Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Off to Katoomba

It's been a while -- we've had some full days and Gerry's been battling a cold. But we're on our way to Canberra (Country Link Explorer train) and trying to catch up.

Sydney's was great and we'd love to come back. Two days ago we took a two-hour train trip to the Blue Mountains going from the suburbs and flat lands, rapidly ascending through miles and miles of eucalyptus trees. As the haze of the city disappeared, blue skies and billowy clouds greeted us in Katoomba...a  relaxed, laid back town tourist town that had managed to maintain a vital downtown.

At Hominy Bakery we found some great bread, cookies and cakes and two friendly staffers who showed great pride in what their bakery offered the community. Three doors down we met Tara Lilburne at The Hattery, a store like no other we'd seen. Because of intense Australian sun, everyone's encouraged to wear headgear and the Hattery "has you covered" in every way. A full wall of casual and dress hats for men, practical and whimsical hats for women, and everyday gear for kids (who, Tara says, aren't allowed on school playgrounds during recess without hats.)

After a "garden lunch" at the Parakeet Cafe (pie and salad) we gave in, ponied up the cash and joined the tourist trolley to the Blue Mountains National Park. Access to the most interesting sites, was by three means of travel Larry didn't understand until it was too late: Across a valley (with a view of a spectacular waterfall) on a tram, down to the forest floor via the world's steepest railway, and back up to the visitor's center by cableway -- all higher than the 10-foot ladder he refuses to climb.

Rail stations in Australia are freshly painted in colorful oranges and browns

Squashy Rhubarb Apple Cake at Hominy Bakery --- want some?

What a beautiful display of breads at Katoomba's Hominy Bakery.... Breads are wrapped in paper before being bagged.

Gerry looks over the menu at the Parakeet garden eating area.

Fancy ways for women to protect themselves from the sun.

For men, there's a lot to choose from at The hattery
Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains -- without tourists

Looking across the Blue Mountains

Ferns at the base of the cliff

How we got back up the hill

Yea there are electronic signs all around, but we liked this original at the Katoomba station.

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