by Donnie Hayden
© 2014, all rights reserved
Guhday Mates from Donnie, your Aussie Blue Mountains guide
Yes, tis’ me! I am no longer wearing shades, eating eucalyptus leaves and looking like a Koala Bear! 🙂 A brand new, Akubra hat, exclusive to this one hat store (The Hattery) and this area and actually dark navy blue and appropriately named, Blue Mountains,will do that to you! 🙂
I am standing at a rail at Echo Point in front of The Three Sisters/Explorers/Rock Formations/Somethings, immediately behind me to your right.
Last weekend (April 11-14), we had the breathtaking, perhaps a-once-in–lifetime experience of the Blue Mountains around Katoomba, N.S.W. (New South Wales or NSW), Australia. NSW is a province or like a state in the US. It is a large area and includes: Sydney, Katoomba, The Blue Mountains and Camden (where we are staying), among others cities, towns and areas. I wrote “perhaps a-once-in-a-lifetime experience,” as we never know where the roads we travel or may one day travel lead, until we take them or find ourselves upon them.
But the road we traveled this weekend, was only about an hour’s drive from Camden to Katoomba. Traveling by car, we noticed large parcels of land and large beautiful homes as if estates or ranches. And there was an enormous amount of construction going on. We were told a brand new International airport has been approved to be built soon and that there are estimates which suggest that over 1,000 people are moving to this area every month. But for us, soon, in the distance, we could see our destination, The Blue Mountains and the gradual, soon-to-be, ear pooping ascension up into them.
With all due respect and credit to Jimmy Buffet, the change in altitude, definitely inspired a change in attitude. The temperatures were cooler, the air seemed to be more pure and with much less humidity. All these factors were a much needed and appreciated relief. We checked into our cottage, unpacked and set out to explore Katoomba and find some grub (food). At another time I will share more about Katoomba, our cottage, the hundred or so sulfur crested cockatoos that flew over our heads, more about my hat and perhaps other things, but today, this is about, The Blue Mountains and more specifically, The Three Somethings. 🙂
The Three Sisters, The Three Somethings or The Three Explorers?
The Three Sisters is the Blue Mountains’ most spectacular landmark, equated by numbers of people that visit and their comments. Located at Echo Point in the town of Katoomba, around 1.6 miles or 2.5 kilometers from the Great Western Highway. This spectacular view and destination is experienced by millions of people each year.
The picture above was taken in the early morning when we were about the only ones there. The smaller picture above with me in it, was taken the same day, hours later, but it was then crowded with people. I was asked to take a picture for a lady and her friend and she in kind, took a couple of me.
But, The Three Sisters/Three Explorers/Three Somethings is essentially an unusual rock formation. The character of these formations change throughout the day and throughout the seasons as the sunlight brings out the magnificent colors. These rocks are also floodlit until around 11 pm each evening looking simply spectacular, set against the black background of the night sky.
Each stand at 922, 918 & 906 meters or 3,025, 3,012, & 2,972 feet tall, respectively.
That’s over 3000 feet above sea level! It has come to represent three sisters, who according to Aboriginal legend were turned to stone or to represent three actual explorers to the region in 1813. The legends are two, so lets start with those.
The Three Sisters
The Aboriginal dream-time legend has it that three sisters, ‘Meehni’, ‘Wimlah’ and Gunnedoo’ lived in the Jamison Valley as members of the Katoomba tribe.
These beautiful young ladies had fallen in love with three brothers from the Nepean tribe, yet tribal law forbade them to marry.
The brothers were not happy to accept this law and so decided to use force to capture the three sisters, causing a major tribal battle.
As the lives of the three sisters were seriously in danger, a witch doctor from the Katoomba tribe, decided to turn the three sisters into stone to protect them from any harm. While he had intended to reverse the spell when the battle was over, the witch doctor himself was killed. As only he could reverse the spell to return the ladies to their former beauty, the sisters remain in their magnificent rock formation as a reminder of this battle for generations to come.
The Three Sisters
Three sisters, Meenhi, Wimlah and Gunnedoo had a father who was a witch doctor. His name was Tyawan.
Long ago there was a Bunyip who lived in a deep hole who was feared by all. The bunyip, or kianpraty, is a large mythical creature from Aboriginal mythology, said to lurk in swamps, billabongs, creeks, riverbeds, and waterholes. A Billabong is a Wiradjuri word (essentially a dead language that efforts to revise are in progress) that is used for an isolated pond that is left behind after a river changes course. Billabongs are usually formed when the path of a creek or river changes, leaving the former branch with a dead end.
Passing the hole was considered very dangerous, therefore whenever Tyawan had to pass the hole in search for food, he would leave his daughters safely on the cliff behind a rocky wall.
