Australia

Gill On Being a Jillaroo

Horses at Jillaroo School, Australia
Horses at Jillaroo School, Australia

A few years ago, I started my love affair with foreign lands but at the time I wasn’t sure whether I was brave enough to begin this journey alone, so I researched ways that I could travel but with like-minded people. What I found seemed right up my street. I’ve always had a love of horses, so the Australian Jillaroo/Jackaroo School was the perfect way to spend eleven days doing something different in Australia’s outback.

Horsey Games, Jillaroo School
Me and My Trusty Steed

Day 1
After a quick stop to buy cheap work clothes, hat and boots and the all-important booze for our nights on the ranch, we arrived at Leconfield, 50km east of Tamworth in New South Wales. We were shown our rooms, I was sharing with a woman called Emily, and we were over the moon when we found out we would be sleeping in the, fondly named, Penthouse.  Believe me, even though it was a dark and dingy shed, it was the best room on the farm, most of the others got housed in the sheep shearing shed. The one down side was that it was so cold at night and we wore socks, hats, and hoodies on top of pyjamas to try and keep warm. And getting up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet in the main house didn’t help things either.

The Penthouse at Leconfield
The Penthouse at Leconfield

Day 2
We got given our horses for the eleven days. I got a lovely bay stallion that went by the name of Lightening. Don’t believe everything that the name suggests because he was the slowest horse I have ever ridden. Actually, lazy is the word, no amount of geeing him on was going to make him go any faster.

Jillaroo School, Australia
My Horse, Lightening

Leconfield was a working farm and as such there was a roster of different jobs to do. One of those jobs was to get the calves into their shed at night. There were two calves and their mother and every day they hung out at the top of the field. It took us quite a while to get them down to their shed, arms waving and yelling, trying to make them go in the right direction. Poor things were probably scared to death! At one point, there were three of us racing down the hill after one calf but it decided to double back on us, so we had to chase it back up the hill only to start again. It was as if the cows were laughing at us racing back and forth after them.

Jillaroo School, Australia
Cow Chasing

Day 3
We had to get up at 6am to milk the cows. We had to sit on a small stool at the back end of the cow, not easy when the cow was stamping its feet almost knocking us off. I managed to get a few litres which, being a totally self-sufficient farm, was put in the fridge for use at breakfast.

Cow Milking, Jillaroo School
Cow Milking

In the afternoon, we rode two hours to the top paddock for our first cattle muster. A very hard task to learn, especially when you are on horseback and the cattle seemed to have other ideas. But we managed to herd them into a fenced off area where they were weighed for the owner, Brian. He was 85 years old and still riding horses, and managing his 4,600 acre farm. 4,600 acres seems huge but when you compare it to some of the other farms and sheep stations in Australia, it was actually quite small.

Cattle Muster, Jillaroo School
Cattle Muster

Day 4
Day four was spent in the forest chopping down trees which we had to debark and load onto a truck. No mean feat because we had to clamber up a slope to get the trees and the only way to get them down was to slide them down onto the dirt track. Trees are heavy! Then we had to strip them of their bark and load them onto the truck to take back to the farm.

Tree Fellng, Jillaroo School
Tree Felling

Day 5
We rode to a large field near the farm and practiced trotting and cantering which was great fun, even though it took me three attempts to get my trusty steed to comply. Rather than kicking with our feet, we learned how to control the horses with our knees, a slight squeeze is all that’s required to get your mount to move but I don’t think Lightening understood the concept of move!

Jillaroo School, Leconfield
Jillaroo School, Leconfield

Day 6
A well-deserved day off, so we went to town for more provisions, followed by lunch and a few cool beers at the local pub.

Day 7
Day seven consisted of mustering the sheep back to the farm. We caught three of them, sheared them and watched two of them get slaughtered. It was not a pretty sight but our lesson of the day was that the farm had no choice, the sheep were no more than food and wool. Even the dogs and horses had jobs to do and we were told not to pet them.  The remaining sheep looked naked after its recent shearing and appeared to be watching the massacre in terror, then it speedily retreated to the nearby field, safe for another day.

Day 8
Our second cattle muster, this time we had a go at throwing the calves. They may look very cute and cuddly but when we tried to catch them, attempt to grab their back legs and throw them on the ground, we soon realised how strong they were. We learned how to separate the male and female cows and calves in order to count them, so the farm knew they were all present and correct.

Cattle Muster, Jillaroo School
Cattle Muster

Day 9
With the trees that we had collected on day four we built the fence around the house. It was extremely hard work but thoroughly enjoyable. It was such a sense of achievement when the task was completed, even though I somehow managed to put my finger in between the hammer and the post. Ouch!

Day 10
Today’s lessons were calf branding and ear tagging. These calves were slightly bigger than the ones before, so they were much stronger. The animals were also ear marked, so they could be identified at a later date, which meant ripping a bit of its ear out. It wasn’t over for them yet because they were branded, twice if they were male, and castrated. I felt more than a little sorry for the helpless creatures.

Cow Throwing and Tagging, Jillaroo School
Cow Throwing and Tagging

Day 11
In the morning, we had a horsemanship lesson. We took our unsaddled steeds to the paddock and all stood in a circle. The ranch manager told us how the horse would respond if we gently ran our thumb from under its cheek to its shoulder, it would follow us without reins. We put it to the test by walking slowly back to the stables with the horses duly following. I think the real reason they were following us was that they knew it was feeding time! The afternoon was spent playing horsey games, egg and spoon races and races in and out of poles. It was great fun and I think even the horses enjoyed it.

I didn’t embark on this adventure thinking it was going to be a breeze in the park, it wasn’t but we learned a lot in those 11 days, not just on how to care for our horses but it was necessary to act as a team and to be able to communicate with one another. We were presented with a reference to say that we had basic experience in all the activities that we were involved with, so if I ever wanted to work as a jillaroo again then Brian’s reference was a good one to have. I had an absolutely fantastic time in Leconfield, yes it was hard work but I got to ride over some of Australia’s finest countryside and I had plenty of laughs along the way.

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Two Sights for the Price of One

On my travels in Australia a few years ago, one of the places I visited was Noosa Heads, in the Sunshine Coast region of South East Queensland. It’s small town, but there are many boutiques and restaurants which run parallel to the calm waters of Noosa Main Beach. But I wasn’t there to go shopping, I wanted to spend the day exploring the hiking trails for the chance of seeing local wildlife and wonderful views of the ocean. Plus it was the right time of the year for migrating humpback whales to be passing through.

