mid-air, the rainforest canopy was revealed beneath our feet through the electro-glass cabin floor.

The skyway dropped us off at the Skyway East Station, where we set out for a roughly 20-minute walk down the Prince Henry Cliff Walk toward Echo Point Lookout. The world thrill doesn’t begin to describe what I felt as I walked along the very edge of the mountains. The path is, dangerously so, primarily free from fences or restraints. Although wide enough to be considered safe, I thought about calling my mom and dad, if you know what I mean. Still, I would do it again. It felt like walking along the edge of the world. 

Needless to say, the views were spectacular. But while you can witness a fraction of the marvel by looking at the pictures, the feeling of being there is simply indescribable. Being among them reminded me of how burrowed our time on this Earth is; makes us humans feel insignificant. The mountains in the distance spread vastly over the horizon with divine character, and as I marvelled at their beauty, this inexpressible feeling, almost spiritual, overtook my senses—a thrill yet an intense serenity. A rekindling with Mother Earth.