The most rewarding excursion out of Sydney because it is leads to the most beautiful part of New South Wales is the one to the Blue Mountains — a place that is in fact incomparable in its delightful scenery.
The Blue Mountains run nearly parallel to the coast at a distance of 40 km to 200 km delimited in the North by cross running Liverpool mountain ridge, that is it runs from West to East, and in the South by the mountainous area next to the Australian Alps whose highest elevation is Mount Beemarong (1230 m). This mountainous area rises sharply out of the plain to create an extended high plateau on which are set individual mountain ridges. Covered with woods and otherwise infertile but rich in mineral wealth the Blue Mountains split the undulating grass rich grazing grounds of the interior from the fertile luxurious alluvium strip on the East coast.
At the rather distant Redfern Station of the Western Line that from Sydney crosses the Blue Mountains in a Western direction, the minister of public education, Mr. F. B. Suttor, the guide and organizer of the journey as well as the German consul general Pelldram were awaiting us.
The day’s weather was wonderful, the atmosphere clear and clean. Even though the special train was driving at English speed it still took quite some time to get out of Sydney and its far extending suburbs and smaller settlements so that a visitor can well appreciate the extensive space and the growth of this young city during the last few decades. Everywhere there was cleanliness and prettiness. The houses in the suburbs are usually ground floor only, small and covered in corrugated iron. When the train finally had passed out of this labyrinth of houses, large orange gardens and also eucalyptus groves reach close to the railway line which then ascends the mountain ridge that is covered with pine wood. We find here Californian pines (Pinus insignis), Pinus Strobus (Weymouth pine) and now and then mighty rubber trees.
In these woods too there were numerous settlements as these outlying areas of the Blue Mountains serve as summer retreats for the Sydneysiders. All the richer inhabitants of the city own a country retreat here so that all the pretty points of view, all idyllic spots in the valleys and gorges are covered with villas that are built in the spirit of cosiness and joyfulness. In all the gardens of the villas a vast variety of Chrysanthemums and late blooming roses are flowering.
Having passed through a long tunnel the railway line ascends more steeply and the scenery starts to look like a mountain landscape. Valleys alternate with wooded mountain ridges and from time to time grotesque rock formations appear. Due to the clean atmosphere the more distant hills and mountain ridges appear in an intensive blue color which explains the name of „Blue Mountains“; this faint blue mist lies over the valleys — a strange spectacle of nature that I observed here for the first time.
Towards 1 o’clock we arrived at Wentworth Falls station, 871 m above sea level, climbed into the waiting wagon and drove to a beautiful sightseeing spot as our guide modestly called it. The drive might have taken half an hour through the eucalyptus forest, when suddenly after a turn of the road a mountain panorama opened up in front of us that could not be compared to anything else in its originality and impact.
Surrounded by steep, craggy heights, a wide deep valley bottom extends at our feet, covered in might mighty trees and ferns, bathed in an aromatic blue. A clear mountain stream descends as an impressive waterfall down into a depth of 300 m with great noise and sprays over three rocky ledges only to collect itself there in a basin to form a lake and gushingly continue its path down the valley. Fine water mist envelops the descending water like a shaking, swinging and floating cloud and turns into a colorful rainbow in the sunlight.
„Über allen Wipfeln ist Ruh'“ (‚Above all the peaks it is quiet‘), and only when a slight wind draws above the tree tops, they nod with quiet whispering their approval to the smashing accords of the waterfall. No twittering birds are audible and only now and then a predator bird is circling in the blue air.
Advancing up to the edge of a small rocky ledge on a stone cliff that descends for multiple hundred meters to the valley below, we enjoy the delightful spectacle to the full. The size of the height difference between our position and the bottom of the valley is best illustrated by the fact that the tall rubber trees that must be up to a hundred meters tall look like small bushes from above. The virgin forest stands so close that not even a spot of the ground is bare and the eye can only sweep across a blanket of tree tops. Everywhere luxurious plants are growing. Epacrideae and ferns glance curiously out of rock crevices at the wonders of nature. Even the most sterile ground is ornamented with all kinds of greens and contributes its share to embellish the view. Heavy dew that had fallen in the morning transformed itself under the force of the sun’s rays into many millions of pearls that now were glittering playfully in all colors on each blade.