Alexandria Beach, Noosa, Australia

 

I followed the trails until I reached Alexandria Beach, a popular nudist beach. I wasn’t going there to get naked myself, I went there because it is one of the most stunning beaches I have ever seen. The beach was almost empty, so it wasn’t hard to find a spot to relax.

Alexandria Beach, Noosa, Australia

 

So, there I was, not naked, and looking out to sea, when, suddenly, I spotted a humpback whale breaching out of the water. It was quite far out, but they are huge animals, so it was easy to see. How fantastic, at that very moment, with no one around me, I got to witness this spectacular event. I just sat there, so excited, my heart pumping, hoping it would happen again.

Alexandria Beach, Noosa, Australia

Then, from apparently nowhere, came a naked guy who appeared at my side and asked if he could sit next to me. I told him he could, and he proceeded to ask me a billion questions;

“What’s your name?”

”Where have you been?”

“Where do you live?”

It went on, this question and answer session!

Believe me, it’s very off putting having a normal conversation with a naked guy, especially when he sits face on with his legs open. Nothing was left to the imagination. I didn’t know where to look.

Alexandria Beach, Noosa, Australia

Don’t forget about the whale, it was still there, having a jolly old time. And, there I was, being quizzed by a naked man. I am no prude, however, I felt slightly uncomfortable at this tete-a-tete. I don’t know about anyone else, but give me the whale any day. Eventually, after realising I was more interested in the larger mammal, he left.

It wasn’t just one sight I will never forget, I got two for the price of one that day! 😉

10 things not to miss in Australia

Quite simply, I love Australia!

I love Australia!

 

I have been there four times to date, each time doing different things and staying in different parts of the country. There is so much more that I need to see but, in the meantime here is my list of ten things not to miss in Australia.

 

 

Adelaide to Alice in 7 days
Embark on a wonderful adventure and see some of Australia at its best with a trip from South Australia’s capital to Australia’s red centre. Walk the paths of Kings Canyon and sleep under the stars near Uluru. Drive through the opal capital of the world, see huge salt lakes, hike in Wilpena Pound and much, much more. Make some more memories with this fantastic tour.

Website: www.adventuretours.com.au for further information of this tour and many more.

Uluru, Australia

Australia Zoo, Queensland
Australia Zoo is located about an hour north of Brisbane, in Beerwah near the Glasshouse mountains. The zoo is 100 acres and there are opportunities to see some fabulous animals, take guided tours, have animal encounters and a lot more. Australia Zoo is a team of passionate people who want to educate others about animal conservation. A vision that Steve and Terri Irwin have made a reality. A fabulous day out.

Address: 1638 Steve Irwin Way, Beerwah, Queensland 4519
Open: Daily, 9.00am-5.00pm
Admission: Adult $59.00; Child (3-14 years old) $35.00; Family 4 (2 adult + 2 child) $172.00; Family 5 (2 adult + 3 child) $189.00; Pension $47.00; Student; $47.00
Website: www.australiazoo.com.au

Australia Zoo, New South Wales

Barossa Valley, Adelaide
The whole of Australia is famous for its wine but the Barossa Valley is a must see in Adelaide. Barossa is home to more than 550 grape growing families, many with the sixth generation still working the same plot of land, supplying quality grapes to more than 170 wine companies.
There are many tour companies offering a variety of Barossa Valley tours; most include three of four tastings at different wineries, lunch and a drive through the beautiful Adelaide Hills with a stop or two at local attractions, such as the Whispering wall and Menglers lookout point.

Website: www.adelaidetours.travel/tours/barossa-valley to get an idea of what’s on offer.

Barossa Valley, SA
Source: www.ytravelblog.com/barossa-valley-food-wine/

Being a Jillaroo, New South Wales
If, like me, you love horses, an Australian Jillaroo or Jackaroo School is a perfect way to spend a few day in the Australian outback. Learn skills such as horse whispering, sheep shearing and cattle mustering. Look after your own horse for the eleven days and get involved with jobs around the farm. Leconfield is a working farm and you are there to help, so if you are willing to put the effort in then this is definitely an adventure worth doing. Rest assured there will be plenty of laughs along the way and you will come away with some fabulous memories.

Address: Leconfield Jackaroo, Jillaroo School ‘Bimboola’ Kootingal, NSW. Australia 2352
Website: www.leconfield.com

Jillaroo, New South Wales

Blue Mountains, New South Wales
If you are in Sydney a trip to the Blue Mountains is a must-do. The mountain range is truly spectacular and covers an area of some 10,000 square kilometres. It was declared a World Heritage Area by UNESCO in 2000.

Get to Echo Point lookout, in Katoomba, for fabulous views over the mountains and, in particular, the “Three Sisters,” a natural rock formation that stands proud over the Jamison Valley. Another highlight in the area is to travel down to the valley on the scenic railway. This is no ordinary railway. It is the steepest funicular railway in the world. Originally part of the Katoomba mining tramways, constructed between 1878 and 1900, it plunges deep into the valley floor. Once on the valley floor, there are many trails that are popular with hikers and nature lovers.

Website: www.bluemts.com.au for visitor information, how to get there and much more.

Blue Mountains, New South Wales
Source: www.australia.com

Circular Quay, Sydney
Circular Quay is a harbour located in the north of Sydney’s central business district. There are walkways, parks and restaurants around the quay and it’s also home to the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. There are also many bars, cafes and restaurants and it’s a popular place for tourists and locals alike who come to enjoy the jazz bands and musicians that play regularly. Circular quay is also the place to go for ferries, trains and buses.

Website: www.sydney.com/destinations/sydney/sydney-city/circular-quay for attractions, events and much more.

Circular Quay, Sydney

Fraser Island, Queensland
Fraser Island was listed as a World Heritage site in 1992. There are many tours to choose from, so choose wisely because there is so much to see. There is a large diversity of habitats; rainforests, eucalyptus woods, mangrove forests, sand dunes and coastal areas. It also hosts a wide range of fauna, from dingoes, whales and birds to the occasional salt water crocodile. It is the biggest sand island in the world. 80% is covered in plants and trees due to the mycorrhizal fungi which occurs naturally and is present in the sand. Visit 75 mile beach and see the Pinnacles and Eli Creek or enjoy one of the island’s 100 or so lakes.

