Not this weekend, but the one before, we had our first weekend long excursion. I was too busy to write about it then, but it was amazing and I wanted to share my experiences now.
We started out by visiting the Australian PlantBank at the Mount Annan Botanic Gardens. We got to see and handle the cones from the Wollemi pine, a critically endangered species of tree. There is a wild population somewhere in the Blue Mountains, but the Australian government keeps the location secret to keep the trees safe. The most recent fossils from the same genus are dated 2 million years ago and were found in Tasmania. The remaining trees, fewer than 100 wild ones, are almost genetically identical and have been struggling to survive.
From there, we went to Scenic World and took a ride on the world’s steepest train track. The slope is 52 degrees! After the train down the mountain, we explored some of the trails. We saw two lyrebirds! Lyrebirds are amazing mimics and the males have an elaborate courtship display in which they try to mimic as many different birdcalls (or other sounds) as they can. They’re timid, so they’re uncommon to see.
We visited Jenolan Caves, they were stunning. I come from Tennessee, so I’m familiar with caves, but these were something else. These caves are one of the best places to see helictites, a sort of sideways stalactite. There are tons and they wind up forming balls of them that look like crystals. To finish off our trip we did the Grand Canyon hike and had lunch at the top of a waterfall.
Tomorrow we’re headed to a small island off of Tasmania and we will not have an internet connection for a while, but if you have a question, feel free to send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get back to you when I can.