This past weekend I went to the Blue Mountains with several other Wollongong international students. We went to the town of Katoomba. The Blue Mountains are west of Sydney. We stayed at a hostel. There were 14 people in my room! Saturday morning we went abseiling (the Australian word for repelling). We started with a 5 meter (16.5 feet) cliff. Then it was to a 15 meter (50 feet) cliff and then a 30 meter (100 feet). I did the 5 meter and 15 meter, but not the 30 meter. It was really scary looking out for miles and miles and not being able to see how far down you were supposed to be going. I am really glad that I tried it, but I prefer other activities. A common phrase in Australia is "have a go," which means to give something a try. I really like this saying and am trying to keep it in mind as I come across new things.
After abseiling, we then did some sight seeing around the Blue Mountains. They are beautiful. They are in fact, not really mountains. It used to be a plateau. They are blue due to evaporation of the eucalyptus leaves. The Three Sisters is a famous and very recognizable formation in the mountains. We actually hiked down to the First Sister, which was cool.
We also saw the Capertee Valley, located in the Blue Mountains. It is Australia's version of the Grand Canyon. I could see the similarities, but the Capertee Valley has lots of trees. In fact, the Blue Mountains themselves are covered in trees.
On Sunday we took a hike down a part of the Blue Mountains. There were over 1,000 steps. When we reached the bottom, we took the World's Steepest Railway back up to the top of the mountain. The track is at a 52 degree angle. It felt like you were going up a roller coaster hill backwards.
To finish off our trip to the Blue Mountains, we went grass karting. None of us were really sure what it was and each had our own idea. Well, it turned out to be what none of us were expected. The pictures are necessary to fully grasp the idea. The karts have no engine, gas, break, or steering wheel. The riders steer with their feet. Basically, they ride down this hill, weaving side to side if they don't want to go full speed. To stop the kart the riders must turn and run up the side of the hill. To get back up the hill, they sit on thier kart and a rope with handles pulls them up the hill. It was quite a thrill. It was also very entertaining to watch. There were lots of out of control karts and grass stains. I really enjoyed my weekend in the mountains. It was nice to spend time outside (although it was kind of chilly), meet other international students, and see another part of Australia. My classes start tomorrow.