Website: www.fraserisland.net for further information on Fraser Island.

Fraser Island
Source: www.australia.com

Indian Pacific; A Trip Across the Nullabor
The Indian Pacific train is one of the few true transcontinental trains in the world. The route: Three nights and four days via Broken Hill, Adelaide, Cook and Kalgoorlie, one way, 4,352km. Whether you’re journeying from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific or the other way round, enjoy travelling across the Nullarbor Plain, on the longest stretch of straight railway track in the world. It is definitely a trip worth taking.
Fares available include the Gold Service; Sydney-Perth $2529AUD or $2019AUD if booked in advance (based on a single cabin).

Website: www.greatsouthernrail.com.au/trains/the_indian_pacific for everything you need to know about the Indian Pacific.

Indian Pacific, Australia

Noosa Heads, Queensland
Noosa Heads is small town on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. You’ll find boutiques and restaurants which run parallel to the calm waters of Noosa Main Beach. A great way to spend the day is to explore the hiking trails for the chance of seeing local wildlife and wonderful views of the ocean. Or you can spend time relaxing on any of the beautiful beaches in the area.

Website: www.visitnoosa.com.au

Noosa Heads, Queensland

Walpole, Western Australia
When in western Australia, visit Walpole which is famous for its giant Tingle and Karri trees, and one of the best things to do there is go and see the “Valley of the Giants.” The elevated tree top walk is 40 metres high, making for spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. Beneath the canopy walk there is also a pathway around the Tingle trees for walkers. There are also Eco tours and cruises and wildlife parks in the area.

Address: Valley of the Giants Rd, Nornalup WA 6333, Australia
Open: Daily, 9.00am-5.00pm
Website: www.valleyofthegiants.com.au

Valley of the Giants, Walpole, WA

Have you been to Australia? What was your favourite place? Or maybe you have a favourite activity that you did. I would love to hear from you. 🙂

 

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Alice to Adelaide in Six Days

Where else can you sleep under the stars, drink in an underground bar, and sit and watch the longest coal train trundle past? Australia, that’s where!

My original plan was to tour the Great Ocean Road before ending up with my relatives in Adelaide, but having been to Australia before and not gone to Uluru I forwent my initial plan and booked a trip from Alice Springs to Adelaide with Adventure Tours. I am so glad I changed my mind.

Upon arrival in Alice Springs I was picked up by a guy from Melankas, the hostel I was staying at for the night. I settled into the dorm, which I was sharing with two other girls. Two other people? It wasn’t big enough to swing a cat, let alone two other humans. Never mind, it was only for one night. After dinner and a couple of beers I went to bed early in preparation for my trip, but was abruptly awoken when my dorm companions came back sometime in the early hours- light on, chatting loudly. Obviously they didn’t know I had to be up a couple of hours later but, please, some consideration would have been nice. I tried to replace my annoyance with excitement as I remembered seeing Uluru from the plane. I managed to drift off back to sleep looking forward to the day ahead.

Uluru (Ayers Rock), Australia
Uluru, Australia

Day 1

I was up at 4.30am to meet the guide, whose name was Bullfrog. Not because he was reminiscent of a bull frog, but because he had a very husky, very sexy voice. I can neither confirm nor deny this because I have never had privy to what a bull frog sounds like, or if I have I can’t remember, but I took his word for it, and relished in listening to his sexy vocalisation.

Bullfrog
Bullfrog

That very first morning when I met Bullfrog I knew we would be friends. He had me on his list as Gillian, and I pointed out that I prefer Gill. He said afterwards that he thought I was a bit feisty. Who me?! But I love it when I meet someone for the first time and I feel like I have known them a lot longer, that’s how it was with us. Constant banter from day one and I am very pleased to say we are still good friends today. He is just one of those people that is very easy to get along with and we hit it off straight away. He wouldn’t tell us his real name at first and we spent one night trying to guess it. Oh, the things you do in the middle of the Australian Outback! In the end he told us it was Mark. Just so you know.

Anyway, no sooner as we had said hello, we were off on a two hour drive to our first stop at Kings Canyon.

Now, I am mostly a very sociable person and like to meet new people, and so I enjoyed chatting with a lovely girl that I met on the bus. She was really nice but by the end of the first day, she was really doing my head in. She kept asking:

“Where are we going now?”

“What’s this?”

“What’s that?”

I thought: I don’t bloody know, I haven’t been here before, ask the bloody guide.

Next:

“Why is the bus stopping?”

“Because there is a f****** great big camel in the middle of road!” (Actually, I didn’t say that to her, I thought it.)

Honestly, open your bloody eyes girl. Thinking back it is rather amusing but at the time I wanted to strangle her.

When we arrived at Kings Canyon, I was a little disappointed when we found out that we couldn’t walk up to the top of the canyon, one of the three walks possible in this area, but at the same time I didn’t want to die of heat exhaustion- it was only 8 am and already 40 degrees where we stood at the bottom, 50 at the top. But, am happy to report, that we managed to do a shorter walk around the Canyon.

Kings Canyon is part of Watarrka National Park in the Northern Territory. The red sandstone walls are over 100 metres high, and they stand tall on either side as you walk the trails below. There are pockets of lush vegetation but don’t expect any forests here due to the little rain and high temperatures. Nevertheless, the plants and animals have adapted very well to the extreme weather conditions.

Kings Canyon, Australia
Kings Canyon, Australia
King's Canyon, Australia
Lizard enjoying the sun’s rays, Kings Canyon, Australia

After tramping around Kings Canyon for a while we were back on the road for a 3 hour trip to Uluru. This area is right smack bang in outback desert country. The scenery is gorgeous but relentless; the red sand looks as if it should belong on another planet and, due to the high levels of iron oxide, is the reason the area is called the Red Centre.

Australia's Red Centre
The Red Centre, with Mount Connor in the background

We got to our first camp at Ayers Rock Resort, unloaded the bus and then went to the lookout point to watch the sunset over Uluru. I find every sunset amazing, but this one wasn’t as amazing as I have seen in pictures. Even Bullfrog said it wasn’t that good. But hey, not to put a downer on things, we were sitting in the middle of the Australian Outback with Uluru in the distance. No-one could complain at that. It was awesome. And to top the first day off we got to sleep in a SWAG- a typical Aussie bush sleeping bag or “Sleep With A Guide?” That guide, Bullfrog, was very funny. We laid there in our swags with the whole sky above us, stars twinkling and not a sound-just our silent admiration.

