Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Come to Australia, you might accidentally get killed.

This weekend my husband and I celebrated our anniversary.  We decided to take a trip to the Blue Mountains just west of Sydney.  I thought it would be fun to find a tour since we didn’t have a clue what to do or where to even start.  I found a tour online and we were ready to go.

It was a beautiful day so I was pretty stoked that the sun would be shining in the mountains.  Our tour guide, Jimmy, picked us up at the Sydney youth hostel with a couple other young backpackers.  This should have been my first clue that I had a chosen a tour that was guided more toward the adventurer type.  While waiting for our tour we watched as nice, new buses picked up other tours.  We then found ourselves climbing into an older, rusty bus filled with eager-eyed French, Swiss, British, Chinese, and Spanish kids.  I call them kids but they were probably 18-28.  I take my seat realizing that I am probably the oldest person on this tour. This is a first and it is a scary first.  But, I’m excited because these type of starts usually lead to the best stories. 

Jimmy was great!  Everything you would want in an Australian tour guide filled with sayings, fun anecdotes, etc.  Our first stop was in the little town of Glenbrooke.  It was fun seeing little kids playing their Saturday morning cricket.  No teeball here.   As we headed to our first bushwalk Jimmy played us his favorite bushwalking song.  I found it on YouTube.  Pretty much sums it up.

Then we headed to Wentworth Falls.  It was beautiful.  Our first lookout we came to we could see stairs on the other side of the valley.  Very steep stairs with a small group of folks going up and down.  Sean and I actually commented how crazy they looked.  We took a picture and marvelled at them.   Jimmy didn’t tell us that we would be there in a matter of 20 minutes.  I wonder how funny he must think us as we all ask the same questions, say the same things, take the same pictures as every other group he has had in the past.  I wonder if it gets old.  

Blue mountains

Crazy stairs

So, we kept going down and down. Stairs became steeper.  I just kept thinking, “Please don’t fall. You are not going to be the one that falls into somebody and pushes them off a cliff!”  That would put a damper on the trip.  But seriously, these are some crazy passages we were flying down.  Just when I get a handle on what’s going on all of the sudden the stairs would be wet.  Then filled with mud. Argh!

We made it to the bottom of the Valley of the Falls in like 45 minutes.  Now that I’m doing a little research that was supposed to take 2.5 hours.  Not to mention the climb back up.  One girl from Britain said it was like boot camp except without the yelling and more scenery. I wouldn’t go that far but I am still hurting from it.  
Heading down the Grand Stairway

Tour guide Jimmy making red paint from the rocks

Queen's Cascade

Pride kicked in about a third of the way down the first bushwalk and I was not about to be shamed by a bunch of French backpackers.  Everyone was actually very nice but all I kept imagining was how bad of an accident would be required before they airlifted you out of the bottom.  Surely a twisted ankle would not be worthy.  I’m thinking it would have to be major.  I ask Jimmy.  He nonchalantly says that it has to involve death and then tells a story of a kid who had been drinking that fell off the mountain a couple of weeks back.  He was airlifted out but he was dead, so…okay.  Note to self, don’t fall off of the mountain. 

Going down and up Wentworth Falls in two hours, doable.  Then travelling to Katoomba Falls and doing the same thing?  Australians are nuts.  But, I think it has kick started my workout routine.  There are all kinds of tours for all types of people so please don’t be afraid of visiting the mountains.  They truly are breathtaking.  But if you find that you are the oldest in the tour group?  Get ready.
Three sisters

This sister looks more happy than frightened

Katoomba Falls

Here is the legend of the Three Sisters as told to us by Jimmy.  It is an Aboriginal tale that parents would tell their kids to keep them from wandering off.

Long ago, three sisters, Meenhi, Wimlah and Gunnedoo had a father who was a witch doctor. His name was Tyawan.There was also a Bunyip who lived in a deep hole in the valley below. The Bunyip was a monster kind of like a Yeti.  
Passing the hole was considered very dangerous, therefore whenever Tyawan had to pass the hole in search for food, he would leave his daughters safely on the cliff behind a rocky wall. He told them to stay there and be careful.  
One fateful day, Tyawan waved goodbye to his daughters and descended down the cliff steps into the valley. 
Meanwhile at the top of the cliff, Meenhi was frightened by a large centipede which suddenly appeared before her. Meenhi took a stone and threw it at the centipede. The stone continued on its journey and rolled over the cliff, crashing into the valley below which angered the Bunyip. 
The rocky wall behind Meenhi, Wimlah and Gunnedoo then began to split open and the three sisters were left stranded on a thin ledge at the top of the cliff. All the birds, animals and fairies stopped still as the Bunyip emerged to see the terrified girls.As the Bunyip began to approach the girls, to protect them from harm, their father Tyawan used his magic bone to turn them into stone. 
Angered by this, the Bunyip then began to chase Tyawan. Tyawan ran into a cave and became trapped by the Bunyip.  Fearing for his life he turned the magic bone on himself and turned in a Lyre bird so he could easily fit in a crack away from the Bunyip.  
Once the Bunyip had disappeared, Tyawan returned in search of his magic bone but he couldn’t find it anywhere.  He started scratching at the ground looking to no avail.  You can still find him there as a Lyre bird scratching at the ground, searching for the magic bone that will one day allow him to be turned back in a man so he can free his daughters. The three sisters stand side by side waiting in rock formation until the day their father comes back. 

No comments:

Post a Comment