We drove up on Friday and checked in to Shelton-Lea about 3pm. It looked good on the internet, and was in fact quite comfortable. Although it was only 8 degrees Celsius and dropping, we decided to walk down to Echo Point to have a look at the Three Sisters in Jamison Valley.
We took a short bush-walk to the top of the stairs leading down to the Sisters, but decided against going further when a young couple returned looking rather the worse for wear. The one thousand step descent will have to wait for another day.
The Tapias and the Palmas had given us a gift voucher to Sparadise, a Japanese Bath House about 45 minutes west of Katoomba. On arrival we found a slightly run-down farm with a Tudor-style farm-house – rather incongruous for a Japanese bathhouse. Once inside, however, it was a different story: a great massage, sauna and a very hot indoor spa and and equally hot outdoor spring bath. The outdoor spring bath was my favourite: the air temperature again was about 8 degrees Celsius and the water temperature was 40, with a great view across the valley as a bonus!
On the way back to Katoomba we stopped at Hartley, a 19th century village on the western edge of the Blue Mountains. It was once a boom-town, a stop-over for hopefuls on the way to the goldfields further west. Now it is a ghost-town, with just a handful of well-preserved buildings and wonderful atmosphere. St Bernards Catholic Church built in 1842 is great, but the adjacent presbytery built a year or two later is somewhere I wouldn’t mind living.
Back in Katoomba, we changed for dinner and then at 6.30 walked across the road to the Swiss Cottage Restaurant. The place was already jumping with a very nice sparkling Chardonnay flowing freely. I’ve scanned the menu and wine list for you to drool over. The food was good and the wine was excellent, with Sally from the Wine Selectors club telling us all about the bottles she chose for the dinner. Outside the temperature was close to freezing, but walking back to our B&B we didn’t feel a thing.
We checked out of the B&B at 10am, and headed back to the Jamison Valley again, this time to Scenic World. Here we took the Scenic Railway down the face of the escarpment to the rainforest where there is a boardwalk through a thick forest of trees, vines and ferns. At the end of the walk we joined the cable car for a quick trip back to the top of the escarpment.
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