Day 16: Blue Mountains and Jenolan Caves

We're nearing the end of my trip, but I saved 2 fun filled day trips away from Sydney for the very end.  This day I headed out to the Blue Mountains, so named for the blue haze/color surrounding the mountains as a result of the eucalyptus trees in the area.

I had saved some of my conference samples, so for breakfast I enjoyed this probiotic breakfast juice (I liked it, although I am not much of a big juice drinker) along with my cereal.
No milk because I was on the bus, but I was at least able to get in some fiber from this Kellogg's cereal called Sultana Bran Buds.  Not too bad either.
The bus ride really wasn't all that long, so I definitely recommend checking out the Blue Mountains if you are in the Sydney area.
Our first stop was Scenic World, a theme park that offers 3 ways to give you spectacular views of the Blue Mountains and the rainforest below.
It was a little chilly out, but I knew we were headed down into the Valley, and the temperature would drop.
Here is a set of statues to depict the story of the Three Sisters.  The main rock formation that attracts people here is called the Three Sisters.  It is an Aboriginal tale about three sisters in the local tribe and their forbidden love, resulting in their father turning them to stone.  Here you can see the three sisters and in the back is the father. 
Then off in the distance you can see the three sisters rock formation just off to the far right.
We didn't have a whole lot of time here, so the first order of business was to head down the mountain into the rainforest.  We definitely did not have enough time to walk, but that was ok because the plan was to ride the train down.  This train is the worlds steepest incline railway in the world.  Seriously, this thing is no joke!  Definitely a thrill ride, even if it wasn't going that fast.
Love it!  Limbs are difficult to replace!
Here I am with my new friend, Amanda, as we are getting ready for the train to send us plunging into the valley.
It's really hard to see but we are basically heading straight down.  It's a 52 degree incline.
This gives you an idea of the steepness of the track.  I am sitting upright and you can see the trees are upright, which shows just how tilted the train car is.
Wow!  That was beyond intense.  At the bottom we exited the train and stopped to take some photos of  the Three Sisters.  Can you make them out in the distance?
Here they are up close.  Much easier to see!
See, this is the steepest incline railway in the world.  They are also doing work on it now to have a new and improved railway coming soon.
After we got off, others boarded and took the train up.  You can see here just how steep this is.
Here I am with the Three Sisters behind me.
Once down below we had a little time to walk around in the rainforest area (not tropical rainforest).  Lots of beautiful nature views to take in.
The railway used to be used by the miners, so there are displays all over that recount the history of mining here.  I am not so sure I would make a good miner.  What do you think?

Like I said, lots of educational pieces along the way about the mining history.
Another view of the Three Sisters.

I thought this tree looked really neat, and it was standing out because it was not with any others of it's size.
Here is an old mining hut.

Inside the hut, which was decorated to show what life would have been like inside there.
After a short walk we needed to get back to the top, hopefully in time before the bus would be leaving. Here one last view looking back up at the mountains.
To get back up, we took the cable car out of the rainforest and back to the top.
Here is what the cable car looks like.
With all glass walls you can really get a good view on your ride.
Off in the distance you can get an idea of why these are called the Blue Mountains.

Here I am trying to forget that we are dangling way up high as we make our way out.
We only hiked for a very short time, but I realized I was starving when we got back to the gift shop, and I found myself unable to resist trying these Tim Tam fingers.  I bought some actual Tim Tams (famous Australian cookies) to bring back home, but had yet to try any.  I don't think I even need to confirm for you that this was definitely really good.
Our next stop along the way was the Jenolan Caves.  As we headed in to the cave area we passed this very, very blue pond.  We were told we could spot a platypus if we were lucky, so later on we went down there to check it out.
These are just some pictures from the Jenolan Caves area.
Can you believe we had to get a giant coach bus through there?  Yeah, it was a tight squeeze.
The first thing we did was eat lunch, which was not so easy because there was limited available for vegetarians.  I sit in the front of the bus because of the motion sickness, so I ended up being the first person inside, and as a result I was able to snag the last vegetable sandwich.
The Jenolan Caves is a network of caves with many ways to go, so here is the map to help people out.  We actually had a guided tour and went through only one specific area.
This is that small opening again that the bus had to drive through.  We had to walk back through it to get to the start of the cave hike.
As we entered the cave, I turned around and looked back down below.  Pretty interesting looking.
For anyone that has tried to take pictures inside a cave before, you will know it is not all that easy.  The lighting is interesting, the size of things makes it hard to tell what you are actually looking at, and some things just never turn out right.  But, that didn't stop me!

