Category: Destinations

Category: Destinations
Well wanderers, Downunder I learnt that the blue haze comes from something called ‘Rayleigh Scattering’ a phenomenon investigated by Lord Rayleigh that causes rays of light that impinge on small particles to scatter in various directions. As the atmosphere is laden with dust and water particles, the eyes receive a blue, scattered reflection of the distant object (mountains in this case), and therefore! Are the mountains blue 😀.

FIGURE 8 POOLS DAY TRIP – THE HASSLE FREE WAY!

The Figure 8 Pools at Sydney’s southern doorstep have become a hotspot for intrepid travellers in recent summers. Their popularity now placing them up there with must-see natural phenomenon like the Three Sisters and the Jenolan Caves. Despite this, I’d never visited them! As such, a Figure 8 Pools Day Trip had become a must-do on my Sydney bucket list!

FIGURING IT ALL OUT

What had stopped me so far? It’s a bit of a trek, no pun intended. You see, these beautiful sea-side rock pools aren’t the easiest to get to. Public transport will only get you so far. So a car is definitely a necessity. As are some good hiking boots, plus some insider knowledge on how to access the pools (the old hiking track listed on national parks signs has been closed since earlier this year meaning access is unmarked). Furthermore, the pools are only accessible during low tide. Oh, and did I mention how dangerous it can be? As Adam, our local guide, informed us, there’s at least 1 rescue there a week and the only way in and out is on a helicopter!

That’s why I opted to give the only folks operating a Figure 8 Pools day trip a go. Yep, you read that right. There’s only ONE tour that goes here. We didn’t encounter a single other tour group on our Figure 8 Pools day trip! That’s quite something when compared to the hordes that swarm to the Blue Mountains each day.

THE ONE AND ONLY

figure 8 pools

The Sydney Coastal Adventure tour is run by a husband and wife team. One half of that team, Adam, is our guide for the day. An ex-surf instructor and adventure guy, he brings a passion and sense of spontaneity to the day. There’s no script reading here so when he sees our small group huffing and puffing from the heat he doesn’t mind suggesting a little unplanned dip at Burning Palms beach. He’s also a champ and seems to barely break a sweat carrying 18kg of water for us on our strenuous hike to the Figure 8 Pools on a 36* Celsius day!

STAYING COOL AT WATTAMOLLA

wattamolla royal national park

Yep, it was a hot one. The hottest day that Adam has had to do the trek! Thankfully, the day starts off early and we manage to beat much of the heat at our first stop at Bald Hill where we get a stunning vista of the south coast and the wide expanse of Pacific Ocean in front of us.

After this quick little stop we head down to Wattamolla, another area that had been on my Sydney must do list! The beautiful little haven in the Royal National Park gives us a chance for a little reprieve from the building heat. Floating under over-hanging gum trees and sandstone rock outcrops I suddenly have that moment: “Wow, this really IS a beautiful country!”

After a lunch of wraps for both veggie and meat eaters at local surf spot, Garie Beach, Adam gets us to throw ourselves under the beach side showers. Staying cool on our hike to the pools is going to be crucial!

HIKING THROUGH THE ROYAL NATIONAL PARK

hiking trips royal national park

I’ll admit that before this day I had no idea the length nor difficulty of the walk to the Figure 8 Pools. I was rather ignorant and so too it would seem were many others. I lost count of the amount of travellers who we passed who were hiking through rocky terrain with nothing but thongs (flip flops) on! We even passed two girls who had done the entire hike there and back through the rainforest, shrubbery and slippery coastal cliff faces in nothing but their bikinis! So this is me, telling you, if you decide to do a Figure 8 Pools day trip, whether on your own or with this awesome team – be prepared!

The heat didn’t help of course. But with a mixture of water stops, a brief beach interlude at Burning Palms beach and picture stops we make it down to the pools in about an hour. The hike itself is simply stunning and the view down to Burning Palm beach from above is a reminder of just how many secret and serene beaches are hidden along Sydney’s coast.

figure 8 pools royal national park

DIVING RIGHT IN

figure 8 pools royal national park
figure eight pool

We make it! We spy a crowd gathering at a certain point and it doesn’t take much figuring out to guess which insta-famous rock pool everyone’s busy taking snaps over. Adam, however, urges us further along to a spot free of happy snappers. He shows us his favourite of the pools; a series of perfectly circular pools that have mashed together to form a beautiful blue natural infinity pool. After some exploring of the other pools I decided that this was my favourite of the lot too!

FUN FACT!

If you look closely, in all of the rounded or spherical pools you’ll see a rock at the bottom. When the tide comes in and out the rocks rotate in circles thus creating the perfectly formed circlular pools you see today! How cool?!

 Our small group has the infinity pool all to ourselves. It’s deep enough in parts to jump into and calm enough to just chill out in. It was exactly what I needed after the hike – a refreshing dip in icy clear waters! We then venture over to the crowd (though really, it’s nothing – about 7 people or so, if you can call that a crowd?) around the Figure 8 Pool. Once the requisite travel snaps have been taken it’s time to explore the other pools. While the Figure 8 Pool is the only one shaped like the namesake, there are plenty of other beautifully round pools to admire and take a dip in, as well as larger pools perfect for plunging in to.
swimming in the royal national park

We spend a solid 1 and a half hours at the pools. This place isn’t just a photo opportunity. I definitely recommend exploring, or if that’s not your thing, then simply relaxing. It’s an uphill hike back!

Naturally, the way out and up is longer and more arduous. We make it though, having gone through all our water!  Thankfully, the next drink we get is an ice-cold beer back at Side-Bar in Sydney. After all that hiking, I feel like I’ve earned it!

