Sydney Olympic park
I booked the tour online with Oz trails as recommended by the lonely planets guide, $68 for the full day. I booked it only one day ahead of my tour and they had places available, lucky me. They sent the details via email, 8.30am meeting, outside the Central YHA in Rawson Place. As I was staying in Wentworthville it meant I had to catch the 7am train, we decided to walk to Pendle Hill station as it is easier to reach on foot. A return ticket to central station was $9.80 and the journey time was 60mins. The walk to Rawson Place was only 5mins, so I was early, enough time to grab a coffee from the cafe next door to the YHA. The tour bus arrived at 8.20am, I like it when the guide is efficient.
The pick up point is a popular one many other tour companies also come to this point so be careful that you get on the right bus. Our driver and guide Dave took a few minutes to tick our names off the list. He put me in the front seat, woo hoo! great views for me! We were waiting on two more passengers, they were either late or lost. We ended being 1/2 an hour behind schedule as we went round and round looking for them. As a passenger that was on time I felt a bit annoyed about these late people were going to delay our tour but on the up side if you are late for your Oz trail tour, they do their best to find you/wait for you so that you don't miss out.
Once we were on our way we found out more about our guide, Dave.
He was very chatty and informative, born in Sydney
63 yrs ago and grew up here. He has a house in the mountains, Katoomba area and also a home in the city, close to work. He gave us the full itinerary of the day, first stop Olympic park. He drove us into the Olympic park area and pointed out all the different competing areas like the tennis courts, the aquatic centre and then the main stadium. There were loads of pylons that represented the different cities that have hosted the Olympics and the year that it happened. You get 15mins of free time to use the toilet, walk around the park and take some photo. As it was half term for schools there were some activities being held for the kids in the park.
They were being encouraged to be active by people dressed up in a banana suit.
Next stop was for a quick juice and biscuit break. The drive from the Olympic park was probably another 20mins, we pulled up beside the river and luckily for us the sun came out. There was a park for children and a few benches near the river. This is where they take your payment for the tour $68 each, +2% if you pay by card.
We headed on to Jamison lookout, the drive was about an hour and the guide talked non stop about the history of Australia, starting with the history of Captain Cook and his explorations. He told us a few anecdotes of his own about Botany bay, Sydney and also the blue mountains. We we got to Jamison lookout there was one bus that was just leaving, which meant we had the whole look out to ourselves.
It was great to feel that fresh cold air up there. The view is of the mountains that are completely covered in greenery. Dave was great he showed us the best points to take our photos. The clouds that loomed above created a great shadow over the tops of the mountains. The drop is pretty scary so make sure you stay well away from the edge, again my legs were shaking just thinking about going towards the edge. The rocks were smooth and flat on top but jagged on the edges, some people had even engraved their names into these smooth flat rocks. From this view point of the Blue Mountains they do look like mountains but from a distance they just look like a long continuous length of hills. You get about 15 mins here to enjoy the air and views.
Next stop Wentworth falls lookout, here we would be able to see the waterfalls. Don't expect Niagara falls or anything huge like that, it was just an average sized waterfall but still worth seeing the natural beauty of the place. The guide informed us that we were actually witnessing an impressive amount of water due to all the rainfall we had experience in the last couple of days. He also told us that during the wind storm the falls were actually blown 30m high up onto itself. Impressive. To get to the lookout you must walk the 120 steps that lead down there, that's the easy bit, its the walking back up that creates a bit of a puff from your lungs. You are warned before the walk starts so if you are afraid that you cannot make it you can sit it out and wait at the top of the lookout and eat an ice cream.
Lunch time. We headed to a town called Leura for lunch. You get free time to eat where ever you feel like and you get to have a wonder around alone. Dave drove along the main road and pointed out all the restaurants and the types of food that they served. I paid close attention as to not waste anytime choosing a place. As soon as he said pies, pastries and baked goods I knew that, that was where I wanted to lunch. We had an hour and the meeting place was the bus stop. I ran to the pastry cafe and ordered my steak and gravy pie. I was so hungry that I almost ordered a sausage roll too. I decided to hold off on the suasage roll just in case there was a dessert that would be better. After my lunch I was too full to have that sausage roll or dessert, could barely fit my coffee.
Wentworth falls lookout
I still had 20mins before the bus departed so I decided to have a look around Leura town, checked out the boutique stores.
