The plan for today was a day trip to the Blue Mountains, which are to the west of Sydney. It was around a two-hour bus ride to get there, but our tour guide kept us engaged with fun trivia both about the city and about Aussie life in general. For example, we learned that there are underground commuter tunnels across the city to help minimize pedestrian traffic during rush hour. We also learned that policemen really like to give out jaywalking fines – they will stand on street corners during rush hours to catch people rushing to work. They also fine people if they do not vote. In general, there are a lot of ways to get fined.
In terms of the mountains themselves, they are called "Blue" because of the blue tint that shows when light hits the sap produced by the many eucalyptus trees. We began our adventure in the mountains with a stop at Echo Point Lookout. The views were spectacular, and we were able to see the famous Three Sisters rock formation. There are several different Aboriginal legends as to the origin of the rock formation, but all of them share the idea of sisters being turned into stone by a witch doctor for their own protection.
We then took a cable car to Scenic World, where a steep railway with a 52-degree incline can take visitors down to the boardwalk in Jamison Valley. Unfortunately, the railway was closed for maintenance today, so we took another cable car down to the rain forest. We were able to do a little hiking through the rain forest and even climbed rocks across the stream at the base of a waterfall.
After meeting back up, we had lunch at Leura, a small town nearby that had locally owned boutiques and a candy shop. We finished up in the Blue Mountains earlier than expected and were able to catch Paddy's Market back in the city before it closed.
Later, we took pictures of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge at night and got gelato. To finish the night off, we watched the big rugby match between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons – our impression was that this match was their equivalent to our Super Bowl, although tonight's match was only one out of the three matches that determine the winner. The Maroons won tonight's match and Coach Kmak bought a celebratory Maroons cap. . . Ma-what? Maroons!!
- Danielle Allen & Kriza Sy