Right, where were we? The blue mountains…
The cable car back up was not quite as much fun as the train down, except when we reached the top and had to swing into the dock, literally! All the rides offered stunning views of the valley and Three Sisters, Meehni, Wimlah and Gunnedoo, lived in the Jamison Valley as members of the Katoomba tribe. They fell in love with three men from another tribe but marriage was forbidden by tribal law. Not happy with this the brothers captured the sisters causing a battle between the tribes. An elder turned the sisters to stone to protect them but was killed in the battle leaving the sisters trapped forever.
Next Libby (our tour guide) took us to see the Katoomba falls up close before the group were able to visit a tiny Australian Opal store overlooking the valley. Opals are my favourite stone, I just love them, and so was transfixed by this Aladdin’s cave of my favourite treasure. We were shown an opal worth $5000, it was about 3″ by 1.5″ and looked completely different depending on who was holding it or whether it was in natural or artificial light. Just stunning. Honestly everything in the store was out of my price range so I wasn’t seriously considering buying something, until we were informed that being on the tour offered us a 50% discount…would have been rude not to!
The end of our tour was a scenic boat trip through to Darling Harbour and Circular Quay just as the sun was setting. I met so many nice people that day that it was lovely to just sit and chat with them so finish off the trip, while enjoying the view.
Beautiful, lovely day! Also, special cudos to Rachel, everyone was asking where I got my scarf from 🙂 I don’t think I’ve taken it off yet!
Tuesday next and another early start. I had to be back down at the YHA for 7am to catch a bus to Wollongong where I would be doing my first ever skydive! The group waiting looked a mixture of terrified and hungover, but an hour and a half later we were at the beach, signed in and dressed in uber flattering bright blue jump suits…ready to go!
I’m honestly surprised at how little I freaked out that day, I kept waiting to be scared or even a decent amount of nervous but it didn’t happen. The lack of fear probably worried me more than anything else! I’d met a guy on the bus who was trying to psych himself (and me) out with stories of accidents and the like but even then I wasn’t phased. I met my co-jumper, Igor, from Russia, listened to the techniques for jumping and landing and then it was back in the bus for the 20 minute journey to the airport.
People kept saying that the walk to the plane would be the worst bit, but even then I was fine! I had a few butterflies, obviously but I’d still say speaking at NUS conference was worse! I think this is due to two things, once you’re on the plane you’re jumping, no matter what…and having gotten on a few planes recently how scary could that bit be? Secondly I wasn’t in control or responsible, Igor had the parachute, he had to actually jump, pull the chord, land us safely, I just had to enjoy the experience! Which I did!! The scariest moment was when the doors opened, but before you could really grasp what was happening 2 people had already jumped, it was that fast. Igor and I were last but one. You shuffle to the door, hook your legs under the plane, head back, arch your spine and whoooosh…you’re off! It was SO loud! I learned afterwards that the instructors all wear ear plugs, with good reason. The freefall from 11,000ft lasted around 60 seconds, it’s the weirdest sensation! From the moment we met Igor kept saying ‘don’t forget to smiiile!’ but every time I grinned I could feel my cheeks catching the wind, haha! The noise and the cold are all encompassing, and while I was trying to look around me you’re just really aware that you’re falling. And that you’re on camera! But after what felt like forever (in a good way) the shoot was up and we were flying. This was the scariest bit…once the parachute is up your instructor will loosen your straps, which up until that time are so tight you’re losing circulation in your limbs but they are securing you to the guy with the parachute right? Feeling them go slack, in mid air, is very disconcerting!!! But I didn’t have long to think about it as Igor gave me the reins and I got to fly! Wow do you need upper body strength in that job, it’s heavy!
From the sky you could see for miles, Igor even pointed out Sydney’s central business district poking above the clouds in the distance. Then it was time to prepare for landing by bringing your legs up into a seated position…yup landing basically involves sliding in on your bum, most dignified!
It was the most exhilarating thing I have done in a long time, perhaps ever, and I would definitely do it again! Amazing!!
The video doesn’t seem to play on smart phones but if you’re on a computer and have 7-8 minutes, have a look.
As we had been the first flight of the day our group then had to wait for all the others to fly and have their videos processed before we could leave. Wollongong has a very nice beach to chill out at though so it was a 10am jug of margarita and sunbathing on the rocks for 3 hours. Nightmare right? Sadly somewhere between watching people’s videos in the hut and getting on the bus someone decided to help themselves to my phone, so I don’t have any pictures to share with you.
I was meant to be back in Sydney for 2 and meet Steph in Shangri-la at 5 but through one thing and another we didn’t arrive back until 5 and I then had to work through the process of reporting my phone, blocking it and getting a new one. Effort! Thankfully I have amazing parents who helped sort everything, so that was one less thing to worry about.
And now I’m in Melbourne, but this blog is long enough already so I’ll save those stories for another day. As always I look forward to your comments 🙂 Modern technology is amazing isn’t it? Feel very lucky to be able to keep in touch with everyone so easily!!
Have a great day x