Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains are about a 45 minute drive west of Sydney, and are absolutely beautiful. The best known attraction is the Three Sisters. Scenic World is the main tourist park in the area. We decided to spend most of our day there since Laurel was pretty pregnant. We chose one of the relatively low-key walks, instead of taking one of the longer, self-guided bushwalks. We were not having a baby in the woods. Although, if we had, there are far worse things to be the first thing the baby sees.

The selling point for Scenic World is that they have a system of trains and cable cars to get you around and see all the views. The first one we rode was the SkyRail. At it's highest point, the SkyRail is 270 metres above the ground. In the middle of the "vehicle" is a glass floor. Greg was not a fan. Once we made it to solid ground again, we started a thirty minute hike around the canyon rim towards the Three Sisters taking in some amazing views along the way.

It's a dangerous hike though, and you have to keep your wits about you. Cave and rock gremlins lurk everywhere. Even very pregnant gremlins.

Like we said, beautiful right?

The Three Sisters! They think at one time there might have been as many as seven, but the other four eroded away thousands of years ago. Geology is incredible.

One of the many perks of being the Queen is that anytime you go anywhere they make a plaque to commemorate it.

They probably won't put a plaque there but in August of 2012, Laurel and Greg Otey were also there.

Next, we took a cable car down into the valley to check out the old mining areas. This is a view looking up from our decent. Seriously steep. We had a spot at the front of the glass-walled cable car, which as soon as it started to tip over the edge, Greg realized what a terrible, terrible mistake we had made. At least when we fell to our death, we would be able to see what was coming and not just the back of someone's head.

Amazingly, we did not fall to our deaths. The cable car took us down into the forest canopy, to an area that was originally mined for coal. We had a nice walk, although it was much, much colder now that we were out of the sun. At one point in out walk, we came across this rusted out piece of metal. A sign told us that it was the counterweight for the original cable car. Now, it was just laying in the middle of the trees along with a very long length of cable and various other bits of metal. It doesn't make sense for anyone to have put it there, so we're thinking they just left it where it fell. Which begs the question, "What happened, exactly, to the first cable car?"

They had some mock-ups and informational signs on the coal industry in the area. We took this picture more for the magpie just hanging out about the coal. Note his evil red eye. We think he may be a friend of the evil swan that tried to get Laurel at Lake Burley-Griffen last year.

To get back up to the top, where the Scenic World entrance/exit was located, we took the train. Generally, you do cable car one direction and train back the other since they're at each end of the mining area down in the valley. The train ride is a 52 degree ascent/descent, which makes it the steepest cable-driven train in the world.

The interior of the train feels more like a caged rollercoaster car, rather than a traditional train car. Here's Greg showing off the modest interior.

And here's a view from the top looking back down the tracks. The photos really don't do the severity of the angle justice. We were both glad we chose to take the train back up, rather than down.

After Scenic World, we did a bit more exploring around the cities of Leura and Katoomba. We did a little shopping and enjoyed a delicious high tea which featured a generous assortment of fancy sandwiches, scones, and treats. One of the shops we stopped in made the most incredible assortments of chocolates and truffles. Clearly, we were too busy tasting and buying the truffles to remember to take any pictures. It was a really great trip!

1 comment:

  1. I share your discomfort with heights and steep drops, Greg, which causes me to admire your willingness to engage in tree top zip lining last year in the Queensland rainforest. You are a braver soul than I. However, I do want to mention that the iced coffee drink that I enjoyed in the little zip line restaurant by the parking lot was one of the best drinks I've ever had. It was so nice to be able to savor it in solitude (at least where family company is concerned) over several hours. While I greatly appreciated the zip line photos, I think I definitely made the right choice for me.

    Has anything else of any significance happened in your family since August, 2012? Just wondering ;-)