Joining the Sydney day trippers

Trip Start Mar 23, 2013
Trip End Apr 22, 2013

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Friday, March 29, 2013

The concierge at the hotel advised us to get out early and do the walking trail BEFORE all the coaches laden with day trippers from Sydney arrive. If only we had listened! But the body needs sleep and so we lingered in bed just that little bit longer just surfacing to enjoy a truly sumptuous breakfast buffet at the hotel. The best yet.

Given that the concierge told us, that with the long four day holiday weekend about to start, we should set off for our destination no later than midday, that ruled out doing the 900 step walk down into the valley and so we opted for the standard cushy option.

So, back to the comments of the concierge. He said the roads would be packed and it was best to take the back roads later in the day to the Hunter Valley. He reckoned it could be a 6 hour drive..... I silently thought 'OMG that's going to be a torturous journey . More of that later

First thing on the agenda for the morning was looking for the Geocache (these are hidden objects -often notebooks to sign or move from one location to the next- that are in pouch that you track down using GPS) that we failed to find the day before. No luck again - in the words of the boys it was 'another epic fail !'

So, off we drove to our main destination : Scenic World ( the name gives you an indication of its tourist status ). Here we had the option of 2 cable cars and a steep mountain railway which was re-opening for the season today.

While waiting in queue a guy came up to us with a lizard, salamander (?)and snake which the boys had great fun touching. Rosa was a bit more perturbed about the lizard crawling over her head...

From there, first up was the Scenic Skyway which took us on a short trip in front of the Katoomba falls. For the boys, the best bit was the glass floor where they could look into the valley below. Next, it was waiting in queue amongst the coach loads of Japanese and Koreans for the Scenic railway which for Marc ( as he was in the front seat ) found particularly exciting as we headed steeply down. We got to chalk our blog site on the board at the entance so maybe we have added a couple more followers as a result.

Reaching the forest below was actually quite interesting - the trees towered above us and the canopy cut out a fair amount of sunlight making the air cooler where we were walking. We were all grateful for the rain jackets to keep us warm. The Scenic Cable Ride took us back up to the car park and and out next leg of the trip, over the mountains and down into the Hunter Valley.

They say the journey in life is more important than the destination or words to that effect. This turned out to be the case here. The route we were on took us on long winding roads for a couple of hundred km and was a lovely surprise. Although still up on the mountains, the eucalyptus trees disappeared and were replaced by apple orchards by their dozens. On offer were home made apple pie and ice cream But my disappointment, given it was pressing past 3pm , the stocks had run out. Up here, according to the ca , temperatures were about 18 degrees.

We pressed on. More trees and forests though of a different type. We started dropping into valley - some good views that they looked like UK countryside from this distance. As we drove into it though, the trees, layout and houses reminded me of Georgian suburbs around Atlanta. Temperature were back up to 23 degrees.

The twisting roads continued and the journey was made that extra bit special listening to a Sydney radio station called smooth fm. On that note I know a few of you are audiophiles so may enjoy a selection of enjoyable tracks that will make my Oz mix:

James Morrison: I won't let you go
Simply Red: If you don't know me by now.
Gladys Knight and The Pips: Midnight train to Georgia.
Chicago: Hard Habit to Break
Jack Johnson: Good People
Lion -Kiss Me
UB40 - Red wine (Shiraz in particular :-)
Paul McCartney: Four seasons in one day
Chris Rea: Fool if you think it's over

And so we arrived at our destination. The big surprise ? No traffic! For long sections of the journey there were very few cars making the drive very enjoyable. Oh yes and it only took 3.5 hours. Result.

So to the evening. We tried to book a meal at the Hunter Valley Resort where we were staying but it was already booked. Unfortunately we took the receptionist's recommendation of 'The Mill ' which turned out to be a poor choice. More bland food. Four days into the trip and we still haven't discovered the fabled Ozzie dining experience. We shan't give up and will continue to look and eat our way to that goal.
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