Under the overhanging parts of a rocky face of the valley are installed small stair steps. They lead up to various rocky peaks and ledges that offer the most splendid views of always changing new scenes.
Only the constant insistence of our minders who were concerned about the possible delay of our special train made us take leave from these majestically beautiful paintings.
The train then drove past a number of lovely places among them the small village of Katoomba where multiple beautiful valleys meet and is one of the most popular summer retreats of Sydney.
At Blackheath station we stopped again to go to the waterfall of Govett’s Leap 5 km distant past delightfully situated villas. There we had a similar view as we had seen at Wentworth Falls.
Here too we viewed from the edge of a vertically descending rock face into a deeply cut valley that was surrounded by sharply pointed rocky heights and covered far and wide with green tree tops. The giants of this valley seemed to be even smaller than those at Wentworth Falls, as the rock face as if chiseled by man is descending even farther down. In an arc, here too, crashed down a mountain stream while a second smaller water course falls down to the valley in myriads of separate drops like a veil. The last rays of the setting sun offered magic light effects; the tender blue of the atmosphere blended into the rosy breeze of the illuminated mountain peaks. Above the dark-green woods descended in time a violet mist. Even the coolest critic of nature must be enthusiastic about Wentworth Falls and Govett’s Leap. As I believe it is right to boldly state — disregarding my existing preference and predisposition for natural beauty — that this joy of viewing the Blue Mountains alone is compensation enough for the arduous seaborne journey to Sydney.
Apart from Wentworth Falls and Govett’s Leap there are also a number of other points here that are distinguished by their great beauty. But unfortunately the meagerly allocated time for our stay in New South Wales did not permit to visit all these remarkable places in this mountain area.
Back in the train again we soon reached the highest point of the railway line shortly before Zigzag station at an altitude of 1025 m above sea level. For the part of the Western Line that crosses the mountain — called Zigzag Railway — the constructor Mr. John Whitton made use of zigzag lines in a similar way as this was the case at the mountain railway leading to Darjeeling. The zigzags start at Lapstone Hill and continue until a place 31 m below the highest point where the line starts to descend towards Bathurst.
While we descended towards the valley, there were quite a few signs that we were moving towards the interior of the country and its large farms. The freight trains mostly consisted of long rows of cattle wagons. Each of these wagons was filled with living sheep and thus loaded train after train moved towards the docks and slaughter houses of Sydney. The dry sheep pastures in the interior have forced the breeders to produce firstly fine wool producing animals and only at a lower priority sheep for meat production. Nevertheless despite the production centered on breeding sheep and on huge quantities of valuable wool in New South Wales the export of sheep for meat production is still considerable. The importance of the ship trade in this colony can be assessed by the fact that in the year 1892 1,583.666 heads of sheep were exported from here and 520.660 heads were imported into New South Wales.
At sunset we arrived at the other side of the foot of Blue Mountains. Before the train fully entered the plain it crosses an extended area rich in coal mines in which coal is found in mighty beds and everywhere one could see mining shafts, a sign of busy mining activities. Around the shafts are numerous quickly built settlements, the houses of the workers and mine owners. Some walls of corrugated iron or wood, the roof sometimes only formed out of the strong wood-like bark of the rubber tree — and a house is complete. In this manner the towns and villages of Australia grow in short time, as if they had been produced out of the ground by magic.
At Bathurst station dinner was served in the train. Towards midnight we reached the destination of our journey in Narromine where it was planned to hunt the next three days under the guidance of the farmer Mr. Mack.
- Location: Narromine, Australia
- ANNO – on 17.05.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
- The Sydney Morning Herald’s account of Franz Ferdinand’s arrival
- The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Torquato Tasso“ and the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera “Der Wildschütz“.