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Day 48- 50- Blue Mountains & Featherdale Wildlife Park

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Be warned this entry is a long one and you may feel pangs of jealousy.. So settle in

We had planned to go to the airport for about 11pm the previous day and hang around there all night, but turned out it actually closed throughout the night so instead we ended kipping on some sofas in the hostel garden. Luckily it was undercover as it thunder stormed all night!

Up at 2.30am to make our way to the airport we were both apprehensive about flying due to our stinking colds. But with only a few hours broken sleep, the second we sat on the plane we both pretty much zonked out most of the flight. The only problem with staying up all night is landing at 9am with nothing to do but wait to check in to our hostel. We bumbled around Sydney like a coupe of zombies and drank the worst tasting Guiness known to man. We had a super early night as both of us were shattered and had an early morning.

The Blue Mountains
At the sound of our 6.15am alarm, after a terrible nights sleep (for Iz), we dragged ourselves out of bed and made our way to the train. Today we were going to explore the Blue Mountains. We decided to book the hop on hop off bus to try and cram as many sights info the one day as possible. Once we had our bus passes in hand the day was underway, getting on our first bus, the driver was humorous and factual, keeping us entertained on the way to our first stop.

First up, an easy 2.5km walk from Katoomba Cascades to Katoomba falls, then on to Furber Stairs. We got our first breathtaking view of the expanse of trees and mountains in front of us. It made you feel so tiny. It was a glorious day too meaning you could see this natural beauty in its full glory. The rainforest was a lovely cool cover from the heat that was already beating down even though it was only 9am!


Back on the bus the driver explained the reason the mountains are called blue mountains. The eucalyptus trees disperse oils in to the atmosphere, the distinctive blue colour is an ‘optical phenomenon’ called Raleigh Scattering. The sun causes the oil to scatter rays of light, similar to a rainbow, these are predominantly blue in colour as the red and yellow molecules pass through the light without leaving a hue. The blue hue throughout the national park is undeniable and definitely adds a magical misty effect to the place.

Our second stop was a short one at Narrow Neck Lookout. The driver pointed out a large area that had been destroyed in bush fire- quite obvious in the different colour of tree area. Being so close to areas so affected really brings home the reality. We walked through an area that we were surrounded by scorched trees and forestry, the smell was overwhelming, just a week ago the path were walking on would’ve been the center of an inferno. It really is quite heartbreaking. We were informed that around 80% of this stunning area had burnt. The fact you can only see small pockets of this evidence tells you just how vast this area is, while also putting a scale on the heartbreaking devastation these fires have created.


To cheer ourselves up we headed to the Blue Mountain Chocolate Company; aparently serving world famous hot chocolates and milkshakes. Far too hot for a warm drink we opted to share a chocolate milkshake. I must say, it was a good milkshake; not too thick or creamy/heavy or too overwhelmingly chocolatey. Despite trying to hold back we were also tempted by the amazing looking chocolates so treated ourselves to a little bag, comprising of four to share; a white chocolate strawberry champagne truffle, a dark chocolate spiced rum truffle, a salted caramel milk chocolate and a heart shaped white chocolate and raspberry ripple chocolate. We were too tempted by the rest so added two more each- I went for; a white chocolate St Clements and a milk chocolate pineapple and coconut while Iz went for; nougat dipped in chocolate and a milk chocolate mountain mint. YUM! We did somehow manage to hold off trying one until we got to our lunch spot later in the day.


Back on the bus we headed for the next walk, a 2km hike from Honeymoon Lookout. Here again we gawped at the view, the expanse something you can’t capture with anything but the minds eye. Iz told me it is pretty much a tree covered version of the Grand Canyon. I think this is a pretty accurate way to sum it up, although I've not yet visited the Grand Canyon myself.

The walk then took us right up to the Three Sisters, with the following fable: This tale begins with Tyawan, a witch doctor who had three daughters; Meenhi, Wimlah and Gunnedoo. Whenever Tyawan had to pass by a hole to get food, he would leave his three daughters behind a rocky wall on a cliff. He did this because down this deep, dark hole there lived a Bunyip who was the most feared creature on the land.
One day as Tyawan passed by the hole off to get food, a large centipede crawled next to the girls and scared Meenhi so much that she threw a rock at it. The rock then fell down into the valley and angered the Bunyip. He came up to face the girls, and Tyawan who saw this from a distance turned his daughters into stones to protect them from the Bunyip with his magic bone. After he had done this, the Bunyip began chasing him so he turned himself into a lyre bird. All was well and everyone safe, however in the scuffle Tyawan had dropped his magic bone somewhere, leaving him a bird and his three daughters into the rock formations we see today. It’s said that you can still hear the call of the lyre bird around the rocks even till now; Tyawan in search of the magic bone.


