We had a 7.55 a.m. pickup scheduled for our pre-arranged tour to the Blue Mountains, about 50 miles west of Sydney. The alarm did not go off as planned, and something – God knows what – prompted us to wake up at 7.28 a.m. Panic followed, but we were able to make it to the coach, remarkably with about 5 minutes to spare. Concentrated the mind wonderfully.
Pretty full-on day again. Coach tour, under the genial and knowledgeable guidance of Trys, took us firstly to the Three Sisters lookout viewpoint. This area has particular spiritual significance to the local aboriginal people, and you can see why this rock formation gets its name. The aboriginal story about how these protuberances were formed is much more interesting, in a fairytale way, than the dry, prosaic, although more accurate, Western geological explanation.
By the way, the Blue Mountains are given their name because of the blue haze given off by all the eucalyptus trees in the area.
Next up was Scenic World, again an included part of our trip. This constituted a short trip on a cable car across to the main station, then a short steep cable car down into the rainforest on the valley floor, some boardwalks through said rainforest, and a short steep train ride back up to the main station. Entertaining stuff, but an awful lot of people, particularly Chinese (WHY do they have to go around in such gigantic groups?) and one hugely noisy bunch of schoolkids.
Then on to a village called Leura, providing plenty of, er, retail opportunities, but including a remarkably good lunch as part of the package.
Next was the Featherdale Wildlife Park, a koala bear sanctuary amongst other things. I have to confess this left me cold – I’m not a great fan of zoos at the best of times. However, here’s a cute-ish shot of a kangaroo and its joey not long out of the pouch.
We were then taken to the wharf at Sydney Olympic Park for a cruise down the Parramatta River towards Sydney Harbour. Rather crowded again, but we managed to brave the very windy station at the front of the boat, aided by a complimentary glass of fizz, for some shots of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House as we turned into Circular Quay. I’ve included a picture of our hotel, the Four Seasons, just to put into perspective how lucky we are to be so close to this iconic (an over-used word, I know) area.
I know this sounds churlish, but I’m still not really sure why the harbour bridge is so revered. It’s not the biggest of its kind and, to be frank, it’s rather dull. Yes, I know it was a major feat of engineering at the time – it took 8 years to complete from 1924 to 1932 and apparently not one rivet has been replaced since – but……
Got off the boat at the Circular Quay (why is it called Circular??) and wandered around outside the Sydney Opera House. This is certainly more interesting than the harbour bridge, to be honest.
Had some nice, remarkably reasonably priced, fish and chips on the opera house concourse as the sun went down and the city lights were switched on. The Circular Quay area is an extraordinarily busy area for ferries – there was no time when there weren’t at least two ferries either coming in or going out, turning round, avoiding each other. Doesn’t sound much, but it was fascinating to watch.
Walked back to the hotel for an early-ish night and the prospect of a more relaxed day tomorrow. Only thing actually scheduled is a dinner cruise around Sydney Harbour, but also planning to do a walk from Coogee to Bondi Beach (or the other way round) if I can work out the logistics…..