 THE LOW-DOWN
 This tour is good for: the adventurous traveller looking for a unique Sydney day trip.

This tour isn’t so good for: the clumsy or not-so fit. A moderate level of fitness is definitely required.

royal national park tours
 SHARE THE ADVENTURE!
figure eight pools tours

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Abby

Abby

Founder. Avid traveller. History dork. Waiting for someone to invent teleportation so I can do more of this thing they call travel.

Scenic World, Katoomba Blue Mountains

IF you have heard of the place called Scenic World while researching your Blue Mountains tour and are wondering what this place is all about then read on for a quick intro. I am not going to get in depth on the historical facts etc. just a brief overview of what you can do there.

Scenic World is located up in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains which is almost 2 hours drive from Sydney. Think of it as a mini theme park and when I say mini, I mean there are only 3 rides total at Scenic World!

Besides the rides, Scenic World also has a cafe and dining area where you can buy food, drinks and a big gift shop if you want to grab a few souvenirs. It can get very busy up in the Blue Mountains at Scenic World during Christmas and school holidays, with heaps of visitors and long queue’s so keep this in mind if going.

 

Here is a quick overview on the rides:

Scenic World in KatoombaScenic Railway

The Worlds Steepest passenger railway train with a steep incline and descending 310 meters down into the rainforest. It can be a good option if you want to hike down to the Katoomba Falls as you can ride the Railway back up to the top if you have had enough hiking for the day OR take the fun ride down to the bottom as they allow you to adjust your seat position up to 20′ if you want making it a more exciting ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scenic World Katoomba Blue MountainsScenic Skyway

This is probably my favourite as you are up 270 metres high taking in 360′ views of the Blue Mountains which is pretty amazing.  The ride is 720 metres long and you are in a glass carriage with a glass floor as well on a cable suspension taking you from the ‘East Station’ to the main park entrance. You can see views of the Jamison Valley, Katoomba Falls and the Three Sisters so bring your camera as it’s a scenic place for photos!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cableway Blue MountainsScenic Cableway

The Worlds Steepest cable car journey in the Southern Hemisphere, you ride 510 metres down into the rainforest valley.  The views again are great as you can see the Three Sisters, Orphan Rock, Mt Solitary and Katoomba Falls on it.  Try to get on it first so you can be up front for the best views while heading down the mountain.

 

 

 

Scenic Walkway

Obviously not a ride but a very well constructed boardwalk in the Blue Mountains. This walkway spans 2.4 kilometres around lush rainforest to the Jamison Valley floor with various walking path options. The trees and bush act as a canopy for the path and you can usually spot native birds and wildlife on this track. One is the Lyre Bird, I haven’t been down yet without spotting a few.  You can also catch up on the history of the old coal miners from the area with replicas and signage around.

Cost:
Rides for all 3 are $39 for Adults which gives you an unlimited pass, or $19 for the one-way train if you want to do a bit of hiking.

Scenic Railway Blue MountainsKatoomba Scenic WorldSkyway Scenic World

To check them out online head to http://www.scenicworld.com.au/

(Scenic World is not offered on tour)

Some days we get to meet absolute legends on our tour to the Blue Mountains, although I am not talking about our guests this time. (Because we think they are all the greatest!) This time it is the random folklore Ukuleleists that we ran into while in the Blue Mountains.

After our last hoorah and stop up at Scenic World in Katoomba, we piled back in the bus and started our journey back to Sydney. Seeing as we made great time on our trip, I had one more place I wanted to show everyone that’s off the beaten track. Lets just say I call it my ‘Secret Spot’ as you get one of the best views of the Blue Mountains and it’s far from the popular tourist areas i.e. Echo Point.

Walking up to the spot we soon were met by 2 blokes just singing and jamming out on their Ukuleleis enjoying the beauty around us all. What Legends! Thanks for the tunes and for letting us capture this random but very cool moment that will be one to definitely remember. 🙂

 

 

The Hunter Valley has a well-earned reputation as Australia’s premier wine region. This area is a must-see for anyone who loves Australian wine and the gourmet food that best accompanies it. Even besides these major attractions, the Hunter Valley has lots to offer. The picturesque landscape of rolling hills and vineyards also contains its fair share of golf courses, luxury spas, historic villages, and farmstays. Located a 3-hour drive from Sydney, this haven is the perfect place to escape for a weekend, a week, or more.

Just three hours south of Sydney, Jervis Bay boasts some of the most idyllic coastal scenery in Australia. Visitors to Jervis Bay are met with pristine beaches, creeks, lagoons and hidden coves. Popular activities in the area include swimming, surfing, kayaking, scuba diving, fishing, standup paddle boarding, and even whale watching—humpback whales can often be spotted resting in the calm waters of Jervis Bay from June to November.

 

Slightly further inland, you’ll find plenty of bushwalking and cycling tracks, camping grounds, displays of Indigenous culture, and spectacular cliff-top lookouts. The small towns and villages scattered throughout the area host everything from local farmers’ markets to art galleries and fine dining restaurants.

One of Australia’s own World Heritage Sites, the Greater Blue Mountains area features a dynamic landscape of vast gorges, sandstone plateaus, fertile rivers and lakes, and huge cliffs diving headfirst into unexplored valleys. The Blue Mountains are also home to rare and endangered wildlife, many of which rely on the extraordinary diversity of the area’s eucalypt species. These same trees are also responsible for the region’s name, as the landscape’s blueish hue results from the oils released by eucalypts in warm weather. Just 6090 minutes northwest of Sydney, the Greater Blue Mountains Area is a popular travel spot among outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. Hiking trails, abseiling, and magnificent lookouts are just a few of the things drawing more visitors to the Blue Mountains every year.