Within minutes of sending out my first Australian email I had a couple of replies. Thanks guys, but please take my pictures out of your reply. I've seen them before........

So back to my trip. I drove on for a while. I was in the Blue Mountains, so called because of the blue haze from the eucalyptus trees.

I've since been told that eucalyptus trees are also called gum trees. Whatever they are, I am reminded of the saying that someone is 'up a gum tree' which means that they are stuck, absolutely. Well, these trees don't have branches until they are way up high, so if you are 'up a gum tree' it would seem that you are definitely stuck.

Comments, corrections, agreements, all welcomed, but without my photos please!

There were waterfalls. This one over 80 metres high.

Now take note all you occasional readers! It's not often you find a photo of me on these pages. But 3 charming ladies asked me to take their photo, so I could do nothing less than ask them to take mine........

That's it for the day. At the next camp site I talked with a couple from Lille, in France, travelling for a year. The book I use to find camp sites, which they were using too, Camps Australia Wide, www.campsaustraliawide.com, I inherited with the van, I find is an essential part of the kit of the intelligent camper in Australia. (And also the not too intelligent I guess.) You can't travel without it. At $50 I may have baulked at buying it but I'm glad to have it.

I realised that, again, I'd forgotten to bring the cable to transfer my photos from my camera to my computer. I borrowed one from the Lille couple, and then bought one for myself, a couple of days later.

Caves. NSW boasts caves. At the Jenolan caves they offer tours of 10 different cave systems. I was not impressed. I did 3 of the tours plus the self guided. (cost me $50 total) Here is a shot of the main cave on the self guided tour. It's big. Just a little way behind me the road to the cave entrance runs through the cave and they say it is probably the only cave with a road running through it. Ha! Only about 100 Km from my home in France there is a cave with a major road, a route nationale, running through it. But here on the photo below it's a cave, that's for sure.

I can't show you photos of the interiors, my cave photos rarely seem to come out well. But one of the caves, the Oriental, I would rank amongst the top 10 caves I have visited.

I don't much go for the guiding style here. In most caves I have visited the guides are young and enthusiastic and beat out a prepared spiel. Here the guides are much older, have been doing the job longer, and are much more expert. But they are tired of the prepared spiel and prefer to answer questions. Which means they tend to fall into private conversations with just one or two visitors while the rest of us just stand and wait, seemingly for ever, until the guide catches up.

Visitors seemed to get caught in the lethargy of the whole thing. I noticed people would often stop and take lengthy photos on single file routes, holding everyone up. Several times I noticed this even on the entrance to a large space, where a movement of just a few inches would have allowed everyone to pass, and not detracted from the photo.

Also, in the other caves I have been to, you seem to be rushed through the tour, cave after cave, so that you get the chance to see everything they have on offer. Here, you stand and wait, and look at the same cave. If you want to see the lot, it will take 3 days, and 10 tours, and cost you lots and lots of $'s. Something of the order $150. Here you don't get much of a bang for your buck.

It made me think of that super cave in Slovenia, where they put you on a train for 2 km so that you can get through and see it all, and as far as takings are concerned I calculated they have gross takings of around $150,000 per day. For less than $25 entrance fee. Lots of bang for your buck though! (See episode 9 of my Europe 2007 tour)

Horses for courses I suppose.

I headed off to a National Park campsite for the night. They'd been trimming trees, there were logs around everywhere. So I had a fire, and cooked dinner over the fire. I think that counts as a barbie. That's strine for barbecue.......

I actually took a walk in the morning - legs are not so jelly like now. Took a photo of a waterfall, especially for Tom.

I do wish someone had shoved that fallen tree away from the falls though. I know it's natural, but it's not so natural as the falls themselves. I saw from photos in the Oberon visitors centre, it's been there a long time.

On the way out of the park I spotted some Kangaroos. I could have sworn I took some photos, but no, I can't find them.

Next I went to Oberon. I bought all sorts of bits and pieces, upholstery nails, screws, ordinary nails, even the camera cable I mentioned. Then I went to about the most unimpressive museum ever. Not a huge amount of stuff, but each item was carefully identified with a number tag. So I guess you could look up in the ledgers and find that it was donated by soandso on suchandsuch a date. But not really fascinating to the museum visitor such as myself who would rather see a note saying, for example, 'electric hair curling tongs, circa 1880. No one is known to have died through the use of these tongs' If you have ever seen such an item, you would have doubts about the veracity of the latter part of that description!

The next day was the official opening of the museum.

Here's a photo of a steam engine from the local saw mill. It didn't have a number tag, but the guide who showed me round the first part of the museum, told me.

Well, there you are. Part 2. I guess there will probably be a part 3. Eventually.

Best regards

David Barker
Currently in Australia, exploring New South Wales

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