Friday, October 17, 2014

The Blue Mountains of Australia



Our friend the Pied Kurrawong
Katoomba is the largest and seemingly main town in the Blue Mountains. We checked into the charming 1920’s “Blue Hotel”.  Our room faced a park-like area with big trees where Pied Kurrawongs kept us entertained and woke us in the mornings. 




Breakfast in the 1920's dining room

Bar/lounge area of Hotel Blue
 The Cliff Drive had us stopping several places for birding, walking and exploring.  Along the way we met a couple from North England who were also birding and a typical birding conversation ensued.  “Have you been to….?  Have you seen….?  Where is the best place to ….? “ always about birds and nature.   Such fun to meet fellow travelers! The views in these mountains are spectacular with the vast expanses of forests. 

The Blue Mountains
 Katoomba (an Aboriginal word meaning “shining falling water” offers a variety of architecture and lots of art deco shops.  We discovered a place to get fish and chips after 7 pm.  Most shops close around 5 or 6pm and roll up the sidewalks!  Any places that were open were very busy.  We took our dinner back to the hotel and enjoyed a quiet evening.

Things I found interesting in the room – no stopper in the hotel sink, electric blankets under the sheets, great antique armoire to be used as a closet and windows that opened out from the bottom. 

We learned to go for an early morning walk and return for breakfast.  That way we avoided parking fees and inconvenient places to park with crowds of people at the lookouts.  Discovering birds, plants and trees along the paths in the early mornings was wonderful as the sun came up.  Looking out at the overlooks with the vast acres of forest was breathtaking.

Picnic at Leural Falls (someone had to take the picture!)

After a breakfast of sausages, toast, pancakes, eggs and coffee we were off to Woolworth’s for picnic food.  I’m used to Woolworth’s being a sundry store but here they are modern grocery stores.  We picnicked on a ham sandwich and fruit at Leural Falls under very tall Eucalyptus trees.  The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and a Laughing Kookaburra joined us. 

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo - with his crest up!
Laughing Kookaburra
Often there were signs telling about the area including the legends. I loved reading those!  The Three Sisters legend tells about three sisters who were in love with three brother warriors from the neighboring nation.  Marriage was forbidden by tribal law.  The brothers decided to take the sisters by force. Tribal war forced the leader of the sisters’ tribe to turn the sisters into stone until the danger passed and the war ended.  Unfortunately the leader was killed in the war and to this day no one has figured out how to turn the stone back into the three sisters.
The Three Sisters
The tree fern forests fascinated me –seeing the patterns the sunlight made through fronds and then looking at the frond patterns from above.  We spent the day exploring the Blue Mountains and of course checking out the towns, walking paths and lookouts.  So many parrots and other birds!


Back to Woolworths for roast chicken, coleslaw, red pepper and avocado (dinner cost $22 plus a bottle of wine!).  We were trying to keep the cost of meals down as well as finding out what things actually cost (not tourist prices).  Fun to watch the local news too - no ads and the female reporters wore interesting big jewelry!  The events were well presented with lots of background given.  The big story was about the attempted beheading and increased security.   


Next morning we after breakfast, we checked out and drove to Mt. Wilson for a picnic lunch with a Kurrawong and a Magpie! Then on the Mt. Tomah Botanical Gardens.  What a treat! 
  
Love the Australian Magpie!








Friday, October 10, 2014

My Australian Trip (Sept 19-Oct 4)


Peter and I just returned from a trip to Australia. We visited Sydney, Cairns, Darwin and Melbourne areas. This seemed like a good experience to share with you so here goes the first installment!

The week before the trip was spent deciding what to pack and how to pack it.  We decided to take a carry-on and a personal bag and not check any baggage.  Neither of us like waiting in lines or waiting for lost luggage.   We made a list of clothes and personal items, laid them on the guest bed and re-evaluated.  I found Rick Steve’s Packing list for Women extremely helpful.  www.ricksteves.com

In those bags in the above photo are clothes, personal items, cameras, lenses, binoculars, iPad, phone, notebook, collapsible cane and my sleep bi-pap machine. I’m planning on doing laundry once and air drying my hair when necessary!  (By the way.. this plan worked!)

The news before we left was about the attempted plot by ISIS to behead a bystander in Sydney and about the Phoenix airport being closed due to a drug raid.  The good news was that the Australian dollar hit a 6 month low!  Interesting beginning to the trip!

We took the AZ Shuttle to Phoenix (2 hours) and US Air from Phoenix to LAX (2 hours).  We boarded Qantas 10:05 p.m. for the 13+ hour trip.  The flight was packed and we did sleep some.  The food was good.  I can’t remember the last time the airline served meals without collecting money on the spot! 

The International Date Line messes with my head!  Arrived in Sydney 6:10 a.m. and picked up our car at Thrifty. Fortunately Peter likes driving a shift and adapted well to driving on the left side of the road while shifting with his left hand.  I was the designated navigator.  I wished for larger letters on the maps many times!


We found our way to The Blue Mountains stopping along the way to enjoy the scenery and birds.  The first bird we saw was the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo.


This is a beautiful large white bird with yellow crest that can lay flat against its head or stand up like a crest depending on its message!  They are everywhere and they are many in number!  We saw them on wires, in picnic areas, flying in flocks and pecking for food on the ground. They have yellow under the wings and under the tail and a raucous call.  Hard to miss these guys!



