A home among the gumtrees

Visiting Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

A home among the gumtrees

  |   17 Comments

This is the website of travel writer, Michael Turtle. After working in broadcast journalism for a decade in Australia, Michael left Sydney to travel the world indefinitely and write about his discoveries.

I’ve been around the world
A couple of times or maybe more
I’ve seen the sights, I’ve had delights
On every foreign shore
But when my mates all ask me
The place that I adore
I tell them right away

Give me a home among the gumtrees
With lots of plum trees
A sheep or two, a k-kangaroo
A clothesline out the back
Verandah out the front
And an old rocking chair

…Give Me a Home Among the Gumtrees, 1974

Visiting Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

The Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

Can you believe it’s almost three years since I started this travel blog and, in that whole time, I have never written about any travel within my own country of Australia? Perhaps it’s always the way… you know, you think you can do it when you’re older and that now is the time to see the world while you’re active and adventurous.

It’s a silly attitude for two reasons. Firstly, you may remember my story about the world’s oldest backpacker. John has proved that you can travel the world for decades after your retirement and that the idea you need to stay grounded in your own country is just self-imposed shackles. And, secondly, I come from one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the world and limiting my travel to overseas is depriving me (and you, the reader) of some fantastic experiences.

Visiting Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

Now… don’t jump ahead here and try to guess what’s happening. I am not putting my passport in the drawer quite yet and I have some big international plans for 2014. But I am in Australia at the moment for a bit of a summer break and am using the opportunity to give you a little taste of my homeland. In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing some pretty special experiences from a trip to Queensland. Right now, however, I want to tell you about the Blue Mountains.

Visiting Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

Visiting Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

Just an hour’s drive from where I grew up in Sydney is one of Australia’s 19 World Heritage Sites. I would drive through them every couple of weeks when I was going to university at a country town on the other side of them. They weren’t special to me; they weren’t scenic; they certainly had no heritage value. They were just an obstacle that slowed the speed limit as I was trying to get home. Oh, how I used to curse those Blue Mountains and the narrow winding road that run through them.

Visiting Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

Visiting Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

These days it’s different. Firstly, the road is not so narrow… but that’s by the by. What has really changed is my perception. I now see the Blue Mountains as a potential tourist attraction and as a beautiful natural wonder in my own backyard. As I’ve travelled across the globe, I have sought out World Heritage Sites. This is just as beautiful as many of the other natural ones I have seen in farflung destinations.

Visiting Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

Visiting Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

Visiting Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

What are the Blue Mountains?

The Blue Mountains, funnily enough, are not technically mountains. It is actually an enormous sandstone plateau that has been shaped by nature over millions of years. It has a diverse collection of ecosystems and you can see that for yourself as you explore the area. There are 91 types of eucalyptus, for instance, and 12 of them only grow right here.

Visiting Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

Visiting Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

The best walk for visitors is from Echo Point at Katoomba, along the cliffs to Leura, down into the valley and back in the direction of where you started. Along the way you pass through the eucalyptus forests, fern gullies, waterfalls, and natural caves. The temperature drops as you climb down the stairs and the plants and wildlife change accordingly. The three hour hike takes you past a collection of flora and fauna that could take three days to find in many other places.

Visiting Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

Visiting Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

Visiting Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

All of this is just an hour’s drive from the centre of Sydney. I used to hear visitors say they were going to spend a day going to the Blue Mountains and I used to wonder why. Why would you spend a whole day of your limited time in Sydney leaving and not seeing the sights of the city? Well, now I understand. It’s time to get a greater appreciation of home.

You can find out more information here about the Blue Mountains in NSW

UNESCO world heritage siteThis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For more info click here.
You can see all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites I’ve visited here.

