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Blue Mountains and Jenolan Caves Day Tour

Melanie Bracht
April 22, 2014

Taking advantage of this spring break, a few friends and I went to tour the Blue Mountains and Jenolan Caves today. Starting off at 6 am, we thankfully made it to the random bus terminal in time. The bus terminal was inside/under a massive casino and we spent quite a while walking around the casino trying to find it. Traveling is so much easier when I’m just following mom around! Our bus driver was also the tour guide and as we made out 2 hour trip to our first stop in the Blue Mountains he told us some Australian history.. how lucky! Naturally, I had my notebook handy to jot down what he said.
So, the English crown wanted to expand and find new land and in 1770 sent out Captain James Cook. He sailed around Australia and returned with the news. On January 26th, 1788 the first fleet of 11 ships, holding 1300 passengers arrived in Sydney Cove (the Rocks). January 26th is now commemorated as Australia Day. One the first fleet, over 700 of the passengers where convicts and so began British colonization in Australia.
Life was not easy and by the early 1800s people were dying of starvation and dehydration. The governor at the time, Lachlan Macquarie, sent out men to explore the land west of Sydney. They explored the Blue Mountain area, discovering rich soil and water. Macquarie built a road, the Great Western Highway (which we drove on today), from Sydney to the Blue Mountains in 1814 and they began living off the land and prospering.
Also pretty interesting, Australia had a gold rush, the Great Australian Gold Rush, in 1851. Between 1851 and 1871, the population went from 430,000 to over 1.4 million! Currently, Australia has just under 25 million people.
Sydney has just under 5 million people and is a very overpopulated city. The government is actually currently paying people 7,000$ if they sell their houses and move out of the city. The bus driver pointed out that the government must not have thought that one through, because other people are buying the houses and moving in.. haha.
Well that’s enough history for now. I like learning a little about Australia though, as it means I’m broadening my knowledge during my semester here.  I’ll know a little more about Australia past kangaroos and Koala.
Side note: on our way back, we watched videos on kangaroos and koala. Did you know that they both have pouches? And did you know that kangaroos can determine the sex of their children? (I don’t know how that works) They usually pick to have girls when they are young and boys when they are older… fun facts!
We started our tour in the Blue Mountains and got to see the Three Sisters. Sadly we didn’t have much time to walk around or hike, but at least this time I got to see the beautiful view (last time I came it was all foggy). The Blue Mountains are called that because they look blue and this comes from some effect the eucalyptus trees have with the density in the air (or something) and then the light reflects off it differently. I didn’t understand most of the explanation as you can probably tell… haha

The 3 Sisters

We then drove to the Jenolan Caves. The caves were amazing! So big and very beautiful. We ate lunch and then took a 1.5 hour tour climbing in the caves. There was a small lake at the bottom of the cave with very blue water. It has something to do with the minerals and reflections again, but it was the brightest blue water I’ve ever seen.
After the caves it took us about 4 hours to get back. Lots of traffic in Sydney tonight! Exhausted, but happy, I am finally home.

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Melanie Bracht

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Melanie Bracht and I am a junior at the University of South Carolina. I am originally from Pennsylvania, but have lived in several states in the US and abroad in China. I love to travel and have been to 29 different countries. I, however, have never been to Australia and am so excited to explore down under for a semester at the University of Sydney. I enjoy volunteering, writing, and playing tennis.</span></p>

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