This is one of the crazier looking pictures I have with the stalactites and stalagmites.
This is my picture of proof!  Yes, I was in the Jenolan Caves!
Looking up into some crevices.  
Crazy stalactites.
Really interesting patterns formed on the cave walls.
Appropriately named formation- Broken Column.
More crazy formations.
And some more really interesting formations formed inside the cave.
Lastly, an area inside the cave lit up by all different color lights.  It was really pretty to see in person.
After exiting the caves, which were super cool (glad I took the advice of my guidebook when researching), we went down to that little pond and tried to find the platypus.
There he is!  Ok, he was way too fast, but he was there just a moment ago.  Instead you can see the waves he left behind.
The last stop on this day trip (offered by AAT Kings) was to an area that is often frequented by wild kangaroos.  We got lucky and there were tons of them around.  Although these are wild (and untagged) kangaroos, they were used to people coming around and let us get pretty close, even those with joeys in their pouches. 

Can you see the joey in the pouch?  Look closely.

I bet you can see the joey now.
If you didn't spot the joey before, now you have a clear view.
Too funny!  The mom is eating grass and the joey is sniffing around too like it wants to graze.
Couldn't resist one last chance to pose with a kangaroo!  They are so cute!
By the time we got back to Sydney it was pretty late, so I headed out to find some dinner.  I passed by Mamma's a few times, and decided that since I hadn't has pasta in a while, I would give it a try.
Although I was not too hungry, I ordered dinner and a beer.  I had seen this beer, Carlton Draught, just about everywhere, and decided I really needed to try one before I left Australia, even if I knew I could not drink the whole thing (I was worried I may fall asleep!).
For my meal, I ordered the vegetarian pasta dish, which I think was actually called a Mediterranean pasta.  It had lots of good ingredients and was really good.  It was just way too much food.
Stuffed and tipsy, I headed back the block or two to my hotel, did some work and went to sleep because I had another fun and exciting day trip planned for the next day.

QUESTIONS:  Have you ever been to the Blue Mountains?  Have you ever ridden in a cable car that goes in the air (versus one on the ground, like in SF)?  Have you ever been in a cave?


Unknown said...


I have been to Lurray (sp?) Caverns in VA. Does that count?

Special K said...

Are probiotics "big" in Australia or Japan? They are somewhat mainstream here as you can find yogurt drinks and kefir in the grocery store. But I feel that spending $3 for one juice bottle only can be done in Whole Foods back home. What are your thoughts on how big of a price they are?

TANGENT, I know! But I also wanted to say "can you adopt baby kangaroos?"

Lori said...

What gorgeous views! This is an area that I didn't even know of until now. It looks like a great trip, and I seriously love kangaroos! :)

chow and chatter said...

love your sense of adventure and the way you see so much wish we had made it to the blue mountains :-)

MelindaRD said...

I think they are starting to be big in Australia, just like the US. In Japan we have the company Yakult and it's been around for a long time doing a probiotic yogurt drink. Probably longer than we've had it in the states. In Japan it's not that expensive but with the language barrier I can't say if there are other products and how much they cost. Some of the prices in the US are insane. Mostly people are paying to have it say probiotics on the front. Actually, I'm
Studying functional foods this week in a class I am taking and our group had to argue that all foods are functional. Labeling the food or adding in the functional nutrient just to
Add the label seems to make food companies think they have the right to drive up the price.

MelindaRD said...

I wasn't done typing but I'm on my phone and it started acting up! People can get the same benefits from other foods without the extra price. But I do think for some people the specially designed, expensive functional food products are beneficial because they have a condition it could impact. As for the kangaroos, I wish! I wanted to bring one home.

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