Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - Blue Mountains & the Three Sisters
Today I went on an optional excursion to the Blue Mountains to see the rock formation called the Three Sisters. It was an all-day trip as it takes a couple of hours’ drive outside of Sydney just to get to the Blue Mountains. On the way we stopped at Featherdale Wildlife Park where we got a chance to see a number of birds, marsupials, koalas, penguins and, if you wished (but I didn’t), crocodiles, snakes and other reptiles. I can’t even begin to identify what all the animals were but we did see emus, wallabies, kangaroos, more koalas, penguins (finally was able to take pics of the penguins since we couldn’t on Phillip Island). I also saw the Common Wombat for the first time. I never knew what a wombat was but it turns out they look like a cross between a hairy pig and a piggy-looking big furry rat. There was also an 11-month-old koala named Mikey who we could get our pictures taken with. We couldn’t hold Mikey but we could pet his back. Mikey’s fur wasn’t as soft as I expected, it was more wiry. I don’t know if that’s because he’s still so young or not. The koala I held in Kuranda was softer and presumably older. They had a number of koalas but they were all pretty much sleeping. Cute as heck though.
After Featherdale, we made it to Echo Point to get our first look at the Three Sisters. I will never cease to be amazed at how beautiful the scenery is here. It’s mind-boggling the millions of years it took to get to what we’re seeing now but it’s well worth the wait. Pictures can’t begin to capture how amazing it is to see in person and how beautiful.
After Echo Point, we were driven to Scenic World where we had lunch and, if you wished, you can take a scenic railway ride down or a scenic skyrail (gondola) ride back up. I’ve already done both in Kuranda so I elected to take on some of the walking trails and hike the Blue Mountains. I didn’t go as far as I would’ve liked as I hadn’t known about the walking trails before the trip and only had sandals on. The trail was pretty well defined but since it goes up and down the side of a mountain, I didn’t want to risk slipping.
On the ride back to our hotel, our driver stopped at Olympic Park which was built for the 2000 Summer Olympic Games. Pretty huge venue and I can imagine how exciting it must’ve been during the Games.
Our weather today was absolutely perfect – sunny and mild temperatures, a little cooler in the mountains than in Sydney but very pleasant nonetheless. We’ve really been blessed every step of this trip with great weather and dodging the extreme conditions like Cyclone Yasi (Cairns), flash flooding (Alice Springs), and heat waves (Melbourne and Sydney).
I walked around our hotel area before and after our trip today to get a better look at Sydney. Like Melbourne, there’s some impressive architecture here and a beauty that appeals to me coming from a bay area. Sydney has some eye-catching bridges and there’s always something appealing about a river running through or a bay against a metropolitan city. I’ve been enjoying the sights but I have to admit, I think I lean towards Melbourne, simply because it doesn’t feel as crowded or the pace as frenetic. Sydney channels its inner New York City with the plethora of taxi cabs, traffic and sidewalks choked with people. And like New York City, I love visiting and enjoying the city but I would probably max out and need some breathing room after 3 days.