Not everything is what it seems

The Blue Mountains were formed around one million years ago. There is no wonder there is so much history around this area. The Blue Mountains is densely populated by oil bearing Eucalyptus trees. Thus the atmosphere around them is filled with finely dispersed droplets of oil, which, when combined with dust particles and water vapour, make a blue visual effect.

The Blue Mountains are about a 90 minute drive from Sydney. There are eight connected conservation areas in the World Heritage area, all full of dramatic scenery of cliffs and waterfalls and full of amazing walks and hikes. Free for all to enjoy nature and even spot a few creatures. Though be careful not to step on snakes or legless lizzards like this one! (See if you can spot the ears)

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The right way around

In Evans Lookout Road in Blackheath, about fifteen minutes drive up past Katoomba, is a walk called the Grand Canyon walking track. It is often considered as the most impressive walking trail in the Blue Mountains. It has, however, some very steep sections and there is an easy way around the circuit and a hard way which ends up in steep inclines and never-ending uphill zigzags.

The Grand Canyon bushwalk was constructed and opened to the public in 1907. Since then thousands of walkers make the ~6km bushwalking adventure around rainforest, creek crossings, waterfalls, huge sandstone walls and rock overhangs. Including us.

And just if you are wondering, we went the right way around…

Punch buggy

Im not sure where the game really began. There are some theories (here and here), like being a “dark joke in dark times” in Germany. Regardless of its origins, the game has caught popularity in our family and now spotting the unique design of “beetles” has become a pavlovian response to punching and a bit of fun. The increasing rarety of the original bochos means that spotting them is hard. Unless you come across a gathering of old VW vehicles.

Burnt path

Another Sunday, another bush walk. Starting South of Sydney, in Cronulla, with a long beach to walk across to then enter the historic Kamay Botany Bay National Park on the Kurnell Peninsula. Its historic significance dates to 1770 when it is said that Captain Cook landed here. It is now, supposedly, one of the best whale watching spots in Sydney, though we were a bit late to watch the humpback migration that happens in June/July.

We kept wondering why the walking platforms were all burnt, had a fire been a controled fire or a natural disaster. Of course, reaching the end of our 14km walk we discovered the walking track was closed to public. I guess they dont have a lot of walkers starting on the Cronulla side.

So it happens that a few weeks past a fire consumed 350 hectares of land south of Sydney, with speculations that it was an arsonist who started it on Sunday 3 September. It was impressive to see a land come back to life as it is used to fires in the hot summer days; plants had already started blooming and growing again after just a handful of weeks.

Practicing with a view

A couple of years ago a friend roped me into doing a walk. This was not just any walk. It was a pretty long walk. We covered 55km in one day. The longest walk I have done in a day. I had always liked walking but ever since I broke my own personal records in that bloody long walk, bushwalks have become a thing I particularly enjoy in my life in this neck of the woods.

This year, it was me encouraging someone else to do a walk with me. Only 28 kms. A walk this far needs training if you dont want to end up in bed incapable of moving the next day. So here we are. Walking walking walking.

The first walk was mostly tracks I had done before. Good familiar territory. But on our second walk we ventured to the first official National Park in Australia – the Royal National Park. And said to be the second national park in the world proclaimed in 1879. These stunning views in our 23km walk brought back memories of walking in the Downs in the South of England. Going up then going down – going up then going down.

Sustainable lobsters

Lobsters and rock lobsters are caught in salt water whereas those caught in fresh water are crayfish. We have been lucky to be able to have rock lobsters a couple of times this holiday. Rock lobsters, unlike lobsters, have no claws. But they are just as tasty. 

In the coast of Cervantes, rock lobsters are plentiful and regulations are strict to ensure a sustainable consumption of this delicacy. We walk through the factory and learn that rock lobsters can be put into a sedated state when they are in 5 degree waters. They can survive up to 30 hours in that state and keep the great price people pay to choose their meal live from a tank. They must, however, have no more than 3 legs missing. 

Lobsters quality is in the weight and are classed from A (the smallest size, though there is a minimum size for them to be caught) to H which can be up to 2.5kg. You would think that countries would fight for the big H sized lobsters but it is not the case. Places like Japan prefer the A and B grade crustaceans whereas places like Dubai like the size. 

In any case, any size is tasty so long as it is sustainably fished.