Into the BlueApril 24, 2014
If Prince William wasn't on an official visit, then he would have spend more time at the Blues Mountains.
Donning a smart jacket and trousers, the Duke of Cambridge was at Narrow Neck Lookout, a vertical cliff that every mountain biker wanted to go. It's located in Katoomba, the chief town of Blue Mountains, the home of the Blue Mountains. It's a mountainous region, but it's actually a series of ridge lines separated by gorges. The panorama of plateaus surrounded by lush terrain looks spectacular at dusk. Rainfall is something else, the moisture making the place quite otherworldly. Prince William and Princess Catherine, on a ten-day tour of Australia, didn't catch either one upon their arrival. But the duke was curious of how high the cliff was, prompting some to hold their breath.
"He was very calm on the edge, he didn't worry about the safety briefing to stay a fair distance back," Tim Williams, from the Blue Mountains Adventure Company, said.
"He just stepped up to have a cool look over."
"He said it would be nice to come back another time and have a good himself."
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also visited Echo Point Lookout, where the Three Sisters would be found. Towering above Jamison Valley, the rock formation's orange/yellow colour reveal that erosion didn't happen eons ago. They happened to have names. (Gunnedoo, Wimlah, and Meehni.) The royal couple were at awe at the poster girls of Blue Mountains. Legend tells that a sorcerer turned three beautiful sisters from the Katoomba tribe into stone to prevent them from hooking up with three brothers from the Nepean tribe, whom they were deemed unsuitable.
The couple's visit came after more than two hundred homes were lost in a fire that tore through the bushland, forcing hundreds of locals to flee.
"I think ultimately this is something that will please the community because what it says is that the world hasn't forgotten what happened in October 2013," Blue Mountains mayor Mark Greenhill said.
Mr Greenhill is hoping that the visit would lure tourists back to the area.
"The economy has not recovered from the fires and we need to attract visitors back to the mountains," he added.
The Blue Mountains' natural beauty lures thousands of tourists, but its storied past can piques anyone's curiosity. The Gandangara people, a clan of Indigenous Australians in south-eastern New South Wales, inhabit the place for several millennia, where they have their own tale of how their forefathers created this wonderful place. (Mirigan and Garangatch, half fish and half reptile, fought an epic battle which scarred the landscape into the Jamison Valley.)
Stories like this are forgotten once visitors are on a trail, deep within the dense vegetation. They can catch a sight of the plateau here and there, which is quite breathtaking. Aside from the Three Sisters, the Blue Mountains have its own Grand Canyon, where waterfalls and bird habitats await. Then there's the Jenolan Caves, the oldest discovered open caves in the world. The entrance to Nettle Cave is like a page from a Jules Verne book, the Grand Arch fascinating. The entire place is more than a sanctuary for stressed-out Sydneysiders.
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