Day 2

Another 4 am start. This time to watch the sunrise. Again it wasn’t that spectacular. Come on, where were the brilliant red colours and azure skies when you need them.

The next part of the day’s itinerary was a walk around Uluru’s base. Just a short morning stroll of 9.4 km! Just the thing to wake you up.

It was only 9.30 am once we got back. That’s the thing about doing stuff like this in Australia. It’s so bloody hot during the day, that you have to start the day’s activities at “ridiculous” o’clock. But I am not complaining. I love getting out and seeing stuff, whatever time of the day it is.

Uluru looks smooth and featureless from a distance, but when you get up close and personal the face of the rock is weather beaten and there are loads of holes and gorges, springs and rock caves. Uluru is said to be over 600 million years old, and it is steeped in Aboriginal history and culture. Some places are sacred so you can’t take photos directly of the site. It is really interesting stuff and our lovely guide was very knowledgeable.

In the evening we returned to camp and had dinner, after which we had a few drinks and attempted to play the didgeridoo. I was completely rubbish- I didn’t have enough puff in me to make even the slightest sound. We had such a laugh and I realised that I had made some very good friends in that short space of time. So much so that we became inseparable for the rest of the week.

Day 3

The following morning we began our journey to South Australia. When you cross the border, the time goes forward one hour- only in Australia do they have three different time zones. So Mark drove into South Australia, then back again into the Northern Territory. Four times he drove round in a circle, just for laughs. Everyone in the car park thought we were mad. It was hilarious. You had to be there though to appreciate the madness!

We drove to Coober Pedy- a town 846 km north of Adelaide. It’s known for its “dugouts”- underground residences that keep people safe from the scorching daytime temperatures.
It’s also known as the opal capital of the world because of the quantity of opals that are mined there. Opal was found in Coober Pedy in 1915, and since then the town has been supplying most of the world’s opal.

The landscape is rather bare, with hardly any plant life. Because of the interesting terrain filmmakers have used this area to film movies such as Pitch Black and Mad Max.

We had a little tour of the town and checked into our underground motel. All the accommodation was really basic but it was so much fun, sleeping outdoors and now, underground. We had dinner and drinks at the world’s only underground bar. How cool is that?

The Town of Coober Pedy
Underground Church and Backpackers Inn, Coober Pedy
Underground Bar, Coober Pedy
Underground Bar, Coober Pedy

Day 4

Rawnsley Park Station was the next port of call- a cattle station nestled in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia. On the way we stopped to look at Lake Hart, a massive salt lake forming part of the Lake Eyre Basin which covers around 1,200,000 square kilometres.

When we got to Rawnsley Park, we cracked open a couple of cold beers, and walked up the nearest hill to watch the sunset. It was awesome. We saw some kangaroos and spent a good hour up at the top watching the sun disappear behind the horizon. That night we slept outside in our swags again, even though there were comfy air-conditioned rooms. We had become true bush-men.

Day 5

After a welcome lay-in until 7am, we were on our way. We drove through the Flinders Ranges to Wilpena Pound to do some hiking. Bullfrog gave us a choice of two walks to do and we chose to do the hard one (of course)- climb Mount Ohlssen Bagge.

Hiking up Mount Ohlssen Bagge, Flinders Ranges, SA
Hiking up Mount Ohlssen Bagge, Flinders Ranges, SA

It was hard going. The terrain was very rocky and loose stones made it slippy. It was quite steep in places but it was more than worth the effort for the views at the top.
We started the walk very tentatively because Mark had told us that this is snake territory, and if we saw one we were to stand still to allow the snake to slither across our hiking boots. Like that was going to happen. We didn’t see any, but am sure the snake would have heard us a mile away and kept out of sight.

The view from the summit was spectacular overlooking the natural amphitheatre of Wilpena Pound. For me it was one of the highlights of the whole trip.

From there we travelled through Bunyeroo Gorge, through sweeping plains covered in native pine trees and rugged gorges, and the home to kangaroos and yellow-footed rock wallabies.

We reached our last nights accommodation in Parachilna. Mark told us how busy the roads are in this area but we soon realised he was making a joke. There are only two people that live there, and a few buildings- the Prairie Hotel, the railway station, and the airstrip. The Prairie Hotel is owned by the Fargher family, and it is famous for their Fargher lagers and their F.M.G. dish- Feral Mixed Grill made up of kangaroo fillet, emu fillet mignon, and camel sausage.

We had a few drinks at the Prairie and at 10.30pm we all congregated by the railway line. With beer in hand we waited for the coal train. Believe me, this was the highlight of our stay in Parachilna. The train travels from Leigh Creek to Port Augusta and back again, picking up and delivering the coal. And what makes it the highlight? This train is the longest coal train in the world- 3 km and it took about 8 minutes to pass. It was thrilling because we got quite close to it (maybe not such a good idea, thinking back, we had been drinking), and we squealed with delight when the train driver sounded his horn as he passed us.

The next morning we were getting ready to leave and I saw everyone running out of the hostel. The train was on its way back to Leigh Creek. We watched it go passed again. One of the guys counted the carriages-165. It is amazing to see. The simple pleasures in life are the best ones and this was definitely another highlight of the trip. Easily pleased!

Coal train passing through Parachilna

Coal train passing through Parachilna
On the way back through Parachilna
Coal train passing through Parachilna
Coal train on the way back to Leigh Creek

Day 6

We travelled further south to Clare, where we went to a winery. Interestingly, the town’s road system was designed by a draughtsman from Adelaide who had no knowledge of the local geography. There are several roads in Clare that end dead on a cliff face, and continue again at the top of the cliff. I know! Nothing to do with the winery, so back to the wine tasting. Not everyone liked their wine! What? I don’t think I understand? Are they mad? It’s wine! They kept pouring it in my glass. My love of wine has always been there, and even back then my reputation for liking it preceded me.

