Day 59


The Blue Mountains



What We Did:

This morning we drove to the Blue Mountains, one of the most popular and stunning regions in all Australia. The Greater Blue Mountains area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that covers 10,000 square kilometres and contains dozens of plants unique to the region. It’s not like the mountains we know in Canada, but rather an escarpment that looks down across the Jamison Valley, framed by peaks and with the abundant eucalyptus painting the air a hazy blue. The best place to take it all in is at Scenic World, which was a former coal mine and now has three rides which deliver you into the wilderness while providing spectacular views. It was a 2-hour drive to get there from Sydney (the traffic was dense to get out the city) but once we entered the region we passed one lovely town after another until arriving in the main centre of Katoomba, parts of which reminded Dad of Europe. We were greeted by our friendly guides Dom and Cameron, who led is straight to the Skyway, a 720-metre gondola with a glass floor that let us stare down at a ravine and waterfall 270 metres below. Gali was a little freaked but Raquel loved it. It also gave us an amazing view of the region’s most famous landmark, the Three Sisters. Next up was the Scenic Railway, built for the coal mine and operating today as the world’s steepest passenger railway, with a wild 52 degree incline. You can even adjust your chair for a 64 degree incline, which of course we did. It’s like riding a slow and steady 310-metre-long rollercoaster. Totally cool, and Gali only lost his marbles on the third return ride up, but we’ll forgive him because he was tired. We also took the Scenic Cableway 510 metres into the valley for a lovely stroll along a wooden boardwalk, checking out trees with the best names, like Sassafras and Lilli Pilli! Up the steep railway again, a delicious lunch, and all in all a grand day out.  After Scenic World, we went for tea with new friends in Leura Village, where Gali at last had his nap (in the most peaceful bedroom in the Blue Mountains) and we ate hot cross buns and relished the gracious hospitality. Everyone needs a granny like Lorraine of the Blue Mountains!  After a great dinner at a local sushi restaurant (locals always know best), it was a 90-minute drive back to Sydney, and the cap on another fine day.

What We Ate:

Lunch: Fish, chicken nuggets and chips and sandwiches. Said Raquel: “I want to share my nuggets, but they’re just too delicious.”
Dinner: The best sushi we’ve had yet in Australia, fresh, fast and creative,  well priced and enough to change Dad’s mind about never eating sushi outside of Vancouver.

Where We Ate:

My Favourite Pictures Today

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Where We Slept:

The Oaks Goldsbrough in Darling Harbour. After a few scorching hot days, the temperature has cooled down and we can return to our patio for the rockstar views over downtown Sydney.

We Learned:

That eucalyptus trees cast a blue haze in the atmosphere. That Echo Point overlooking the Three Sisters is the second most visited site in Australia after the Sydney Opera House. That the world’s steepest railway is really, really steep! That Raquel can go to the bathroom by herself and doesn’t need us in the stalls with her anymore. That kids love tramways. That a gondola has cars attached to a cable and circulate continuously, while a tramway has a large car that shuttles back and forth. The Three Sisters are named Meehni, Wimlah and Gunnedoo and form part of a local Aboriginal Dreamtime legend. That lyre birds can mimic sounds, including camera clicks and chainsaws. That they don’t make toys like they used to.

Reflection of the Day

The Best Part:

Doing down the steep Railway car sitting right up front, and playing with old toys at Grandma Lorraine’s house.

The Worst Part:

The too-tired to nap late afternoon meltdown in which Gali literally became as rigid as concrete to prevent us from putting him in his car seat.

We'll Always Remember

  • Name: Sue
  • Favourite Place: The Walls of Jerusalem, Tasmania
  • I Love Travel Because: It broadens my mind, makes me feel appreciative of the world we live in, and is positively therapeutic
  • My Advice for Kids: Immersion in nature is important. You need to become custodians of the globe, to look after it for future generations.
  • Name: Danielle
  • Favourite Place: Cradle Mountain, Tasmania
  • I Love Travel Because: I want to discover the world and know what’s out there
  • My Advice for Kids: Ask questions so that you learn something new every day
  • Name: Dom
  • Favourite Place: Cape Town, South Africa
  • I Love Travel Because: it's exciting, you never know what’s going to happen, and you get to meet exciting people
  • My Advice for Kids: Never stop having fun
  • Name: Cameron
  • Favourite Place: Whistler, Canada
  • I Love Travel Because: it opens me up to new experiences, I get to learn about people, and it makes me feel grateful for what I have
  • My Advice for Kids: Listen to your Mum and Dad, they actually know what they’re talking about
  • Name: Lorraine
  • Favourite Place: My home in the Blue Mountains
  • I Love Travel Because: I like to chat with interesting people
  • My Advice for Kids: Remember to say thank you, and keep smiling
  • Name: Katherine
  • Favourite Place: Anywhere under the water, preferably with a sea turtle
  • I Love Travel Because: travel is when I’m happiest
  • My Advice for Kids: Don’t sweat the small stuff

  Today's Random Thing

  A Note from Mom and Dad

Despite the appearance that we’re on one big jolly family holiday, it’s worth pointing out that we are working on two very big and intense projects. No family in their right mind should attempt to travel this hard for this long, ticking off this many activities on such a jam-packed itinerary, and with a sister project to complete too. We have to be necessarily and heroically efficient, especially with the kids, which some activities help us with, and some don’t. The staff at Scenic World were simply outstanding. They truly get family travel.  Dom and Cameron really engaged with the kids, helping us navigate a very busy and very large attraction, and ensuring that we could get to where we needed to be.  How awesome it would be if there were family concierges at similar attractions,  staff who can help families spend more time experiencing the best moments, and less time trying to find a bottle of apple juice before a meltdown.

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