We are headed to Canberra but we are going via the scenic route. This is a lookout
called Govett’s Leap in the famous Blue Mountains to the west of Sydney. They are
call the Blue Mountains because the Blue Gum trees emit a vapor that turns the air
blue from a distance, or so the locals say. We are there on a hazy day and can’t
tell for sure. These mountains created a real problem for the westward migration
for the early settlers.
This waterfall was off to the right and named Bridal Veil Falls. I wonder how many
falls, world wide, have that name.
We stumbled onto Govett’s Leap on our way to the Three Sisters.
Three Sisters are a rock formation that is an immense tourist draw. The area has
a huge two level lookout and hiking trails that lead around the cliff edges and actually
out to the Three Sisters. The tour buses were lined up by the dozens disgorging their
multitudes of, mostly Asian, tourists.
As we saw in Europe, these tours and especially their tour guides seem to think that
they are special and can crowd in and dominate the site without consideration for
other persons wanting to see too. It can be funny watching the various guides each
trying to get the best view for their customers. Do the guides think that because
they have paying customers and have a set time schedule that they have special rights??
And it seems to be the worst with the Asian/Chinese guides, or maybe because there
are more of them than any other group it just seems that way.
Along the cliff edge to the right from Three sisters was Scenic World, a tourist
destination. In 1878 coal was discovered a couple hundred meters (700’) near the
bottom of the cliff. A dual track railroad was built to bring it to the top for shipment
to Sydney. The passenger track on the left follows the same path. The Cableway also
goes to the bottom and one can ride one down and the other up. We did both, both
The route between the two methods of getting up and down was a 2.4 kilometer (1.5
mile) boardwalk with lots of stairs and exhibits from the coal mining days. No mines
were open for visiting. At the height of mining there were 40 tunnels and 100 km.
(60 mi) of tunnels. The last of the mining closed in the 1930’s but in 1882 they
removed 22,000 tons of coal.
A third method of transport at Scenic World took passengers across the front of the
cliff to the lookout at the Three Sisters. From there one could return by cable car
or walk around the cliff edge back to the main building at Scenic World. The cable
car had a glass floor and one could look straight down to the bottom of the cliff
200 meters below.
We had lunch here and, like most all of the rest of Australia we fought off the flies.
This country is overrun with flies. They make jokes about them and sell t-shirts
splattered with black spots and saying “Wot flies?” . They could definitely stand
to import a species of birds called Fly Catchers!
That evening Kathy continued to sort out her rocks but this time it was a pair of
Cockatoos that were hoping she was working with something good to eat. Just like
the Kookaburra a while back they were disappointed in the result.
The next day was on to the Wombeyan Caves. The road started out alright then went
to one lane and then to gravel and then got worse. Rocks and waterways turned the
surface to extreme roughness taking us 2 hours to go 65 km. (40 mi.). But we got
there and set up camp next to a football sized field. It was overrun with kangaroos.
The most I counted was 41 at one time in the field.
Also in this valley in the Blue Mountains were a type of bird that we had only seen
in the museum in Sydney, black Cockatoos. They are not really black but a gray color,
but when they are compared to the white, more common, ones they are definitely different.
But like their cousins they have a very obnoxious screech. It is just not quite as
loud as the white ones.
Australia does not seem to have any song birds. Every morning there is a cacophony
of howls, screeches and calls that grate on the ears. The Kookaburra’s laughing call
seems almost pleasant in comparison.
There are three caves open for exploration, two by guide and one self-guided. We
asked for the 1 o’clock guided tour but it required four people and we were the only
two. So we went and set up camp and went back to the office at 12:45 to find out
that two more had shown up and they were waiting for us at the cave entrance. We
hurried up the hill and joined them. The guide is in the yellow shirt. Afterwards
we took the self guided tour where there was a huge cave-in opening up the roof.
These caves are all in Karsts limestone rock and fallen roof rocks are scattered
everywhere. But they are all very old falls, none since these caves were discovered
in the late 1880’s and later opened up for visits.
On the next day we headed back to paved roads and faster travel. We took the other
road to the Wombeyan caves. The one from the east instead of the one from the west.
It was much better with only 10 (instead of 40) kilometers of gravel, and it was
good, wide, smooth gravel. We are headed to the Ophir Gold Fields for more fossicking.
In the nearby city of Orange the tourist office rents gold pans and gives out maps
of the places open for public use. We drove the 40 km. to one and set up camp above
the creek. I read my book and Kathy panned for gold. She didn’t find any in about
four hours of work but did find some pretty quartz.
During our travels, especially on gravel roads we have flushed up brightly colored
birds that disappear very quickly into the roadside brush. Finally one landed where
we could get pictures of it. It appears to be some kind of parrot or a relative of
the Lorikeets we have seen in some campgrounds.
And we made it to Canberra. This is the Parliament building. We took the guided tour
learning all about the symbolism and imagery incorporated into the building. It is
a modern building replacing the older, smaller one. The guide’s description sounded
like the sales spiel given by the architect when he was trying to win the bid to
build it. But they like it and it is very pretty and modern with its earth bermed
sides and grass covered roof.
We also did the National Museum and walked the pedestrian malls downtown where we
found that in this country it is not reindeer that pull Santa’s sleigh but that it
That night we were treated to a beautiful sunset.
During lunch on Sunday we were in a pub with a TV tuned to American college football.
During a break the TV announced it would have the Seattle Seahawks vs. Carolina Panthers
on the next day. So in a few minutes I will put this computer away and we are going
to town to watch Sunday Night Football at noon on Monday. And yes it will be a live
game not a replaying of a recording. We are about 17 hours ahead of the west coast
USA. I’ll let you know how it comes out before I post this to the internet.
We’re back and it’s a good thing we were riding the bus. After four hours in a pub,including
lunch, neither of us should be driving. Ahh, but the Seahawks won! In fact it was
a slaughter, 40-7. And some of the worst work by the officials for ball position
spotting ever. Even the announcers were commenting on it. But the Hawks won so we
won’t complain too hard this time.
We are now heading south and west into the Alpine Mountains. We will be traveling
on good biking roads for the next couple of days and then be in the Melbourne area.
Too bad we are not on our bike!