Things to do in Clare, SA
Clare Winery

All that wine and several sheets to the wind later, we finally arrived in Adelaide. I had such a fantastic time with everyone I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye. So we had one last night together. I spoke to Mark a few days later before he made the trip back from Adelaide to Alice Springs. He told me that the whole of central Australia was under a monsoon and all the Flinders Ranges and Alice Springs was flooded so they couldn’t get to some of the places that we had been to. I couldn’t believe how lucky we had been.

Adelaide, SA
Our last night together, Adelaide, SA

I am so glad I changed my plans and did this trip. I made some very good friends along the way, and I saw and did some amazing things in such a short amount of time. I will always remember my trip from Alice to Adelaide. The Great Ocean Road will have to wait for another time.

A little song about that little town called Parachilna for you to enjoy 🙂

Road Trippin’ in WA

Another year, another trip down under. This time I touched down in Perth, in Western Australia- the most isolated place in Australia. What I mean by that is if you were to travel due west, across the Indian Ocean, there is nothing in between there and the shores of South Africa, some 8,674km away.

Perth on World Map
Source: http://www.dsd.wa.gov.au/

In Perth I was staying with Angie, a friend’s auntie, and we decided to do a little road trip. The first day we headed four hours south to a little Australian bush town called Gnowangerup- an Aboriginal name meaning “the place where the mallee hen (Gnow) nests.”

Gnowangerup, Western Australia
Gnowangerup, Western Australia

We stayed with Angie’s friend, Amy, who was a white witch no less. I didn’t see any evidence of this but thought I had been put under her spell when I woke up the following morning and didn’t mind that I hadn’t drunk any alcohol on a Saturday night.

We left Amy’s the following morning and made our way further south to a place called Walpole. This area is famous for its giant tingle and karri trees, and one of the best things to do here is a tree top walk called the “Valley of the Giants.” The elevated walkway is 40 meters high, making for spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.

66 km from Walpole is Denmark, a coastal town in the Great Southern region of Western Australia. We went there to see Elephant Rocks- so named because the huge rocks look like a herd of elephants. It’s quite a sight to see against the backdrop of the Great Southern Ocean.

A ten minute walk from Elephant Rocks is Green Pools. It’s absolutely beautiful. The blue and turquoise water is crystal clear and licks the pure white sandy beach. It really was stunning. There was nothing to do but sit on the rocks and gaze at the scenery.

Our road trip took us to Albany next. Albany is the oldest permanently settled town in Western Australia. It also has an important role in the Anzac legend because it was the last port of call for troopships departing Australia in the First World War.

We visited the Desert Mounted Corps memorial on top of Mount Clarence. The memorial was built to commemorate the soldiers of the Australian Light Horse Brigade, the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade and the Imperial Camel Corps from 1916-1918.

Desert Mounted Corps Memorial, Albany, Western Australia
Desert Mounted Corps Memorial, Albany, Western Australia

Another interesting stop in this area is Frenchman Bay where we went to look at granite formations called The Gap, Natural Bridge, and Blowholes. The rocks here were once connected to Antarctica when Australia was Gondwana. They are around 1800 million years old.

The Gap is, literally, a gap in the rocks where the ocean hammers into and makes a thunderous roar. The Natural Bridge is a huge granite arch and was once known as ‘Devil’s Gate.’ And the Blowholes are a series of crevices in the granite, gradually eroded by the Southern Ocean. When the waves force water through the cracks loud hissing noises can be heard.

We walked quite a long and windy path down to the granite formations, and we didn’t exactly know where they were but we heard them long before we saw them. With each wave the holes blow air and water out of the top. It made my heart pound though, and it’s quite mesmerising to watch.

On the way back we stopped in Bridgetown for food; Suttons Lookout for 360 degrees views, and Balinup to visit the cheese factory, and arts and crafts centre. We saw a dolphin at Koombana Bay-only a quick glimpse mind you, but I was rooted to the spot for 30 minutes in case it appeared again. Mandurah for fresh fish and chips, and finally back to Perth. I had a fantastic couple of days exploring a part of Western Australia. I am so grateful to Angie for driving- our round trip was a mere 1,400km!! That’s nothing when you are travelling around Australia.

Travels Round Australia-Perth

The Indian Pacific train is one of the few true transcontinental trains in the world. It runs from Sydney to Perth, covering around 4,000 km from east to west. It takes 3 days. I boarded in Adelaide so the journey would take only 2 days. 2 days on a train? Only in Australia.

Source: http://www.greatsouthernrail.com.au/trains/the_indian_pacific/
Source: http://www.greatsouthernrail.com.au/trains/the_indian_pacific/

Nothing much happened.The first night was uncomfortable as there was a cold draught which kept waking me up. I had booked a Red Kangaroo seat, which was all I could afford, and I was expecting someone to sit next to me. But once the train started moving, the guard came over and told me she had seated the passenger somewhere else, so I had two seats to stretch out on, but they weren’t quite long enough. Still, it was better than not lying down at all.

The first stop was Cook, located halfway between Sydney and Perth- population 2 people, 26 chooks and 50 million flies. It was a ghost town in the middle of the desert. Apparently, this is the first place the train can stop because, around Maralinga, there is radioactive contamination, from when the British used to do nuclear tests in the 1950s. We had a short time to wander around and buy a postcard or two from the small shop.

Source: http://www.traveljournals.net/pictures/45519.html
Cook (Source: http://www.traveljournals.net/pictures/45519.html)

On its journey, the train crosses the Nullarbor Plain. In Latin the name literally means no trees (nullus-no; arbor-tree.) The scenery is relentless but very dramatic. It is the worlds largest area of limestone bedrock, around 200,000 square kilometres. Huge is not the word.

Source: https://storify.com/angiefran/nullarbor-plain
Source: https://storify.com/angiefran/nullarbor-plain
Nullarbor Plain  Source: https://storify.com/angiefran/nullarbor-plain
Nullarbor Plain
(Source:
https://storify.com/angiefran/nullarbor-plain)

The next stop was Kalgoorlie, which is famous for it’s gold. We had three hours here so, to pass some time, I booked myself on a trip around the town.

Source:  http://www.ozroamer.com.au/experiencea-little-goldrush-fever/

Kalgoorlie (Source:
http://www.ozroamer.com.au/experiencea-little-goldrush-fever/)

We went to the Super Pit, which is Australia’s largest open cut gold mine. It is massive- 3.5 km long, 1.5 km wide and 570 metres deep. So huge it can be seen from space. The pit produces 28 tonnes of gold each year.

