Journey Jotters

Bitten by the travel bug

(This is a guest post written by my nephew, AussieJJ, who lives in Sydney, Australia. With his parents and sister, AussieJJ enjoys taking short trips across their country, and writing about them. Read his debut post here! Today’s post is the first in the series about their trip to the Blue Mountains.)

It was Christmas of 2020, and we were ready to leave the year behind and have some fun to end the year. We were going to the Blue Mountains, for three nights, with our friends! Yay!

Hassan’s Walls Lookout view

The M4 motorway takes you all the way west from Sydney. The faint lines of blue that can be seen from Sydney gradually disappear as you get closer. The motorway bypasses the towns of Penrith and Emu Plains, the last suburbs covered by the suburban railway network, before the climb begins, signifying your entrance. The Darug country landscape of vast, endless plains turns quickly into a mountainous background rich in flora. The M4 is only until the Blue Mountains, however. Then it becomes the A32 or the Great Western Highway. We wanted to meet with our friends for lunch and decided to meet at Mount Piddington.

We turned abruptly onto Mount Piddington Road when we entered the township of Mt Victoria and followed it to the car park and picnic area. As we arrived, there wasn’t any designated parking, and it was just us, by the looks of it. The picnic area was on higher ground, but we couldn’t figure out how to get up there, so we just parked on the side of the road. It is a short walk up to the picnic area. There is an eco-friendly organic toilet a short stroll away, which some might perceive as a euphemism for a ‘septic tank.’

Hornes Point signpost

A trail leading from this place to Hornes Point (or Horne Point or Hourn Point, as it may be called) was relatively flat but covered with rocks. On this walk, what was wonderful to see was the natural beauty of the plants. It was pleasing for the eyes and made the hike enjoyable. Despite its beauty, the walk to Hornes Point was, in a word, challenging. It was quite rocky at places, even though the path was well marked and trodden. We often stopped to catch our breath as the sun continued to rise that morning.

There were a few other couples who made the trek all the way up. The lookout, Hornes Point, was spectacular. It is a large rock formation, which you must climb onto. Be careful of the crevice as you step onto it. There is no fence here, so stay back. Far below, there were good-sized patches of light green paddocks and clearings, but mostly dark green trees covered the landscape. There were mountains in the distance, and they seemed to surround the valley before us. They seemed small, yet significant, from such a great distance, creating a picturesque, rewarding view after our demanding walk there. Where better to get views like this than from the top of a mountain?

View from Hornes Point lookout

This time, we weren’t staying in the heart of the Blue Mountains, but just a couple of kilometres away, in a small, relaxing town called Little Hartley, in Darug Country. As the name suggests, Hartley is also a suburb not far away. I must say, if you are ever going to the Blue Mountains, don’t miss places like Little Hartley!

For our accommodation, we booked Little Hartley Cottage. One can find it on all good booking websites. It’s a large house boasting tons of character. It’s easy to tell the owners are avid music lovers, readily apparent from the music albums and singles that lined the whole corridor from the door. The house and surrounding lands are very spacious and situated on a mountain. The house is built on flat ground, while the rest of the land is on a bushy, steep incline leading down to a creek/pond beyond the fence. Walking paths lined the bushy slopes, and there was a fishpond next to a tire swing. There was a relaxing view from the house of distant greenery and hills. I would live here if I could!

Indoors, what impressed me was the country feel of the whole house, with wooden floors and walls. Behind the house were groups of outdoor furniture, and near the kitchen, an outdoor barbecue area. A Google Home setup encompassed the whole house, and the TV boasted Apple TV, Foxtel, and Disney+. The TV was located next to a fireplace. There was a central corridor spanning the length of the house, from the entrance onwards; all the rooms linked to it. There were two toilets, a master and an ensuite. The whole house was equipped with all necessities and adequately stocked. The entire place was clean as a whistle, with adequate ducted heating and air conditioning, and it was a joy to stay there.

Little Hartley Cottage grounds

Hassan’s Walls Lookout was our next stop. When we arrived, I got a hint of déjà vu, as I would for other places on this trip, as I realized that this place was familiar to us! It is the highest scenic lookout in the Blue Mountains, and we were experiencing it with our friends this time. It is a magnificent lookout located minutes from the Lithgow Town Centre, which gives you a full 180-degree unobstructed view of the Blue Mountains.

As you pull up into the parking lot, there is an information board before the Sir Joseph Cook Boardwalk, which takes us to the lookout platform. A secondary lookout can be reached from another trail but isn’t wheelchair accessible, unfortunately. 

I loved how the clouds gave shade to the mountains. It made for picturesque viewing. The dark green of the trees in the distance blended with the light green fields, rolling hills, and mountains that stretched even beyond the visible horizon. We stayed here for a while, snapped photos like crazy, and just enjoyed the moment, the cool breeze calming us. This lookout is a must-see when in the Blue Mountains.

Hassan’s Walls Lookout, a different view

It was not quite yet dinnertime, though, so we decided to visit another familiar destination. Lake Lyell is quite a large lake, fed by Coxs River, ending in Lyell Dam. Be sure to park outside the entrance and pay machine for a day’s visit. There is a campground on the shores of the lake, a cafe, a playground, a toilet, and a boat ramp, not to mention stunning scenery beyond the lake. 

I must say, the drive on Magpie Hollow Road here was one of the best I have ever experienced. I couldn’t take my gaze off the rolling hills, where the foreground whizzed by, while the majestic mid and background hills moved steadier and grander as you look further, dotted here and there with the occasional tree. While the car followed the gentle dips and jumps of the road, the mountains stood firm and tall in all their splendor. The occasional feeding pond and cattle stock, the fields in various shades of green under the bright sky blue, the wavy outline of the distant hills and its grandeur and dominance, all made for a heartening and inspirational ride. It was a memory I cannot forget and was the spark for my involvement with Journey Jotters.

At the campground, we took pictures of the lake, relaxed, and enjoyed the lively, cheerful atmosphere around us with the faint murmur of the cafe in the background.  

Lake Lyell

We returned to our accommodation for dinner that night and relished a home-packed meal, enjoying the wonderful available TV entertainment options. The ducted air conditioner made for a cozy night’s rest, even in the far end of the house, where I slept.

Although I didn’t realize it then, I was astounded by the scenery of that day. 

If you love nature, at least now you know of another place to visit! Stay tuned for more of what we did on our Christmas getaway to the Blue Mountains!

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