After leaving the Capertee Valley we headed to Lithgow, to use as a base for exploring the iconic Blue Mountains. Having never visited the area before and thinking it was a bit of a tourist trap and probably over rated, we were blown away by the stunning vistas and sheer size of this virtually untouched wilderness on Sydney's doorstep.
The weather was perfect on our one and only day of exploring. The next three days it turned nasty with a wet, cold, windy change coming through, apparently not unusual in these parts. There was a plethora of walking tracks to choose from and with our limited time we settled for a couple of the shorter ones and even these were quite steep in parts. The bird life wasn't prolific but one of the more colourful ones caught my eye.
The wildflowers were actually more conspicuous than the birds and with the aid of this very helpful website: http://www.waratahsoftware.com.au/wp_flora_bluemountains.html I was able to identify some of the specimens I photographed.
The Blue Mountains is another one of those places that has to be seen to be believed and pictures do not do it justice. A good week here would probably just scratch the surface.
The weather finally improved on our way to Canberra and driving through the countryside one of the most common birds was the Nankeen Kestrel. I was able to pull up and get a quick shot of this male before he took off to do what they normally do, hover above the paddocks in search of prey.
While in Canberra we visited the Australian National Botanic Gardens, a must see for anyone even remotely interested in plants. I could have sworn I was back in Queensland when we walked through the huge rainforest gully section. I was waiting for a Pitta to bounce out across the pathway!
How they have created this habitat in a climate of extremes defies the imagination.
|Rainforest Walk - ANBG|
This juvenile Water Dragon was sunning itself on a rock along the walk.
|Eastern Water Dragon|
And a Raven was eyeing off our picnic lunch.
One of the more common plants were these pretty flowers along another of the many walks through the gardens.
There was also a single young Wollemi Pine, a critically endangered species with less than one hundred trees growing in the wild not far from the Capertee Valley, in Wollemi National Park. It's a wonder they didn't have an armed guard keeping an eye on this one!