A Journey of a Thousand Steps

… otherwise known as, a trip to the Blue Mountains.

The Blue Mountains, located outside of Sydney, are famous for the ‘Three Sisters’ rock formation. Karalyn and I decided to daytrip there to get out of the city for the day, and booked the trip through the hostel with a locals-run company. Early in the morning we hopped aboard and after a few hours it seemed as if we’d never been in a city at all.

First we stopped in a little place to see kangaroos in ‘the wild.’ Granted, hundreds of tourists stop every day to stare at these particular kangaroos, but excepting the outback, it’s the best you’re gonna get.

Then we stopped at a little clearing above the Jamison Valley. Most Blue Mountain tour guides don’t take their tours there because… well, it’s a prime point for someone to die- there’s no railing or anything, but the view was spectacular.

We journeyed on into the mountains and did a bit of a trek (lots of stairs) to see a waterfall (though the base was far too low for us to climb to).

(This was part of the waterfall… it flowed under a walkway and crashed down to the valley floor.)

Then we made a short trip down some steep stairs for a fantastic view up close of the Three Sisters.

Before the laws were changed, people actually used to rock climb the Three Sisters.

And then, we headed to a big tourist Blue Mountains destination. We walked down the (literally) thousand steps, through the rainforest, and then took the steepest railway in the world back up to the top.

And that’s a wrap, pretty much. In a few days I’ll have a wrap up post to speak about the semester as a whole.


Get down

White water rafting: on my to-do life list for an incredibly long time, and on the Tully River a few hours outside Cairns, it finally happened. Karalyn and I hopped on a bus that drove us past sugarcane and countless trees and we arrived at the main center and signed in and grabbed some river shoes that we didn’t have to worry about getting wet. Then it was off to the river where we grabbed helmets, life jackets, and paddles and hopped into the boat. It was so much fun- grade 4 rapids and low flow water. I can’t imagine what it would be like when all the snow is melting and the water flow is really high! Below is a pic from the trip- most of them didn’t turn out well.

Our guide helped us through the rapids, yelling “Go right!” “Paddle left,” and “GET DOWN!” to ensure we stayed in the raft through the rapids. It was a lot of fun. Towards the end we intentionally flipped the raft- not an experience I care to repeat. But overall, it was a lot of fun.

Crisped: A Reef Tale

So, the long overdue post about the Great Barrier Reef.

Crack of dawn, bus shuttles us over to this huge tourist building filled with over ten different reef visiting ship operations and Karalyn and I wait in the line for our ship which has yet to open to check us in. Remind me why we got up at 7 ish in the morning? Anyway, soon enough we checked in and got on the boat and headed out. Sunscreen slathered on, we headed out to the deck to enjoy the sun and warm weather. We had two stops on the boat, and saw a myriad of sea creatures, including giant clams, cuddlefish, and some sort of fish with teeth… rest assured I steered clear of them. We snorkeled around and Karalyn did a scuba dive and we just relaxed. And, despite six applications of sunscreen, I ended up thoroughly sunburned, hence the title of the post. Below are some pictures taken with an underwater camera on the reef. Not the best perhaps, but you get the idea.

Above: Reef. Lots of the different things that make up the reef itself. Below: yellow fish.

Above: angelfish. Below: the reef from above. The dark patches are the reef.

Stay tuned for more about the rest of the Australia trip and a wrap up post.

Australia Day 1: Arrival in Cairns

As promised, the blog about Australia. I’m going to do it day by day, and it will be a few days before the next one is posted since I have yet to drop off my underwater camera for developing. Sorry for the delay, but after I get it done the rest should come much faster! On to the post…


After months of gloom and rain, Karalyn and I finally headed off to Australia for a legit vacation. Sun, surf, glorious summer. It was nice and toasty when we arrived in Cairns (pronounced Cannes, for all you non-Aussies) and after dropping our stuff in our room at the hostel that our tour had arranged, we headed to town to explore.

Palm trees, summer, sand. Love it. Anyway, so we walked around for a bit and shopped at a few places, including some outdoor tents where we bought some sandalwood seed jewelry.

We continued to explore the area (Cairns is pretty small, and everything is pretty much walking distance) and found this sweet pool. Because of the crocs, you can’t swim in most of the beaches surrounding town, so there is this super cool pool that you can swim in that basically blends into the ocean when you are looking at it- so nifty.

We decided to walk back to the hostel along the boardwalk next to the beach, and saw a group of pelicans along the shore.

Unfortunately, they never took water into their bills, but they were still cool. What was even cooler was seeing and hearing all kinds of birds that are normally either “domestic” or in a zoo.

So that was our first day. Look forward to the next post about the reef!

Rugby Mania

Here’s some pics from our excursion to the rugby game in Wellington– All Blacks (the NZ national team) vs. Australia. Overall, the crowd was relatively calm, just jumping up to cheer when the All Blacks were close to a point. But it was nice to not have to watch the entire game standing!

I tried to upload the final scoreboard, but blogger has decided to be nitpicky or the internet is wonky again. Anyway, final score 33-6, All-Blacks. Woop!