Saturday, 31 May 2014

NSW Trip Day 7: Orange -> Blue Mountains

It was just an overnight stop in Orange so up and packed the car and on the road again. Driving through Lucknow LiAM was impressed with the mining shafts he could see. Bits of the drive to Bathurst were familiar to me. From Bathurst we turned off towards Oberon, then through to Jenolan Caves down a road that was very windy towards the end – tight, switchback curves. Coming to the caves from that direction confused me a little, it took me a while to feel familiar with the place, but once we were parked and down amongst the buildings it felt right.

We had lunch from the bistro and tried not to share it with the rosellas that were flying onto our chairs and even the table once. We went on a tour of the Orient Cave, which is apparently the prettiest cave in the world. To get into the cave we went through a man made tunnel which was very interesting for our mining enthusiast kids. LiAM had also wondered if there would be spiders in the cave – and as we entered the tunnel there was a spider on the roof a few metres in, so he was happy even before we’d reached the natural part of the cave. The cave was beautiful, quite spectacular in places. I felt the guide did a little too much explaining about how the caves were made etc when we were in the first, small chamber, where there wasn’t so much to look at, and the kids got a bit bored, but once we moved on there was enough to see and marvel at that everyone picked up again. There were a lot of steps and Millie managed all of them – it was a bit steep and narrow for us to carry her, so I was very impressed that she managed by herself. LiAM and Caitlin answered lots of the guide’s questions and I took lots of photos.

Once out of the cave (into the bright sunlight – we’d been talking the day before about how it would feel to come out of a dark cave into the light, and we got to see what it was like) we walked down through the Grand Arch and then under the road to the Blue Lake. The water was so clear we could see most of the bottom in places, and there were also beautiful reflections of the trees, and the rocks and the arch – and there was a platypus in there! It came up to the surface repeatedly as we walked along the edge of the lake, then would dive down and be gone for a while, then back up. Very very exciting. The kids did a bit of climbing up some rocks next to the path – they got quite high enjoyed exploring the bush there. Back to the car after a toilet stop, using the toilets built in to the rocks under the Grand Arch. We sat Caitlin in the front for the drive out as it is a long windy road and she often feels sick in that situation, and it helped as she was fine today. (I drove so that I wasn’t sitting in the back feeling sick myself).

From the caves we went to my friend S’s house in Hazelbrook (between Katoomba and Springwood in the Blue Mountains). She and her family have just lived in Canada for a year on teacher exchange, and it was great to hear all their stories and see lots of photos. We realized that we have known each other for 30 years this year – great to spend an evening catching up with each other and with our families. Her girls are much older than our kids, but they all played together at times and everyone had an enjoyable evening. We’re staying in a cottage own by one of S’s friends – we got here quite late so basically just jumped straight into bed and crashed.

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