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Road to Sydney, AU
Thursday, December 28, 2000

Roadside Cion-Op Barbie
Roadside Cion-Op Barbie

The Stines and the Henrys rose early, said their farewells to the McAllisters, piled into their rented minibus and headed north toward Sydney.  The drive was long, through very dry country, and we wondered how all the cattle and sheep could find enough grass to survive.  And, this is just the beginning of summer!  On the other hand, we did pass through cherry orchard country where, like turning on a light bulb, the landscape become lush green.  We drove through several quaint, old towns, with the original old downtown buildings still bustling with businesses.  The main street of one in particular, Culcairn, reminded us of a frontier town that hadn't much changed since being built in the early 1900s.


Vineyard Motel
Vineyard Motel

We arrived at the Vineyard Motel around 5:00 p.m.  This was a six-unit building situated on a rise in the country in the middle of a beautiful four hundred-acre vineyard.  It felt good to settle in.  And, the kids took a quick swim in the pool, rode bicycle and petted the horses.  Poor Bill felt a little "under the weather" and called it a day.  Sandy and the Henrys found a nice little café for a bite to eat.  What a nice ending to a beautiful day - sunny, clear and warm!


Vineyard Motel Vineyards
Vineyard Motel Vineyards

Road to Sydney, AU
Friday, December 29, 2000

We awoke to another beautiful day, had some breakfast and again packed up and headed for our destination, Sydney.  A short distance into our drive we began entering the Blue Mountains, so named for the blue haze generated by the oils from the dense gum tree forest.  Now our surrounds were lush and green.  The roads were very twisty leading over the mountain to Jenolan Caves, our first stop.  There were a total of nine caves to tour.  We took the 1-1/2 hour tour of the Lucas Cave (over 900 steps to climb), which was first discovered in 1860.  Our guide was terrific.  This cave has the highest and largest chambers at Jenolan, the highest being the Cathedral.  The limestone formations were magnificent.  The grounds have a beautiful old brick hotel, restaurant/gift shop that date back to the mid-1800's.


Jenolan Caves Entrance
Jenolan Caves Entrance

Then, it was back in the bus and off to Katoomba, Sydney's gateway to the Blue Mountains.  It was an attractive tourist town.  We took the brand new cable car ride more than 300 meters down into the valley, below, and had a great view of the rock formation called "The Three Sisters" along the way.  Our trip back up was on the tram, originally built to haul coal up from the valley.  The tram ride was breathtaking, mainly because we rode backwards up the 50+ degree incline, between sheer rock walls and through a tunnel along the way. 

We finally reached our hotel in Sydney early evening and had a delicious dinner in nearby China Town.  The streets were mobbed with a cacophony of vendors, craft stands, street performers and sidewalk restaurants.  Quite a change from the "bush"!first discovered in 1860.  Our guide was terrific.  This cave has the highest and largest chambers at Jenolan, the highest being the Cathedral.  The limestone formations were magnificent.  The grounds have a beautiful old brick hotel, restaurant/gift shop that date back to the mid-1800's.  You can check this cave out on our guide's website, www.jenolan.com.


Three Sisters at Katoomba
Three Sisters at Katoomba

Then, it was back in the bus and off to Katoomba, Sydney's gateway to the Blue Mountains.  It was an attractive tourist town.  We took the brand new cable car ride more than 300 meters down into the valley, below, and had a great view of the rock formation called "The Three Sisters" along the way.  Our trip back up was on the tram, originally built to haul coal up from the valley.  The tram ride was breathtaking, mainly because we rode backwards up the 50+ degree incline, between sheer rock walls and through a tunnel along the way. 

We finally reached our hotel in Sydney early evening and had a delicious dinner in nearby China Town.  The streets were mobbed with a cacophony of vendors, craft stands, street performers and sidewalk restaurants.  Quite a change from the "bush"!