Wednesday, November 05, 2003

More photos

I spent the day today with my parents and my sister in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. (My sister lives in a nice house in a beautiful location up in the mountains). The mountains are extremely rugged and quite stunningly beautiful. Sydney was founded in 1788, but it was unable to expand west across the mountains into the great plains on the other side of the mountains because the mountains were found to be impassable, or so it appeared. The story Australians are taught at school is that three fine chaps named Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson bravely set out and in 1813 found a route across the mountains, and the settlement of Australia could continue.

This was pretty much true. Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson did indeed find a route across the mountains. However, these days we are uncertain that they were the first Europeans to do so. (Of course, indigenous Australians had likely been crossing the mountains for thousands of years). In fact it appears that there were two earlier explorers who (separately) manged to cross. However, one was an escaped convict and the other was French, so it is perhaps fairer to say that Blaxland, Wentworth, and Lawson were the first politically acceptable people to find a route through the mountains.

Soon after the three explorers found the route, Governor Lachlan Macquarie declared that a road should be built across the mountains. Australia was a penal settlement at the time, and a team of convict labourers were set about the task. A very effective incentive scheme was set up to get the road built fast. The convicts were told that they would be freed if the road was built within six months. It was built in this time and they were freed. Of course, it was a very rough road at the time. However, the highway that now crosses the mountains (which follows a single ridge across the mountains) follows almost exactly the same route. (There is another major road that follows a different ridge a little to the north).

In any event, the town of Katoomba is the largest town in the mountains, and in it is a place called Echo Point, which is famous for its beautiful views of the mountains in general and in particular of a rock formation called the three sisters. Here I am at this point earlier today.

Sadly, the way I have not tucked in my shirt properly and the way I am leaning back make the photo perhaps unflattering to me. At least, that's my story and I am sticking to it.

My mother photographed nicely, however.

Charles Darwin once visited, and his words about the view have been engraved on a rock.

Nearby, we have a gloriously kitsch relic from the earlier days of this tourist resort. It is a shelter, with bench style chairs inside for people to sit inside, made in the shape of a large rock. (You can see a person sitting in side if you look carefully).

After seeing the view, my family and I adjourned to a nice outdoor cafe in the nearby town of Leura. (Leura is smaller than Katoomba, but adjacent and full of nice houses and shops. Leura is sort of the Beverly Hills of Katoomba).

After this, we went to visit the first Krispy Kreme outside North America, which is at Penrith at the base of the mountains.

My goodness those doughnuts are sweet. My mother has been alternately cursing and eating them since we bought them. My father has just been eating them.

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