I took the family away to celebrate Teresa’s recent birthday. I think she turned 29, or so. I rented a lovely two bedroom cottage on a farm for the weekend. We both took Friday off of work to make a long weekend out of it. I wouldn’t tell anyone about the place we were going, so it would be a surprise. We’d stayed at this farm last year, also for Teresa’s birthday, and had such a wonderful time I knew everyone would enjoy going again.
The cottage is lovely, set on the top of a hill, overlooking pastures that host a few small herds of kangaroos each night and morning. There were lots of flowers blooming with butterflies dancing among the flowering bushes. To complete the picture, imagine perfect sunny weather and Crimson Rosellas, a large red and green parrot, visiting often.
After arriving at the farm on Friday, the kids wanted to get right to feeding the farm animals and liberating eggs from the chickens in the coop.
Do, a deer, a…
Donkeys at Duckmaloi Farm
Pigs are cool!
Brian with the bunnies
Brian, the chicken man!
Crimson Rosella in flight
One of many beautiful flowers on the farm
The next morning after a yummy breakfast of cinnamon French Toast and bacon, we once again fed the critters and after lunch we drove north a bit (40 minutes) to a place called Owens Crown Reserve. Here a small mountain rises out of the surrounding farm lands, topped by huge granite boulders. We had a lovely hike up the trail, playing in some caves and doing lots of climbing on the giant boulders.
Beginning the hike
The Rooney Dudes on Owens Crown
When we reached the top, or at least where most people stop, Heather and I found a natural chimney we could climb up and we got to the true top of the rock dome for the peak we were on. Heather did awesome, as usual, and made me proud with her daring tinged with caution. She’s adventurous and smart, a good combination.
Heather and I at the top after climbing up a natural chimney.
Teresa and Heather near the top of Owens Crown
The beautiful birthday girl on Owens Crown lookout
Cool tunnel to a lookout
Teresa at Owens Crown
Heather leading the climb of Owens Crown
Heather heading up the trail
Natural Beauty at Owens Crown
Bouldering on Owens Crown
Family snap up on Owens Crown
On Sunday, after a very yummy breakfast of my blueberry pancakes (from scratch) and bacon (again!) we packed up and drove down to Jenolan Caves. Jenolan has some amazing cave tours, playing host to incredible limestone formations and crystal wonders. On this day we chose not to go on the guided cave tours, instead opting to just explore the grounds. There are a few large caverns you can walk through and the kids and I found a few tunnels we could explore. That was a good adventure, even having to get on my belly to wiggle through a small restriction in one tunnel, which then opened back up to a stand up cave again. After we came back out of there, I was poking my head in other small openings looking for another adventure when I found a large common wombat sleeping in a cave, just a short way in. All four of us were very excited to find it and managed to wake him up with our lights. It was nearly time for him to get up, anyway. He seemed to settle back down and made no move to leave his spot as we headed away from him, towards the blue lake.
Teresa and Heather heading through a cave at Jenolan
A Wombat (very cool and the size of a large pig) we found while exploring some caves and tunnels at Jenolan
A large cavern at Jenolan Caves
A cave that Heather, Brian and I explored
Brian at Jenolan Caves
Looking out of the Devils Coach House, an immense cavern at Jenolan Caves
We stayed here a few years back when Heather was two or three. She totally loved these statues in Cave House, the hotel at Jenolan. We asked her to give them a cuddle for old times sake. Naturally Brian got into it as well.
Heather cuddling a statue. My how she’s grown. We came here when Heather was two and she LOVED these statues.
The Blue Lake at Jenolan is a wonder in itself. The water is a shocking blue that you wouldn’t expect to find in a small, cold mountain lake. It’s like that from minerals carried into the water and give it a magical look, with palm trees and tree ferns sharing it’s shores with gum trees.
The stunningly beautiful Blue Lake at Jenolan Caves
Another pic of the amazing Blue Lake
Heather by the Blue Lake
Blue Lake and caverns
We hiked along a trail that skirts the crystal clear blue lake. You’re not allowed to swim in the lake, which is so tempting as you walk along it’s shore in the heat, looking down into the clear turquoise water. Past the lake there is a dam with lots of water falling down it into a swift flowing river about ten feet across. The land continues to fall as you hike along the river hugging trail so there are lots of small cascades and pools. Heather and I got into the first one we could to cool off, and did we ever! It was like being in a walk in freezer. So, we quickly cooled off and continued along the trail, passing the bridge where most people, unfortunately for them, turn around and head back along the other side to the Blue Lake. Just a minute or two past the bridge is a lovely waterfall.
Waterfall at Jenolan Caves River Walk
At the pool for the waterfall, another hiker pointed out a snake necked turtle on the land near the waters edge. We all enjoyed a good look at it before he slipped into the water, where it hung out next to a rock.
Being a waterfall, I did what I always do, namely, getting my head under the cascade. I talked Heather into swimming (riding on my back really) across the deep pool to get us under the waterfall.
Heather and I going under the falls
Heather and I getting under the cascade
After we climbed out to warm up in the sun, I noticed a set of steps cut into the rock on the other side of the river. Heather and I climbed up and carefully made our way to the top of the waterfall. Upon noticing that this would be an awesome place to jump into the water I suggested doing that to Heather. I wasn’t entirely sure if we could do it safely as the you’d need to jump out a bit to land safely in the water and Heather, being just recently 7, has never done anything like this. We scooted down the rocks a bit and I let Heather convince me that she could it safely. So, holding hands we counted to 3 and jumped out together and dropped into the clear, cold water 10 feet below us. We were both thrilled and excited and did it a second time as well, while Brian cheered us on from the shore. He wanted to do it, too, but he can’t really swim yet and going underwater isn’t exactly his thing yet. Maybe next year.
Heather’s first waterfall jump! from Paul Rooney on Vimeo.
The trip was enjoyed by one and all and has provided us more enduring happy memories. If you’re still reading this, I’m happy that I was able to share a taste of what it was like.
Here’s a video of some of the fun things we did:
Teresa’s Birthday Weekend – 2014 from Paul Rooney on Vimeo.
For Teresa's birthday, I took her and the kids to a lovely farm stay on the other side of the Blue Mountains. In addition to feeding the animals at the farm, we also drove up to Owens Crown for a hike up a mountain and some bouldering. On our way home we stopped at Jenolan Caves where we explored some small tunnels on our own and hiked along the river that comes from the Blue Lake and Heather and I swam in a waterfall and jumped off the rocks into it's plunge pool.
Love to all!