Mountains, Koalas and a Cruise!

It was 7:30 AM on our fourth day in Sydney and we were outside the Four Seasons Hotel near the Sydney Harbour.  We were here to be picked up for all-day excursion of fun.  At precisely 8:00 our van for the day rolled up and we were off!

The Blue Mountains

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The Blue Mountain’s Jamison Valley. Three Sisters on the left.

Our first destination was the Blue Mountains which are about 90 minutes west of Sydney.  The first half of the drive was on interstate-type roads through Sydney suburbs while the second half of the trip had forest on each side.  I kept my eyes peeled for a kangaroo or two, but alas, no kangaroos to be seen on this drive.  Once in the mountains we stopped in the little town of Leura.  Here we had coffee and pastries and some time to walk around this quaint little village.

Our next stop was at Scenic World.  Here we boarded the Skyway which is a huge cable car suspended about 900 feet over a ravine between two cliffs. From the Skyway we got great views of the Three Sisters formation, the Katoomba Falls and the Jamison Valley.  We even dared to look down through the glass floor to see the rainforest and waterfalls below.  Awesome!  We landed at the visitor center and caught a smaller cable car, called the Cableway, which gave us more awesome views as we descended another 1500 feet down into the valley.

The Scenic Skyway crossing the ravine.

The Scenic Skyway crossing the ravine.

At the bottom of the valley we found a boardwalk snaking through the rainforest.  However, this wasn’t your typical boardwalk through nature boardwalk. By luck we happened to be there during the “Sculpture at Scenic World” exhibit.  This included about 30 whimsical/magical sculptures scattered through the rainforest along the boardwalk.  It was so much fun to turn a corner on the path to discover yet another amazing work of art!

Sculpture in the Rainforest!

Sculpture in the Rainforest!

After about an hour of wandering through all the art exhibits we boarded the Scenic Railway.  This is the steepest railway in the world at a 52 degree incline.  You can even adjust your seat to lean further back to increase the incline as you are whisked up the mountain.  What a ride!

This sculpture is a tribute to the horses who were lowered into nearby mines and spent the rest of their lives there.

This sculpture is a tribute to the horses who were lowered into nearby mines and spent the rest of their lives there.

Featherdale Wildlife Park

We then re-boarded our bus and rode for over an hour back into Sydney and to the Featherdale Wildlife Park.  This amazing little park has over 1700 Australian animals, including kangaroos, snakes, flying foxes, tiny penguins and of course, koalas!  We had just seen a wild koala the day before and we couldn’t wait to touch one so we headed to the koala exhibit first.

In just a few minutes Mona was standing next to a live koala.  The koala seemed a little bored, but Mona was so excited she was shaking!  After I snapped just one picture the koala decided he was done.  He kept turning away from the camera!  The trainer said Mona had broke him, but when Mona’s face visibly saddened the trainer quickly said that was a koala’s normal behavior when they want to go back to their enclosure; they refuse to face the camera knowing they will go back “home” away from the paparazzi.

Mona broke this koala!

Mona broke this koala!

Luckily, another koala was ready to get to work and Mona got to touch a koala for the second time in her life!

The second koala is the charm!

The second koala is the charm!

After the thrill of touching koalas we wandered through the rest of the wildlife park.  We hand fed kangaroos and wallabies (I still can’t tell the difference), marveled at the crocodile, made certain to keep our fingers out of the Tasmanian Devil exhibit and cooed at the tiny penguins.  Australia has an amazing diversity of wildlife and lucky for us we got to see quite a few different species here in these few acres.

Koala on break!

Koala on break!

All too soon it was time pry Mona’s hands off her favorite koala and to re-board our bus.  Next stop: a river cruise!

River Cruise!

We boarded our catamaran at a dock near Sydney’s Olympic Park.  Then we took a one hour cruise down the Parramatta River back to Sydney.  The end of this cruise was perfectly timed to be after dark so we could see the Harbour bridge in its nighttime glory.  Superb!  Next was the Sydney Opera House and finally the Circular Quay.  We hopped off the boat at the dock and gawked at the sights on the quay as we walked one block back to our hotel.

The Harbour Bridge from a speeding catamaran!

The Harbour Bridge from a speeding catamaran!

The Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House

What an awesome day!

The Circular Quay at Night!

The Circular Quay at Night!

Some Details:

We booked this tour through Viator at: Blue Mountain Day Trip and River Cruise.  The cost was $175 each and included breakfast and lunch and all three excursions and admissions discussed above.

The tour operator was: https://www.aatkings.com.

Here’s more information on Featherdale Wildlife Park.

And finally, here’s more information on Scenic World.

Note: We paid for all of our expenses and have not been compensated for anything in this article.

A more traditional pic of the Harbour Bridge

A more traditional pic of the Harbour Bridge

 

 

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