Then on to Echo Point, probably one of our least favorite places. Don't get me wrong the views still incredible but this was the Instagram money shot pont and therefore filled with every bus tour going, crammed full of tourists trying to grab the perfect Instagram photo (obviously I say photo but they take 15-20 to make sure it’s right). Pretty much everywhere else on our walk it felt like we had the place to ourselves other than a small number of like minded ramblers. We didn’t stay too long there and went to find a bench for lunch. Having been swarmed by wasps we decided this wasn’t the place and we’d get back on the bus to the next location and eat there instead.


Leura Cascades, another short 1km round trip, a wooden walkway/stairs down some long Cascades. We decided to perch on a wall at the top for our picnic, not a bad view for a Tuesday afternoon when everyone else would’ve been at work (well ignoring the time difference). We sat, ate, chatted and enjoyed our surroundings and appreciating how lucky we were to be here. As we sat there we knew this was going to be one of the best days of our trip. You can see a selection of the many pictures we took but none can demonstrate how perfect this place is. After a little explore around the top one we headed down to the main cascade.


Conscious of the fact it was turning in to late afternoon and the buses stopped soon we made our way to our final walk, another 1km. We had an hour to make the most of the things to see and be at the next bus stop. We headed down to Gordon Falls, another look out, no matter the angle you look at this scene it is just as impressive as the last! The air so fresh, knowing this was probably one of the only places in the word with so much oxygen we made the most of it, standing taking big breaths in. We almost ran to the Pool of Siloam, slightly disappointing. We’d planned to come here with enough time for a swim, although we didn’t have time for that the amount water wasn’t anywhere near large enough to even paddle in.


Shooting back up all the stairs (there was a lot of stairs in one day 163 flights to be precise- according to Izzy's Fitbit) to make our way to the Lyrebird Dell. Our tour guide had told us that we’d come across some caves on our left on the way. It was definitely a relief when they came in to sight, as for the last twenty minutes we’d been walking blindly on what could not be considered a path, I had started to worry we were going to end up sleeping in the rainforest, running through the animals that would be most likely to kill us.

We stumbled upon a little waterfall and river and a more substantial path seemed to appear, although still completely overgrown. This clearly isn’t a route for the tourists just wanting a stroll, probably the same reason we didn’t see another person on this walk. We came to a clearing and a road, realizing the little waterfall was infact the Lyrebird Dell we’d been looking for. We weren’t about to scramble back down to it so decided we were done for the day. Still relieved to be back in civilization and not sleeping in the Australian jungle (if only I was famous I could’ve just shouted ‘get me out of here’ and Ant and Dec may have appeared to rescue me) we headed to the bus stop to take us back to the train station. Iz slept most of the way back after an exhausting day and us both not feeling a 100%.


Next day was another full day this time at Featherdale Wildlife Park to view their impressive collection of Australian animals. Here you could also get up close and feed wallabies and kangaroos which was a unique experience. Talking of unique experiences we had also booked to get a photograph up close with a koala! Unfortunately in New South Wales you are not permitted to hold one but we both could stroke him and pose for a cute picture.


After we spent the day looking around the park running to various wildlife talks and learning about Australia's odd but fascinating wildlife. For example some facts we learned were; that despite the Tasmanian Devil giving birth to around 40 cubs only 4 make it, in a real survival of the fittest contest and echidnas make a temporary pouch for childbirth and have tongues around 12 inches long despite their short snouts and tiny mouths. It was crazy watching the crocodile leap for some chicken and learn what makes this reptile the ultimate predator. Safe to say I have a new found love and respect for the croc. What an impressive beast!


We spent a good deal of time ogling these unusual animals must of which we hadn't seen before running back to the train to escape the heat and get ready to meet Nick (another old housemate.. Seems we scared them all off to the other side of the world) for drinks. Once back we showered and made a bit of an effort to dress up, something that feels like a bit of a luxury when traveling as you spend most your day hot, sweaty and feeling a little gross! We also realised it was our 4 year anniversary of getting together! I can't believe it has been that long! Time has just flown and I've enjoyed every single minute. I'm happier now then I ever have been and I have Iz to thank for that. Like every couple we have our ups and downs and I know I'm not always the easiest to live with but this trip has reconfirmed we are better together and we can overcome any obstacle.


Anyway enough of the mushy stuff. It was good to see Nick and catch up on his own time and tribulations in Australia over a few beers. As Nick had work tomorrow and we had an 8 hour flight (which we somehow only thought was 4 hours) it was time for everyone to head to bed.

And this concluded our Australian adventure. It is difficult to sum up really as in comparison to New Zealand on the whole it isn't as naturally pretty. We also didn't love the cities as much, however having said this the trips to the Whitsundays, snorkeling and Fraser are some of the best experiences we have had so far. Next stop, the Philippines capital of Manila! Join us there for the next entry ????

Posted by Bears on Tour 21:11 Archived in Australia Tagged sydney koala scenery blue_mountains bush_fire kanageroo featherdale_wildlife_park

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Fantastic experience and blog makes me envious. Cxo

by Mum

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