Saturday, August 14, 2010



Today we tackled a challenging walk. We started at Echo Point, the lookout for the Three Sisters and then walked down the Giant Stairway. (It's always a good idea to walk down anything referred to as a “Giant Stairway!”) 

The Giant Stairway is built into the cliffside and totals about 900 steps . Many of the steps are carved directly out of the rock, others are steel stairs. The stairs were very steep, and an overnight rain made it seem more treacherous!
As we descended the Stairway, we entered the temperate rainforest. The rainforest is dominated by large Ribbon Gum trees. These trees shed their bark yearly giving them their name. They will also lose their lower branches, making them very smooth and straight to the canopy. Ferns dominate the forest floor. One distinctive version is the tree fern which can reach 30 meters. The Eastern Spinebill was flitting among the flowers near the forest floor. This small bird is one of the honeyeater family and has a long bill for reaching flower nectar. We didn't see any, but the White-spotted Quoll and the Bush-tailed Possum (both nocturnal) are known to inhabit the area.

After a 2.5km walk along the Federal Pass, we reached the Scenic Railway. This is the steepest railway in the world and carried us from the valley floor to the ridge. A Scenic Skyway ride and a short walk brought us back to our hotel. Lunch was in Katoomba at the Parakeet Cafe.

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