Postcard from the Blue Mountains

A mere three hours drive from Sydney, the Blue Mountains are easily accessible by car, or via a dramatic scenic helicopter flight. We opted for the former – we should’ve gone for the latter, but that’s a whole other story – to reach our home in the Wolgan Valley where we were anticipating much cooler temperatures than in Sydney. Daytime temperatures of just 10 – 15°C, though at night, at this time of the year, these temperatures can drop to as low as -3°C. Consequently, we’d packed anoraks, stout walking shoes and cashmere.

The Blue Mountains are one of Australia’s natural wonders and the World Heritage area combines eight individual conservation reserves – Yengo, Wollemi, Gardens of Stone, Blue Mountains, Nattai, Kanangra Boyd, Thirlmere Lakes and Jenolan Caves Karst Reserve. I doubt three days will be sufficient to see all these wonders.

According to the ‘blurb, the Greater Blue Mountains is an accessible wilderness, covering more than one million hectares of rainforest, canyons, eucalypt forests and heath lands in New South Wales. It’s an area of breathtaking views, rugged tablelands, sheer cliffs, deep valleys and swamps teeming with life – none of whom I suspect I would wish to meet! The unique plants and animals that live in this outstanding natural place relate an extraordinary story of Australia’s antiquity, its diversity of life and its superlative beauty. It really is a nature lover’s paradise with an abundance of colourful bird and animal life, the greatest concentration of eucalypt diversity on the continent, and landscapes ranging from rainforest to heathland.

More than 400 different kinds of animals live within the rugged gorges and tablelands of the Greater Blue Mountains. These include threatened or rare species of conservation significance, such as the spotted-tailed quoll, the koala, the yellow-bellied glider, the long-nosed potoroo (what a fab name), the green and golden bell frog and the Blue Mountains water skink. Flora and fauna of conservation significance and their habitats are a major component of the World Heritage values of the area.

Your home in the wilderness

Well, the Blue Mountains more than lived up to its reputation and, thanks to the guides where we were staying, I now know and understand a lot more about the important conservation work that’s  being undertaken in the area.
Wolgan Valley is the world’s first carbon neutral resort, set amid 7,000 acres, nestled between two national  parks within the UNESCO World Heritage site. Spread out in a valley at the foot of towering cliffs, the resort has an admirable commitment to broader social, ecological and environmental sustainability.
It was a a wonderfully relaxing stay and we particularly enjoyed getting up close and personal to the resort’s abundant wildlife, particularly its 5,000 strong herd of kangaroos, wallaroos and wallabies, its comical, camera-shy wombats and its many noisy birds. All too soon our stay – more of which later – was over and we were driving back towards Sydney, and the next leg of out Adventure Down Under.

12 days of Christmas: day 5

This is the magnificent Pont du Gard which we visited this summer during our trip to Uzes,  to see the start of the Vuelta a Espana in Nimes. It’s an ancient Roman aqueduct, the highest and best preserved, across the river Gardon, near to the town of Vers-Pont-du-Gard.  The bridge was built in the 1st century AD to carry water from Uzes to Nimes. The aqueduct fell into disuse after the fall of the Roman Empire but earned its keep as a toll bridge, an early peage! Rescued by the state in the 20th century, it’s now one of France’s most popular tourist attractions, becoming a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985.