Saturday, January 8, 2011

Sydney – Day 8

Today is all about the Blue Mountains!


When we planned for the Blue Mountains, we originally thought we would take a tour bus to see the sights.  However, tour bus companies wanted about $60 AUD for the cheap ones all the way up to $160 AUD for the premium packages.  At church on Sunday, I had met a very friendly and helpful mate who told me to simply go to Katoomba, the city nearest the Blue Mountains, and simply walk around to see everything we wanted sans tour.  I am so glad we didn’t go with the pre-packaged tour because it gave us great flexibility in where we went and when. 


The only complaint—and I can hear some of you groan as you slip on your cold boots and heavy coats—was that it was hot!  Wish I had a hat…


We rode the train to Katoomba.  Round-trip tickets were only about $12.  The train took about 2 hours, but it was clean and nice enough to make the trip comfortably.  From the train station, there is about a 2km walk with restaurants and tourist orientated shops.  We were going to stop several times as one restaurant or another presented itself to us as we walked, but finally settled on the Blue M CafĂ©.  Wow!  It was soooooo good.  Quick service, great food and a beautiful day, what more could you ask for?


After lunch, we made it to the lookout where we could see the Three Sisters rock outcropping.  From that vantage point, the Blue Mountains looked like a very green Grand Canyon.  Absolutely gorgeous!


We decided—or maybe it was I pushed—to walk the trail around to the sky-rail/nature walk/vertical railroad area.  The trail was extremely wet as it must have rained the night before.  Still, it was nice to walk to the various lookout points and see everything again from different perspectives. 


After about an hour and a half, we arrived at tourism mecca of the Blue Mountains.  Even though it was really touristy, we did ride the steepest railroad in the world, a walk on the rainforest boardwalk and then a ride back to the main road. 


We went, we saw,…we finished and decided to go.  We hurried back to the train station, stopping only long enough to pick up a Subway sandwich…although one in the party had a recent experience with Subway which led her not to get a sandwich…and that still gave us plenty of time to get on the train.


By the time we made it back to the hotel it was very late and we were all ready for bed.


More to come…

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sydney - 7

The girls planned the day and they did a great job! We started the day at Circular Quay where we took the ferry to Cockatoo Island. REALLY AWESOME!!! Cockatoo Island originally was covered in trees and used primarily as hunting and fishing by the Aborigines. Later, the primary use became a trade school and reformatory school for troubled women. After the turn of the century, its primary use became a ship building and refitting base of operations.

During WWII, the island became a major base of operations for keeping both the Australian and American fleets operating in the South Pacific.

Today, the island is opened up for touring and camping. Evidently there is a new year's fireworks display nearby and Cockatoo is a great place to see it.

We made the mistake of missing the first ferry back, but that gave us an opportunity to eat some hot chips on that beautiful island.

The ferry arrived and we enjoyed the ride back to Circular Quay. At that station we rode the bus out to Bondi (pronounced "bond-eye") Beach where we spent most of the rest of the day.

The surf at Bondi was intense. Its shores are best known for surfing because of the fast and hard
rip tides.

While the girls lay soaking up the sun, I attempted to swim. While the surf was great for those with some kind of board to ride, it was terrible for any kind of casual swimming. I was done-not to mentioned worn out-after about ten minutes.

While the other girls lay there on the beach, Chare and I walked to the north end of the beach where a rocky outcropping met the sandy beach. Can not express how awesome this part was for me.

As we made our way among the rocks, memories of nature walks with the family came flooding back. On those walks we would walk circumspectly in attempts to notice something new or "cool" while dad would describe some fact, facet or process of God's creation all around us.

On that rocky beach we saw all manner of animal and plant life. Everything from sea anemones and sea snails to baby star fish and minnows.

As we walked, all Charity could say was "I cannot believe I don't have my camera!". Folks, if she said it once she said it a thousand times. She really didn't like it as we approached the point where the surf came crashing against the rocks. Awesome!

After we met back up with the others, we may our way back to the bus heading for Circular Quay. Once back at the Quay, we stopped to get some dinner from one of the restaurants right on the water front. Chare and I had some more fish and chips-not as good as the place near Manly Beach-and a pretty good salad.

After our fill, the girls took a walk to an area of the Quay called "The Rocks" and this tired swimmer went to the hotel!

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