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Thursday 12 Jun 2003
Sydney, Australia

Blue Mountains

Bought a large foam matress (with a cover) and a sleeping bag today for a decent price. I laid them out in the back of the van (with the seats flat) and the bed fits perfectly. The bed is also surprisingly comfy and I have plenty of space to stretch in the van while being able to look out the back window (or the sunroof) at the stars all night. I think the van was an excellent purchase and I cant wait to start using it properly this weekend.

After this I decided to do a bit of exploring and ventured off to the Blue Mountains region just 2 hours outside of Sydney on my first REAL roadtrip in the new van. The experience was quite similar to heading off to the Dublin mountains from Dublin city as the air gradually became fresher and the roads far less hectic. Of course it was on a MUCH larger scale than Dublin!

The mountains reach a fairly high altitude and the temperature dropped soon enough so that I had to put on my hoody! Its a pretty mountain range to drive through, with occasional small towns dotted around, a legacy of the colonists as they ventured westward.

The Blue Mountains are named after the blue haze that can be seen from Sydney city. The haze is caused by the Eucalyptus trees that dominate the landscape.

Talking of Eucalyptus leaves, I havent seen any koalas eating the leaves yet... theyre supposed to make the koalas high as well. It would be funny to see a drugged koala!

Eventually I found what I was looking for in the Blue Mountains: the famous "3 Sisters". The 3 Sisters are a group of rock formations that stand together 100 ft high near the edge of the cliff area called "Echo Point". There was a viewing platform here and you could also walk down to a mini-bridge that led out to one of the Sisters.

The viewing point is a cement platform that edges out from the cliff and is raised about 100 metres above the trees below. A lot of people were a bit hesitant to approach the edge but the view from there was amazing!

Funny thing about driving in and around Sydney is that everyone obeys the speed limit of 110 km/h (or 80 depending on which part of the road you are on) on account of the strict enforcement of the road rules by the police. This means that people in both slow and fast lanes tend to drive at the same speed and so you are left with a convoy of cars that drive parallel to each other over great distances. Makes taking over a bit of a pain, but the speed is sufficient to get to where you want on time and the roads are quite safe to drive. Not at all like Eire where its not strange to see a kid plastered all over his windscreen after driving a little too fast.

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