Blue Mountains and Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb 

April 16, 2024

I'm joined by my friend Cynthia as we explore the serene Blue Mountains and conquer the thrilling Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb. An unforgettable adventure in Australia!

In today’s episode, I’m joined by my globe-trotting friend, Cynthia from Florida. You might remember her from when we met in Florida, and also from our 10-day road trip around Saudi Arabia. I asked her if she was interested in joining me on this leg of my journey, and it didn’t take much to persuade her. So, just after I checked into a hostel in down-town Sydney, she appeared in the door.  

We’re about to embark on a cruise from Sydney to New Zealand, but first we decided to spend a few days away from the bustling heart of Sydney to the serene expanse of the Blue Mountains National Park  

That’s in the first half of the episode. In the second half I’m doing the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb. And then I jump off the bridge… it’s not a lie. 

Train to Blue Mountains 

We start our trip at Sydney’s Central Station. Think of it as a big, busy place where lots of people catch trains to go all sorts of places. It’s got old bits that look really cool and new parts that are super busy. Cynthia and I catch the 11:20 am train to a place called Katoomba, right in the middle of the Blue Mountains. The ticket is cheap, only €7 / $8, and we’ve heard that the ride should be beautiful. 

And wow, is it! As soon as we leave Sydney, we start seeing lots of green trees and hills. It’s like the window becomes a picture frame, and as the city disappears, all we can see is nature. Every now and then, we see big rocks sticking out among all the green, and far off, the mountains look a bit blue. I guess that’s why they call it the Blue Mountains.

The train itself is great – really clean, super comfy and not too many people. We got first-class seats offered at coach prices and most of the time, we just look out the window, watching all this cool nature stuff go by. Two hours flew by, and we couldn’t wait to explore, take pictures, and make some great memories. 

The Clarendon Guesthouse and Theatre  

In Katoomba, we decided to stay somewhere with a bit of history – The Clarendon Guesthouse and Theatre. This place is not just a hotel; it’s a landmark that’s been around for over 100 years. Imagine that, a century of stories within its walls! 

The cool part is that it’s got this 200-seat theatre where just about every famous Australian musician you can think of has performed at some point. It’s like sleeping in a piece of Australia’s music history. The Clarendon has seen better days and wears its age like a badge of honour. It’s got that vintage charm that you just can’t fake. 

But don’t worry about the age thing too much. The rooms are super clean and comfortable. And all this for just $50 USD a night. Pretty good deal if you ask me, especially when you’re staying in a place that’s part of the local legend. Staying at The Clarendon wasn’t just about having a place to crash for the night. It was about feeling connected to the rich history of the Blue Mountains and Australia as a whole. Plus, who knows? Maybe we slept in the same rooms as some of those famous musicians.   

Katoomba – a Cool Little Town 

Katoomba is like the heart of the Blue Mountains and has so much to offer. It’s this cool, little town with a population of just over 8,000 people. It feels like you’ve stepped into a mix of nature, history, and culture all at once. 

As we’ll get to Katoomba is surrounded by some breath-taking scenery – we’re talking deep valleys, towering cliffs, and waterfalls that look like something out of a painting. It’s a hiker’s paradise, with trails that range from easy walks to more challenging hikes. 

The town itself has a vibrant vibe. There are all these quirky cafes and restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat or just enjoy a coffee and soak up the atmosphere. And the shopping – it’s a mix of vintage stores, art galleries, and boutiques, perfect for finding unique souvenirs or local art. 

And of course, there’s the historic side of Katoomba, with its well-preserved buildings and the story of the town’s evolution from a mining area to a tourist hotspot. Katoomba is more than just a gateway to the Blue Mountains. It’s a place where you can connect with nature, dive into the local culture, and just relax in a beautiful setting.  

It is a small town – you know the kind where everyone knows everything about anyone. And we met a local that grew up here but moved away as soon as he could. He’s got a bit of an unusual name…


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The Three Sisters  

Cynthia and I were super excited to check out one of the most famous spots there – The Three Sisters. It’s this incredible rock formation that looks like three huge rocks standing next to each other. But there’s a cool story behind them that makes it even more interesting. 

The legend goes that there were three sisters a long time ago who fell in love with three brothers from another tribe, but their tribal laws said they couldn’t marry. The brothers didn’t want to accept this, so they decided to take the sisters by force, leading to a big battle. To protect the sisters during the fight, a witchdoctor turned them into stone, planning to reverse the spell later. But things went sideways when the witchdoctor got killed in the battle, and no one else could turn the sisters back. So, they stayed as these giant rock formations, watching over the land.

To see The Three Sisters for ourselves, we jump on Bus 686 right outside our hotel, and go to a place called Echo Point, not far from Katoomba. It’s from the Queen Elizabeth Lookout where you can see the sisters up close and get some amazing views of the valley. Honestly, standing there and looking out at those giant rocks and the beautiful landscape all around, you can’t help but feel a bit of the magic from that old legend.

Echo Point is super easy to get to and definitely a must-see if you’re visiting the Blue Mountains. It’s a spot where you can take some amazing photos and just soak in the beauty of the place.

Plus, hearing the story of The Three Sisters makes it all feel a bit more special, like you are part of the legend too.

