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Day Fifteen - Olympic Stadium, Blue Mountains, Common Ground Cafe, and a Wild Eggroll Search

My last day began with a trip out to the Olympic Park, which housed the 2000 Summer Olympic Games, as well as the 2003 Rugby World Cup Final. It now serves as a multi-functional venue for a wide variety of events and activities. The Olympic cauldron was converted into a waterfall and the Olympic stadium is now ANZ Stadium, named after ANZ bank.

The Olympic Cauldron
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Sky Rail
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Katoomba Steep Railway
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Next we were on to the Blue Mountains, which are so named because the region is full of eucalyptus trees and the fumes from the eucalyptus rises up in the air and refracts a blue hue. Our first stop in the area was at Katoomba Scenic World. We first rode a sky rail with a glass bottom over the gorge and Katoomba waterfalls over to the other side. From there, we took the steepest cable-railway in the world, which descends at a 52° angle, very quickly, to the bottom. It was originally constructed for a coal and oil shale mining operation in the Jamison Valley in the 1880s, in order to haul shale from the valley floor up the cliff to the escarpment above. It was converted for use as a tourist attraction prior to World War II. You pretty much have to push against the seat in front of you in order to stop yourself from falling out of your seat.

Down at the bottom, we walked through the rainforest and visited many remnants from the mining operation and eventually made our way to another sky rail for a trip back to the bus.

Lunch was at a unique place called Common Ground, which is run by an interesting sect called The Twelve Tribes. I learned while eating that everyone there is working free of wages and all funds go to the sect. They wore a lot of burlap and cotton and looked very modest. The men all had beards and tied their hair back. The descriptive reasoning for this I found amusing.

Priests are concerned about pleasing their Creator rather than chasing after fashions or calling attention to themselves with shags, afros, flat-tops, mullets, duck tails, mop-tops, mohawks, pompadours, or buzz, crew, or mushroom cuts.

Common Ground Cafe
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The Three Sisters
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They also believe sometime in the future the world of lawless men will go to war with the sect followers and after the lawless lose, 1,000 years of peace and restoration will follow. That doesn't sound bad at all, I suppose. Regardless, they make an excellent lunch. I had a fantastic barramundi burger, with an iced lemon mate. I would highly recommend the cafe to anyone.

Back on the bus, we traveled along to a series of lookout point, each a little more interesting than the last. The final stop was for a very close view of the Three Sisters, a group of three peaks amongst the mountains with some aboriginal legend attached.

After a 45-minute boat ride I was back in Sydney and ready to enjoy my last night on in Oz. I dialed up Amanda, who had also returned to Sydney, and we met for a drink. Chinese food sounded good, so we set out for Chinatown. Oddly enough, though, we couldn't find a place that wasn't fast food-ish, despite really, really trying, so we gave up and just went to a standard pub.

Three Wise Monkeys has live music every night, so we went back for a few brews and some fairly poor music. The band had a drummer who stood up in the center of the stage and played a sort of elevated drum set. It was soon apparent that he wasn't sitting so he could dance around in dramatic fashion and gesture to the crowd. It was all quite corny, yet amusing at the same time.

The next day I would board another 777 and take the 24-hour journey back home. Australia is an amazing place and I feel I only skimmed the surface of it. Hope to return very soon to experience more.

G'day, Mate!


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