Thursday 12/21/2006 10:50 pm
Weather was bloody gorgeous today, partly cloudy and pleasant. Lucky for us, as this was the first day of tracks and trails.
The day started off with a good breakfast at the hotel, which included British and Asian fare (gotta love baked beans and grilled tomatoes in the morning!) We then headed to Scenic world near Katoomba, which is kind of like the Disneyland of the Blue Mountains. It would have been tacky had it not been actually a good way to see “the bush”. Our excursion began with a railway ride down through the canopy of the rainforest. This particular ride claims to be “the steepest ride in the world”, and I don’t think they were kidding. Whatever I had been expecting, it was not to be hurtled almost vertically down a tunnel through the rainforest.
From there we took the “scenic walkway”, a boardwalk that wound down to the forest floor, and then back up to the level at which the railway had dropped us. This boardwalk would have been tacky had it not been carefully constructed around the trees in it’s path and had lovely labels to give information about the fauna. I can now say that I have been in a real rainforest. It was incredible. The air was cool and damp and clean, and it was shady from all the trees. We stood still at one point and just listened to the birds and streams and leaves. It was so alive and so beautiful. We drank from a stream, and it tasted just like what water should taste like, but often doesn’t. Then we took the cableway back up to the cliff on which stands the main hub of Scenic World. It was quite a view. The sandstone cliffs were magnificent. I discovered why they call them the Blue Mountains: There is a constant blue haze hanging in the air, no matter the weather.
Our Scenic World tour concluded, we drove over to Echo Point to see the Three Sisters. According to Aborigine legend, there were three beautiful sisters who were turned into stone by a witch doctor. The Three Sisters is a sandstone rock formation set a little apart from the other cliffs, and has fissioned into three points that resemble human forms. It’s really cool to look at. We were able to take a trail down a really sheer flight of stone steps, then across a wood bridge to actually stand inside one of the “sisters”. What a weird experience. The trail was built in 1932, so some of the steps were crumbling away and some have already been replaced. But the view from the bridge was awe-inspiring. So were some cute Aussie laddies that were there. . . but I digress.
Back in Echo Point, I saw many new kinds of Nestle Drumstick ice cream treats that we don’t have in the states. I tried a honeycomb one. Yummy. We decided that while we were having all of these nature experiences we might as well drive to Wentworth Falls and see the falls that the town is named for. More stone steps. My ass will definitely be sore tomorrow. It was more beautiful rainforest and sandstone cliffs, but with a waterfall. Not a scene that one gets tired of. Came back to the hotel, spent some much needed time in the spa, reading, and relaxing.
We went back to Katoomba tonight for dinner. This time it was at a restaurant called Avalon, which is the upstairs of an old, and sadly no longer functioning, Art Deco cinema. What a unique, eclectic place. Very cool. All of the furnishings and tableware looked like they came from second hand stores, and none of them matched. Sixties big band and lounge music was playing, and the menu had the most diverse and interesting combinations of food I’ve ever had. I had smoked salmon and avocado with capers and sour cream, served with toast and salad, with a banana caramel tart and ice cream for desert. I’ve never had anything like that before. It was pricey, so I’m glad this is a family vacation and my dad’s footing the bill!
Things that Australia (and practically everyone else) does that are way better than the states:
1) metric system
2) legal drinking age is 18. Woot!
(at the time I kept this journal I was 19, so I had just made it on the drinking)
3) dates are written day, month, year, not month, day, year. This makes way more sense to me, as it is in ascending order
4) roundabouts. Because u-turns suck
5) BYO. Stands for Bring Your Own. If a restaurant does not have a liquor license (or sometimes even if they do) patrons are encouraged to bring their own wine for a small corkage fee. This ends up being so much cheaper and easier on everyone.
And that concludes the first leg of my Australia tour in the Blue Mountains! For one visiting New South Wales, I’d highly recommend seeing this rainforest for nature and relaxation. It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been, and were I to pick a retirement destination to escape the rest of the world, it would have to be here.
My ratings for the Blue Mountains:
Good Luck and Happy Travels,