Sydney day 2
21 Feb 2007
News this morning that all passengers on the QM2 [Queen Mary] yesterday had been prevented from leaving the ship because several of them had allegedly been caught disembarking with stolen Cunard memorabilia!!!!
Lesley and I departed for the Blue Mountains about 8.15 this morning and exited the city through the heritage district, [the Rocks], passed the oldest hotel in Sydney [Lord Nelson] and down Oxford Street where the March Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gra is held.
Did you know the kangaroo and emu had been chosen as the emblem of Australia not only because they are native to the country but because neither can walk backwards. This in turn symbolically supports the creed "Onward Australia"
On route to the mountains we stopped to see the 2000 Olympic complex which is not only a remarkable feet of architecture built to time and cost but created with the up most sensitivity to the environment. The land upon which it was built was contaminated with toxins which had to be cleared. This lead to five environmental mounds being constructed. They contain contaminated soil between several layers of membranes and then landscaped. The gold and green bill frog's environment was protected by building s separate access road and observation platform at a cost of $3.5m. Sadly they built it too high and all that can be seen are thousands of little things below. To compensate they added a device to the observation platform that makes the sound of the frog when you enter.
Everywhere is powered by solar energy and the main arena holds in excess of 100,000 people who can be evacuated in 9 minutes. The complex still costs the government $38m per year in maintenance costs and is being turned into an international sports university with accommodation for several thousand students.
Later, at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains we had the privilege of meeting a local Aborigine. He was kind enough to explain the history of the Abo and their current plight which was remarkably like the description given to us by Beth and Eden in Melbourne.
On route to lunch we spent time looking across the gorgeous valley to three rocks known as the Three Sisters. Our guide [Marcia] told us the Aborigine's story of the three sisters, witchdoctor, father and the bogey man in the valley below.
Lunch was taken at Petters Fairmont Resort and comprised hot and cold food served buffet style and was accompanied with wine, beer and soft drinks.
The journey to the valley floor was by an old converted coal mine skip train which descended at an angle of approx 20 degrees to the vertical. The return journey back to the top of the mountain was by cable car and was taken in a dramatic thunder and lightning storm. An impromptu stop on our way back to the ship at a small village called Leura allowed us to purchase some local memorabilia which will help us hold on to fond memories of the day. The shopkeepers name was Sam.
Marcie was an accomplished anthropologist and made the day all the more enjoyable due to her amazing local knowledge, including the Wollemi Pine Tree which is estimated to be over 1000 years old.
The Blue Mountains have been made a world heritage site and the environment is guarded religiously to ensure such heritage is not harmed by tourists from all over the world. We arrived back at the ship by 5pm before settling down to dinner and setting sail for Brisbane