Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Newcastle and the Blue Mountains

January's adventure was south to New South Wales to visit my friend Katie. First stop Newcastle, the second settlement in Australia and named after the UK's Newcastle because of the coal deposits upstream. The sunsets are taken from Anna Bay, just north of the port.

After Newcastle we took the train south to Sydney - a much nicer way to travel than driving in. The next day I got out from under her feet and headed inland to the Blue Mountains. The term 'mountain' is a bit misleading, as it's really a sandstone plateau dissected by rivers to form huge gorges. I stayed in Katoomba, on the edge of a valley overlooking the Three Sisters. These spectacular eroded rock pillars are one of the most photographed landmarks in Australia, along with the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House, Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays, the Seven Apostles and Uluru / Ayers Rock.

The Blue Mountains are also home to the Jenolan Caves. I toured the Lucas Cave, and there are more waiting for next time (there's too much to see for one visit). There's a Scenic Centre at Katoomba with a steep traintrack into the valley, so tourists can explore the forest without too much exercise. I did several walks around the tops and bases of the cliffs - the Giant Stairway up one of the three Sisters is very well named (ouch my poor calves).

Between the scenery and catching up, it was a damn good trip.

Oh, and the GT6 is somewhere between Adelaide and here. The vendor mailed me the dash plaque I thought had fallen off, so I have one bit already!


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