And then we found...
Trip Start Sep 25, 2013
103Trip End Feb 02, 2014
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I also tried my hand at driving. It really wasn’t as different as I had feared. The gas and brake pedals are the same orientation as in a car in the US, and as long as you remember to keep LEFT, you’re pretty much all set
Our first stop was the Wentworth Falls. Australia has done a great job making their parks and forests very accessible for everyone, so there are paved paths from the parking lot to anywhere that can possibly be paved. Once the paving is gone, there are still well-marked and well-maintained paths that lead to a variety of places. Wentworth Falls is part of the Blue Mountains National Park, and this particular path was designed and made in the 1800s. Apparently, many of the rural towns would compete with each other to have the "most exciting" or "most beautiful" hiking trails. Don't you wish this were still the case? So, four men with pick axes spent 2 years hacking away into cliff faces of rock walls that look like the Grand Canyon. And their legacy is still valuable and important. We walked down the path, and instantly felt like we had traveled back in time. We saw an incredibly colored, massive bird on the path, and proceeded onward and downward into a world of cascading waterfalls, cool pools, lush green plants and rugged stone. There were even massive birds that completed the dinosaur era feel... my father's latest novel could be set here! We played around on the rocks, and marveled at the lobster-sized crawfish hiding out under rocks in the pools. Clearly, not enough platypuses (platypode?) live here to eat them up
Our tour also included a few other walks and waterfalls, each of which was breathtaking and pristine. We were very impressed with the national park service in general- everywhere was spotless, well maintained, well signed and easily accessible. We were not the only ones visiting, and we were not only surrounded by tourists! Locals also found their way to the sights, which was very encouraging. Especially since we just took a free tourist map from the welcome center, and made up our itinerary as we went, we felt really lucky to have seen so many beautiful places in one day!!!
The day ended at a delicious Italian restaurant, and then in our sweet little family-run hotel. The man had stayed awake for us to check in, which meant a lot to us. We fell asleep after watching IceAge 2 snuggled warm in our bed.