Author: Sarah Buckman
Location: Newcastle, Australia
One of the many trips I have been blessed to go on during my semester abroad, was a weekend spent in the Blue Mountains. This was an excursion organized through the student exchange club on campus here in Australia. Over 100 students traveled across the country by many trains and buses to experience some of the beautiful nature Australia has to offer.
We spent one full day in the Blue Mountains, which included a jam-packed itinerary. After a quick train ride to the mountains from our hostel, our long day began. Upon arriving everyone split into smaller groups to make hiking on the narrow paths easier. The goal of the hike was to see the beautiful waterfalls at the bottom of the mountain, but the day turned out different than expected. My group of friends and I made it about halfway, stopping every so often to take pictures, when Jamie and I got separated from the group. Me, being very directionally challenged, was nervous for how we would find our way; but through this trip I ended up learning a lot. Thanks to my optimistic friend, we turned our situation into an adventure. We decided to look at our situation as an opportunity to experience the most of our hiking trip. A mixture of taking frequent stops to enjoy the view, and going down any trail we wanted, led us to an amazing lookout point of the whole mountain we would have never gotten to see if we stayed with the group! We were truly in awe of Australia’s natural beauty.
Finally, after admiring the mountain’s horizon for long enough, Jamie and I focused on making it down the mountain to see the waterfalls. When our group leaders told us it was going to be a full day of hiking, they definitely meant it! It took Jamie and I about two hours to make our way to the bottom of the mountain- there were a ton of stairs! Once we made it to the bottom it was so beyond worth it! The waterfalls were soaring hundreds of feet above us, with gallons of water falling over them causing rainbows to be seen everywhere. To say it was gorgeous, would be an understatement. What’s one thing I never expected to happen while going hiking in the mountains? Getting soaked! So beyond thankful I packed an extra pair of clothes! Then of course, Jamie and I spent another hour or two just enjoying the waterfalls and taking it all in.
After spending most of the day in the mountains, the last thing on the itinerary to hit was Three Sisters at Echo Point. On the walk over, my friends and I made up stories about why it was called Three Sisters and we never actually understood until we got to our destination. Once we saw the rock formation, sticking out of the mountain side, it made perfect sense how it got its name. The whole group stayed until the sun went down, to take in the beauty of the mountains for as long as we possibly could.
Overall this trip was an incredible experience and taught me some important things. First of all, I had no idea Australia even had mountains in the first place! Researching more in depth before studying abroad is a great thing to do, so you do not miss out on experiences like this! Next it taught me how taking things at your own pace and going off the main path for awhile has its payoffs! The more you try to squeeze into life, the more you will get out of it! Lastly, it taught me that on any good adventure you may go on while you study abroad- to always bring an extra pair of clothes! You never know when you’ll need them!