Sydney made me restless. What happens when I’m restless? I’m sitting in my apartment getting frustrated. So I needed a break. I had to get out of the city, into the country. Not having a car, I check place along the train lines. My eye fell on Bundanoon, with one train connection per day.
The train slowly passed a series of ‘time-is-standing-still-here’-towns. A screaming toddler and a good book kept me awake during the two hour long journey. I saw old, wooden train stations and a hilly landscape. Scattered around the tracks were small towns. Bundanoon was no exception.
It was dark by the time I arrived and found my way to the hostel along the dark road next to the train line. I saw a few small shops but not much else. The other houses stood far apart and after a while the sidewalk finishes. Above me I saw the clear sky you’d never see in Sydney. I seem to be going nowhere, but then I see the sign: YHA Bundanoon.
The door is open, but when I enter the hostel is suspiciously quiet. Via an intercom at reception I call the owners. “I think you’ve got the place to yourself tonight.” Says owner Alison. What? This is not the interpretation of ‘some quiet time’ I was looking for. Alison brings a heater to my room and brings my sheets in. “It’s a bit colder here than in the city.” It’s freezing!
Later I’m in the kitchen. Reception has closed by now and nobody has checked in but me. Only the lonely I’m sitting in a dining room that seems way too big now. Behind me is the living area with a big fireplace. I imagine sitting there, warmed by the fire, surrounded by people, playing a board game. I don’t have company though, nor internet or TV. Here, I’ve got time for myself, to write and read. All of that in the comfort of my warm bed.
The next day I explore the national park. I pass paddocks with horses before getting to the Morton national park. There is a walk to an old coalmine. They built stairs that descend to an idyllic lake with a small waterfall. Above that were the closed entrances of the mine. I can’t imagine people walking down here every day to work in this dark hole. There wasn’t much to see of the mine, but it was a beautiful location. A different path took me back to the main road and I walked deeper into the national park.
There are no long hikes, but a variety of shorter ones. From Echo Point I had an amazing view over a valley that could be compared to the vistas in the Blue mountains. Walking towards Echo Point I felt like I was just walking in a random forest, but suddenly I was looking out over this massive valley.
From here the Lovers walk, where I can’t imagine many lovers go, takes you to the lookouts at Bonnie View and Beauchamps Cliffs. The path is rough and not remotely romantic. Other viewpoints can be reached by road and I walk along the road towards the wishing well. I expected a well like in the fairy tales. With a round wall, a small roof and a bucket. I should have known it wouldn’t be like this in a national park. There was a natural hole in the ground that was filled with water. For safety reasons they’d built an ugly fence around it. I made a wish, just in case…
The remaining lookouts gave me the same view from a different angle, but none was as impressive as that first one. I did start a longer walk from Tooths lookout. It was the descent to Bundanoon Creek and had a sign saying ‘not for the faint hearted, steep system’. OK… I started the descent and regretted it soon after. I was curious though and had to know where it would lead me. On top of that I knew how steep it was now and not a single cell of my body was tempted to climb back up.
The path was covered in leaves and I must admit my heart started racing on the bit that didn’t have solid steps. I was holding onto trees as I made my way down. I was almost euphoric when I saw the sign pointing to the Fairy Bower track. My excitement came a bit too early though. The path was still going down and after a while it seemed like nobody had walked here in a long time. There was an obstacle course of low trees and bushes, fallen trees and slippery stones. I knew I was all alone. If anything would happen…
A bit later I didn’t see a path anymore. I came across a river that didn’t seem to have a good way to cross it. I made it anyway, only to find out that it got steeper and worse from there. Even though I didn’t feel like climbing back up, I made my way back. I was getting lost and had to retrace my steps. I had a short panic attack when I almost couldn’t get back and had to calm down and climb out of the situation on hands and knees. Then I suddenly saw two paths. What? There was only one last time! The path made some sort of hairpin turn and I’d missed it before. I didn’t know which way I came from and as it turned out I wasn’t backtracking anymore, but following the path I was intending to follow in the first place.
At least I was going up again and there was an actual trail that led to a point where it was much easier to cross the river. Fairy Bower falls. After the waterfall I saw another sign and you cannot imagine how happy it made me! Euphoria rising again. I was back on track. The way up was tough, with lots of steps, but I ended up at a picnic field near the entrance of the park. My legs felt heavy when I walked back to the hostel.