Thursday, July 30, 2009

Continuing saga of Depot Beach, NSW, AU Adventure....

Today (Last Saturday in July, 2009, whatever that is) was our first full day at Depot Beach... We walked the Discovery and Lake trails in the AM and visited the beach in the PM (walked along a couple of beaches and checked out a couple of overlooks). Saw quite a few birds and even saw a majestic sea eagle swoop down and grab something from the shallows or rock pools. If we were going to be here longer, I'd set up the tripod and myself and wait for birds to appear.

Dusk finds us back in our cabins and Brenda and Lyn prepping for a sumptious feast of lamb pie and fresh green beans. Must get the recipe for the lamb pie. Ruth provided another excellent dessert. Must be putting on the pounds!!!

A few photos from today's adventures at the beach follow... enjoy...

sunset in tidal pool
Pink clouds, sunset at Depot Beach reflected in a tidal pool.
Photos below are of my hosts, Ruth, Guy and son Andrew flying his kite...
flying a kite more kite flying

sea eagle in a tree
And last, but not least, a majestic Sea Eagle takes a break from flying and roosts in a tree.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Depot Beach Adventures... Beginning...

This past Friday (July 24, 2009) found me on my way to Depot Beach, being chauffeur driven by host Guy while hostess Ruth and their son Andrew amused themselves (and us) in the back seat with the luggage and blankets that wouldn't fit in the "boot." Following a stop in Kiama for viewing the "Blow-hole" and a lunch of fish and chips with sea gull and pelican watching for our amusement, we arrived at Depot Beach with enough daylight for a wander down to the beach before sunset. (no Internet and no phone service at Depot Beach... no TV either) So this will be short and sweet because now I'm in Auckland, New Zealand and the guest house where I'm staying doesn't have a clue what to do about getting Macs on their wireless network (nor do I) and their one PC is PATHETIC!

So am posting this from a coffee house down the street (free wi-fi if you buy a cup of coffee or tea) before heading down to the waterfront to find a restaurant for dinner. I'll obviously be playing catch-up with posts for the rest of my trip... back to Depot Beach, though... Have included two photos below... one from the beach and one of a Laughing Kookaburra who was hanging around our cabins when we arrived.

Grasshopper Island as seen from Depot Beach

laughing kookaburra

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Last day in the Blue Mountains...

Bryan put bird seed out the first morning after I arrived at his lovely B&B... today the birds made an appearance and I had a chance to snap a few photos on my last day here. The Sulfur-crested Cockatoos are considered a nuisance bird... while I was having breakfast, upwards of 30 of these birds were occupying the the feeder or the tree from which it was hanging (while waiting their turn at the feeder). In addition to the cockatoos (one may be seen below), I was also lucky enough to see a Blue-cheeked Rosella at the feeder as well as one unidentified (as yet) bird.
sulfur-crested cockatoo at bird feeder

Before heading for the train back to Sydney, I managed some quick shopping in town. Bryan met me at the train station with my bags and made sure I purchased the correct ticket for Sydney Central Station before wishing me a "good day" and leaving me to catch the 11:30 AM train.

Unlike our train stations in the states, Australian train stations often have lovely views (see below) and are not located in the very worst parts of town. I'm sorry to leave the Blue Mountains but happy to be heading back to Sydney and my friends who are packing and readying things for our next adventure... off to Depot Beach (no Internet!) tomorrow. Will be back in touch with my next post on our return from the beach.
view from Leura Station

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Blue Mountains continued... more exploring...

The Toy and Railway Museum of New South Wales is a short walk from Broomlea B&B and is where I started my day after another lovely breakfast. The guide to attractions in Leura states: "A large collection of children’s toys and trains are housed in historic Leuralla on Olympian Parade in Leura at the bottom of Leura Mall. Pre and post war toys include a large collection of Barbie dolls and railway trackside memorabilia of lights, trolleys, seats and signs."

What the guide fails to mention is that there are lovely gardens on the grounds of the museum and I managed to amuse myself for nearly an hour at the gardens without ever setting foot inside to visit the museum collection. Images of the lovely home that houses the Toy and Railway Museum and one example of the lovely flowers that may be seen (remember, it's winter here) in the gardens follow.
train museum

rhododendron type flower

After visiting the gardens at Leuralla, I hopped the Discovery Bus to Echo Point to continue my exploration of the Blue Mountains. Since I completely exhausted myself hiking the previous two days, I kept hiking to a minimum today and merely wandered around the Echo Point area exploring the various side trails available. After hiking down the steps to walk across to the "sister"closest to the cliff path, I had my lunch while sitting on a rock bench looking at one of the many stunning views of the Jamison Valley. The image below (taken under the ledge after crossing the bridge) shows part of the staircase down to the bridge across to the first Sister... going down the steps is scary... going up is hard!
steps to bridge to sister one in blue mountains

It was a beautiful day early on but degenerated to high winds followed by rain, heavy at times. Managed to beat the rain back to the B&B and settled in for some computing time next to the fire before heading out for a delightful dinner at the Bon Ton Café and Restaurant.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Blue Mountains ... What a lovely place!

