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Tuesday Travel Diaries: Australia

13 March 2012


Hey everyone! It's Carley from Findingravity...Handshake, high five, fist bump into explosion--take your pick. I am SO happy to be here. I was psyched when I came across Emily's blog, because I've spent my fair share of time in the wonderful land of Australia. What was even more exciting, was when I read that Emily spends a lot of time in Newcastle, where I spent a semester studying, and a year later returned for five months of teaching.


AUSTRALIA FOR THE WIN!
During my first trip to Australia, I had the opportunity to travel all over the country. I saw some AMAZING places, but today, I'm going to dissect one particularly memorable trip.
Alright, alright, I'll stop blabbing. On to the goods!


The basics: where, when, & how long?
In 2009, after two months of "studying" abroad, the University Of Newcastle rewarded us with the equivalent of an American "spring break". While my friends back home were jetting off from the newly melted snow to celebrate Spring Break in their bathing suits, I had already spent ten weeks in tropical weather. My American friends and I decided to change things up and experience a different side of Australia. After researching various destinations we finally decided on spending three days in the Blue Mountains, a mountainous region in Katoomba, New South Whales, Australia.


What route did you take? And how much was the flight?
Haaa..*Nervous laugh*
Whenever I travel, I manage to get myself lost, it's just a natural reoccurring theme in my life. I couldn't break this trend just because I had been living in Australia for two and a half months. My friends Michelle, Sarah, and I arrived at the train platform promptly at 10 am. The round trip train tickets from Newcastle to Katoomba were 40$. We knew that it would take five hours hours by train. We would be taking a train from Newcastle to Sydney, and stopping at Strathfield to switch trains. Then we would take another train from Sydney to Katoomba, where the blue mountains are located. We didn't want to waste any part of the day. The idea was to arrive around 3pm, drop our things off at the hostel, and explore the town.

We asked the conductor which train we were supposed to board, and all three of us confirmed that he said platform four. After settling in our seats, we all realized we were exhausted. I set my alarm for an hour and a half, and we all took a snooze.

We woke up on time and arrived a half hour later, right on time. Except, it didn't look like Sydney. We exited the train and our intuitions were correct. It was a country looking town, surrounded by bush, and barely any buildings. We had all previously been to Sydney, and knew that Sydney was home to Darling Harbor and Sydney harbor. This place was home to farms, dirt roads, and a lot of grassy hills.
We tried to justify our mistake by convincing ourselves that we were at the wrong train station, and perhaps we switched trains further up the road. After following an old couple to their homes, assuming that they, too, were lost, we accepted the fact that the conductor must have told us the wrong platform.
We were in DUNGOG. Just 8 hours shy of our destination. We had to backtrack on a train to Hamilton, a station near Newcastle, where we came from. Then, we had switch to the train that should have taken us to Sydney. Lastly, we made it onto the train to Katoomba.. Stops and train swaps included, it was roughly an eight hour trip, which was meant to be a four or five hour trip. After a long day we were finally safe in Katoomba, home to the Blue Mountains.

(*Green is where we started, blue is where we were meant to swap trains, yellow is Katoomba (where we were meant to end up)....Red is where we actually ended up).

Who did you travel with?
I traveled with my good friends, Michelle and Sarah. Michelle is from Colorado,
Sarah is from South Carolina, and I am from New Hampshire.

(Sarah is on the left, I am in the middle, and Michelle is on the right).


Tell us where you stayed.
We stayed in a hostel called The YHA. When you travel and backpack around a country, you familiarize quickly with hostels. I think in America, hostels have a bad reputation after the horror movie, "Hostel" came out. It was only about 30$ a night, and we shared the room with a few other female travelers. There were safes that we could rent, a kitchen, shared bathrooms, and a computer pod.


Did you encounter anything unexpected?
Oh, you mean AFTER our eight hour long excursion? Well, sort of. There was a lady sleeping below Sara who snored really loud, so none of us could sleep. Sarah was on the top bunk, and tried shaking the bed to get her to stop. I had my debit card stolen while I was in the computer pod, which I canceled shortly after realizing that someone had taken it. Other than that, the three day trip ran smoothly. Sarah, Michelle, and I are all funny, easy going, adventurous girls, who can have fun doing just about anything. The whole trip was comical, exciting, and refreshing.


