Daily Archives: January 14, 2009

UNESCO World Heritage Site #32: Greater Blue Mountains Area

Posted by on January 14, 2009

World Heritage Site #32: Blue Mountains Area

World Heritage Site #32: Greater Blue Mountains Area

From the World Heritage inscription:

The Greater Blue Mountains Area consists of 1.03 million ha of sandstone plateaux, escarpments and gorges dominated by temperate eucalypt forest. The site, comprised of eight protected areas, is noted for its representation of the evolutionary adaptation and diversification of the eucalypts in post-Gondwana isolation on the Australian continent. Ninety-one eucalypt taxa occur within the Greater Blue Mountains Area which is also outstanding for its exceptional expression of the structural and ecological diversity of the eucalypts associated with its wide range of habitats. The site provides significant representation of Australia’s biodiversity with ten percent of the vascular flora as well as significant numbers of rare or threatened species, including endemic and evolutionary relict species, such as the Wollemi pine, which have persisted in highly-restricted microsites.

Katoomba and the Blue Mountains National Park is about an hour outside of Sydney. The amazing thing about Katoomba is that the town is located right on the rim of a canyon, which is one or the largest canyons in the world. You can literally walk through town and look out over the edge of the canyon.

The most prominent feature in Katoomba is the Three Sisters (shown above). In addition to the Three Sisters, you can take cable car rides to the bottom of the canyon where are the walking trails, several waterfalls, as well as hiking trails near the canyon rim.

The Blue Mountains is a must see for anyone visiting Sydney. You can easily take a train or drive to Katoomba from Sydney for a day trip.

2008 Travel Year in Review: Part 2

Posted by on January 14, 2009

Read part 1 of my 2008 travel round-up here

July

Landscape of Coober Pedy, South Australia

Landscape of Coober Pedy, South Australia

July marked my last month in Australia. I flew from Perth to Adelaide. After weeks of driving across Western Australia, the thought of more driving didn’t appeal to me. Adelaide was overcast and cold the entire time I was there, but I did get to visit the central market and Chinatown, both of which were the best I experienced in Australia.

From there I went north by bus to Coober Pedy, the interesting community in the middle of the outback that makes its living off opal mining. From there I went north to Alice Springs where I visited Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) and Kings Canyon.

I ended my Australian adventure where it began, in Darwin, and from there flew to Singapore.

August

Stamford Raffels Statue in Singapore

Stamford Raffels Statue in Singapore

In Singapore I was able to meet my old college roommate David Bickford, who is currently a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Singapore. He was only the second person I’ve seen since I’ve left the United States that I knew before I left. I hadn’t seen Dave since the early 90s, so it was nice to catch up.

While he was doing profession things during the day, I was able to explore Singapore, which I had last visited back in 1999.

I also took a week and went to the Indonesian island of Bintan where I rented a bungalow near the beach for $10/night and edited video.

Returning to Singapore I took the train to Kuala Lumpur and then to Penang. I was stuck in Penang for several days as I waited for protesters to open up the Phuket, Thailand airport.

Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok, Thailand

Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok, Thailand


September

Most of September was spent in Thailand. My goal in Phuket was to do some diving and get my PADI Rescue Diver certification. I enrolled in a course at SeaBee’s Diving in Phuket and got certified. If you are in trouble while diving with me, I’m your hookup.

After that I went to Bangkok and hung out for two weeks where I was able to meet Nomadic Matt before going to Cambodia. I visited all the tourist spots in the city including the Royal Palace and Wat Prah Kaew. I flew into Siem Reap from Bangkok, forgoing the legendarily bad bus trip.

October

Cow in Temple, Angkor, Cambodia

Cow in Temple, Angkor, Cambodia

I started October by visiting the temples of Angkor. It was a really amazing experience. I took several days photographing most of the temples in the Angkor complex, including many of the smaller outlying temples. I also took the day trip from hell to visit the Preah Vihear temple on the border of Cambodia and Thailand. Preah Vihear was the scene of fighting between Thai and Cambodian soldiers in the months before, and weeks after I visited.

I also visited the floating villages of Tonle Sap and took the boat from Sieam Reap to Phnom Penh, where I paid homage to the victims of the Killing Fields. The last few days of the month I took the bus across the border into Vietnam and into Saigon.

November

Sand Dunes of Mui Ne, Vietnam

Sand Dunes of Mui Ne, Vietnam


All of November was in Vietnam. I started the month in Saigon where I had to purchase a new laptop. My old MacBook Pro was on its last legs. From there I took the bus on Mui Ne which is on the Pacific Ocean an enjoyed cheap, fresh seafood every night. From there I went into the central Vietnam rainy season in Nha Trang, where it rained non stop. A very long overnight bus ride took me to Hoi An just outside of Da Nang where I visited the Hoi An Ancient City and My Son Sanctuary World Heritage sites. I then spent a few days in the former royal capital of Hue before one final marathon bus ride to Hanoi.

December

December was a busy month. I started by visiting the beautiful islands of Ha Long Bay in Vietnam. I returned to Hanoi to fly to Luang Prabang, Laos where I was able to visit the temples of this World Heritage City and take part in the morning alms giving ritual where the locals give food and rice to monks. I then took a bus to the capital of Laos, Vientiane, where I took advantage of the excellent open airs BBQs on the Mekong River. I then went to Udon Thani, Thailand, Chiang Mai, Sukhothai and ended up back in Bangkok, where I rang in the New Year.