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The Blue Mountains: Katoomba, Australia

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A two hour train ride outside of Sydney, you can find the tourist hamlet of Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. Tourists have been coming here since the turn of the century (1900). Katoomba itself reminds me of West Virginia in its old coal town turned bust turned tourist vibe. You can now find hipsters and artists in residence.

We took the train out in the morning and spent several hours walking from the train station to a trailhead, down the cliff face, and back up again.

Highlights on the mountain visit include the three sisters, the giant stairway (976 steps!), waterfalls, and the steepest railroad in Australia.

We started our morning at Sydney central

The two hour train ride is a little long. The tourist center by the train station is well worth a visit. That is where we finalized our plan.

8things cafe. Great food and super service

Cassiopia coffee (recommended)

We walked from the station to Echo point (2.3 km).

The Echo Point visitors center

This is where we first caught sight of the famed three sisters. Which we saw many times throughout the day.

Three sisters from Echo Point visitor center

Three sisters from the echo point trail

Three sisters from the trail

Three sisters from just above

Honeycomb cave (at the three sisters)

Three sisters from below on the Federal trail

Three sisters from Scenic World gondola

Here’s what happened in between. After honeycomb cave, we entered the giant stairway. Lots of stairs down (976 in fact). Amy did not do them all.

This is an alternative way to get down the stairs (not recommended by our attorney)

Not here

Here

Flowers and bromiliads

Amy

AMY

A tiny fiddlehead against the mountains

Down

Flowers on the mountain

Looking down 500 feet

The blue mountains

Amy contemplates

Cliff hangers

Amy takes the stairs with a monk

Cliff hangers and rare species

Eventually, we entered the rain forrest at the bottom of the cliff.

The giant stairway is well named. It has been there a while.

Rainforest ecology

Amy rounds the bend

Ferns and trail. The rainforest shift is striking

A very big tree indeed

Katoomba Creek falls

After the falls, we were back in what passes as civilization. Scenic world was first contemplated by coal miners. Just take the train thingy up.

And, why not? Try the cable car too.

We walked back from scenic world (another 2.5km). All told we may have hiked around 5 miles. We deserved a beer.

After a long day hiking, it was high time for a beer!

The 2 hour train ride back to Sydney was slightly too long.

Living Art: The Remarkable Little Paradise Art Lodge. New Zealand

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Highway to Paradise

There are magic places in the world, created under intensity so focused that nature absorbs and reflects the power of the creator. The Little Paradise Art Lodge is one of those places.

Put together over 26 years by a Swiss artist who is both intense and incredibly human at the same time, the grounds are nothing short of remarkable.

We were not able to stay during this trip due to a birthday (paradox) conflict. But we will be back for sure. Even a short visit is highly recommended. We stayed for about an hour, enchanted the entire time.

You’ll be caught in the web little tourist

Enter the property

The lodge itself is hand built in such a quirky and delightful and natural way, it is hard to describe. Primitive, and yet so very planet earth.

Bedroom

Bathroom full of skipping rocks

Hand carved headboard

Living table

A couch fashioned from one piece of poplar

Though the lodge is a sight to see, the six acres of curated gardens are astonishing in their willy-nilly natural order.

We have always talked about a tree house like this

Lawnmower

The artist, touched

Fin

A landed boat becomes a “Hell-Raising” challenge!

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Lovely fishing boat nestled against a tree on a cold winter day…

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But wait! There’s a car on that boat.

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That matchbox dude challenges the leaf to a demolition derby!

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The leaf ponders…

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-Next episode – the leaf decides.

Sweet Sycamore Cradles Both Eagles and the Moon.

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On this day I knew the shot, the reason I brought my camera on the expedition. The day before there was a magnificent scene of the moon high over an eagles nest along the river. I wanted to capture it on “film.” This next day, I got that shot, but did not. Over the 24 hours the moon had moved more than I knew, and was beyond the nest when I arrived at the spot shown in the last photo here. That was good luck! I took photos of this and more, and as I headed home an eagle soared over me, and as I turned to watch, did 3 large 360’s over the *other* nest mounted along the river nearby. The eagle drew me back to a high perch above the nest and tree to take the first 2 photos here. It’s in there!

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moon moving to super, eagle nest 90′ high

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It Was a Golden Day

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Large tree PHOTOBOMBS!!

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finished at sunset. yep.

Appalachian Trail, a patchwork quilt

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A Square of Paw Paws

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A Square of Oaks

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Crazy, Mixed-up Square

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The Tester

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The Quilters

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A masterpiece!

Bamboo, for U. そして、田舎の道路

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Dynamic, baby!

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The are getting married!

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wonder if he knows “Country Roads..”

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