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17 Comments
  • Claire @ ZigZag On Earth | Feb 4, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    Was there again 10 days ago. the whole morning was foggy and we could not see a thing :-(
    So we went down the Wentworth Falls to at least do something.
    Luckily it cleared up in the afternoon and we enjoyed some of the many viewpoints.
    I really enjoy it but I must admit I prefer going to the Royal National Park or Ku-Ring-Gai National Park. Hiking, green and super cliffs or creeks and still just an hour from Sydney!
    Claire @ ZigZag On Earth recently posted..Should I quit my job & travel full time?My Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Feb 10, 2014 at 5:02 pm

      Yeah, the other two national parks are pretty good too. I definitely like the water options at the RNP and Ku-Ring-Gai is probably a bit closer. But there’s still something special about the Blue Mountains. Perhaps it’s the history (which I didn’t mention in the story) of those explorers bashing their way across it to find a path to the rest of the country.

  • Natalie | Feb 4, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    Congrats on three years blogging – you have certainly done some travel in that time – Although yes, you should feature your home country as well! :)
    Natalie recently posted..The Ancient Ruins of OlympusMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Feb 10, 2014 at 5:04 pm

      Well, it’s not quite three years yet. Still got a few months to go until the anniversary. But, yes, I’m really glad I finally managed to get some Aussie content on the map!

  • Devlin @ Marginal Boundaries | Feb 5, 2014 at 7:49 am

    Those views are fantastic!

    Congrats on 3 years! I’m always amazed at how prolific you are with your posting, insane work ethic man.
    Devlin @ Marginal Boundaries recently posted..Pantheon – Rise of the Fallen : Guild Management = Business ManagementMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Feb 10, 2014 at 5:05 pm

      Well, I’ve given myself a bit of a break in Australia over the past month or so but am getting ready to ramp it up again and head international. I’m going to have to think about spending a bit more time in Australia at some point, though!

  • Megan | Feb 5, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    Now I have that song in my head.
    But you have put to Blue Mountains on my agenda when I’m home next. Just an hour’s drive from Sydney you say? Very tempting!!
    Megan recently posted..Returning to Vancouver and real lifeMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Feb 10, 2014 at 5:05 pm

      Super easy next time you’re in Sydney! You can even get the train straight there as well. As I said, I can see now why it’s so popular amongst tourists.

  • Elaine | Feb 7, 2014 at 1:56 am

    As a traveler that loves the outdoors, this will top my list for the first site to take in after tackling Sydney…!
    Elaine recently posted..Top Destinations In OlindaMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Feb 10, 2014 at 5:07 pm

      It’s the perfect introduction to the Aussie bush if you start your visit in Sydney. And you can just pop up for the day too if you don’t feel like staying overnight (Although that is quite nice too… there’s a whole range of accommodation from backpacker to budget!)

  • Mary @ Green Global Travel | Feb 10, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Absolutely beautiful! Happy 3 years! Your “home” is stunning! Thanks for sharing. :-)
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..An Elegy For A FriendMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Feb 10, 2014 at 5:22 pm

      Happy… almost 3 years :) Thanks! It does make me wonder why I don’t spend more time exploring Australia… maybe I’ll have to put aside some time in the future and do it properly!!

  • Best Travel Blog Posts | Week 15 | TBU Book of Travel Bloggers | Feb 11, 2014 at 5:12 am

    […] The Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia are a great place to visit, Michael Turtle tells us why […]

  • Marina K. Villatoro | Mar 7, 2014 at 5:12 am

    The Blue Mountains look amazing! I never heard of them before but they look like a definite must in Australia.

    • Michael Turtle | Apr 4, 2014 at 6:56 am

      They are very close to Sydney and are easy to visit. I guess they’re not super-famous like the Great Barrier Reef or Uluru but they’re one of the most accessible bits of heritage-listed nature.

  • Jennifer | Mar 14, 2014 at 9:27 am

    Beautiful views! Congratulations on the three years. I’ve been blogging for nearly five years now, though didn’t start until we moved to Europe. So I too have very little about my home country, the US, on my blog. Looking forward to hearing more about Australia from you!
    Jennifer recently posted..The Berlin Street Art SceneMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Apr 4, 2014 at 6:22 am

      Well, this was just a short Australia trip but it’s really inspired me to go back and do it in depth sometime. Maybe sometime in the next year or two I’ll want a break from constantly changing money and worrying that I’ve lost my passport!! :)
      I love hearing what people write about their own countries (especially when they use the opportunity to look past the obvious tourist things) so I hope you get a chance to do some US writing too!

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