So this morning we were awoken around 0700hours by the sounds of a helicopter, really close by. We assumed initially that it was Helicopter rides over the Blue Mountains, but when I poked my head out of the van and looked, it was bright red, with flashing red and blue lights on its tail fin. My first thought, oooo, they're staging a rescue of someone who has taken a tumble in the Mountains and broken a leg or two. Si went scuttling over to the look out point, phone in hand ready to film the extraction. How gutted was I to find out on his return that it was nothing of the sort. The chopper was lowering building materials into the valley floor to repair the footpaths and crreate more. It looked like a big job, the chopper was there all morning, transfering supplies from one area to another. We were booked in to Blue Mountains Scenic World at 1000hrs. as it was only a few minutes walk from our campsite we set off and thought we'd get a brew up there before it opened. We rumbled up to the entrance, quite early because we wanted to get there before the bus loads of people arrived. Well, that was me actually, Si wasn't that bothered if i'm honest. As we were there early, it hadn't officially opened so we wandered around and took some Bob photos. There is a Dinosaur World up there, and from what I could see, you could take a ride around the forest floor and there were dinosaurs placed at various locations with information on them for the kids. Just outside the entrance there was a huge T Rex. As we were taking photos, two members of staff walked by and commented on 'round the world Bob'. At the exact same time, we all suggested it might be really good if Bob was in T Rex mouth, and the lovely lady kindly put Bob in for us. Epic photo! straight to Mike! While we waited for it to open, we went out to the look out deck near the Cafe, which wasn't open until the centre opened. We had water with us so we slugged that and watched the world go by. The Three Sisters, look so much prettier in the afternoon sun, the morning sunshine highlights different parts of the mountains as you would expect.
Fifteen minutes before it was due to open I started to get antsy about getting to the door before the busloads arrived. Good job we did, just as we got there, the buses arrived, their occupants like ants scurrying across the hot car park racing to the doors. Ha, beat them which pleased me immensley. When we entered a few minutes later, got our tickets scanned and were given a map to the site of the walks available. The young lad recommended that we go on the Scenic Skyway first of all, so we took his advice and went up there. The Scenic Skyway is a big cable car, that glides you between cliff tops across The Jameson valley, over the Waterfalls and back again. You have the option to hop out the otherside and do the walks, or you can stay put and go back across once it's re loaded. The view is pretty impressive, the cable car, has a raised area that you can stand on, and once the able car starts moving, the opaque floor clears allowing you to see the treetops below. At 270 metres, it's the highest cable car in Australia. The trees below look like Broccoli florets. The car is pretty much all glass, but there are open parts with bars across them. That's to stop the dinosaurs getting in and eating you. It also helps to take good photos of the scenery as there is no reflection from the glass. The ride was pretty quick and as we were the first ones on there it was cool in the morning sunshine. I would imagine it would get pretty sticky in the midday sun. Our next excursion was the Scenic cableway, it carries 84 people making it Australia's biggest cable car. It descends the verticle 545 metres and deposits you gently down on the forest floor. Again you can hop out and walk the trails or you can stay on board and go back up. Guess which option we selected! Some very excited tourists loaded on for the return trip back up the mountain, and it was a lot quicker going up than it was going down. Bob and Simon were doing the Titanic up against the window on the return journey.
Our last trip down to the valley floor was on the scenic railway, which is in the guiness world records as being the steepest railway in the world. It goes down at a 52 degree incline through a rock tunnel before bursting out back into sunshine and stunning views of the valley and then continuing down through the trees into the tropical rainforest. The tree trunks were quite spindly but they were desperately growing upwards to reach the sunlight. As a result, the floor around the base of them was pretty barren.
The railway was origionally built as part of the Katoomba mining tramways that were constructed in the 1800's, and in 1945 it became a tourist attraction. Over 25 million people have riden it, and it is now on the fifth generation train. The new version can carry 84 passengers and departs every 10 minutes, it has a glass roof and windows, and you can actually adjust the angle of your seat to make it that little bit more thrilling. Although we thought it was pretty tame, we really enjoyed it. At the stop of the train, we had to get off because there were people waiting to get back on. The operator advised us to go and have a look at the spot of the mine that used to be in operation in he 1800's it was interesting and by the time we'd seen it and read the info, the train was coming back down so we went and loaded in.
With that all done we decided we might be hungry so went to have a lok at the little Dino restaraunt to see what they had on offer. It was your basic burger and chips style so we went to the coffee shop instead and had a brew and SI had a snack.
Temperatures today have mid 30's so after the visit to scenic world, we went the short distance back to the campsite, stretched out on the chairs, Si in the shade and me in the sun, and did nothing except read. It was just like being on hoilday. Si fired off another email to the camper company with attached photos of the van, and to give them credit where it's due, the customer services department have been very good. It's not their fault, it's the big bosses and we appreciate that, but the guy he's been communicating has been excellent. We now think, after the customer service guy let slip that vans go to Sydney to have all their decals replaced, that we were given this particular van to take to Sydney to save them paying someone from the company and taking up man hours etc. Curiously it is stripped of decals and the guys comment confirms our initial thoughts. If that transpires to be the case I shall be even less impressed than I am already, because we paid extra to take it back to a different location to it was collected from. One last night left in the heap as it's become known, and we have a little bit of luxury for a few days in Sydney.
Si went over the lookouts tonight, he said it was nice, but maybe he went when it wasn't quite dark enough, as the ciffs and trees, although he could see they were lit up, weren't highlighted as well as they could be.
This leg of the trip has seen dramatically different countrysides and scenery, so it's been most enjoyable. we've covered 2980kms in the two weeks we've been on the road. Most of the sites we've stayed at have been fantastic, and the people we've met along the way have been lovely. You can drive the 849 km from Melbourne to Sydney in a day, so we've clocked up some good mileage. The next stage begins tomorrow, City living and smarter clothes!