Saturday, 7 November 2015

Carol in Oz - Blue Mountains

We left Orange after a leisurely breakfast. Turning back after spying a field of irises, we went to look at a farm shop that had a cafe and also sold antiques.  We enjoyed browsing and Carol enjoyed chatting to the kitchen staff!

I gave Carol the option of visiting Jenolan Caves on the way to Leura in the Blue Mountains.  After a bit of discussion she decided we should just drive straight on as we only had two days to explore and this way we would have an extra afternoon in the Blue Mountains.

The weather became increasingly awful as we climbed higher.  It was downright miserable when we reached Leura.  The cloud was low and there was a constant drizzle.  We had a drive around to acquaint ourselves with the area, had lunch in a cafe in Leura Mall and settled into the lovely cottage where we are staying.  We could be anywhere with no outlook from the side of the roads at all.  In fact much of the time we've been lucky to see the car in front.  So much for the stunning views!

Wednesday morning dawned foggy and rainy.  It didn't look good for viewing the local scenery.  We started off with a visit to the Waradah Aboriginal Centre. We watched the show put on by a group explaining their culture and beliefs and some traditional dance.  Carol loved the didgeridoo playing and when we left the theatre she first had her photo taken with the handsome young fellow from the show and then had a lesson in playing the didgeridoo by the very friendly director of the centre.  We browsed the artwork and the opal store before our parking ticket was due to expire so we headed off.  It was well worth the visit.  We enjoyed it.

I had the address of a quilt store in Katoomba so we stopped to have a look.  The lady was extremely chatty and we didn't walk out of there until an hour and a half later!  We had a late lunch in Katoomba and then visited the Rick Rutherford country store.  I have enjoyed reading his country magazines for
a long time so it was nice to have a look around the store. Rick himself was a character and we had a good chat.  I bought some Christmas gifts as it has dawned on me that by the time Carol goes home there will be only 10 days til Christmas - not the best time to start Christmas shopping! It was a nice end to the day.  We had leftovers from our Chinese lunch so converted these into a stir fry dinner with the addition of a couple of bunches of broccolini and a bunch of pak choy.

Much to our dismay Thursday morning looked just as miserable.  We first drove along the coast road on the off chance there was a gap in the mist.  The locals keep telling us to go and check as it can lift and descend in the blink of an eye.  We did have a walk to Leura Falls and down to the Cascades.  These are quite low so we could actually see them.

We browsed the shops in Leura Mall, went back to the cottage for lunch and then went out for a drive again to see if any of the mist had lifted.  It did feel very slightly lighter but the viewing platform at the Echo Point visitors centre was still surrounded by white.  Heading back down the cliff road I
recalled catching the slightest glimpse of orange through some dense trees at a park.  We got out of the car there and walked down a bit of a track.  What I'd seen was a cliff face across the valley.  It was actually reasonably clear in that valley and we could see!  We walked on down the path and found a great viewing spot on a large flat rock with fencing around it.  What a relief to have actually seen something.  As we stood there the mist rolled in again.  It truly does come and go.  At least Carol had some photos to take home.

We made a spur of the moment decision to drive to the Hydro Majestic hotel to have a look.  We had intended to go there for high tea but it seemed an expensive exercise when there was no view at all to be seen.  We could see through the thinning mist that there must be lovely views on a clear day but this wasn't the day for it.  They had a store and tea room open and we spent an enjoyable half hour browsing and watching the photos and narration about the history of the hotel.

On our last morning I woke at 6.30am to a patch of blue sky. By 7am it was looking pretty good outside so Carol suggested we go out in the car before breakfast to make the most of the clear skies.  7.30 we were showered and in the car. Reaching Echo Point we couldn't believe our eyes.  We could see for miles.  Now we know why everyone raves about the Blue Mountains!

We spent an enjoyable 90 minutes at the various lookouts taking photos and admiring the views.  Spectacular!

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