How accurate are the stereotypes?
There weren't any stereotypes of the people in Katoomba, but there are some pretty funny Australian stereotypes.
For example: Nobody owns pet koalas, BUT, we found a pretty big koala that we wanted to take home with us.

(Left to Right: Me in the black shirt, Sarah in the middle, and Michelle on the right)

Anything you hear about Australians being laid back and welcoming is completely true.
They really do embrace that whole "no worries" thing.


Tell us about the food.
We stopped at this INCREDIBLE restaurant on our way back from hiking one day. The balcony overlooked the blue mountains. I remember having a chicken schnitzel. There was also this really great restaurant we ate at before we went home called The Common Ground Cafe. The inside of it resembled a tree house, and it was really cozy.


Were there any must see’s?
This is the fun part! There were SO many must see's! I would definitely recommend venturing to the three sisters once you're in Katoomba. They are in the heart of the Blue Mountains. The three sisters are three rock formations, named after an Aboriginal tale of three sisters from the Katoomba tribe. They are truly a sight worth seeing.


I also recommend taking The Giant Stairway through the Blue Mountains. We only climbed down about half way, because the whole climb takes about two hours. You get to see the Blue Mountains from all different angles, and the stairs lead you right up to the face of one of the Three Sisters.


Lastly, there are some gorgeous trails surrounding the Blue Mountains. The three of us decided to just start hiking to see where our own curiosity would take us. We found some really cool waterfalls. The Blue Mountains have this really authentic, organic feel to them. There was no hype, it was just about getting to know the nature of our surroundings.



Do you have any regrets?
Not a single one! I don't even regret getting lost on the train! I was with two of my best friends, and we made the most out of it. Plus, it made for a pretty hysterical story.


Would you go back?
I did end up returning to Australia a year later to teach high school English. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get enough time off to visit the Blue Mountains again! I will definitely return during my next trip.


Anything else you'd like to share about the trip?
Yes! There is a cable car that runs right between the Blue Mountains, and we didn't know about it until we had already started hiking. I would definitely recommend going on that. Unfortunately, I can't vouch for how sweet it was, but I was able to take a picture of it, and it looked like something I would have done had I known it existed.


Thank you SO much for journeying back to this trip with me, I had so much fun. Having nothing but a backpack, nature, and each other for company, was an experience that I will remember forever. I'm so glad that I was able to see a side of Australia that people don't usually think of, past the sandy beaches.
Feel free to read about more of my travels on my blog, or follow me on twitter @carbarton


_________________________________

Carley--thank you so much for sharing your adventure with us!  J and I visited the Blue Mountains last August and loved it.  It's such a beautiful place :)

If you enjoyed reading about Carley's trip, please consider checking out her blog.  The thing I like about Carley's blog is that it's no-frills...just great writing.  She doesn't really do link-ups or giveaways {that I've seen}, she's just a very funny and prolific writer.

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Tuesday Travel Diaries

9 comments:

  1. Ahhh, this made me want to visit Australia so badly! And I can totally relate on getting lost - I do not have good luck in that department while traveling :-)

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  2. I'm glad you feel my pain!

    Australia is an AMAZING country, I've spent 11 wonderful months there, and my boyfriend is Australian, so I'm sure there will be more trips in my future.

    I definitely recommend taking a trip at some point in your life!

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  3. Thank you! I'm so glad I had the chance to experience this part of Australia!

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  4. You should go someday! It's lovely!

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  5. Bahahaha! I love the crazy stories that come out of travelling. It's just bound to happen! Amazing photos...looks like a fantastic place to go.

    About to check out the rest of your blog, Emily!

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  6. AH! Australia has been in my #3 places to visit since I was a kid! I need to make this happen!

    Loving your blog, sweet girl!
    xo

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  7. Emily's blog is the bomb.com!

    I'm glad you all liked my guest post/Dungog/Blue mountain adventure. I'm glad we finally made it there alive after our 8 hour train ride! It was worth the wait!

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