Monday, February 28, 2011

Post Fourteen: Blues, Babies, Battlestar Galactica

A quick stop at Parc Olympique first
Today was off to the BLUE MOUNTAINS!

View from Flatrock
 When one thinks of Australia one really doesn't think of 'rainforest'. However, just west of Sydney is a large rainforest national reserve called the Blue Mountains. Today I awoke super early (yes dear people, early) to sneak in a quick workout before heading to catch a tourbus out to these amazing hills.The trip took awhile, Sydney is very large, but once we were on the ridge of the mountains it was really mountains as far as the eye could see. Apparently the reserve is larger than the area of northern Ireland! The pictures really don't do them justice.

Our bus included: Jim, our wonderful and knowledgeable guide, four people from Canada and their (rather fussy and loud) baby girl. She was screaming half the time, and of course, no apology from mommy and daddy...oh well, as well as a couple of neat people from America, an Aussie, and two sisters from Sweden.

Jim was great. We learned all about some of the history of the mountains (e.g. the road was built in 8 months by convicts, where as now they are trying to expand it and it is planned to take 25 years...chew on that!), the flora, and the secrets of mountain rains.

Our bus stopped at a few amazing lookout views, including flatrock, the three sisters, and Katoomba falls. We did a little light hiking in these areas before breaking for the Aussie on-the-go lunch of meatpie (and maaaaaybe an Anzac cookie). After this, we walked down the 1,000 stairs to the bottom of the valley. During this walk it poured rain (fitting for the rainforest) for about 10 minutes, making the waterfalls (usually mere trickles) cascades of gushing water, just for us. Nature really put on a show for us, there was sunshine, then a huge thunderstorm, then waterfalls (including some that only occurred when it rained hard), and clouds on the mountains. We even got to see some fog that was almost good enough that our view became invisible, almost, not quite.

Not even Katoomba falls, this is apparently usually "just a polite trickle"
The rest of the tour group then took the steep railway back up to the top whilst I commenced my climb back up the 1,000 stairs. It was quite the trek, but I enjoyed the physical nature of the hike. I cannot wait to go back, or go to the outback and just hike and hike and hike!

Couldn't resist
Sydney is a great city to be sure, but I love love nature and I much enjoy walking through it an enjoying absorbing it as much as possible. Especially when it is as interesting and different as the Blue Mountains (which are incidentally blue to to the haze from evaporating eucalyptus oil). It was very refreshing to experience some real and different nature. Now I want more more more!!!

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