Blue View


“The Three Sisters” — The Blue Mountains, Australia

If you head east from Sydney, Australia, you’ll soon find yourself in the Pacific Ocean.  If you travel west, on the other hand, it won’t be long before you’ll be in another vast blue expanse.  This area is known as the Blue Mountains, and it is spectacular.  A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is several thousand square miles of sandstone peaks and chasms, eucalyptus forests, waterfalls, and a network of trails that connect them.

The Blue Mountains, however, are not actually blue.  Oh, they look that way from a distance, but that’s supposedly because evaporating oils in the eucalyptus trees disperse the light in such a way that the blue end of the spectrum predominates.  I’m not sure how much science there is behind that explanation, but that’s what the locals claim.  Whatever the reason, I concur that there is a bluish haze around them, and that the Blue Mountains are worth seeing.  Here are excerpts from my journal entry for April 30, 1995…

At 9:30 a.m. the four of us (Bryan Fryklund, Jen Reeder, Sally and I) met at Central Station in Sydney for a train trip out to the Blue Mountains, which are about 100 km west of the city center.  We got a sense of how big Sydney is as we rolled through suburb after suburb…

At Katoomba we bought tickets for something called The Blue Mountains Explorer, a double-decker bus which toured through the area and had specified drop-off points.  At the first place we got off the bus, we had lunch at a “kiosk” (snack stand).  Not to say the atmosphere was casual, but our waitress wasn’t wearing shoes.

We hiked down to the Katoomba Cascades.  By the time we got back up to the top, we had missed the bus, so we walked the trail toward Echo Point.  Much of the Prince Henry trail was along the clifftops, which presented many magnificent vistas along the way.  We’d round a bend, and there would be an even better view of The Three Sisters than we’d had a few minutes before.  Bryan usually rushed to the railing at the viewpoints, but I tended to approach with my customary caution, so as not to lose consciousness.

We reached Echo Point about 2:15, along with a lot of other people who had gotten there on tour buses.  Since our next Explorer bus wasn’t due until about 3:00, we had plenty of time to catch our breath, take pictures, and watch the progress of some rock climbers who were scaling the middle column of the Three Sisters.

When the bus came, we knew we only had time for one more stop, so we decided on the Leura Cascade, a beautiful mountain stream which found its way over boulders and through ferns and eventually threw itself off a cliff.  From one of the vantage points, we looked down — way down — and saw the remains of a Volkswagen Beetle lying on its side on the canyon floor.  It should not have attempted to be a waterfall.


5 responses to “Blue View

  1. Bryan still rushes to the railings at viewpoints – I doubt you would have liked the recent Grand Canyon rushing…what a great trip all those years ago!

  2. Dear Tom,

    I am Rajendra Maharjan from Sahara Foundation, a charitable organisation in Nepal. We are looking forward to publish a book containing collection of stories with insightful messages. This book shall be published as a fund-raising effort. We would be grateful to you if you give us the permission to use your a photo entitled: “Three Sisters”, which we saw in the following link:

    If you are interested to know in which story, will this photo be used, please let us know and we shall be glad to send you the story. To know more about us, visit our website: or join us in facebook:

    Hoping for your positive response soon.

    Thanking in advance,


    • Dear Rajendra,

      Yes, you may use the photograph of the “Three Sisters” in Australia. Thank you for asking permission; I am happy to give it to you. I had a look at your website, and the objectives of your organization are certainly worthwhile. I wish you success, and look forward to seeing the story that my photograph will illustrate!


  3. Dear Tom,

    Thank you for your permission to use your photo in the book and thank you also for your best wishes. The story in which your photo will be used goes like this:

    The Three Blocks of Stone

    An Australian legend tells of a wizard who was strolling with his three sisters when the most famous warrior of the region came up to him.

    “I want to marry one of these beautiful girls” – he said.

    “If one of them gets married, the others are going to think they are ugly. I am looking for a tribe whose warriors can have three wives” – answered the wizard as he walked away.

    And for many years he traveled all over the Australian continent but never managed to find such a tribe.

    “At least one of us could have been happy” – said one of the sisters when they were already old and weary from so much wandering.

    “I was wrong”, answered the wizard, “but now it’s too late”. And he turned the three sisters into blocks of stone.

    Visitors to the Blue Mountains National Park near Sydney can see them – and understand that the happiness of one does not mean the sadness of others.

    Dear Tom, I hope you like the story and the relevance of your picture for the story. If it’s alright for you, can I please have your email id, so that I can inform you when the book comes in the printed form. My email id is:

    With earnest thanks,


  4. That story makes a very good point — that the happiness of one does not necessarily mean the sadness of others. I will contact you directly with my email address. Thanks again for your thoughtfulness.

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