Date: 21+22/10/2023
Trip leader: Vyom Arya
Party: Ben, Catherine, Cosmo, Dhruv, Eli, Kathryn, Keyu, Maggie, Ming Suet, Rebecca, Terry, Verity, Weiting, Yang, Yash

A “bit” late but here we go (blame exam season)

This was definitely the oddest timed trip I’ve led. We met at Central at 11:00 pm to catch the 11:24 Blue Mountains train. Although I would have usually joined from Blacktown, I thought it would be better to be with everyone at the start given the time of night. Turnout surpassed all my expectations, with it being such a late trip and on Week 12 at that. Only two people cancelled late, but one person who showed up hadn’t signed up, so we had a 17/18 person trip! (P.S. please remember to let trip leaders know that you will be showing up to avoid the potentially embarrasing situation of being refused on the spot). Our 4 car V-Set bound for Mt Victoria trundled along and picked up a few from Strathfield as well. The train was surprisingly busy as well, but as Terry correctly pointed out, a lot of people were just using this as an express service to Western Sydney. The pressures of the end of semester was evident, with a few members choosing to take the 2 hour train trip to work on various things on laptops or tablets. Others took this chance to get a nap in before our walk, while some took this chance to show the group that the V-Set’s seats can be easily and completely taken apart as the cushions aren’t bolted in.

Anyways, a bit about the meteor shower itself. The Orionids showers are remnants of the famous Halley’s Comet (which is set to return in 2061), and are named after the Orion Constellation since they appear to begin from there (known as the radiant). They were predicted to peak at around 3 am on the 22nd of October, with up to 20 meteors per hour. The radiant was predicted to be in the northeast direction, hence the decision to go with the Cliff Top Track in Blackheath, since both Evan’s and Govetts Leap Lookouts face that direction. Although the forecast was looking good while I had started the trip, unfortunately high level clouds were predicted to obscure the sky. Luckily, however, when we got off at Blackheath, we had a very clear view of the sky.

Blackheath Station at 1:40 am

Arriving at Blackheath the “next day” at 1:37 am, we met Ben, who had gone on Chloe’s Grand Canyon trip just a few hours earlier and had decided to camp out and join our trip after (I have no idea how this man had the energy for this). Unfortunately, the toilet at Blackheath town was closed, so we had to continue without a bathroom break. We took the Braeside Fire Trail to avoid walking through more suburban streets and alongside the Great Western Highway at night. This provided an opportunity for a few brave souls to relieve themselves in the bush under the cover of darkness, but luckily the NPWS toilets at Evan’s Lookout were open, so disaster was averted. We got to Evan’s Lookout just past 3 am if memory serves correctly, where we spent a good hour getting comfortable under the starry sky.

The starry sky

Out in the Blue Mountains the light pollution is much lower, athough Sydney’s glow could still be seen in the eastern horizon. The meteor shower went better than I expected, everyone managed to see atleast a couple of shooting stars, and everyone was very happy with the result. Shooting stars are notoriously hard to photograph, so you’ll have to do with our long exposure photographs of the starry sky, although Yash did managed to get one in a timelapse. A few people took this opportunity to eat their packed meal (is it breakfast or dinner?), and the vibes were good! Many of us (myself included) had never seen a shooting star, so to see so many was a spectacular sight that we’ll remember for a long time!

Professional photography at Evan’s Lookout

We set off for the Govetts Leap Lookout along the Cliff Top Track just before 4:30 once everyone had their fill with the meteor shower, so that we could catch the sunrise. Although the sunrise was at 6, nautical twilight (when the influence of the sun’s light begins) was at 4:40, so the sky was already getting noticeble lighter by the time we reached the lookout, at around 5:15 or so. We heard the Bridal Veil Falls on the way, but the sky was not bright enough yet to see it, despite the best efforts of everyone’s flashlights. We caught a beautiful sunrise (and Venus) from Govetts Leap over the Grose Valley, remembering to take a group photo now that there was light.

Sunrise at Govetts Leap Lookout
Everyone is still looking alive!

After that, we made quick pace back to Blackheath Station to catch the express train to Sydney. I couldn’t tell you much about the return journey as I was fast asleep on the train, as evidenced by the photo Terry took (non consensually), although it was quite the composition with my shirt matching the V Set’s purple seating quite well. We arrived half an hour earlier than planned in Sydney thanks to the express train, although I had gotten off at Blacktown. I got back at around 10 am and went straight to bed to get some well deserved rest.

Overall though, an amazing trip, everything went amazingly and the meteors were spectacular! 10/10 would recommend sacrificing your sleep if you ever have the opportunity!