Thursday, July 31, 2008

Australia Day 7: Part 3-Thrill Rides

Our bus driver took us to "Scenic World" at the Blue Mountains. He dropped us off at the entrance to the Skyway and left to the bus parking lot before I could change my mind and get back on the bus.
This contraption came to pick us up.

It carried us westward over the big gap between parts of the mountain. Looking out from the Skyway, we got a great look at the Katoomba Falls:

Katoomba is an Aboriginal word meaning "shiny, tumbling waters". The bus driver warned us that if we had seen Niagara Falls, these wouldn't seem like much!
I thought that the Blue Mountains would be bluer. The blue "aura" comes from the vapor that is let off from the eucalyptus trees. Maybe it's bluer in other times of year or something.

It also gave us a nice view of the Three Sisters (more info on those gals further down)

But...I learned an important Skyway lesson very quickly. Don't look down!

When you get on the Skyway, the floor looks pretty much like a normal floor. And then, when you're suspended thousands of feet (alright, alright, meters) above the trees, the floor turns clear and terrifying. Look, even my foot (the one in the white and light blue shoe) looks frightened!

We got off of the Skyway at the Top Station and then lined up for the Scenic Railway. It is "the world's steepest railway" and guess what... it has no safety bars or seat belts! David took this picture before it started. He said, "Look scared!" but I was scared. That was how I really looked. Afterward, he wanted to take one smiling, so I smiled, but you can still see the fear in my eyes.

Then it started to move and I just closed my eyes and screamed a lot. So, you'll have to ask David if the Scenic Railway really was Scenic. All I know is that it really was steep and scary.

(If I would've seen this before we got on, I probably would've found the stairs)

Then we began a nice enjoyable walk through the Australian mountain rainforest. This was my favorite part, even though it was mostly trees. I wasn't suspended by a cable or holding onto anything for dear life. This area was a coal mine between 1878 and 1945.

There were several walkways to choose from, and though I wanted to bide my time on solid ground before going on a cable car back up to the parking lot, David didn't want to be late for the bus and declared the Blue Mountains "just like Kentucky", so we took the short walkway. The walkway was called Lillipilli Way and I liked that. On Saturday we learned that Lillipilli is more than just a cute word, it's a fruit and they make jelly out of it.

We got on the "Scenic Cableway" and traveled back up to the Top Station. The cable car was packed and so I couldn't really see much. That was okay by me.

Then it was back to the bus, a ride which was more my speed.

Chad the bus driver took us to Echo Point Lookout, where we got another look at the Three Sisters:

And guess who else stood right here and looked at the Three Sisters!

We also read about the legend of the Three Sisters, which was different from the story David read (maybe he just skimmed it) in the travel book in our hotel. Anyway, I'm going to go with the story that was posted on the wall at the Echo Point lookout building.
So here's the scoop on the Three Sisters:
There was an Aboriginal witch doctor who had three daughters. Whenever the father would leave, the daughters were afraid of a mythical lake monster called a bunyip who lived in a hole nearby. To protect them while he went away, he would leave the girls high on a cliff.
One day, the witch doctor left the girls on the cliff and went down into the valley. A centipede crawled up on the cliff and scared one of the girls, so she threw a rock at it. The rock rolled over the edge, and suddenly the rock behind the girls split open, leaving them standing on the thin edge of the cliff. The animals below started to run and yell that the bunyip was coming. The bunyip would eat any animal that got in its way or near its home, and he was especially angry to be woken up by the rock splitting. The girls were frightened and huddled together.
Meanwhile, down in the valley, the witch doctor hear the commotion and looked up to see the bunyip approaching his daughters. He pointed his magic bone at them and turned the girls to stone to keep them safe until the bunyip retreated and then he would turn them back to their normal selves.
That made the bunyip so angry that he turned and chased the witch doctor. The witch doctor came to a spot where his path was blocked by a rock and he had nowhere to go, so he turned himself into a lyrebird and flew into a small cave. He had gotten away from the bunyip, but he had lost his magic bone! Once the bunyip went back to his hole, the witch doctor went out to look for his magic bone. He is still looking for it today, and the Three Sisters watch from the mountain ledge, hoping that one day he will find the magic bone and bring them back to life.

I like that story, even though I had no idea what a bunyip was until I came home and Googled it.

Before we left Echo Point, I had to be sure to cuddle every koala I saw.

Even the creepy life-sized ones.

We had one more stop before leaving the Blue Mountains. We stopped quickly at Blue Mountains National Park to have a look at Govett's Leap, which looks out at the Govett's and Grose gorges. We were told that the legend/lore behind the name was that a bushranger named Govett had robbed a bank in the nearby town of Blackheath and been chased to the edge of the ridge, then rode over the ridge, never to be seen again. That was before there was a fence there. But, then the tour guide said that actually Govett was the name of the surveyor in the area and that leap is a Scottish word for waterfall. They also call the waterfall Bridal Veil Falls.

One day was really not enough time to spend in the Blue Mountains! If I ever go back to Australia, I'd love to plan a side trip and explore more of the little towns there!

We got back on the bus and the bus driver popped in a video called "King Koala". I learned a lot about my furry friends and the dangers they face, like subdivisions and dogs. The video also highlighted a sort of "halfway house" for koalas that are injured. In the video, one koala's mother is killed and so they take the little tiny baby to live at this house. The lady nurses him to full health and he grows up to be a cute little koala there, climbing on their furniture and petting their hair.

After the video, I took a little nap and woke up just as we were passing by Olympic Park. It was neat to see where the Olympics had taken place, but we didn't get out of the bus, so we don't have any pictures.
The bus driver dropped us off at the ferry stop and we traveled back to Circular Quay via the Paramatta River. Paramatta means "where the eels lie down". The suburbs along the river all have the same names as those along the river Thames. It was dark and freezing, so I stayed in the ferry. David braved the cold and stood most of the ride on the deck. I went out toward the end and caught the views coming in to Circular Quay (you pronounce that like Circular Key)

Once back "home", we stopped at the hotel, then went out for dinner. We were starving and tired! We went to the Observer Hotel, one of the oldest in the area, originally built in 1848 as the Observer Tavern. Apparently, there is a ghost there too. David was interested in doing the Rocks Ghost Tour, but I didn't want to... in our old hotel (which was right behind Sydney's first hospital), I figured not knowing was better than knowing! At the Observer though,I had another meat pie- this time a Beef Burgundy pie, still not as good as the one at the Dog & Parrot. David had a steak and we both got "chips" and Toohey's New. And that was the end of our super-long day!

1 comment:

Cyndi said...

I'm not good at heights either. I love rollercoaster, but close my eyes most of the time. Your foot looks more scared then your scared face. I couldn't stop laughing at that poor little foot. I might've passed out. I hate those types of rides. You get a Gold Medal from me for going on that.

Related Posts with Thumbnails