Sunday, February 22, 2009

Roos, Rocks and Rides

Our last day in Sydney was spent at the amazing Bondi beach, little did we know that this would be the last hot and sunny day for a while.

Bondi Beach

We stayed our last night at a hotel in Darling Harbour close to the Maritime Museum.


Navy ship and sub at Darling Harbour

We spent the past couple of days in the beautiful Blue Mountains, so named for the blue tinged mist that hangs in the valleys which we're told is actually vapours from the eucalyptus tress that are in abundance in the valley.

Blue Mountains

On the way, we stopped at the Featherdale Wildlife Park where we got to see all kinds of cool wildlife that we've never seen before. One of the highlights for all of us, was a chance to cuddle up close to a koala bear. We also totally loved playing with and feeding the kangaroos and wallabies - awesome!

Here we are with a cute koala seemingly unbothered by all the attention

Jocelyn with a cuddly koala bear

Jenny with a friendly wallaby

Emu


Bearded Dragon


Brown Herons


Tiny Blue Penguin - the smallest in the world


Shag

The blue mountains are a stunning plateau surrounding a breathtaking and dramatic Jamison valley. Waterfalls and wildlife abound in this area that has been declared a World Heritage Site. One of the nicest view points was Echo Point where we got a panoramic view of the entire valley and an almost level look at three sisters, a dramatic sandstone formation standing between 906 and 922 metres above sea level.

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 witchdoctor from the Katoomba tribe took it upon himself 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 witchdoctor 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. http://www.bluemts.com.au/tourist/thingstodo/threeSisters.asp
It was at Echo Point that we heard the didgeridoo played by this most interesting fellow. The Didgeridoo is a wind instrument made from an irregular shaped eucalyptus branch that has been hollowed by termites. It has been played by Aboriginal people in Northern Australia for the past 1000 years.


Jay with the Didgeridoo Dude

There is a wonderful bronze memorial near Echo Point that honours the countless hours of labour performed by prisoners to construct many of the roads around Australia.


Also found around Echo Point and at other areas in the Blue Mountains Park are little rock caves designed especially for picnicking.

This section of rock, near the top of the plateau, was once submerged under salt water.


We visited several view points on our drive between historical Leura and Katoomba. Scenic World in Katoomba was very interesting. When we arrived we boarded the Sky Way, a large glass bottomed gondola that travels across the valley providing spectacular views of Katoomba falls and out towards the valley. Fortunately we did this ride first as we were blanketed by a rain storm, complete with thunder! 10 minutes later when we did the return trip, we could not even see to the other side!


Katoomba Falls

Skyway gondola


The foggy return


See through floor...ooooo

We took advantage of the rain storm to visit the gift shop (along with all of the other visitors) and after about 25 minutes of browsing, decided that we ought to just continue enjoying the parks other amenities. We hopped on the Cableway, another gondola, for a descent into the valley, there was only one other group of people with us. At the bottom, there is a really nice boardwalk through the lush forest, but it was too rainy and cold to do the entire thing, so we opted for the short walk from the Cableway landing to the base of the Scenic Railway. This railway is the steepest funicular railway in the world! We first rode it up...backwards, then rode it back down again. It was really cool and interesting to know that in days gone by, when the valley was an active mining area, workers rode to and from work in this fashion.


Railway car

Counter ballast for the train
Pretty steep!

1 comment:

Calvin said...

WOW,

Spectacular wildlife photos. This trip is getting more interesting the longer I stay tuned. It's a good thing the Olympics are on soon after your return as it might be a bit boring coming home after all of this. (except for all your family and friends of course)

Jay... I didn't know your twin brother was a musician. Nice doo... get it) Sorry about that...

You can see I am suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD) and look forward to spring with great anticipation.

Thanks for the emails!

Love ya,

(Uncle) Cal