Today’s excursion is “Discover The Blue Mountains”.
The Blue Mountains are a range of mountains that begin about 30 miles west of Sydney. The name Blue Mountains is derived from the blue tinge the range takes on when viewed from a distance. Due to their rugged nature it took many years before early settlers found a way across the mountains enabling the population to expand into the country. Today’s trip was to a particularly scenic spot called “Echo Point”.
As we drove, our guide pointed out the large group of tall orange posts with white bands and black plumage in the highway median. This is a memorial to the Australian Light Horse Brigade from WWI. This is dedicated to these heroic troops and to their horses that could never return. The white band is a reference to the departing soldiers’ innocence of war. The abstract plumage attached to each marker represents the emu plumes attached to the Light Horsemen’s slouch hats.
Australian quarantine regulations prevented the return of any horse that had survived the battles. The old and sick horses were shot, while the remainder were handed over to British units. As a reminder of every Light Horseman’s loss in leaving his horse behind, there is no physical representation of the horse in the sculpture.
Our first stop was the Featherdale Wildlife Park. This small park showcases a very nice selection of animals that are indigenous to Australia. They had baby wallabies, laughing Kookaburras, a golden pheasant (actually this is Chinese, but pretty), koalas, Dingos, echidnas and many more. My favorites were the world’s most venomous snake, the Inland Taipan, and the world’s smallest penguins. We were only able to spend an hour here but we could have spent many more. Fun place to visit.
We continued our drive to Echo Point and reached it about an hour later.
You can easily see why it took so long to find a way thru these mountains. The main feature here was the rock formation called “Three Sisters”. Aboriginal people say there were actually 7 sisters at one time. We had about 15 minutes to take pictures.
A short distance from Echo Point was a small theatre where we attended a show called “Waradah”. The show was about 1/2 hour and presented a short history of the people’s who settled Australia, their hardships, and struggles to survive.
After the show we boarded our bus and headed to the Mountain Heritage Hotel Spa & Retreat where we were served a very enjoyable lunch and a glass of wine. Based on the the Hotel’s decor, you could easily expect to see Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple step thru one of the doorways.
The drive back to the ship was very quick and quiet (a lot of people slept after the lunch).
Next up, a couple of sea days and then our next stop of Townsville, a ways north along the eastern coast of Australia.