Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Vistas galore (Apr. 18/09 - Kangagra-Boyd National Park, Australia, mileage 140km)

We made our way west this morning along the Great Western Highway along the plateau, taking a couple side roads for a few more vistas of the Blue Mountains. Evan's Lookout gave us a huge perspective north toward the massive cliffs and valleys soaking up the morning sun. A bit farther along, Govett's Leap Lookout gave a nice view of Bridal Veil Falls, which cascaded off the top of the plateau and dropped so far down that much of the water was blown sideways by the wind before it hit the plunge pool way below.

The highway switched back down a draw into the Hartley Valley off the west side of the plateau. Farm land occupied the rolling hills in the valley bottom, and there were some nice views back to the cliffs below the plateau we had just come down from. We turned off the highway and followed a winding, narrow road up, up, up to the top of a mountain and then all the way down again. At the bottom was the Jenolan Caves, which we had seen signs to and heard of tours going there. Our first surprise was the massive black cave right in front of us that the road led right into, and the second was the masses of people and buses and stores that were everywhere, in the middle of nowhere! We had no idea how a huge bus could manage that road we just drove, but they obviously do! If the parking lots all hadn't been full, we probably would have stopped to check out the caves and the natural bridge formations. So up we went again, looking down on the random Disneyland in the boonies below. On top of the plateau, the road straightened just before we took a turnoff into Kanangra-Boyd National Park. The gravel road varied from smooth and fast to pot-holed and washboard, making the 30km drive seem pretty long. Hiking trails took off on both sides of the road into the open eucalypt forest, some intended to provide access into the bush for fire control. In the 40 minutes it took to drive to the end of the road, we saw at least eleven kangaroos hopping across the road or grazing in the trees. A few even posed long enough to get a decent photo!

There's a photo in the Lonely Planet guidebook that was obviously taken somewhere near the Blue Mountains that shows a guy standing out on a precarious cliff that is undercut below him, with blue hills disappearing into the distance behind. Just out of curiosity, I had asked a lady at a parks office where it was taken, and she pointed us to a hike in this park. We were planning to go by anyway, so we figured a night in the bush might be fun. A trail left the parking lot at the end of the road and wandered over to the top of a wide plateau whose surface was covered with patchy low shrubs and eroded sandstone paths. A few minutes along, there it was - the point from the photo! Ken edged his way out onto it while I took some photos of him, capturing how tiny we really are in the big scheme of things. The sun came out for a minute to illuminate the cliff face below him, and making for an incredible view in all directions. Standing within a few feet of a cliff edge that drops over fifteen hundred feet straight down really gets your adrenaline pumping!

There was a Parks campground a few miles back up the road, so we made our way back there and counted another 13 kangaroos along the way. The kookaburras sand (laughed?) while we cooked dinner and then we hibernated when the frigid night air made sitting outside almost unbearable!

No comments:

Post a Comment