Monday, July 30, 2018

Oberon

Rather than return to Leura via the way we had came, we decided to go to nearby Oberon and then return via an alternate road.


The road climbs steeply out of the valley and there are a lot of very sharp curves. Naturally you don't drive fast.


Once out of the valley there are wonderful views. As you can see the countryside is very dry since there has not been much rain for quite some time. Like much of the rest of the world, Australia is experiencing much warmer weather than usual.






We arrived in Oberon and went for a walk. The town sometimes gets snow in winter since the elevation is 3600 feet.


It's a fairly prosperous town and most of the shops were in use and not empty like so many little towns. We found a bakery and each of us bought a meat pie for a late lunch.


This Art Deco building was a former dance hall / picture theater. It is being restored.


Lovely house. 

Years ago, my sister Clare and I stayed overnight in a motel in Oberon and went out for dinner to one of the local hotels that was recommended by the motel owner. We went into the dining area and each ordered a steak. I then wandered over to the bar and asked about buying a bottle of red wine to go with the steak. The bloke behind the counter drug out a bottle of red, plonked it on the counter and said 'most of our customers drink this'. I duly took the hint and it proved to be a pretty decent bottle of wine. Australia at its best.

Jenolan Caves

We are back in Australia for two months and for the first couple of weeks we are staying in Airbnb's between Sydney and Brisbane.


It's wonderful to get back to Australia and have a little crumpet with my butter. A packet of 8 cost $1.


For the first four nights, we are staying at an Airbnb at Leura which is in the Blue Mountains about 50 miles west of Sydney. That is our rental car which we will return in Brisbane in two weeks time.


The house is an old wooden one with no insulation so it is about as cold inside as outside. I grew up in houses of similar construction and you learn how to cope with the cold. Portable heaters, warm clothes and sox do the trick along with electric blankets. It feels very invigorating.


Shed in the side yard.



The road has lots of curves, is quite narrow in parts and descends into a deep valley. Go slow or very slow.


The Jenolan Caves has been a popular tourist destination for over 100 years.  Most of the buildings feature a European Alpine style architecture.




Christmas in July in Australia.


It was cold enough that you would not want to linger at these outdoor tables.


Ticket office. And adult ticket costs $42 to visit one of the many caves.



During the busy part of the day, the road we had used to travel down into the valley becomes one way for a few hours.



We had driven through this large cave to get to the parking lot.



Inside the cave tunnel.


Exit.



Some of the cave tours start here.





A line of cars arriving. It's impossible to pass a slower vehicle.



Inside the ladies toilet.



Mother and daughter bundled up against the cold. Robin has been able to take the week off while we are in the Sydney area.


We had to wait about an hour for the first available tour that had not already been sold out. We were to visit the Temple of Baal at 12:30. You can book in advance. If you have trouble with stairs, you need to check that you can handle some of the caves that have lots of steps. Our tour only had 288.



Entrance to our cave. Our tour guide was very friendly and knowledgeable. There were about 20 or so people in the group.


To get to the cave you pass along a long tunnel that was built quite a while ago to make access to the cave easier.


Like many caves all around the world, the walls are made of limestone that has washed away over the millions of years. The caves have been dated to be about 340 million old and are the oldest known cave system in the world.


Some of the 288 steps leading down into one of the chambers.


Looking up to the top of a chamber.



A limestone deposit.


The usual stalagmites formed from dripping water.






They look like black paintings on the wall but they are just shadows. The indigenous people did not venture far into these caves because the caves were so dark and it was easy to get lost.


That is a bottle on the right. One of the workers from long ago used to have a bottle of water and he left it there when he retired. There is still water dripping on to it.


This formation is magnificent.







More steps.


This is called the Angel's Wing.


Detail.


The little dots are crystals.


The cavern is large and the effect is awesome.




More crystals.




Notice the crystals that stick out at angles.








The Angel's Wing from the other side.









The photos do not do the caves justice. Nature at work can be incredible and these caves are just that. Exploration of the cave system continues to this day.