Kalgoorlie Super Pit  Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-08-17/super-pitjpg/4205856
Kalgoorlie Super Pit
(Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-08-17/super-pitjpg/4205856)

Arriving in Perth, the scenery changes from dramatic, relentless, open desert, to lush greenery with rivers running through the hills. I arrived in Perth early in the morning, where my hosts, Angie and Bec, were waiting for me.

(Source: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/13927754-post2.html)

Perth is the most isolated city in Australia-the next country to the west is South Africa.

After chilling out and relaxing after my mammoth train journey, we drove to the beach so I could see the Indian Ocean. In the distance a huge storm was approaching. The clouds were so black, blacker than I had ever seen. We watched it for ages and the thunder and lightning eventually passed right over us. It was spectacular, made even more so by a tornado hitting the water. Then the rain came, and I have never seen anything like it. On the drive home we couldn’t see a foot in front of us.

The next day we took a trip to Freemantle. A lovely town with the cosmopolitan feel of a big city but with a more relaxed pace. We wandered round the markets and had a look at the shops, stopping off for a drink in one of the many cafes.

(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fremantle)
(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fremantle)

Afterwards we visited a memorial on a hilltop that overlooks the whole of Perth. The memorial is located on Monument Hill and was erected during the 1920s to commemorate the losses of the First World War. Interestingly, the Fallen Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial is designed so that at dawn, 1914 is illuminated; and at sunset, 1919 is illuminated alluding to the lines in the “Ode of Remembrance”-

“At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them”.

25th April every year is ANZAC Day and on this day the shadows are perfectly aligned.

Fallen Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Source: http://steve.doig.com.au/tag/memorial
Fallen Soldiers and Sailors Memorial (Source: http://steve.doig.com.au/tag/memorial)

Bec and I took a trip to Rottnest Island. We caught the bus to Freemantle, and caught the ferry across to the island. We hired a bicycle each and made our way to the 9.2 inch battery site, which was used to defend Freemantle and Perth during the war. The guide told us how they used the guns, and then took us on a tour of the tunnels underground, which housed the engine room and artillery store. It was really interesting to imagine the men and women down there.

(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rottnest_Island)
(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rottnest_Island)

The beaches on Rottnest Island are stunning and the water is crystal clear. We cycled around enjoying amazing views from the lighthouse. There are also a few lakes on the island which, due to minerals present in the water, are a hundred times saltier than the sea.

(Source: http://www.tripadvisor.com.au/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g488366-d3198108-i61496997-Rottnest_Island_Salt_Lakes-Rottnest_Island_Cockburn_Greater_Perth_Western.html)
(Source: http://www.tripadvisor.com.au/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g488366-d3198108-i61496997-Rottnest_Island_Salt_Lakes-Rottnest_Island_Cockburn_Greater_Perth_Western.html)

We then made our way back to the harbour and had lunch, where we saw a friendly Quokka- a bit like a rat but it is the size of a cat. I am not joking. All in all a fabulous day out and, after a few beers, we took our tired selves home.

(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quokka)
(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quokka)

BOAT TRIP FROM HELL! I was invited to go on a ladies fishing trip by one of Angie’s friends, Cary, who is sadly no longer with us. He said it was on an awesome boat. He said it would be fun. The boat was far from awesome-it was a typical fishing boat, with none of the luxuries I had imagined. And it was far from fun, believe me.

Cary picked me up at 5.30am and we drove an hour or so north, to Hillarys Boat Harbour, to meet the boat. We left the harbour at 6.45am and it took about an hour and a half to get out to open sea- about 40km. Well, it was OK when the boat was moving, and I was quite enjoying myself, bit like being on a roller coaster. But when it stopped the ocean’s swell caused the boat to pitch at 90 degree angles. And the north easterly winds were making it even more rough and choppy. Trevor, the skipper, had assured us that it would get calmer. He said it would get calm!

Nice and Calm (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillarys_Boat_Harbour)
Nice and Calm
(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillarys_Boat_Harbour)

I felt rather queasy but I managed to cast off a few times. By 10am I had to move across the other side of the boat, where I sat and tried to think of anything else but how sick I was feeling. That didn’t work. On board there was a reporter, Steve, from the Fishing WA Magazine, who was doing an article about the trip. He was also feeling a bit green. And a woman, Jackie, who was feeling the same.

Steve suddenly got up from where he was laying and puked over the side. I couldn’t help myself any longer and followed suite, closely followed by Jackie. For four hours this went on, the three of us taking it in turns to throw up. It was awful! I thought it was going to be the longest day in the world and it was!

(Source: http://www.boatus.com/cruising/feelfree/previousarticle.asp?bid=3293)
(Source: http://www.boatus.com/cruising/feelfree/previousarticle.asp?bid=3293)

I felt better at 1.30pm and thought I might try a bit more fishing, but after being flung about and feeling sick again, decided that I would just hang on to the boat instead. Steve didn’t even take any pictures, which he was planning on doing if someone caught a fish.

On the way back to the harbour the sea was like a millpond. Typical. And even though we had felt absolutely awful, and I didn’t catch one little fish, we managed to laugh about it on the way back. You live and learn, and to this day I have never been on a fishing trip again.

My time in Australia was over. I was quite sad to be leaving because I had an amazing time. I had travelled to a lot of different places, and I had seen loads of cool stuff. I had two fantastic months. It’s a trip I will never forget-stored in my memory bank forever. That trip was to set the scene for my life as I know it now.

 

Travels Round Australia-Adelaide

I arrived in Adelaide, to be greeted by Helen and Ernie at the bus station. Helen is my Mum’s cousin, who emigrated to Australia in the ‘60s. Ernie is her husband. It took about 30 minutes to get to their house, in Morphett Vale. I met Scott, their son and my 2nd or 3rd cousin (we’re still not exactly sure and we still have conversations about this!) I was so tired from the trip, all we did all day was sit in the living room chatting, drinking tea and eating cake. I finally retired to bed at 9.30pm- I really don’t know how I managed to stay awake until then, but I had a good nights’ sleep and felt so much better in the morning. The long journeys around Australia really take it out of you.

