Saturday, 25 May 2013

The Blue Mountains

Pauline doing a bit of beading

Well, we’ve had a couple of good days out since we arrived at the Emu Plains campsite near Penrith, at the foot of the Blue Mountains. The campsite is so pleasant, with its neatly cut lawns, manicured edges, clean facilities and very friendly and helpful staff, we’ve decided to stay here 4 nights! Pauline has a self-contained cabin with kitchen (with oven, microwave etc), dining area, sofa (with TV), bathroom and separate bedroom and we’re on a powered site very close by, it’s like being at home.

A big, but shy rook type of bird with a cry like a baby (Pauline says it reminds her of Hitchcock's 'The Birds)
Jackie preparing a scrummy dinner (I was sampling the wine!)
Its close proximity to the mountains means we’ve had a couple of very pleasant days out, which happened to coincide with the bicentenary of the first crossing of the Blue Mountains by European explorers. 25 years after the first fleet arrived in Sydney in 1788, the mountains were first crossed in May 1813 by a trio of explorers, Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson who followed the ridges of the mountains to reach the vast agricultural plains of western NSW, leading to a massive growth in agricultural production and the development of an export economy, the first step to making Australia the trading nation it is today.

Saw lots of these red parrot type of birds

To celebrate this, a whole series of events are planned throughout May, the bulk of which happens to be this weekend and, in particular today. The nearby village of Glenbrook had a day of events on their sports field, including balloon rides (20m up, tethered to the ground), a parachute descent, fly-by of aircraft from the nearby RAAF base (Royal Australian Air Force) and a whole load of stalls including Viking costumes for the kids (not sure what relevance Vikings have), wine tasting (at 11:00am!) and farmyard animals for the kids (Jackie) to stroke! 
The day was clear blue skies and locals turned out in numbers with deck chairs, sunhats and picnics, all very pleasant. At 13:00, at the close of events we went into the local hills for a walk to a viewpoint over the valley towards Sydney and then onto Australia’s oldest surviving stone arch bridge, built in 1833 (well, its old to them!) to form the route of the Great Western Highway, now a tiny back road.

Jackie chatting to a local at the viewpoint

Pauline and Jackie negotiate a difficult bit on the descent to the oldest bridge
The stone arch of the bridge

Pauline waving from the top (she decided not to walk down)
The dramatic Wentworth Falls
Yesterday we went up a bit higher into the mountains to Wentworth Falls to see dramatic mountain scenery and the falls but, although the weather wasn’t too bad, it was misty up at high levels, but still pretty good views and a reasonable walk as well. We’ve got the famous (apparently!) Three Sisters to see tomorrow at Katoomba followed by, what is described as, a scenic drive through Richmond and back to Penrith, then our final night at Emu Plains before returning to Sydney to pick up our originally booked Toyota van, which they tell us is now ready – we’ll see!

We saw this and thought of you Murray (and there were lots of Bob's there too!

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