Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sydney 2013 : Day 4 - Up The Blue Mountains & Down The Parramatta

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Sydney 2013 : Day 4 - Up The Blue Mountains & Down The Parramatta
 30th September 2013
Today is going to be a day of mountains and rivers, we will be going up to the Blue Mountains in the morning and come back by a lovely river cruise down the Parramatta River. I have been intrigued by how the Blue Mountains got its name and going there will be a chance to find our for myself. The Blue Mountains area is very scenic, with many memorable panoramic sights that will be etched in my memory forever. Catching the sun as it sets while cruising down the Parramatta will be another memory to be held dear.
On the way up to the mountains, there was a bonus of a little rustic town - one that's quiet, warm and welcoming.


Being unfamiliar with the Blue Mountains  we had booked one of those guided tours - now we don't one to get lost up in the mountains do we?
The bus came by to pick us up from our hotel at around eight in the morning and we were off on the two hours drive to the mountains. About half way en route; we stopped at the Tench Reserve in Penrith City. Here, in one of the park huts, our guide Bob collected the tour fees. As Bob so nicely put it this is the best place to collect, anyone who is considering pulling out will have to find their own way back to Sydney, hahaha!
We quickly paid before the others so that we would have time to take a short stroll around the park and down to the riverside.

Our first stop - Jamison Lookout; there are many hiking treks for the adventurous. But we are here for a quick look, so no hiking! The view from here is good but not great; Bob took us on a short trek over to ...

... the Princess Rock Lookout Point. Here we got our first proper view of the Blue Mountains, a nice one with mountains stretching to the horizon and green valleys below. It made me feel like shouting out, setting whatever is cooped inside me free.

From here too, we caught a glimpse of the Wentworth Falls. It must be the dry season here as the falls were not impressive, it was just a mere trickle of water.

We stopped for lunch at this rustic town called Leura. With its cheery pink trees and many flowery blooms, this quiet place with its friendly smiling folks is like a small piece of heaven here on earth. A little place put here for us to appreciate the beauty of our world and to remind us to help keep it that way.

Many little shops line the main street, from the deli here we got take-away brunch...

... and join many relaxing below the shady trees to have a simple lunch of egg plant sandwich, vegetarian lasagna, smoked salmon and some hot coffee. Yes, in this healthy place we are eating healthy too!


At Katoomba, we took the Scenic Skyway cable car from the East Station over to the West Station.

From the West Station we had our first close up view of the "Three Sisters", three rocky monoliths sticking out conspicuously from the ridge of the mountain. There are many legends surrounding the Three Sisters, the following of which was narrated to us by Bob.
"A father had three beautiful daughters that caught the eyes of three brothers, warriors from another tribe. They were keen to court the girls but the father felt that these boys were not appropriate for his daughter. So with a magic pendant, he turned them into rocks to conceal them from the warriors".

To escape the warriors pursuers, he turn himself into a Lyre Bird and flew away carrying the pendant. Alas, the pendant was too heavy and it dropped down to the forest below.
The Lyre bird is versatile and can imitate the calls of many other birds and even the sounds of modern day civilisation. Listen this in a YouTube video by famed naturalist Sir David Attenborough.
The poor father as a Lyre Bird was shouting out his woes in all sorts of languages as he scratched the forest floor looking for the pendant.

Scenic Walk Blue Mountain Route Map
From the Cableway Bottom Station, we took a walk on the "scenic" forest floor of the Katoomba Valley.

We did not walk on the forest floor itself but more on these board-walk with protective railings. They do not want visiting tourist to be bitten by bugs, snakes and "what nots", after all Australia is home to the largest collection of poisonous snakes in the world - *shudders*.

The forest was nice, but coming from the Tropics with it's lush rainforest, I was not overly impressed. The only difference is the forest here is not so dense and humid - so no sweaty smell or yechy leeches.
At a certain height up the slopes, the rainforest slowly blended into an eucalyptus one. I was trying to look out for koala bears but did not see any. My ears were also listening out for the scratchings of the poor "Father Lyre Bird", hoping to catch sight of one - again no such luck.

The Scenic Walk was not that scenic, save for this view of the Three Sisters...

... an a peek into an old, disused coal mine. It would have been great if they took us on a walk into the caverns of the mine itself.

The saving grace for that mediocre forest walk was the ride back up; it's on a railway, one of the steepest in the world. From a gentle incline, it suddenly charges up to a steep 52 degrees.

This is how it looked like from the inside as we were passing inside a tunnel; our legs were literally at the level of the heads of the people below us.


Later we were at the Flat Rock, it is not a large place but this is one of the most amazing sites that I have visited. It's so uniquely beautiful here that many bridal couples come here to have their photos taken.

Hers's what it looks like, it's really a huge piece of flat rock overhanging the valleys of the Blue Mountains.
Hey! Steady there guy, don't jump off! It's too early in the marriage for this and it's better to talk things over. This is too beautiful a place for this type of things.

A panoramic view shows the beauty of this place even better.

It's one of those few places in the world where one can have that "On Top Of The World" feeling. Amazing!


Leaving the Blue Mountains and after about an hour's drive we stopped at the Olympic Park Wharf.
I can feel my adrenaline pumping up - we are taking one of the "Captain Cook's" catmaran ship for a slow cruise down the Parramatta River, all the way back to Sydney!

The sun was just about to set, and I took several photos of this, the above as we crossed the Ryde Bridge...

... and this one with the sun's setting ray reflected by the river.

Along the way we passed by clusters of housing communities, hugging the hill slopes giving them a prime view of the river.

And many yachting marinas too, the river does encourage boating activities at the same time is a convenient transport route.

There are several island within river; this one is Cockatoo Island - the towering silo at the centre of the island makes it quiet distinct.

As we approached Sydney City, many were with there cameras ready to catch the best shot of the city skyline. Other than photos, I took this video.

The ferry docked at Darling Harbour first, allowing some passengers to disembark. By now, dusk had set in and the city lights were emerging.
Although this was closer to our apartment; we decided to continue on till the cruise ends at Circular Quay - might as well to enjoy the night scenery from the river as much as possible, after all it's already paid for under our Blue Mountains tour.

I closed by eyes to feel the nice, cool evening breeze blowing against my cheeks and opened them again..... to a spectacular night view of the Harbour Bridge.

I close my eyes and opened them again, and this time I was rewarded by a grand night view of the Opera House.

Disembarking at Circurlar Quay, we caught the train to head for Market City.
I caught a cyclist cycling in the station too. Hey! Cycling is allowed in the stations, I shall do that next time too!

At Market City, it's Dinner Time!
Doesn't this wantan noodles with roasted duck and superbly large prawns look good? It's from the barbecue roast duck stall that was recommended by my cousin Theresa (... see more at Super Chef BBQ blog).

The tour to the Blue Mountains cost us AUD79-00 per pax. Considering that it covered the bus ride up with several stops (at Princess Rock, Leura, & Flat Rock) and ALSO included the river cruise, it was money well spent. Note that the two cable car & the steepest train rides were extra at AUD35-00 per pax.
It has been a long, exciting and tiring day... so Good Night then!

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