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Published: January 24th 2007
First of all apologies to Coonabarabran for saying nothing happens there - apparently the day before we arrived, a gunman took over a house in the street next to the hotel, the police were called and the seige didn't end until Saturday afternoon, by which time we were ensconced in the hotel.
From Coonabarabran we headed South west towards Dubbo. We were now on the fringes of the great plains to the west of the Great Dividing Range and everywhere you looked the land cried out for water, mile after mile of parched grassland and drooping gum trees. Many of the eucalyptus (gum) trees have a strange way of dealing with drought they loose their bark rather than their leaves and if it gets rally bad they drop branches before eventually succumbing to the drought. The result is that you get many trees that look superficially OK but then you notice the bark stripping off and the scattering of largish dead branches lying around the base of the tree. This is the 6th year of drought and many farmers have had to reduce livestock holdings to an absolute minimum but you still see dust covered sheep and cattle rummaging through
Thunderstorm in Katoomba
This is statue in YHA garden
the dry sun baked fields searching for any last remaining grasses.
Dubbo was/is a reasonably sized town and we booked into a campsite just outside town ina 2 bedroomed cabin with air conditioning and a TV. Spent rather a lazy day between the town and the pool I really can't function very well in this heat (37 C).
Cara and I stayed up till after midnight watching Andy Murray (gave up after it got to 2 sets all at 12.45).
Up early and off to the Blue Mts, slightly cooler today (Tues).
The Blue Mountains have been good fun - we're in a town called Katoomba. Katoomba sits some 1200 ft above the Jamison Valley some 100 miles north west of Sydney. The gorge sides are precipitous with numerous streams (creeks here) running off the plateau to drop spectacularly into the valley. We walked to Echo Point on Tuesday evening, which has a great view across the valley. When we got back to the hostel, the skies turned inky black and we got a magnificent thunderstorm. We watched for a while on the terrace, then went upstairs to our room, switched off all the lights and
hung out of the window for hours.
We awoke to a cool misty day and Willy stopped moaning about the heat for the first time since we reached Australia, which was a blessing in itself. We took a tourist trolley bus around the edge of the cliffs overlooking the valley, getting on and off to do various walks and look outs. We went down to the bottom of the gorge on a ratchet railway that bills itself as the steepest in the world, walked along a 2km raised boardwalk through the rainforest canopy and came back up in a cable car. Numerous exotic birds, birds here are more colourful and noisy then anywhere else we've been but as we haven't got hold of any bird books most of them are unknown to us. Cara got a return trip in the "skyway" cable car, which goes horizontally across part of the gorge, but as it had a glass floor, Willy and I wimped out.
Tomorrow, we leave the Beast in the YHA car park and head for Sydney on the train. We're back here on Sunday before heading south then west to Melbourne whilst Cara heads off to Adelaide.
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