On New Year's Day 2009 we did what all the Aussies seemed to be doing--we went to the beach and played cricket!
After New Year's in Sydney, we went to a place called Bilpin Springs Lodge in the Blue Mountains, where we stayed for my birthday. At Bilpin Springs, we went fishing in a small dam that they filled with rainbow trout. When we fished there, we didn't use a rod, we just used a reel of fishing line with a hook and weight attached to the end that we tossed out into the water. I didn't catch too many fish that way, but we did catch "yabbies" in the pond, which are like tiny lobsters or crayfish, and to catch them we put a trap in the water and left it for a few hours. When we came back to check on it, there were our yabbies, ready for us to have for lunch.
After Bilpin Springs, we went back to Sydney one more time before going to Perth, which is all the way across the country on the west coast. We were only in Perth for two nights before going to a place called Margaret River, which is famous for its caves and big surfing waves. Just in the surrounding area there are around one hundred known caves (and they think a lot more they haven't even found yet)! With a lot to choose from, we decided to check out two of them, Lake and Jewel Caves, which are two of the three main caves that are open to tourism.
The first stop was Jewel Cave, which is the largest one in the area. There, we saw all sorts of stalactites and stalagmites made of calcite crystal, which were colored white and orange. Jewel Cave was also home to many flowstone structures which looked like a calcite crystal waterfall. They were really cool.
Next was Lake Cave, a smaller one that has water flowing through it and you enter it by climbing down a huge collapsed cavern. As you enter, the water is so still that you can see the reflection of the ceiling in the water and it looks like there's another cave underneath you. There were two things that make this cave famous. The first is a structure called 'the table' and its two stalactites that have grown down to the ground at one point and connected, but now the ground is gone and it hovers in the air over the water. The second is 'the wishing well'. This is a huge mound of calcite crystal, which has a pool at the top of it that water drips on every other second.
Now, we go back to Perth for one last night in Australia before flying to South Africa which we're really excited about.