I was up early the next day to take a trip to the Barossa Valley wine region. I left at 9.30am and it took about an hour and a half to get there. On the way the tour bus stopped at the “Whispering Wall”, which is a horseshoe shaped dam. It’s known as the whispering wall because if you go to the far side and speak to the people on the other side, it sounds as if the people are standing next to you! You can hear them really clearly- apparently it’s to do with the shape of the dam.

Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ADB_Williamstown_Barossa_Res_whispering_wall_2.jpg
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ADB_Williamstown_Barossa_Res_whispering_wall_2.jpg

We then drove to the first winery- The Chateau Yaldara. Founded in 1947 by a German winemaker called Hermann Thumm. The name Yaldara comes from the local aborigine word meaning “sparkling”. We had a tour around the factory to learn how the wine and port was made, and then, my favourite part, the tasting. It was lovely.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chateau_Yaldara
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chateau_Yaldara

We had a lovely lunch, and afterwards I bought two bottles of McGuigans Black Label for $20, which was a bargain. But then I wondered how I was going to get them back to the UK. They never made it home- they got drunk that very same night.

Next stop was Grant Burge Winery, where we had a few more tasters.

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/farehamwine/10981784455/
Grant Burge Winery Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/farehamwine/10981784455/

The last winery was Langmeil where we got to have a tour of the vineyards. We learned how to tell a young vine from an old one: the really old ones, which were over 100 years old, have old and gnarled trunks; the young ones are small and slender.

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/joceykinghorn/9867575406/
Langmeil Winery Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/joceykinghorn/9867575406/

After the wineries we drove to Menglers look-out point, where we could see all the vineyards in the area, and some strange looking sculptures made of stone. The sculptures are meant to reflect environment and atmosphere of the Barossa Valley. The surrounding area is beautiful with hundreds of vines sprawling into the distance. It is quite spectacular.

Menglers Hill Look-Out Source: http://fractalthoughts.com/old_fractalthoughts.com/2007/february_07.html
Menglers Hill Look-Out
Source: http://fractalthoughts.com/old_fractalthoughts.com/2007/february_07.html

The next day we went on a tour to Hahndorf and Cleland Wildlife Park. Hahndorf is a little German town with quaint little shops, and cafes that are situated on an avenue of gorgeous trees. You could really spend all day in this charming little place.

Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ADH_hahndorf_35_inn_2.jpg
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ADH_hahndorf_35_inn_2.jpg

Next was Cleland Wildlife Park, which is set in 35 hectares of bush-land, and it was the best wildlife park I had been to in Australia. The kangaroos, emus and potaroos roam around the park and you can feed them. It’s a lovely setting- nice and relaxed with animals all around you.

Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cleland_Wildlife_park_entrance.jpg
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cleland_Wildlife_park_entrance.jpg

The following day my family took me to Belair National Park for the day. It’s only 13 km from Adelaide’s city centre, and was declared South Australia’s first national park in 1891. We drove through the park and came to a large clearing with green grass, BBQ and swings. We unpacked the cars and sat round and chatted, while the kids played football and messed about. We had a picnic lunch at 11.15 am. We didn’t realise it was so early but we were all starving. We had a great day, in the glorious sunshine, enjoying the games and food. At 3.30 pm we packed up and we were just about to leave when someone suddenly said “Is that a Koala in the tree?” Sure enough it was a cute little koala asleep in the tree above us. We never noticed all day, even when we went for ice creams directly below him.

Source: http://vk5pas.org/category/national-parks/page/5/
Source: http://vk5pas.org/category/national-parks/page/5/

After a fun filled time in Adelaide with my family, it was time for me to go to Perth-my final destination before I left Australia for good. I said goodbye to Helen, Ernie, and Scott, thanking them for letting me stay and for all the laughs we had. I got on the Indian Pacific train and cried my heart out. I had such an amazing time in Adelaide and didn’t want to leave. Just when I thought I had finished crying a new thought, about one of the many things that I had done in Australia, would cross my mind and set me off again. I finally pulled myself together and spent the next 36 hours on one of the great train journeys in the world.

Next Time: Fishing off Australia’s West Coast 🙂 🙂

Travels Round Australia-Melbourne

The bus journey from Sydney to Melbourne took ten and a half hours. Everyone knows Australia is big, but it’s not until you start travelling around that you realise how big it actually is.

Having checked into a pleasant hotel, about 10-15 minutes from the city, I went for my usual wander to get my bearings. I fancied going to the Queen Victoria market but, after trekking what seemed liked forever, upon arrival I found it was closed. Never mind, I carried on walking and came across the Old Melbourne Gaol. This place was really interesting because it had stories of the men and women that were hanged there, and information about the crimes that they had committed. There was also quite a lot of information about Ned Kelly, who was an infamous bushranger, regarded as a cold blooded killer by some and a hero by others. If you get to thinking that these people were actually incarcerated there all those years ago, plus the fact that it is supposed to be haunted, it makes it rather creepy. And to make it even creepier, there were death masks in some of the cells which were made just after the people had been hanged.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Melbourne_Gaol
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Melbourne_Gaol
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Melbourne_Gaol
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Melbourne_Gaol
Death Mask of Ned Kelly  Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Melbourne_Gaol
Death Mask of Ned Kelly
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Melbourne_Gaol

The following day I took a trip to Phillip Island. It’s about 150 km south of Melbourne. On the way we stopped at a Flora and Fauna park, where you can feed the kangaroos, and see the some of the indigenous animals that live in Australia, like dingoes. Next stop-Woolamai Beach. The waves are huge in this area. Then, onto the Nobbies and Seal Rocks- an ecotourism destination. They had telescopes there for viewing the seals. I tried to see the seals through the telescope before realising that I was looking at the wrong rocks. Amateur! I managed to see the seals from a boardwalk that you can walk around. One of the things I love about Australia is that the tourist authorities have really taken the time and made the effort to make their natural wonders more accessible to tourists. Hence the boardwalks that allow you to view things easily, without making too much of a nuisance of yourself.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobbies_Centre
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobbies_Centre

Afterwards, I visited the Penguin Parade. A group of people had assembled at the beach, on the viewing platform, so I joined them and waited. Waited for the little fairy penguins to come ashore. The penguins started to show up just after 6.00pm on their way to their burrows for the night. It really was a privilege to share this and something that you wouldn’t normally get to see. It was fantastic. It was really interesting how they knew which part of the beach to exit the water. They would wait until there were several of them before waddling up the beach to their beds! Some of them got scared when they realised that they were the only one to land on the beach and would waddle back into the waves until more penguins arrived. Others got knocked off their feet by the waves. When they were sure that there was safety in numbers they waddled up towards us (through their own territory I might add- we were the intruders!) Just minding their own business, making their way to their burrows for the night. It was one of those moments in life that you feel in awe of the nature around you.

