Australian Adventure (June 17 - 18, 2013)

40 Days Down Under (Day 4 & 5)

Monday, June 17, 2013

We had a leisurely morning today as the JUCY Sydney branch didn't open until 10am. After Kris made himself a coffee, we grabbed breakfast from the Wintergarden Deli.

It was a fair bit of adventure to find a place that could sell us the bus ticket to get to our JUCY locations. We didn't know what zone it was in. If you are going from the Sydney CBD, you must prepay for your bus tickets. You can get them from many convenience stores. JUCY's Sydney branch from the Sydney city requires a Zone 3 ticket. You want the Botany & Sir Joseph Banks stop.

We quickly were processed, got our JUCY Orientation for our Condo, and were on our way.

We asked directions to a good grocery store, and, while we were told of a great place with multiple grocery and general merchandise shops in a big mall complex - including specialty stores and a food court, we had serious issues parking at the Westfield Shopping Center. Our car is 3 meters tall and wouldn't clear most sections. We wound up finding a place to park in their underground parking, but not before driving through the bus only lane and circling the place.

We decided to get lunch at the food court before shopping at Wentworths. If you shop in Australia, make sure to get a temporary shopping card for the store discounts. We spent enough to and earn a savings of four cents per litre of petrol. When we next gassed up, we went to the Wentworths petrol station and had them scan our card; it saved us around $5. No need to register the card. Just hold onto it.

We hit terrible traffic while driving to the Blue Mountains, so we had little time to do anything other than go to our overnight lodging for the evening - the Lurline House B&B in Katoomba.

The Lurline House is a lovely place in Katoomba. The owners have obviously put a lot of love and care into the place. There are all sorts of guide books and maps for your reference, a chess set, nightcap, resident cat, well decorated rooms with comfortable canopy beds, a large sitting area, and nice ensuite bathroom. They left a chocolate bar on our bed and had a nice tea kettle with a tea/coffee set-up.

After getting settled, we walked to the Three Sisters rock formation which is floodlit at night. If you arrive before 9am or after 5pm, you can actually park for free to take a gander. It was a 20-or-so minute roundtrip walk from Lurline House to the Three Sisters.

After the Three Sisters, we walked to dinner in town at Rene's Pizza where Kris ordered a Mexican pizza and I ordered a Caesar salad. He enjoyed his pizza. I didn't get my salad until he was finished. I just sent it back. $10 for a lump of salad sans dressing with bits of chicken that obviously just tops a pizza wasn't something I was up for. We also ordered tap water and never received it. Abysmal service. Place seemed to be run by teenagers.

So, we stopped at Cole's grocery store and I got some instant soup instead. There was a kettle back at the Lurline house, so it was perfect. Soup and a few boxes of Tim Tams for under $10 sounds like a better deal anyway.

After we got back to the Lurline House, I made myself tea and dinner while Kris unpacked the car. After getting himself locked out, I had to come to his rescue - but I couldn't open the door! We wound yup having to let him in through the garden doors. Oops!

Tired from his first day of driving, Kris fell asleep as soon as possible. I showered and worked on some photo editing.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I love the birds in this country! So many of the wild birds are so colorful and just beautiful.

I also enjoy some of the signs in this country Slight differences in things sure can make you chuckle. Check out the female bathroom symbol.

This morning, while indulging in a gourmet breakfast at the Lurline House, I had the best view of cockatoos eating in the fountain outside. The breakfast spread was something else with multiple types of fresh fruit and fruit juice (the cloudy apple juice was divine). Tea was great, toast on multiple types of bread, and a full breakfast was to your order and specifications. I got two over easy eggs, and Kris got a more involved meal of poached eggs, mushrooms, and bacon. He also tried Vegemite. Oh - you should have seen his face! It was hilarious! He said he "knew it was salty but never expected it to be pure black spreadable salt."

Next up - Blue Mountains exploration!

We hit up the Three Sisters first to see it in daylight. The Sisters were nice, but what took my breath away was the blue mist from the eucalyptus of the Blue Mountains.

Leura Cascades was next. While taking the 45 minute return hike, you encounter the lovely waterfalls called Leura, Linda, Lila, and Bridal Veil Falls.

We heard you simply must stop for the views at Govetts Leap at Blackheath, so we put it next on the list. It is supposed to just be a hop out of the car and catch your breath stop, but Kris wanted to go look at the waterfall from the lower lookout. The pathway was so slick and scary, I only completed about 3/4ths of the trek before turning around.

As adverse as I am to things that fly and sting (wasps and such), you'd think I'd steer clear of gardens, but I find them captivating. So it was little surprise to Kris that I made the Mount Tomah Botanical Garden our next stop. Visiting Mt. Tomah Botanic Gardens is free and exploring this park with gorgeous views of the UNESCO World Heritage Blue Mountains can take you hours.

There are 28 acres to this garden, and it has a large collection of plants from around the world. We were especially interested in the plants from the southern hemisphere.

After fully enjoying the garden, we had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and Cheezels picnic before moving along to the Featherdale Wildlife Park.

The Featherdale Wildlife Park was a wonderful experience. Admission is only $28 for an adult, and Featherdale doesn't charge extra for you to be photographed with a koala. That's right! Kris and I got to pet a koala!

This excellent park is obviously taking in and caring for injured animals. We saw a few kookaburras. One had only one eye - one had a bad wing - all looked to be well taken care of.

Most of the exhibits are fairly open, and the kangaroos, emus, and some other critters can wander around freely in some large exhibits.

Watch out for the emus. They steal!

Many of the birds have free reign of the park, so you find them in strange places.

We made it in time to see the fairy penguin feeding.

I found myself marveling at the song of a kookaburra, petting and watching others feed kangaroos and wallabies, and gazing upon the wombats, koalas, dingoes, bats, emus, peacocks, large eagles/falcons and other birds of prey, and some reptiles too. There is even a barnyard animal petting zoo.

Wombats and Tasmanian Devil

It is disconcerting how much dingoes just look like cute dogs.

I highly recommend going to the Featherdale Wildlife Park...even if just for the koalas and kangaroos.

Just make sure to watch your head when you leave. I got pooped on by a bird.

I hadn't prebooked accommodations for this evening, as I was unsure where we'd end up. We wound up staying overnight at the OK Caravan Corral in Rouse Hill which was, as the name suggests, okay. Largely a resident park, we felt a bit out of place. The amenities block consisted of a clean restroom area and a laundry room. We were able to do laundry, however, which was needed.

It was blasted cold in the campervan, so I had trouble sleeping. We're going to have to work on that.

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