The Blue Mountains

Do you know what kangaroo and koala translate to? You might be surprised...

The Blue Mountains Tour
Rating: 3 kangaroos - hop on to this immediately

The whole of Monday, May 1, was spent for Blue Mountains. The tour was handled by AAT Kings. It was okay, over-all, although it could have been more organized in terms of not having to transfer buses at Star City; the lining up to get into the bus where the end of the line became the start of the line; and also being on time, instead of starting 15 minutes late.

Aside from those minor inconveniences, we enjoyed our tour. The bus had a toilet so we didn't have to worry about Adi suddenly wanting to go to the bathroom during the 1 and 1/2 to 2 hour drive. The driver was something else too. He also doubled as the tour guide. Now that requires talent. Keeping your eye on the road and remembering your script for the tourists onboard is no mean feat. My hubby, Manuel, for one, would never make it as a tour guide cum driver.

On the way to Blue Mountains, we passed by a residential area called Leura Garden Village. Our tour guide tells us that yearly, residents in the area have a Garden Festival and neighbors and tourists can go inside the individual houses to see how the owners have spruced their gardens up. It's some sort of contest that the residents look forward to.

May is autumn time in Australia so during the drive, we enjoyed looking at the trees with bright yellow, orange, and red leaves.

Leura Falls The first stop was Leura Cascade. It was refreshing to see all sorts of trees and plants, streams, and waterfalls up in the mountains. It was not as cold as we expected. The weather was perfect, probably at about 17 degrees Celsius. We had some time to do some walking and exploring on our own, afterwhich we came together in a picnic area for morning tea. There was milk, coffee, tea, and very yummy oatmeal cookies.

Three Sisters, Blue Mountain After awhile, we were onboard the bus again, making our way towards Echo Point, where you could see the 3 Sisters and the Jamison Valley. This is known as Australia's mini-Grand Canyon. The driver/tourguide told us about the legend of the 3 Sisters. There was a father with a magic bone who would turn his daughters into stone in case of danger. Once, to save his daughters from a monster, he turned them into stone and turned himself into a bird. The father, however, who was now a bird, dropped the bone, so they say that he's still in the area, looking for the bone. His daughters on the other hand are waiting for their father to come back so they can be brought back to normal. In the meantime, they have to put up with all these tourists who wish to take their pictures!

Why is the place called Blue Mountains? There are a lot of eucalyptus trees in the area and when light hits the oil coming from these trees, a blue haze appears. Hence, the name Blue Mountains. Blue Mountains would be located in a place called Katoomba, an aboriginal word meaning "Place of many waterfalls." Hmm, I wonder, were the aborigines Filipinos? "Tumba" in Filipino also means "to fall."

Our tourguide also taught us the meanings of other words. How "kangaroo" roughly translates to: "I do not know" and "koala" to: "I do not drink." Koalas, hardly drink and just rely on the liquid that they get from the eucalyptus leaves.

After Echo Point, we moved on to lunch. It was served buffet style. The food was pretty good but not distinctly Australian. Having finished eating, we went into the Maxvision Theater to view "The Edge," a documentary on the Blue Mountains and a tribute to the bushwalkers focused on preserving and safeguarding the area. The theater had the biggest screen I have ever seen, starting from the ceiling all the way down to the floor. The screen is constructed and the film is shown in such a way, that you get the feeling that you are actually part of the scene. The Edge is a straight documentary. Did you know that there are plants/trees known as the Wallaby Pine in the Blue Mountains and these have survived since the time of the dinosaurs? Isn't that amazing?

We initially had some misgivings about watching the film with Adi. The theater was going to be dark and we really did not know what to expect. We decided to take the chance since we could sit near the exit, anyway, and request the attendants to let us out should Adi cry. He sat through the entire thing though. He even pretended to be flying in some parts of the film.

Hurtling down the scenic railway route The last stop at Blue Mountains was the Scenic Railway. At this point, you can ride the steepest railway in the world (as all their promotional materials say) or take the cable car. We chose to take the Railway, with Adi. As the Railway started to move slowly down towards a dark cave, the girls in the row in front of us began screaming and screaming. I was holding Adi and after we went through the dark cave, I turned to look at him. He had a smile frozen on his face. I asked him if he was alright and he said softly: "Yes." Trying to look cool (but failing), he said: "It's like a rollercoaster." Thank goodness for places like Dreamscape in the Philippines. You go back the same way up, once you've reached the end of the railway, only in reverse. All in all, the ride takes about 10-15 minutes, both ways. I really didn't think it was scenic as you focus on just staying in your seat as you go through a drop at an angle of 52 degrees. For experience, though, the ride is still worth taking.

There's a gift shop right at the entrance and exit to the scenic railway. I was able to buy some packs of Honey Eucalyptus hard candy and some koala gummies in an attractive can to bring home. They both tasted yummy, I should have bought more. Oh well.

It was a nature-filled day at Blue Mountains. We had fun. Adi enjoyed it so much that on the bus ride home, he entertained his co-passengers with a 15-minute medley of his favorite songs. "Old McDonald had a farm. We're going to the zoo. Baa-baa black sheep." I hope the other people had fun too.

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01 - Intro, Visa requirements
02 - Off To Australia, Adi's Plane Ride
03 - Sydney Wonderland Themepark, Olympic Park Aquatic Center, Charcoal Mine Restaurant (Parramatta)
04 - The Opera House, Silver Spring Resto, Paddy's Market, St. Mary's Cathedral and the Archibald Fountain at Hyde Park
05 - Nature Tripping at the Blue Mountains
06 - Taronga Zoo, Writers' Walk at Circular Quay, Sydney Aquarium, Lobster Cave Resto, AMP Tower
07 - Brisbane, Gold Coast
08 - MovieWorld
09 - SeaWorld

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Photographs copyright © 2000 by Angel and Manuel Viloria. All Rights Reserved.
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