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Photo Diary: Platypus spotting at Jenolan Caves in the NSW Blue Mountains

Sunday, June 7, 2015

It can get nerve-wracking planning an international vacation (especially when its not just for you), worrying that something will foil your plans or that you've forgotten to book something important. With this upcoming trip to Eurasia (less than 3 weeks now ^_^) being my second large international trip that I have booked all by myself, I find myself finding calm reflecting on earlier adventures, both international and local, that didn't go exactly according to plan but in doing so made the adventure much more special - I even got a tattoo on my wrist to remind me that 'This is an adventure' and everything does not need to go exactly to plan. Although a mere 3-hour train journey from my home, my weekend getaway to Katoomba and Jenolan Caves is one such trip that acts as a calming blanket when I'm feeling like a nervous Nancy.

As I was in amidst my honours work at the time when my mum suggested taking a trip to the NSW Blue Mountains I could only spare 48 hours, so we booked a luxurious room at Lilianfels (who offer a glorious high tea) in Katoomba and planned to take a day tour to Jenolan Caves from there, and spend the remaining half a day touring Katoomba. Whether due to my love for geological structures or my desperate need for some fresh air and distance from my studies, I really hyped this trip up in my head. However the first problem developed when I discovered that due to time constraints I could not visit the River Cave which I had set my sights on, but could only visit the Orient Cave unless I wanted to risk missing the bus back to Katoomba. Although I still hope to one day explore the River cave, boy am I glad I ditched it on this trip, as in doing so we were allowed time to leisurely stroll along the blue lake where we got to see a PLATYPUS! I don't know how lucky you've been but this was the first and only opportunity I've ever had to do so. Here's the proof for your viewing pleasure...

The second hiccup arose when we awoke early the following morning in the hope of sharing a sunrise with the iconic Three Sisters before taking a glorious nature hike, only to be greeted with rain and fog that clouded our vision beyond 2 feet in front of us. As an impromptu alternative, we set off to Scenic World to take on their rainforest scenic walkway. As luck would have it, Scenic World had an integrated art show showing along the scenic walkway that saw dream catchers the size of small houses hanging from trees and small dwarf statues hidden among the trees. Moreover, as the name implies, rainforests are best experienced IN THE RAIN, so although hampering our morning plans, the rain provided the perfect atmosphere for a rainforest stroll whilst also limiting the number of other visitors. By the time we returned back to our hotel to pick up our bags, the fog had begun to clear adding an enjoyable ambiance to the sight of the Three Sisters as we watched the thick fog dissipate into the increasing warm troposphere.

How to get here: 
From Sydney, Katoomba is a short 2-hour train ride on the Blue Mountains line or a 1.5-hour drive. Katoomba is easily navigated around using ones legs, although if you hate hills you may want to look into the bus as the streets are worse than in San Francisco. If you wish to visit Jenolan Caves (which I HIGHLY recommend) your best bet is to drive to maximise your visit. However, if you're limited on time like I was, there is a tour bus running from right outside Katoomba train station every morning that you can take advantage of. 
Until next time remember... 
This is an adventure.