Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Close-ups on the wildlife

John is an excellent photographer when it comes to getting up close to animals. Above are two shots of a very large lizard we saw near the caves and several pictures of a small kangaroo or a wallaby (we weren't sure which) on the way back from the caves. Also, a great Australian road sign warning of kangaroos and wombats ahead.

Jenolan Caves

The main attraction for us in the Blue Mountains was Jenolan Caves. We had a tour there called the Plughole Tour that involved us rapelling ("abseiling" in Aus English) into the cave and then squirming into tight crevices and crawling through small passageways, as well as walking through impressive caverns and seeing graffiti from some of the first explorers of the cave from the 1800s. It was a high fashion day, let me tell you. I especially enjoy John's fluorescent helmet, but the coveralls were a real treat for all of us.

Sometimes while in a particular passage, we weren't quite sure where to put our feet in order to connect with solid ground, and we had to help each other along the way. Other times, we didn't know exactly which way to continue to get out and we had to follow directions and each others' voices. It was a lot of fun, and very dusty!

Into the Blue Mountains

Sunday, we drove the the Blue Mountains.

We started at The Three Sisters in Katoomba, where it was so cloudy and foggy that we could only see 1.5 Sisters. From the lookout point at the top, we couldn't actually see any Sisters in the valley - just fog. So we hiked ("bush walked" in Aus English) down a trail towards the Sisters, and from a second vantage point were able to make out a little bit of the geological formation. (The Sisters are three rock formations that stand together next to a cliff above a valley. There is an aboriginal myth about how they came to exist - that myth and better pictures of them, as well as how they formed, are here.)

Then, the fog started to clear, but just for a quick moment! Enough time to take two pictures:

Then we hiked a little further into the valley:

Then, we got back in the car and drove over to Leura Falls. It is about a 20 minute hike to the cascades, and the whole trail has many smaller falls along the way. It's a gorgeous hike. Below is one of the smaller falls along the way:

Another of the smaller falls:

The Leura Cascades:

From that same lookout, we were able to see a flock of noisy cockatoos flying by:

This is a view to the right above the falls:

Me & Papa at the lookout above the falls:

Beach on the way to the South Coast of NSW

Last Saturday, we drove down the coast towards Wollongong and stopped on the way at this beach. I walked in the ocean, but it was quite cold. We also walked a ways over some rocks and saw some tide pools. In the tide pools, we were able to see a few crabs, some small fish, some sea anemones, and lots of plant life. It was a great stop to make.


John, Papa and I celebrated Hanukkah together this year. We made the absolute best potato pancakes for dinner one night along with a roasted chicken (we stole the recipe from a Jamie Oliver show, and it was excellent!) Here are some pictures from the latke & chicken night.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Swimming at the hotel in Cairns

Some of the most fun we had was the afternoon that we swam and threw the ball around in the pool at the hotel in Cairns. Unfortunately since Papa was taking the pictures, he couldn't be in any of them, but he threw the ball with the best of them shortly after taking these shots. We had so much fun!