Blue Mountains: A Different Kind of Australian Wilderness

September 21, 2011 by

Animal Encounters, Australia & the Pacific, Day Trips, Places to Go

OK, close your eyes and picture the Australian wilderness…. If you are like me, you probably have an image of a sun baked red dirt path heading off into the horizon. Actually, there is a whole different kind of  wilderness in Australia in the Blue Mountains, just a short bus ride from Sydney.  (You can open your eyes now).  In an easy Blue Mountains day trip from Sydney, you get a different perspective of the Australian wilderness and see some cute, cuddly (and not so cuddly) Australian animals all thrown in.

Koalas are a big draw in the Blue Mountains

If all you packed for your Australian trip was shorts and a bikini, you might want to ‘rug up’ as they say for a trip to the Blue Mountains – even in the summer it can be a lot chillier than Sydney.  When we visited, the souvenir shop at Scenic World was doing a roaring trade in hats and mittens.  So get yourself some warm clothes and hop in the little bus for a trip up the mountain.

The Steepest Railway Incline in the World

You really have to hang on to those newly purchased hats and mittens on the “steepest railway incline in the world”.  Holy Cow, talk about straight down. I should have paid more attention to the signs. I’m a bit of a roller coaster veteran so I didn’t think twice about it getting on a little tourist train. We just sort of hopped right in.  Next thing I knew my feet were scrambling for a foothold.  It’s so steep I swear I was standing upright.  I guess the cage over the top should have been a clue.  Good thing I love wild rides.  I was ready to go again.  This is an optional part of the day but personally I think it’s a must do.  Unless, of course, you hate that sort of thing.  If you don’t like roller coasters you might want to skip the bit where you go down into the canyon.  Fortunately there is plenty to see up the top.  And the Skyway is another option.

This train line started out as a coal chute but tourists were so eager to take part, they built cars just for them.  I loved the old  black and white pictures of people hopping in the coal cars for the trip down the mountain.

The steepest incline in the mountain railroad - what a thrill!

Animals (Expected & Not)

Once we had our fill of the various ways of going up and down the mountain – and lunch, we headed back down for a visit to Featherdale Wildlife Park where we saw all the Australian animals you would expect as well as some you may never have thought of.

Arguably animals in a zoo are not the same as animals out in the wild, but there’s still something to be said for seeing the real thing .  A dingo who was noisily crunching straight through some bones made me glad I wasn’t encountering him in the wild.

Kangaroos always attract a crowd

The kangaroos and koalas are natural crowd pleasers and something you have to experience on a trip to Australia. At this stop, the kangaroos hop all around you and you can easily get them to pose for pictures with you.  There is also a koala on hand to pat for a photo opportunity.

The Kangaroo Self Service food counter

I loved the kangaroo helping himself to the “Self-Service” kangaroo food – somehow I don’t think that’s what the sign writers had in mind.  Echnidas are spiky but they waddle when they walk – how cute!  The wombats are a bit grumpy and they tend to stick their hairy bums in the air.  If you like creepy animals be sure to visit the bats, snakes and reptiles.  Lovely.

There is an incredible variety of birds to see.  The kookaburras were kind enough to serenade us as we walked by.  The pelicans are absolutely massive.  The fairy penguins are just too cute; I wouldn’t have been surprised if they started dancing.

If you are like me, you’ll appreciate the ‘rest stops’ on this tour.  The first stop on the way is at the lovely Leura where you can get a nice warm beverage and some morning tea if you wish.  There is also a little bit of time to look at the shops.  I could have done with some more time to look at the shops but judging by the aptly names ‘bored husbands’ bench I think the amount of free time there is a bit of a compromise.

Fairy Penguins are some of the most attractive residents of the Blue Mountains

This day tour packs a lot in and our bus driver/guide steered us through everything.  He was a real pro who patiently explained everything to everybody as many times as they needed to hear it.  The Blue Mountains are a piece of the Australian wilderness that is definitely worth experiencing first hand.

-Melinda

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