Part four of the series from our guest blogger, Liz Bethell on her decision to live in Australia. This week, she talks about visiting the Blue Mountains.
The Blue Mountains
On one April morning, we headed off a place called Leura to meet our friends, Shane and Janette. We rented a three-storey house, with beautiful views across the Blue Mountains. I kept watching to see if any wallabies appeared but no joy! We headed out to the Jenolan Caves and went into the Lucas Cave on an hour and half tour. The caves were breathtakingly beautiful and the guide was excellent. Then we headed out to Katoomba (meaning place of shiny water) where we went on a skyride across the mountains and the floor cleared so you could see right below. We saw the Three Sisters and went down in the world’s steepest cog train down the mountain – although we had done that last time we were here in 2007, it was great to do it again.
The sunsets and sunrises are beautiful in the Blue Mountains, but it was pretty nippy- much more like a brisk spring morning in the UK. After a week, we headed back up north to the warmer climate (thankfully!). We picked Rachel up in the morning at Sydney airport- another exchange teacher who is working at Broken Hill, which is pretty isolated so we are going to show her around Byronshire and Ballina area for a week.
We did a road trip – you have to do at least one when you are in Oz – from the Blue Mountains and through Sydney back up home, which took a whopping ten hours. The next day we got up early and went to Shelley’s Beach cafe again. This was in East Ballina and was just a beautiful spot on the beach with water dragons around in the courtyards. Then we went out for the day with Dave and Tiffany, friends from school. They took us around the local area and we really explored. We met Dave’s parents who live on a beautiful 30 acre farm and there were two gorgeous owls in the tree in the garden. We had stopped in Bangalow for a lovely lunch and then headed back home early evening after a wonderful day. A nice way to finish off the last day, my husband Ralph was with us before we had to drop him off at Brisbane airport.
It was Anzac Day on 25th April 2012 I went to the very moving Anzac Dawn Service at 5:30am. There were a lot of people there, including four soldiers and a bugle player, and the service was lovely. At the end everyone sang the Australian National Anthem, which started with God Save the Queen.
Lest We Forget
They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
… They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
Then we had a quiet couple of weeks. I was busy at school and Autumn was coming in. The temperature dropped to 23 degrees which seemed fresh and cool and had everyone reaching for their jumpers! Funny as in England we would be taking the jumpers off, guess we really acclimatised.
It’s also funny how everything we take for granted after being here for five months. The rainforest trees that we had awed at when we first arrived now just seemed normal and everyday. And the views across the hills as I drive to work with the low mist each morning are still beautiful, but it feels like we have always been here so are just used to them.
We went to Beef Week at Casino on 26th May with two of the girls from work. Jan said I needed to experience Beef Week as Casino is the capital of Beef for Australia and was a week long festival. We met Deb George there and her husband Thomas George, the Lismore Councillor. He was presenting a lot of the day. The cattle were amazing – gleaming and so healthy looking. It was a bit sad when they got auctioned off for meat, but it didn’t stop us tucking into steak sandwiches… Afterwards I was going to stay for the rodeo but decided to wait until Ralph comes out, especially as the other thing on offer was a trip to the Thomas’s brother’s local pub Hotel Cecil with Deb, Thomas and their friends.
It’s a totally cool pub. We met some more very friendly Australians, especially one very friendly Aussie man. He said I reminded him of his second wife, but that he has only been married once…. He also said I have a great Pommie accent, which was nice of him.
Actually, if you include the stranger outside the pub who hugged Deb and I and then came back for another hug before vanishing down the street, two very friendly Aussie men!! Could definitely get used to this life.
Read more from Liz Bethell on her personal blog.