Everyone arrived back to the bus spot on time. We made our way to the valleys, Dave told us the story of the three sisters. It is an old Aboriginal tale about a witch doctor and his three beautiful daughters. Three boys from the another tribe was in love with the three sisters and wanted to marry them. This would not be possible as the boys were from different tribes to the three sisters and the marriage would be forbidden. So the boys came up with a cunning plan and decided to sneak into the three sisters village and kidnap them. So off they went with the plan. One night when the witch doctor and the three sisters were sitting around the fire, the witch doctor noticed these three boys sneaking up on them.
The witch doctor decided he would use his wish bone to turn his three daughters into stone to prevent the boys from being able to kidnap them. So he grabbed the wish bone waved it over the three sisters and sure enough they turned to stone. This meant that the boys found the girls too heavy to carry them away. This made them really mad at the witch doctor and so they came charging towards him. He picked up the wish bone and waved it over himself and turned himself into a bird and flew away to escape the three boys. As he did this he dropped the bone into the dense forest of the mountains. He flew down to try to retrieve it but sadly he could not find it. Forever his daughters have been standing at the edge of the mountains as stones and he as a bird scratching around the mountains looking for his wish bone.
The three sisters
The best view of the three sisters is at a look out point opposite the site. We stopped off here briefly and took our pictures and enjoyed the views. You can see the railway lines and the cable wires running along. We had to pay $19 extra for the ride on the scenic cable car and the scenic railway (the steepest rain in the world). We entered the valley and jumped on the cable car. We were advised to go to the front of the cable car for the steep drop feeling but then to come back up to the back for the better views of the mountains. I did just that, I wanted to feel that roller coaster feeling of your heart dropping into your stomach. Th crowd in the cable car were very excitable and lots of screams were heard.
The scenic cable car
Once you hit the bottom you follow the board walk all the way round until you hit the railway car. The trees and the plants were all very moist from all the rain from the past few days. The valleys were busy with lots of other tours and also families with kids. You can also get some good views of the three sisters and also an Orphan rock from the valleys. A few drops of rain did fall but luckily for us the tall dense trees managed to keep us dry. At the end of the walk we arrive at the steepest train. Luckily for us the train was going backwards to bring us back up to the top. We all climbed in, three people to one row, the seats had very deep backed seats, I guess to keep us from falling out. No seat belts, just a grill covering the top of us.
The speed at which it takes off is pretty fast too. You back up into a gorge of the valleys and you are a darkness for a short time. The ride lasted two minutes and some people actually did scream for the entire journey of the ride. All the passengers survived and everyone enjoyed it very much.
The last part of the tour was to head into the national park and spot kangaroos. Everyone was very excited about the valleys and so we were very much looking forward to seeing some kanagroos. We headed into the national park with calm weather. As soon as we started making our way down the windy paths the rain started to pour down so hard.
The three sisters
Literally the huge rain drops were really pelting the roof of the bus, Dave's windscreen wipers were working over time. You could see the rain sliding down the steep windy paths of the park. All of us on the bus was a little worried about continuing on through as we could see that the bus was having trouble heading down hill and we didn't want to be stuck in the park and not be able to come back up again. One of the other buses on Oz trails passed us going up the hill and advised that we not attempt to go any further as the road was pretty scary. Dave decided to proceed with caution, he drove slowly and carefully and after another 5-10mins, the rain stopped and the sun came out. We reached the bottom of the park shortly after and we were lucky enough to catch three kangaroos sitting on the grass and having a munch.
The scenic railway
There was a mummy, a daddy and a joey. We got off the bus slowly as to not startle them and watched them from the opposite side of the road. We all took pictures and watched in amazement. A large group of ducks started to waddle over near to the patch that the kangaroos were. There were two large lucks and then a whole group of tiny ducklings. The joey got very curious of the ducks and slowly crawled over to them, completely unexpectedly one of the bigger ducks felt threatened by this move and retaliated by pecking the joey quite fiercely. The poor joey was so surprised and frightened he jumped away with real haste. The daddy kangaroo stood up high on his back legs, towering above at 6ft tall and stared at the group of ducks with menace.
The ducks very quickly made their way in the opposite direction. No arguments.
We had to rush to homebush bay quay to catch our ferry back into the city. The rainbows had come out and the view of them over the otherside of the harbour was beautiful. The ferry ride was about 45 mins into circular quay, end of the tour. Great day and I was still on a high from witnessing the kangaroo and duck episode.