Monday 6 March 2023

JJ's on Tour - Blue Mountains, Australia

Our journey through Australia in the last post saw us preparing for the next leg, a drive up to Sydney after spending a few days getting to know the Federal Capital in Canberra - see link below.
JJ's on Tour - Canberra, Australia

However, before heading into Australia's first and oldest city, we decided to take a detour into the nearby World Heritage Area of the Blue Mountains, so named because of the wilderness cliffs covered in vast eucalyptus forests that give off a natural blue haze to compliment the stunning blue skies that we encountered for all but one of the three days we stayed.

Map courtesy of

As part of our plan to get the full on Blue Mountains experience we had booked ourselves into the historic Carrington Hotel, Katoomba, with the Great Western Hotel, as it was first named, opened in 1883, with the ever growing tourist demands for places to stay in the area as its fame grew.

Lord Charles Robert Carrington,
3rd Baron Carrington, 1843 - 1928

In November 1885, the hotel was renamed in honour of the new Governor of New South Wales, His Excellency, Lord Charles Robert Carrington, 3rd Baron Carrington, with Lord and Lady Carrington staying at the hotel in May and September of 1887.

Lord Peter Carrington,
6th Baron Carrington, in 1984

The name of Carrington certainly rang a bell with me, with Lord Peter Carrington, 6th Baron Carrington, who at the age of 25 charged with four other Sherman tanks over the Nijmegen Bridge, during the desperate battle to capture it on September 20th 1944, the charge pictured on the Osprey title covering the history of Guards Armoured Division and a battle site I visited back in 2017, see link to that post below.

JJ's Wargames - Market Garden, Best, Grave and Nijmegen

Later as the British Foreign Secretary at the time of the Falklands invasion by Argentina, he honourably resigned his office, following the recapture of the islands by British forces, something a lot of modern politicians seemed to have forgotten how to do today when they have serious 'cock-ups' occur on their watch. 

Katoomba in 1883, with the newly opened Great Western Hotel and the
railway in the foreground, opened in 1874

The Carrington Hotel today has been fully refurbished to reflect the grandeur of its amazing history, and Carolyn and I love to stay in places like this, that really capture the history of the place we are visiting, and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay.

The face of the old lady getting some more TLC as the sulphur crested cockatoo's are a pest when it comes to wooden fittings on old buildings, features they love to rip apart with their powerful beaks in pursuit of grubs.
The Carrington Hotel

Past grandeur, related to visitors in the display cabinet in the hotel, here recalling Royal guests from times past. 

A favourite haunt of stars from the past such as Noel Coward, trying not to be beastly to the Hun.

Old coins discovered in the building during its most recent refit

A hitching post ring from the 1870's and a list of do's and don'ts for Housemaids in Royal Service.

The foyer at reception

The old royal apartments with a bath house at the end of the hall, in the days before ensuite. Fun to imagine their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of York, later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth trapesing along here in dressing gowns, toothbrush in hand. 

Chesterfield suite together with pool and snooker tables, offer a perfect oasis for the gentlemen to retire to after dinner, as the ladies withdraw to the lounge.

The bar leading into the lounge and dinning room

This stunning glass dome and crystal chandelier completed the effect in the bar

The lounge with stain glass windows bearing the Carrington coat of arms.

A bit surprised to see General Bonaparte here. He would have made a nice addition to the man-cave back home.

The art deco furnishings and travel posters from the period really captured the final look.

As you can see below, we really felt very much at home in the Carrington, enjoying soaking up its past splendour, together with some excellent food enjoyed in town and at the hotel, and somewhere that made a very nice place to come back to after a hard day enjoying the stunning Blue Mountains.

Ah yes, nowhere better to repose after dinner and a hard day sightseeing.

