In January of 2017, we visited Blackheath, located near the highest point of the Blue Mountains, between Katoomba and Mount Victoria in New South Wales. According to Wikipedia, "the region of what is now known as Blackheath was originally known as East Lithgow. Surrounding areas were thought to be a summer corroboree meeting place for several Indigenous peoples of the Darug, Gundungurra and Wiradjuri nations."
We embarked on several bush walks marvelling at the colourful flora along the paths.
The resilience of the trees who have survived bush fires is impressive. Here a picture of a living tree.
Grass Trees are the first ones showing green after a bush fire. When you buy one of these plants for your garden, you can read on the instructions that they "benefit from burning off occasionally". A Gass Tree can be seen on the Australian $2 coin.
Gisela almost stepped on a 40 centimetre long Blotched Blue-tongue Lizard.
Evans Lookout is located at the top of the escarpment providing one of the best views.
The Cathedral of Ferns was one of the highlights of the trip.
We discovered the Victory Theatre Antique Centre which is the largest antique centre west of Sydney.
The Blue Mountain Botanic Garden Mount Tomah is a 252 hectare estate that sits on the summit of basalt capped peak. We enjoyed the plants and a lunch concluding our trip. The gardens are occupied by many lizards and we even observed a opossum in one of the shelters.
Here a small video of our travels through the Blue Mountains near Blackheath.
More pictures here.
Following a Sydney tradition, we spent most of Christmas Day on the beach—trying out our new beach tent. We drove about an hour North to escape the tourists who crowd the famous beaches, like Bondi, Coogee or Manly, to enjoy the sand and water at Avalon Beach.
The beach is about 50 km north of our home in Northmead in the Northern Beaches region. The beach is mostly a surfing beach, but it also has a 25-metre salt water rock pool at the south end whose bottom is overgrown with kelp--watch the video below.
For New Years Eve (NYE, or hashtag #SydNYE), we set up our tent on Cockatoo Island camping in the middle of Sydney Harbour. Cockatoo Island is an old industrial site which reminded us of Pittsburgh given the many old steel manufacturing building there, like in the huge turbine assembly plant used for ship engines.
We watched the fireworks with thousands of other people who managed to get tickets to one of the campgrounds set up on the little Island. Others just put up chairs somewhere on the shorelines of Sydney Harbour, or charter a boat to see the fireworks from the water (between $1,000 and $3,000 per person depending on the boat). The city officials tweeted at 9:30 pm on NYE that “All Vantage Points in the City, Darling Harbour, and North Sydney are FULL. Do not travel into the city or North Sydney.”
New Years Evening in Sydney is something very special! Before the family fireworks at 9 pm, there was an airshow and a Welcome to Country honouring the traditional owners of the land. Then at 9 pm, we watched the Family Fireworks Display that originated from barges that were anchored on the Sydney Harbour—one of them very close to Cockatoo Island providing us with a front-row seat. The Midnight Fireworks Display was spectacular as expected, but due to us being located in the direction of the wind from the fireworks partially obstructed by the smoke emitted from the exploding pyrotechnic. After staying the night on the Island, we departed to our car via a ferry shuttle next morning.
More images here.