The lookout is named after Queen Elizabeth II – after her visit here in 1954. Her Majesty went to view the majestic scenery and it was a big deal for Katoomba and the community. The town prepared for months to honour the first reigning monarchs visit to the area. It was so memorable they named the lookout point after her, making it a historic moment for the town.

Katoomba Falls 

After soaking up the views from the Queen Elizabeth Lookout, we jumped back on bus 686 to Katoomba Falls. It’s a stunning waterfall that cascades into the Jamison Valley. The falls are easy to get to and offer stunning views, especially from the scenic viewpoints along the walking trails.

The Blue Mountains National Park offers a wide range of walking trails and nature walks, catering to all levels of fitness and interest. These trails provide opportunities to explore the park’s stunning natural beauty, including lush rainforests, dramatic cliffs, deep canyons, and cascading waterfalls.

Some popular walks include the scenic Cliff Top walking track between Govetts Leap and Evans Lookout, the challenging Six-Foot Track, and the family friendly Three Sisters Walk. Whether you’re looking for a short, relaxed stroll or a multi-day hiking adventure, the Blue Mountains have something to offer every visitor. 

Wrapping up our journey through the Blue Mountains, it’s clear that stepping out of the city’s hustle and bustle into the stunning nature offers a unique experience. The Blue Mountains serve not just as a retreat but as a reminder of the world’s natural beauty, with its amazing views, historic trails, and the peacefulness that can only be found in the heart of nature.  

So, if you’re ever in Sydney, remember to also explore beyond the city limits. Jump on the train to The Blue Mountains and collect memories that will last a lifetime. 

Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb 

On a beautiful Friday afternoon, I get on the tram in Sydney heading towards the “coat hanger”, as the locals call The Sydney Harbour Bridge.  

I had butterflies in my stomach because climbing the bridge is something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. I’ve heard that it’s a thrilling adventure, and also that it’s designed with the highest safety standards in mind. This is why no personal items are allowed – to prevent anything from accidentally falling onto the traffic or water below.  

I knew that already, so, days ahead, I did my best to persuade them to let me bring a microphone, so I could capture the climb for you guys. I said that I could just take my smallest one and that it could be in a zipped pocket. Like I did when I did the hang-gliding over Rio. But no chance. Well, they said that I could try to speak to the government office that are the ones deciding this. But that would just be too much, and I’d probably get a no anyway.  

Also, I couldn’t try to “bend the rules” and smuggle it in – as if I was the kind of person that would ever do something like that. We had to go through a metal detector to get on to the bridge. So, you might be wondering how I could record the clip from the top you heard in the beginning of the episode. I’ll get to that. 

But safety first – of course, and overall, the climb is very safe, with all of us wearing special suits and secure harnesses that is clipped on at all times.  

Before I get to the metal detector, I’m in the lobby of their office at the foot of the bridge

Here I see autographed photos of famous former bridge climbers. And there’s been a few: Hugh Jackman, Jamie Oliver, Ryan Reynolds, Hillary Duff, Ben Stillerand I could go on.

So, I will: Oprah Winfrey, Matt Damon, Katy Perry, Robert DeNiro, and Will Smith … twice.

I’m thinking: Soon they’ll be able to add another “superstar” to the list… The Radio Vagabond – Travel Podcaster of the Year 2024. Well, come to think of it, they didn’t ask for my autograph. They must have forgotten. I’m sure that was an honest mistake. Or maybe I’m not that special.

Inside, as they are getting the suits and the safety gear ready for us, I meet the group that I’ll be climbing with. We’re fourteen people from all over the world, and we introduce ourselves to get to know each other.  

Then we change into the specially provided suits, and jump into the harnesses, before clipping on a special railing and start the climb. 

The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb is an experience that takes around 3.5 hours. It’s designed to be accessible for all, and it doesn’t require extreme fitness but just a moderate level of physical activity. There are age restrictions – but they are very broad; participants need to be between 8 years and 100 years old.  

Once we get to the top it’s easy to see why this is the most climbed bridge in the world. Here, the panoramic view of Sydney and its surroundings is simply breath-taking, offering a unique perspective.  

And as we’re on the top they take a number of photos of us and record a little 15 second video. Then we walked down and just as we got to the last bit of the bridge, our guide pointed out where the bridge ended and said that instead of just taking a normal step, put your feet together and do a little jump. Then you could be able to pass a lie detector test saying “I jumped off the Sydney Harbour Bridge” … so I did.

In the video I’m pointing at the Opera House and at a big cruise ship in the harbour. And as I mentioned, I’m boarding that cruise ship, The Norwegian Spirit, the next morning with my friend Cynthia. We’re about to go on an epic cruise ten-day cruise to New Zealand, with three stops in Australia (Eden, Tasmania, and Melbourne) and a handful of cool stops in New Zealand. You wanna join us? Well, you can, because here I was able to bring as many microphones as I wanted.  

We’re starting that journey next Tuesday here on The Radio Vagabond.  

If you like what you hear, please tell a friend. And don’t forget the Top 7 Things of Sydney on Saturday in our Vagabond Shorts series. Did you find the YouTube channel?  

My name is Palle Bo, and I gotta keep moving. See you.


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