Talking of Blue Mountains, they were quite impressive to. The place today is still a bit of a tourist magnet, not surprising really when you can admire the views out over the Jamison Valley from numerous vantage points, be that the skyway cable car, the cliff top path from the Three Sisters pinnacles to the Scenic World Complex atop the cliffs behind Orphan Rock; or indeed descending into the valley floor and forest via the funicular railway, a nod to the old mining carts that the miners used to offer trips up and down in, back in the days before the health and safety czars took over the world, now set up with tilting seat carriages to get the best views as you descend through the tree canopy below.

The Blue Mountains lie about thirty miles west of Sydney and is part of the mountainous area that is called the Great Dividing Range on the eastern seaboard of Australia, with this particular area dominated by a vast sandstone plateau covered in a eucalyptus forest, and with deep valleys encompassed by cliffs of anywhere up to 3,900 feet, one of the great natural wonders of the world to stand alongside The Grand Canyon in the USA.

The Skyway cable car passes the majestic Orphan Rock, that used to be accessible via a suspension bridge and claimed to be the most favoured spot on the planet to make a proposal of marriage, with a 100% success rate until erosion forced its closure to the public, now only able to view the lonely pinnacle from afar. 

On the day we visited the Scenic World Park, we decided to try and beat the tourist rush, we had seen on previous days, by getting an early start and some early-bird visitor tickets to all the various railways and cable cars that meant we avoided the queues that inevitably built up later in the day, when having 'been there and done that', we were quite happy just to walk the cliffs at our leisure, and I would definitely recommend that strategy to anyone thinking of going here.
The view down from the cable car offers stunning views of the forest below, against the cliff face and tumbling waterfalls.

The cable car making another crossing, with the Three Sisters beyond and seen closer up below.

The Three Sisters basking in a glorious afternoon sun

We enjoyed some gloriously hot weather during our visit and got plenty of exercise walking the park

The descent into the forest below reveals massive turpentine, eucalyptus trees of great age and size that point to this distinctive part of the world and its heritage from the ancient continent of Gondwanaland, around some 200 million years ago, comprising the modern Australia, India, South America and Antarctica into one giant continent, with no ice sheet to discourage the flourishing of large animals and trees.

The descent into the forest reveals magnificent trees towering overhead

The Katoomba Falls 

The Katoomba Falls Creek winds away down through the forest

Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo, Zanda Funereus, first described by English naturalist George Shaw in 1794 who noted its dark plumage, as if dressed for a funeral hence the nom de plume in Latin

Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo, Cacatua galerita, these large, gregarious cockatoos could be seen flying in groups over the canopy of the forest from the cliffs above. Considered to be highly intelligent, their occasional damaging visits to fruit and cereal crops and damage to soft wood on houses and outdoor furniture has earned the bird 'pest' status with some farmers and home owners, leading some be shot or poisoned, but they are protected under Australian law.

Brown Gerygone (pronounced 'jerrigoney') Gerygone mouki, could be seen flitting furtively among the forest ferns and scrub looking for small insects. Considered a warbler, they have no link to northern hemisphere warblers, but are rather surprisingly linked to the Australian family of crow species.

Western Gerygone Gerygone fusca, another small insectivorous warbler proved quite difficult to picture, flying off most times just as the camera focussed, and only just captured here amid the leaves.

The Blue Mountains are a truly beautiful part of the planet and we had a fantastic time exploring the area and enjoying the majestic views, made complete with our very pleasurable stay at the Carrington Hotel.

Next up the adventure continues as we make our way to historic Sydney where the modern country of Australia got going, and a city I had been looking forward to visiting for quite some time.

More anon 


  1. Very much enjoying the blog postcards JJ. Too bad you’re not hitting the West Coast this visit.

    1. Hi Carlo, thanks mate.
      You are a very luck chap, living in such a beautiful part of the world and I am disappointed that we couldn't find more time or money to explore your part of the country, as I have a desire to visit Perth our sister town of Exmouth WA, and travel on your amazing great railway routes such as the Ghan and the Indian Pacific.

      Still never say never, and if the opportunity presents I'd love to make a return visit another time.