Friday, October 17, 2014

The Blue Mountains of Australia



Our friend the Pied Kurrawong
Katoomba is the largest and seemingly main town in the Blue Mountains. We checked into the charming 1920’s “Blue Hotel”.  Our room faced a park-like area with big trees where Pied Kurrawongs kept us entertained and woke us in the mornings. 




Breakfast in the 1920's dining room

Bar/lounge area of Hotel Blue
 The Cliff Drive had us stopping several places for birding, walking and exploring.  Along the way we met a couple from North England who were also birding and a typical birding conversation ensued.  “Have you been to….?  Have you seen….?  Where is the best place to ….? “ always about birds and nature.   Such fun to meet fellow travelers! The views in these mountains are spectacular with the vast expanses of forests. 

The Blue Mountains
 Katoomba (an Aboriginal word meaning “shining falling water” offers a variety of architecture and lots of art deco shops.  We discovered a place to get fish and chips after 7 pm.  Most shops close around 5 or 6pm and roll up the sidewalks!  Any places that were open were very busy.  We took our dinner back to the hotel and enjoyed a quiet evening.

Things I found interesting in the room – no stopper in the hotel sink, electric blankets under the sheets, great antique armoire to be used as a closet and windows that opened out from the bottom. 

We learned to go for an early morning walk and return for breakfast.  That way we avoided parking fees and inconvenient places to park with crowds of people at the lookouts.  Discovering birds, plants and trees along the paths in the early mornings was wonderful as the sun came up.  Looking out at the overlooks with the vast acres of forest was breathtaking.

Picnic at Leural Falls (someone had to take the picture!)

After a breakfast of sausages, toast, pancakes, eggs and coffee we were off to Woolworth’s for picnic food.  I’m used to Woolworth’s being a sundry store but here they are modern grocery stores.  We picnicked on a ham sandwich and fruit at Leural Falls under very tall Eucalyptus trees.  The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and a Laughing Kookaburra joined us. 

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo - with his crest up!
Laughing Kookaburra
Often there were signs telling about the area including the legends. I loved reading those!  The Three Sisters legend tells about three sisters who were in love with three brother warriors from the neighboring nation.  Marriage was forbidden by tribal law.  The brothers decided to take the sisters by force. Tribal war forced the leader of the sisters’ tribe to turn the sisters into stone until the danger passed and the war ended.  Unfortunately the leader was killed in the war and to this day no one has figured out how to turn the stone back into the three sisters.
The Three Sisters
The tree fern forests fascinated me –seeing the patterns the sunlight made through fronds and then looking at the frond patterns from above.  We spent the day exploring the Blue Mountains and of course checking out the towns, walking paths and lookouts.  So many parrots and other birds!


Back to Woolworths for roast chicken, coleslaw, red pepper and avocado (dinner cost $22 plus a bottle of wine!).  We were trying to keep the cost of meals down as well as finding out what things actually cost (not tourist prices).  Fun to watch the local news too - no ads and the female reporters wore interesting big jewelry!  The events were well presented with lots of background given.  The big story was about the attempted beheading and increased security.   


Next morning we after breakfast, we checked out and drove to Mt. Wilson for a picnic lunch with a Kurrawong and a Magpie! Then on the Mt. Tomah Botanical Gardens.  What a treat! 
  
Love the Australian Magpie!








Friday, October 10, 2014

My Australian Trip (Sept 19-Oct 4)


Peter and I just returned from a trip to Australia. We visited Sydney, Cairns, Darwin and Melbourne areas. This seemed like a good experience to share with you so here goes the first installment!

The week before the trip was spent deciding what to pack and how to pack it.  We decided to take a carry-on and a personal bag and not check any baggage.  Neither of us like waiting in lines or waiting for lost luggage.   We made a list of clothes and personal items, laid them on the guest bed and re-evaluated.  I found Rick Steve’s Packing list for Women extremely helpful.  www.ricksteves.com

In those bags in the above photo are clothes, personal items, cameras, lenses, binoculars, iPad, phone, notebook, collapsible cane and my sleep bi-pap machine. I’m planning on doing laundry once and air drying my hair when necessary!  (By the way.. this plan worked!)

The news before we left was about the attempted plot by ISIS to behead a bystander in Sydney and about the Phoenix airport being closed due to a drug raid.  The good news was that the Australian dollar hit a 6 month low!  Interesting beginning to the trip!

We took the AZ Shuttle to Phoenix (2 hours) and US Air from Phoenix to LAX (2 hours).  We boarded Qantas 10:05 p.m. for the 13+ hour trip.  The flight was packed and we did sleep some.  The food was good.  I can’t remember the last time the airline served meals without collecting money on the spot! 

The International Date Line messes with my head!  Arrived in Sydney 6:10 a.m. and picked up our car at Thrifty. Fortunately Peter likes driving a shift and adapted well to driving on the left side of the road while shifting with his left hand.  I was the designated navigator.  I wished for larger letters on the maps many times!


We found our way to The Blue Mountains stopping along the way to enjoy the scenery and birds.  The first bird we saw was the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo.


This is a beautiful large white bird with yellow crest that can lay flat against its head or stand up like a crest depending on its message!  They are everywhere and they are many in number!  We saw them on wires, in picnic areas, flying in flocks and pecking for food on the ground. They have yellow under the wings and under the tail and a raucous call.  Hard to miss these guys!