Source: http://www.penguins.org.au/attractions/penguin-parade/
Source: http://www.penguins.org.au/attractions/penguin-parade/

Another day, another day trip. This time I was going to visit my old neighbours from Northampton, Ian and Carolyn, who had emigrated to Geelong a few years earlier. I left the hotel at 11am and made my way to Flinders Street station. When I finally found the ticket office, the guy told me that the train to Geelong left from Spencer Street station, which was back in the direction I had just come from (in fact one street away from my hotel!) Luckily I just made it after sprinting down the platform in my flip-flops, yelling to the guard that I needed to get on the train. I made it but not before he literally dragged me onto the moving train! Running in flip-flops is not a good idea. My foot really hurt and I thought I had broken something! In fact a couple of weeks later I went to the hospital only to find out that I had chipped a small bone in my foot.  Anyway, an hour later I was in Geelong and Carolyn picked me up from the station. We went to lunch by the sea and spent the afternoon catching up. It was lovely seeing them again.

Source: http://www.liveinvictoria.vic.gov.au/living-in-victoria/melbourne-and-regional-victoria/south-west-victoria/geelong#.VVXEGUYopys
Source: http://www.liveinvictoria.vic.gov.au/living-in-victoria/melbourne-and-regional-victoria/south-west-victoria/geelong#.VVXEGUYopys

The last day in Melbourne was spent shopping, wandering around-I had to check out in the morning-and drinking beer. My plan was to go to the aquarium but sometimes plans go by the wayside. Instead I had lunch and continued to drink my way through the afternoon. I think I had forgotten about the long bus trip to Adelaide ahead of me!

Next Time: Wine tasting in the Barossa Valley, SA 🙂 🙂

Travels Round Australia- Sydney

Two quick stops. Coffs Harbour, which apparently has the most liveable climate in Australia, with temperatures being 18-26 Celsius in the summer, and 8-20 Celsius in the winter. And Port Macquarie, where, in 1821, the town was founded as a penal settlement for convicts. The surrounding area has thick bush, ideal for any escapees to hide, but, sadly for them, the local aborigines were happy to return any convicts to the settlement in return for tobacco and blankets.

I arrived in Sydney at midday and got a taxi to the hotel. I had a wander to get my bearings-I always find that if you walk around, with or without a map, it’s the best way to get to know your way around quickly.

IMG_1536

1931125_43711146799_9991_n

I walked to Darling Harbour, which is one of my most favourite places in the world. It is a great place for people watching as you chill out in one of the many bars or restaurants.

When the sun goes down the office lights come on and they create reflections of different colours in the water. It really is a sight to see, especially when you can see the sun’s reflection in the buildings.

After a leisurely breakfast I walked to Circular Quay where you can see the Sydney Harbour Bridge across the water, and get up close and personal with the Sydney Opera House. The Opera House is impressive although, when you get up close to it, it doesn’t look as white as it does from a distance.

I stood for a while and watched a guy playing the steel drums while another random guy was dancing round in front of him. It was quite amusing as the random guy wasn’t dancing in time with the music. Not that I am any John Travolta but it was quite amusing nonetheless!

The following day I took a trip to Manly. It takes about 30 minutes to get there by ferry from Circular Quay. I got off the boat and wandered through the town to the beach. I had barely got settled on the beach, when the sun disappeared and it got really chilly. So I packed up my things and went in search of a bar.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manly_Beach
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manly_Beach

Bondi Beach was the next destination I wanted to visit, so I took a double decker train (Yes, train) from the city and arrived at Bondi Junction some eleven minutes later. It was only a short trip to the beach and first impressions are that it is a lovely arc shaped beach, nestled in a beautiful cove.

Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bondi_Beach_3.JPG
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bondi_Beach_3.JPG

However, in my opinion, it is completely over-rated and, from the way it is portrayed on TV and in images, it is actually not that big. It is certainly not the most beautiful stretch of sand I have come across. I stayed there for a couple of hours but the sun disappeared again, making it quite chilly. The sand was being blasted by the wind and this, in turn, meant that I was continuously blasted with sand. It wasn’t very pleasant so I wandered round the shops before heading back to Sydney.

It was my birthday so I went on a trip to the Blue Mountains. The tour bus drove through a couple of little villages, Leura and Blackheath, to reach a lookout point. This is a great spot to view the “three sisters”, a natural rock formation in the Jamison Valley.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Sisters_%28Australia%29
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Sisters_%28Australia%29

The story behind the three sisters, named Meehni, Wimlah, and Gunnedoo, goes something like this- the sisters fell in love with three men of the Nepean tribe but this was forbidden, so the three men decided to take the sisters by force. This resulted in battle, with the sister’s Katoomba tribe on the losing side. The leader feared that this daughters would be carried away by the enemy, so he turned them into stone to protect them, but he was killed before he could reverse his spell.

Afterwards we drove to the Blue Mountains resort and travelled down to the valley on the scenic railway. This is no ordinary railway. It is the steepest one in the world and it plunges deep into the valley floor. It was a little like being on a roller coaster, although it didn’t go as fast! At the bottom there is a board walk where you can walk through the many different species of trees, and learn about the old mining businesses that used to be there.

The Blue Mountains are spectacular. Their name comes from the blue haze that can be seen from a distance. This happens when incoming ultraviolet radiation gets scattered by particles in the atmosphere, which creates a blue colour to any distant objects. The mountain area covers around 10,000 square kilometres and was declared a World Heritage Area by UNESCO in 2000.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Mountains_%28New_South_Wales%29
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Mountains_%28New_South_Wales%29

On the way back we stopped off at the Olympic Park, which was a purpose built village where the Sydney Olympic Games were held in 2002. It was very impressive. Later that evening I went out to celebrate my birthday. I had dinner and found a nice bar, where I met some guys from Melbourne who helped me celebrate. I left around midnight feeling a little tipsy but happy that I had had another great day in Oz.

Next time: A tour around Melbourne 🙂 🙂