Arrived yesterday on the noon train and settled in to Broomlea B&B... accommodations are lovely... short walk in to town for lunch and exploring followed by STRENUOUS hike in the afternoon. Divine dinner at Silks in Leura. Photo opportunities were minimal yesterday but here's one from today's hike along the Cliff Walk. The Three Sisters are famous rock formations in the Blue Mountains... here they are in a bit of an optical illusion... the Skyway ride does not run into the rocks but rather passes in front of them... The ride is a must if you ever find yourself in the Blue Mountains!
three sisters in the blue mountains with skyway ride

When visiting the Blue Mountains, one of the things to do is ride the cable car to the floor of the valley and do the scenic walkway, then ride the train back up... or vice versa (train down and cable car back up). Once on the floor of the valley, walking is quite easy since a beautiful boardwalk pathway was installed 8 to 10 years ago.

The sign at the beginning of the walkway cautions that the following things may happen to you while on the Walkway (am including only items 1 and 2 here)...
1- The Walkway may be slippery under the following conditions (paraphrased and shortened: cold weather (ice), wet weather (slippery), berry season makes for squashed berries on the walkway)
Solution: Take care when walking and use handrails if it looks wet, icy or there is vegetation/berries on the ground. Walk on carpet where provided.
2- A tree may fall over or a branch may fall from a tree.
Solution: If you hear a loud crack, run away ignoring point 1 above.

Fortunately, I didn't encounter any of the conditions that are cause for concern and quite enjoyed my walk through the valley rain forest. The photo of Cyathea australis included below is unusual in that it has a bifurcated trunk caused by a virus attacking the fern. This plant, commonly known as Rough Tree Fern, is native to New South Wales and Queensland in Australia and a few other parts of the world.
Rough Tree Fern

To close off this post... I leave you with a photo of the Broomlea B&B, heartily recommended if you find yourself in the Blue Mountains some day. This is the side of the house which is easier to photograph than the front due to the lovely gardens filling the front yard.
Broomlea B&B

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sydney adventures with Ruth, Guy and Andrew...

Quick summing up of a couple of whirlwind days playing tourist and socializing with various friends and family members of my hosts Ruth and Guy and their son Andrew... Saturday, July 18 found us touring the zoo in the morning and the Botanic Gardens in the afternoon after having lunch in an Italian neighborhood at a local lunch spot/coffee bar/deli. The giraffes in the zoo have a lovely view of Sydney Harbor and the city across the way... but they are MUCH more interested in their empty food container. And there are hundreds of fruit bats hanging in the trees in the rain forest area of the Botanic Gardens... sleeping by day and on the prowl at night.

giraffes fruit bats

On Sunday, July 19, 2009, we headed for the beach after breakfast and walked from Bronte Beach to Bondi (pronounced bonDI with DI as in Diane) The photo shows Bronte Beach as seen from the walk toward Bondi Beach... the second is my friends Ruth and Guy with son Andrew at Bondi Beach... see how cold winter is in Australia?
Australian beaches Ruth, Guy and son Andrew

Friday, July 17, 2009

Traveling far and wide... Sydney!

Am sitting here at friends Ruth and Guy's house in Sydney, AU this evening after the VERY LONG trip to get here... IAD (Dulles Airport outside Washington, DC) to LAX (Los Angeles International), 6 hr layover, ~13-1/2 hr flight to Sydney with arrival ~6 AM Sydney time... then no rest for the weary but rather stay up and see some of the town. Arrival photo of the morning sky outside the terminal follows...
Sydney Airport Terminal

Today's adventures with Ruth and son Andrew (while Guy toiled away at work) included...
• a quick trip by car to the Rocks area of Sydney where we luckily found street parking in a 4 hr spot
• a ferry ride to Manly on the Manly Ferry, a working ferry as opposed to a tourist boat... lovely photos of the Opera House to be had from the boat (see below for one)
• a walk down to the beach followed by fish and chips, eating outside in Sydney's mild winter
• play time for Andrew at a small 'park' area on our return walk to catch the ferry back to Sydney
• a mad dash to the Ferry... barely making it as they held the gates open for us
• shopping for dinner and house supplies at the local fish market and grocery and fruit and vegetable stores
• frustration with Sprint (virtual, not actual) over my cell phone not working as it was promised while here in the Southern Hemisphere (more aggravation to come tomorrow when I try to contact them via web chat during normal US CDT business hours)
• an absolutely lovely meal of shrimp with leeks as appetizer (marvelous sauce) followed by steamed salmon done Thai style, rice, broccoli and stewed apples with passion fruit and ice cream for dessert
• etc... etc... etc...

Since I'm falling asleep as I type this, I'll leave you with just ONE of the many photos I took from the ferry boat ride...
Sydney Opera House

Friday, July 10, 2009

Next trip... Australia and New Zealand

Will be leaving shortly with plans to...
• visit friends in Sydney, AU
• go to Depot Beach with these same friends for a long weekend
• head off by myself for a few days to the Blue Mountains
• spend a few days in Auckland, NZ (again, on my own)
• and a few days in Rotorua, New Zealand
• and last, but not least, a couple more days in Sydney before heading back to Bethesda.

Mike will be in residence in Bethesda while I'm off on this jaunt on my own. Watch this space for posts beginning with the first about one week (or so) from today. I'll also be trying to post a photo/day to my photoblog if you want to check that out too.