This is the official blog of my Study Abroad Trip to Australia and New Zealand. I'll be leaving December 26th and returning home February 2nd.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Day 6: Guys, you scared a baby and it started crying...

Greetings everyone! I hope 2012 has been treating you well thus far and you haven't given up on your New Year's resolutions quite yet. Today was a long day but an awesome experience just the same (I feel like I start every blog post this way and yet it still seems like a pertinent statement), we traveled to the famous Blue Mountains just outside Sydney. Fun fact about the Blue Mountains:

-The Greater Blue Mountains Area was unanimously listed as a World Heritage Area by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) on 29 November 2000, becoming the fourth area in New South Wales to be listed.

Here's a shot of me brushing up on my National Geographic photography skills. My camera takes amazing panoramic shots (Thanks Sloan).

Blue Mountains with the Three Sisters Cliffs on the left side (click on the picture to see a bigger version)

We had to wake up at 5:30 am, be ready at 6:30 am, and make our train from Central Station to Katoomba Station about 102 km away, which took about 2 hours because there was approximately 29 stops along the way. I tried to sleep a little bit but ended up reading for most of the trip. These trains were designed with efficiency and functionality in mind, definitely not luxury. We arrived at Katoomba and realized we were starving. So we began the trip with the breakfast of champions: Bacon, Egg, and Lamb Sandwich with a Coke. It was delicious.
After breakfast we trekked through the town of Katoomba to an area called Echo Point where we saw the world famous Three Sisters Rock Formations. These breathtaking peaks towered over Jamison Valley which, according to our professor, can be "easily" accessed by heading down a trail called the "Giant Staircase." I thought to myself, how bad can they really be? It's probably a figure of speech. FALSE. There were 900 steps down about a 50% grade. Let me repeat that. 900 STEPS. It took us an hour. Did I mention that it was a little over 80 degrees and there were probably 400 people trying to slowly move up or down these stairs at the same time? I have come to the sore conclusion that after this five weeks or so, with day trips like this and walking anywhere from 3 to 8 miles a day so far, I'll have buns of steel. Alright, enough complaining but the truth was the view was incredible every time I looked up from making sure I didn't fall down the stairs down a mountain to my death.

After this trek down to the bottom of the stairs we decided to take a quick 4.2 kilometer (3.6 miles for you Yanks) hike to Leura Forest and back to the Scenic Railway which was awesome. It was a cool hike because we were almost completely hidden under the tree canopy for most of the hike until we started our ascent again. It seemed like we were in an Australian Rainforest and the climate resembled the tropics (minus the flood season). I was dripping sweat but having the time of my life. A lot of us jumped at the chance to ride the train mainly to have a chance to get off our feet but very few of us expected how this train ride would soon occur. We arrived at the train station, which basically consisted of a deck suspended off the side of a cliff, and then we saw it. The train. It's kind of hard to describe but it reminded me of a roller coaster attached to the side of a mountain. We approached the cage of the car with nervous laughter but it turned out to be a short, really fun ride. Some fun facts about the Scenic Railway from Wikipedia:

-The Katoomba Scenic Railway, was said to be the steepest railway in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records, and originally part of the Katoomba mining tramways constructed between 1878 and 1900. The cable railway line descends 415 metres through sandstone cliffs, via a rock tunnel with a maximum gradient of 52 degrees. 

Right before we hit the stairs

The "Rainforest" of Leura Forest
Right before we stepped on the train
View from the train

There's a hilarious video of us taking the train up to the top of the mountain where we all scream like we're on a roller coaster. It's on Jay McDaniel's Blog (Shoutout) Jay's Blog. We accidentally made a baby cry (see title) and got a lot of strange looks coming up to the peak. Stupid Americans. We grabbed some lunch before the train where I actually got to try a bit of a Kangaroo burger. It was pretty good suprisingly. It had a venison chewiness but the flavor was actually good. Well I'll check in tomorrow. War Eagle!


  1. wish i could get the video to work!! says "private"- you are definitely having an adventure! and describing it well for your readers! didn't know there was a delicacy such as "roo-burgers!" -mom

  2. Thanks for the shoutout mate. I'll pay it forward.