Day 5 – Jenolan Caves
Another spectacular attraction in Blue Mountains is the Jenolan Caves, which was our itinerary for the next day. Instead of visiting a zoo, Cath promised us that we would go see kangaroos and wallabies in the wild so she booked us a cabin at Jenolan Caves Cottages.
It was already dark on our way there. The Kangaroo Crossing signs in the road made us excited and Cath drove extra careful. We even saw actual kangaroos crossing the road. The passageway to the Jenolan Caves Cottages was in a forest full of woods. Imagining the place as a setting for thriller movie like ‘Into the woods’ gave us the creeps. However, the cabins looked homey. The wooden interior and fireplace gave it a cozy feel. What’s more homey was our home-cooked dinner of Pan Grilled Salmon, Broccoli and fresh mushroom soup.
Ging was the first to wake up the next day. Though I was still sleepy, I was more excited to see kangaroos so I woke up and prepared my camera phone the moment I saw Ging getting hers. We went out to the veranda. First, we saw one then there came another. We hurried to the other room to wake up Liza by pulling her legs. There were too many kangaroos already when we went out again. I think they’re used to people feeding them that’s why they go near cabins when they saw us. They look harmless but it was our first time to see them near so it was only when Mex found a playmate at the playground that we went down from the cabin to get closer to them.
It was something special, but we found out later that they were wallabies and not kangaroos, haha. It was almost afternoon when we reached Jenolan Caves – a tourist site with restaurants and lodgings built around 11 show caves and underground rivers. It has the world’s oldest caves so visiting is a must.
There are different timings for cave tours and these tours are categorized by what you can see inside the cave, the size of the group that can be accommodated, and the level of difficulty exploring it. Prices for cave tours range from 35 AUD to 220 AUD; however there are self-guided audio tours that come free when you buy a cave tour ticket.
While waiting for The Orient Cave tour to commence, we explored the Grand Arch – a cave ruin big enough to host an event like a concert, located at the entrance of Jenolan Caves. Bush walking is also for free and Jenolan is offering 6 scenic tracks. We walked around the surreal Blue Lake. Blue Lake track was an easy walk; it lasted for 20-30 mins. We passed by a very nice De Burgh’s bridge before seeing the flora and trees. The lake was a very blue color. There are also a lot of animals, I even heard a couple of kids telling their dad that they saw a snake near a rock but too bad I was not able to see the platypus living in the area.
After a nice introduction to the tourist site, we headed to the meeting place for the Orient cave tour where some tourists were already waiting. The tour is kids-friendly; the tour guide made the kids count the steps from the meeting point to the Cave entrance ‘Binoomea Cut’. The LED lights that are installed in the caves gave us a different way to view its grandest limestone formations. It took us 90 minutes to tour this 470 meters long, average difficulty cave. I never knew that there could be too much caves in just one place until my trip to Jenolan.
Somewhere down the Hartley road, the Talisman, wood fired pizza café, came to our view and the words ‘wood fired pizza’ made us curious so we stopped by for some coffee and pizza. The coffee was nicely brewed and the ingredients of pizza were fresh. The dough tasted nice and for me, as long as the ingredients are fresh, the taste will never go wrong. The place is rustic and quirky at the same time. A portion of the place had a display of merchandise that was both bohemian and modern.
It was still early in the evening when we reached the CBD area of Sydney so we just decided to watch a movie in an outdoor movie house. How cool is that for someone who hasn’t tried it? The movie house was like a big open parking lot with an establishment where people can buy snacks to go with their movie-watching. Some people even brought chairs to watch the movie outside their cars. It was our longest day in Sydney.
Day 6 – Circular Quay and Darling Harbour
Our 4th day in Sydney was a day without a tour guide. Cath drop us off at DFO and went to work while Mex came with us to explore the city. DFO is said to be the best shopping place in the country but when we saw the prices of the items, we all thought that the sale items in Singapore are much cheaper. We ended up not buying anything. Outside the mall, there was a Korean event that is open to public. We had some Korean food while Mex played in one of the play booths. It was a bit hard for us to go to Circular Quay from that place as the Koreans in the bus stop didn’t speak English, while the others didn’t know what bus we could take until a Filipino family suggested that we take a bus to the subway and go to Circular Quay by train.
The first place we went to at Circular Quay is the Museum of Contemporary Arts – a building that looks like boxes arranged asymmetrically in The Rocks. This museum is dedicated to exhibiting and collecting contemporary art, both from across the country and around the world. The exhibition that time was Primavera 2014. I won’t forget the single video work of Madison Brycoft “Entitled” wherein a lady shaved her head and place an octopus on the top of it. There was also the installation called Audio Helmet. Mex tried the helmet and wore it while exploring the room when a guide told us that he had to put the helmet back in its place.
We then stopped by at Paddys Market. Tourists go there for all the souvenirs they need. The market is clean and spacey and souvenir prices are less expensive compared outside. There are small koala bear stuffed toys for 5 AUD, refrigerator magnets worth 4 for 10 AUD, shot glasses priced at 10 AUD for 4 pieces and a lot more.
The last place we went to is Darling Harbour, where there were small events like film viewing and etc. The place glowed from the colorful night lights. I remember talking with a hotel guest at work saying that Singapore is like Darling Harbour and indeed they are similar in a lot of ways.
We had a harder time going home since we couldn’t find our way to the subway but we found some interesting scenes like some places in the city we passed by and a guy in Mario costume playing an electric guitar in the street. Those made us enjoy roaming around the CBD by just commuting
Day 7 – Hunter Valley
The last but definitely not the least place that we visited was the place I’ve been excited to visit. It’s for people who are interested to see where some of the known wines came from – The Hunter Valley. It seemed far but it was actually just two hours from Sydney and it gave us the feel of unobtrusive country charm. Too bad there was no event at the time.
On our way to Hunter Valley, we passed by a coffee shop with the most interesting interior and a wonderful patio named The Crossings. They specialize in coffee and they also sell authentic bits and pieces. I bought a kangaroo-shaped bottle opener that is made from metal and made by the hand of a blacksmith. It cost 40AUD, which is quite expensive but I really fell in love with the craftsmanship involved.
We stopped by another premier attraction in the area, which is the Hunter Valley Chocolate company. Here, they make fine chocolates with Australian dried fruits. They also sell gelato and some drinks. We bought some chocolates and nougats to bring to Singapore.
And then, finally, we made it to Hunter Valley vineyards and it seemed like they just harvested grapes. There are over 80 wineries in the area and they also offer tours covering from how to grow grapes, the process to produce wine and wine appreciation. Too bad we didn’t book for any tour; nevertheless we enjoyed strolling in the vineyards.
The next day, we spent the morning organizing our baggage and things. We didn’t feel like leaving but we had no choice, haha. We were able to maximize our time in Sydney because of Cath. Everything was amazing and unforgettable and I am hoping to come back.