Time slipped away from us while we sipped our cold beers, the sun shining brightly over a blue-green landscape through the pub’s windows. It was a serene scene until our train, the 6:30 back to Sydney, suddenly pulled into view, catapulting us from our relaxing bar seats and into an immediate sprint. The bartender’s last words: “I can tell you right now, you’re not going to make it.”
We’d spent the day exploring the Blue Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s a quick 2-hour train ride west of Sydney (‘the big smoke” as the mountain locals say). It’s a lush tropical forest carpeted with eucalyptus trees that fill the air with tiny oil droplets, scattering light into a predominantly blue hue.
The region’s beauty was striking. Steep staircases led us to the base of skyscraper-high waterfalls. Fern-laden winding walks ended in super-scenic overlooks, showcasing the famed Three Sisters rock formations and Mount Solitary. Brilliant reds from tropical birds (crimson rosellas and red-tailed black cockatoos) stopped us in our tracks while we oohed and ahhed their every move. It’s the perfect escape from the city bustle, with so many chances to pause and soak it all in.
In the end, the bartender was right. But missing our train didn’t sour our mood. We laughed as we walked out of breath back to the pub, past locals literally applauding our efforts. Our spirits lifted as we came back to our spot to find my half-finished beer still on the table. We ordered a second round and settled in to watch the setting sun and wait for the 7:30 train. And you know what? It wasn’t a bad place to have to spend another hour.