One fateful day, Tyawan waved goodbye to his daughters and descended down the cliff steps into the valley.
Meanwhile, at the top of the cliff, Meenhi was frightened by a large centipede which suddenly appeared before her. Meenhi took a stone and threw it at the centipede. The stone continued on its journey and rolled over the cliff, crashing into the valley below which angered the Bunyip.
The rocky wall behind Meenhi, Wimlah and Gunnedoo, then began to split open and the three sisters were left stranded on a thin ledge at the top of the cliff. All the birds, animals and fairies stopped still as the Bunyip emerged to see the terrified girls.
As the Bunyip began to approach the girls, to protect them from harm, their father Tyawan used his magic bone to turn them into stone.
Angered by this, the Bunyip then began to chase Tyawan. Becoming trapped, in order to flee from the Bunyip, Tyawan changed into a magnificent Lyre Bird, yet in the process dropped his magic bone. Tyawan and his three daughters were now safe from the Bunyip.
Once the Bunyip had disappeared, Tyawan returned in search of his magic bone, yet this was never to be found.
The Lyre Bird has been searching for this magic bone ever since. Remaining in rock formation, The Three Sisters stand silently overlooking the valley, hoping that one day he’ll find the bone and turn them back to their former selves.
When visiting The Three Sisters, if you listen carefully you may be able to hear the Lyre Bird, Tyawan, as he continues his quest for his lost magic bone.
The Three Explorers
Not legend 🙂
“In May 1813, Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth, set off on the first successful European crossing of the Blue Mountains. Tracing what is now the Great Western Highway route between Glenbrook and Mount Victoria, the explorers reached Mount York, before descending into the Kanimbla (now Hartley) Valley and then ascending Mount Blaxland, arriving back at the colony, a month later in June.
Gregory Blaxland (17 June 1778-1 January 1853) was an English pioneer farmer and one of the three explorers to cross the Blue Mountains in 1813. The Blaxlands were friends of Sir Joseph Banks. Gregory sailed in the William Pitt on September 1805 with his wife, 3 children, 2 servants, an overseer, a few sheep, seed, bees, tools, groceries and clothing. He bought 80 head of cattle on arrival in the Sydney colony and entered the meat trade.
William Lawson (2 June 1774-16 June 1850) was educated in London and became a qualified surveyor. In June 1799 he paid 300 hundred pounds for a commission in the NSW Corps, arriving in 1800. After a post on Norfolk Island, he returned with Sarah Leadbeater and their children to NSW, eventually settling in Prospect. In 1813 he set out from Prospect to meet Gregory Blaxland and William Charles Wentworth at Blaxland’s South Creek farm, from which the three of them left for the expedition which discovered the first satisfactory route over the Blue Mountains. In 1814, Governor Macquarie offered each of the three explorers 1000 acres west of the Blue Mountains. Lawson accepted the offer and in July 1815, he crossed the Nepean and set out to drive 100 head of cattle to Bathurst to take up his property, which he named Macquarie. In 1819 Lawson was appointed Commandant of Bathurst and during this period, he led a further three major explorations to open up the Mudgee district, where he became the first and largest landholder. Lawson went on to play an important part in the horse breeding and racing industry of early Australia and became a member of our first partly-elective Legislative Council from 1 July 1843 until 20 June 1848. William Lawson, known as ‘Old Ironbark’, often walked to Sydney on business, returning the next day. William Lawson died on 16 June 1850 and was interred in a family vault at St Bartholomew’s Anglican Cemetery, Prospect.
William Charles Wentworth (13 August 1790-20 March 1872) was an Australian poet, journalist and politician as well as one of the three explorers to cross the Blue Mountains in 1813. W. C. Wentworth was one of the leading figures in early colonial New South Wales. He was the first native-born Australian to achieve a reputation overseas, and was a leading advocate for self-government for the Australian colonies.”
Source: Historical notes collected by Robert Brown
Old Ironbark, William Beard
Horsemen of the First Frontier (1788-1900), K.R. Binney
Australian Dictionary of Biography
So how these three explorers were associated with these three rock formations, I have no clue other than the number three (3). I made the comment that if you look to the right of the ‘The Three Sisters,’ in the picture above, it looks like to me, one or all of them may have had little rock formations or children? 🙂 So, I suppose which of the legends or historical journals you choose to accept or believe, depends on the level of your romantic or imaginative nature. If this helps, there was only one place I found that mentioned the The Three Explorers, and it was a local motel bearing this name, close to Echo Point and the otherwise known as, The Three Sisters. Well, here is another theory, it’s the Three Amigos or The Three Stooges?! 🙂
Three Sisters & Three Amigos or Three Stooges 🙂
Donnie, Susan & Jonathan