Thursday, October 23, 2014

Blue Mountains Trip - Day 1a - Purikura Photos

Adam notes:

Here are some of the photos that the girls did at Pirikura in Sydney on the Wicked / Blue Mountains holiday.
Yes - Jewel appears to have been turned into a bug eyed alien.

And a couple of additional photos of the girls in action:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Blue Mountains Trip - Day 3 Afternoon - Jenolan Caves

Adam avoids pancakes:

Day 1 - Sydney, Wicked and Purikura
Day 2 Morning  - Leura Cascades and The Three Sisters
Day 2 Afternoon - Leura, The Red Door and Govett's Leap

Following the fun of climbing over the Katoomba Cascades, we took one last drive around the Cliff Drive out of Katoomba, heading through to Blackheath and Mt Victoria, looking for somewhere to have lunch. We eventually settled on woodfired pizzas down in Hartley, once we'd descended down from Victoria Pass.

Next it was time to drive down to the Jenolan Caves. It was certainly a hair raising trip. The last 8 kms of the road down to the caves is via a narrow, winding road with a cliff face on one side, and a long drop on the other. We passed several cars coming the other way and each time we had to slow to a crawl to pass by each other. Near the end we came across a 12 seater bus, and ended up having to actually back up about 10-15 metres to a spot where there was enough space for us to inch past each other. As the driver, I can say it was very nerve wracking, and not a drive I'd like to do again.

When we got to the caves, we had to drive right through a tunnel around the cave entrances, before coming out to the very pretty Caves House on the other side.

We found a car park, and walking along back to the buildings encountered a large lizard basking on a path. A fellow tourist identified it as a Water Dragon.

The gardens and surrounding hillside were very lush, and in bloom and there were a number of rosellas and other birds about. At one point during the afternoon we saw what we thought was a Lyrebird walking its way through the scrub.

We went down to the ticket office, having planned which of the dozen or so tours we wanted to take, only to discover after a long wait that not all tours were on offer at the same time, and that the next tours were booked out. We had over an hours wait until we could get on a tour, but fortunately it was one of the tours we were interested in - the Chifley Cave.

Our purchase of the Chifley Cave tour also entitled us to do a self guided tour of the Nettle Cave, so we decided to do that in the hour we had to wait for the Chifley tour. A ranger gave us all an electronic device that served as a tour guide.  The idea was to press buttons on the guide at various designated points to hear descriptions about the history and features of the cave.

The tour started out in a large cavern called the Devil's Coach House.

Checkout the walkways we took in the following photo. Mines of Moria anyone? These stairways then took us up high above the cavern to see various rock formations.

Eventually the girls got "over' having to stop and listen to all of the commentary, and they went ahead as Seth & Elissa decided to listen to all of what the guide had to say. I was trying to take photos and kind of loitered in between, not taking as long as Elissa and Seth, but not as quick as the girls.

No, these aren't HR Giger's latest artworks or embryonic Aliens, but rare forms of  Stromatolites.

Looking back down at the early part of the cave tour.

The exit and steps back down the hillside to ground level.

After the tour we waited around for our tour of the Chifley Cave to start. This was guided by a ranger and we were joined by another 12-15 people. This tour was more subterranean than the Nettle cavem with the initial entrance in being a small passage carved out of the rock into the initial chamber.

They showed us one cave that had coloured lighting they used to have installed throughout the caverns.

The rest of the lighting was a bit more subdued ... and very difficult to take decent photos in. I just wish I could have taken a tripod down there and had time to get some decent photos.

On the wall in the picture below is a formation known as the Dragon's Head.

We all really enjoyed the tour, and it was a fitting way to cap off our mini-holiday. As we made our way back to the Caves House and then our car, we were treated to a pair of rosellas, happily eating the wisteria hanging from the verandah roof of the Caves House, that were more than happy for tourists like us to take photos of them eating.

By now, it was getting towards 6PM, and we left out towards Oberon, again through single lane, winding treachorous road (although only 4 kms of the narrow road on the Canberra side of the caves. The drive was through lots of lush green hills and was very picturesque as we drove into the sunset. The rest of the trip home was fairly uneventful apart from an urgent toilet break in a park in Taralga where every child was certain they were about to explode, and later on, a Subway stop for dinner in Goulburn.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Blue Mountains Trip - Day 3 Morning - Pancakes, Sublime Point and Katoomba Cascades

Adam avoids pancakes:

Day 1 - Sydney, Wicked and Purikura
Day 2 Morning  - Leura Cascades and The Three Sisters
Day 2 Afternoon - Leura, The Red Door and Govett's Leap

We had another sound sleep in our beautiful cottage after the busy Thursday. Friday morning was a matter of getting up and packing the car - our time in the accommodation was over. It was a great location and nice place - we'd definitely consider coming back here again.

Elissa always wants to go to the Pancake Parlour when she sees one, but I rarely take her as I don't like pancakes very much. I lost the battle in Katoomba, and breakfast was at the Pancake Parlour. Fortunately, I had eaten Jayde and Jewel's left over Korean dinner for breakfast in anticipation, so when we ordered breakfast, I only grabbed a drink. We had fun playing Uno and Connect 4 whilst we waited for breakfast - some of the several games they supply for customers who are waiting.

We then drove out to Sublime Point -one of the Blue Mountains lookouts on the 1015 Things to See And Do In Australia. There were lots of beautiful gardens all in bloom along the way, with sublime point at the end of a stretch of land, with houses featuring gardens  on the cliff edges on either side of the road. Sublime point itself gave a great 270+ degree view of the Megalong Valley.

Next we went tot"The Gingerbread House. It's an old church that has been turned into a gingerbread themed store and cafeteria - the interior of the Church featuring the walls of a "gingerbread house" inside making up the walls of the store. We all had some of their gourmet ice creams

Next, we went over to the Katoomba Cascades. We had originally planned on doing Scenic World whilst in Katoomba, but we'd checked the prices the previous day, and it just too much. You used to be able to pay to go on the different parts separately - eg the Cableway, the Skyway or the Train, but now, you can only get a single ticket and have to pay to go on them all. To make it even more expensive, a family ticket would only cover us and two of the kids, with both Jayde and Minori costing extra at almost full adult rates, meaning it would have cost us almost $160 for entry. So, instead it was off to the Katoomba Cascades.

Firstly a quick interlude whilst Elissa dealt with a work phone call, which allowed the kids to play with a dog in the park above the falls. Then, it was down a newly installed track to the cascades.

The area had all been done up since our last visit here with the Woodwell family back in 2007, and after Christmas in 2008 .... looks like my photography has slightly improved in that time though.

Katoomba Cascades - Apr 2007 with the Woodwells

Katoomba Cascades - Dec 2008 Post Chrsitmas Holiday
Katoomba Cascades - Oct 2014 School Holidays

The kids had fun climbing up into the cascades itself, even if they did give their parents a few anxious moments as they traversed the wet and slippery rockface.

I'll leave the rest of the Friday and our trip home via the Jenolan Caves to another post.