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Australia Trip

Day 18 of 22

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Thursday, October 26th
Transfer to Blue Mountains; Wentworth Falls

At 7:15am we had room service deliver our breakfast. They shortchanged us on a piece of toast, and also forgot to bring us butter. I mention this because they also charged us the wrong room rate. These were correctable problems, but, still, we expected more from such a high-class hotel. To top it off, we paid for parking at the front desk only to find out in the garage that they'd charged us for only one night and the garage wanted us to pay for the two nights we'd parked. Which was fine, except Jean had to walk all the way back up to the front desk to pay.

Finally, a bit miffed about the way we'd been treated, we left the hotel at 9am and started off on the road to the Blue Mountains. There was a lot of traffic on the roads before we hit the freeway several kilometers later. The lanes also seemed to get narrower and narrower. We saw buses drive by with an inch to spare on either side.

The traffic lights didn't seem to stop, but eventually we made it onto the freeway just before we passed the Olympic Village in Homebush Bay. We had to pay a small toll on the road, as we had to pay on a freeway going into Sydney, and would have to pay on this road on our return to Sydney from the Blue Mountains. One thing we noticed along the way is that there are quite a lot of American brands in Australia. Perhaps that's true in a lot of countries these days, but it didn't seem like there were too many major distinctly Australian brands.

It was overcast as we headed up into the Blue Mountains, but it wouldn't rain on us. In fact, rain was forecast for most of the days we were in the Sydney area but it never came. At 10:30am we stopped in the Blue Mountains town of Hazelbrook to pick up some sandwiches to bring for lunch.

Blue Mountains is really a misnomer. They aren't really mountains. The region is a big plateau with a big valley (or rather, several valleys). It's much like the Grand Canyon cutting through the Colorado Plateau, but on a smaller scale. The main road cuts a path on top of the plateau, and is lined with little mountain towns -- Hazelbrook, Leura, Katoomba, and Blackheath to name a few. The elevation ranges from about 650 meters in Hazebrook to just over 1000 meters in Blackheath.

In the village of Wentworth Falls we circled round and round trying to find the trailhead for Darwin's Walk. We finally found it -- there was no big sign near the road, but there was a big sign set in about 100 feet from the road, on the grass near the tennis courts where it starts. We prepared for our hike and by 11:30am were off on our hike to Wenthworth Falls.

After the hike we stopped in a quaint little Leura grocery store to pick up a few things (which of course included ice cream). We then set off back the way we came, searching for our camp site, Murphy's Glen, near the town of Woodford. Unfortunately we overshot it and had to turn around. Making matters worse, the freeway exits are few and far between, meaning we had to drive for several kilometers before we found a place where we could successfully turn around.

After we turned around, with some effort we found the road which led toward Murphy's Glen. Unfortunately, the maps and books almost never describe road conditions. The road turned to dirt, perhaps a kilometer before we saw a sign for Murphy's Glen. The sign said: "Murphy's Glen - 4 kilometers." Grr. The road got worse. It was definitely a place where we could have used that SUV. It was dirt, bumpy, and in a couple places had ruts filled fairly deeply with water. We made a big splash in one of them. The road also heads downhill, in some places pretty steeply. Jean and I gritted our teeth as we slowly made our way down. There was no one else out here, the sun was setting, and I was a bit worried that if anything happened to the car, we'd be in for a long walk back to get help.

Thankfully, nothing happened to the car. We did discover that the lower camp site area was closed for revegetation. Unfortunately the upper one was unreachable by car. Or, at least unreachable by our car in our current frame of mind. We decided to just camp in a road side turnout just outside the revegetation fence. We were sure no one else would be driving by any time soon, so we weren't too concerned about getting mud splattered on our tent.

We were near a city of millions, but it was now as if we were millions of miles away from anyone else. It was just us and the wildlife as I put up the tent and Jean cooked dinner. After eating our rice, carrots, mushrooms, and asparagus, we washed up and went to sleep all alone. You (and Jean) may think it spooky sleeping out there all alone, but I thought it was also quite peaceful. At least we wouldn't be bothered by kangaroos.

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