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Scribbles on life, the universe and everything… Woy Woy, Ettalong, Umina and teh Central Coast that is!
This is Australia!
November 6, 2013Posted by on
As we wind out way through the quiet streets of Katoomba the greenery surrounding us strikes me as odd We are in the Blue Mountains ravished only two weeks ago by bushfire. Yet, here in Katoomba we are not seeing any of the devastation. It helps that darkness is upon us, leaving me to wonder if we will see a different scene in the daylight.
Tonight it is all about finding our accommodation Lush on Lurine. We booked it on Airbnb, an online community marketplace where people list their private accommodation ranging from a room in their home to a whole home rental. Founded in 2008, Airbnb has only been in Australia since 2012 and this is our first time using the site.
Lush on Lurine is a heritage-listed home built in 1898. We have booked a separate bedroom with en-suite and sitting room. We are not disappointed. Jilea greets us with her beautiful Irish Wolfhound Oi, and gives us a quick tour before settling us in with a complimentary glass of wine. Lush on Lurine is…lush! Very eclectic, colourful, cozy and eccentric, I want to run home to redecorate. Even the shower has aromatherapy oil to stimulate your senses.
Waking up refreshed and relaxed (and after a wonderful breakfast and great coffee) we set out to peruse the delightful village of Leura known for its famous chocolate shop Josaphans. Okay, maybe that’s not all Leura is known for, but I have to share Josaphans with you. It is where you will find no preservatives, no additives, no artificial flavours, fresh, gluten free, beautiful orgasmic chocolates. Need I say more?
We take our little bag of chocolates and go for coffee. Al proceeds to take a bite out of each of my chocolates after eating all of his. Mumbling something about me having more chocolates, he is attempting to justify his actions. That’s the silliest excuse I have ever heard. He should have bought more if he wanted more. Everyone knows I don’t share chocolates!
We move on to shopping in Leura,then back to Katoomba to stop in at a local pub for Gluten Free pizza, an afternoon cocktail, and reminisce about an awesome time at said pub with Shannon Groenendyk when she visited us a few years back. How time flies!
A quick trip and hike to the Three Sisters and then back to Lush on Lurine to sit on the back deck drinking in the picturesque garden while sipping a well deserved glass of wine. I proceed to kick Al’s ass at crib. He may have a different story, but I don’t care, this is my story!
After another restful sleep our destination today is Jenolan Caves. We meet up with friends for lunch, a quick grocery shop and head towards our destination.
Al decides on the Bells Line of Road route. It is sobering. As far as you can see burnt eucalypt lining both sides of the road. We come across the occasional house intact, surrounded by the blackened trees and scarred land. Amazing. Around the next bend is rubble of tin, brick and burned out cars, the remnants of someone’s life, home, and dreams all gone up in smoke. The smell of fire and devastation hangs in the air.
We see the signs. As we wind our way along the road, they are becoming frequent, simple, and poignant. Printed on fabric and strung between the blackened tree trunks, or made of tin or metal roofing from the houses and barns that once were, they are nailed, stating the sentiments of those who were affected. They vary slightly, some simply saying “thank you”. Others articulate “RFS you’re a ripper” “Thank you Firies” “RFS & SES you rock”.
The signs may differ slightly, but the sentiment is the same refering to the selfless work of the Rural Fire Service (RFS) and State Emergency Services (SES). Both are volunteer organizations. Along side the professionals, these organizations are essential to saving countless lives of Australians every year.
The last part of the road to Jenolan Caves is one way from 11:45 -1:15 every day and is really just a goat track, a series of hairpin turns, one after another, after another. I can feel my stomach turning; it is not a Judy friendly road!
Alas, we have made it. I have been here once before, yet still enthralled as we drive through the Grand Arch and enter the site of the oldest discovered open caves in the world.
Saturday morning Al & I are up bright and early. We decide to hike (3 km) around the lakes and river rather than do a cave tour. I have done a few of the caves here before and there are many more to explore, but friends and family will not be surprised that I prefer to stay above ground!
As we hike we are searching Blue Lake for the elusive platypus. We know they are here because we saw a sign saying they have been seen in Blue Lake, one of the only known public places in NSW that people have the opportunity to see the platypus in the wild. We are not disappointed. Right in front of us, we see a baby platypus foraging in the clear shallow lake water. As we edge closer another platypus scrambles into the water shocked from the lakes edge. The baby takes no notice and gives us an excellent view. It surfaces and floats in front of us for a few minutes. Amazing! The platypus is extremely shy. We are lucky to be receiving this private show. If you ask most Australian, they will not have seen a platypus in the wild.
These are odd-looking animals. When Europeans first encountered the platypus, a pelt was taken back to Great Britain, but scientists considered it a hoax thinking somebody had sewn a ducks bill onto a beaver like animal. Too funny!
Saturday evening we sit in the Grand Arch nestled in our camping chairs enjoying the Rhythm Hunters, a fusion of drumming and indigenous songs, with strong Sumatra influences, a visual and acoustic feast like no other.
Before we know it, Sunday has arrived and it’s time to head for home.
From the Blue Mountains, delectable chocolate, Jenolan Caves, land ravished by recent bushfires, RFS recognition strung between the charred eucalypt, to the unique platypus…distinctive, exceptional, formidable, inimitable…this is Australia!