2009 World Cruise – The 2000 Summer Olympics were held in Sydney. The main stadium and Athlete’s Village area was originally a dump site and all the buildings were designed so as to be converted into offices and a residential area after the games. The area has its own solar power gird. At the Olympic Stadium each solar stand generates enough power in one day to run 5-6 homes for a year. Our guide explained many of the ways that the Olympic Committee designed the site, its various venues, and the Athlete’s Village so it could all be viably used after the Games. We were able to wonder around the area for awhile on our way out of Sydney to visit the Blue Mountains 110 miles north. One of the things we discovered as we wandered the Olympic site was the little plaques in the colours of gold, silver and bronze that contained the name, event and nationality of every medal winner at the 2000 Games. These little plaques were inset in the paving stones all around the square making intersecting lines and patterns. We found a Canadian athlete’s name for each of the three medals. I think it was a nice permanent touch to remember all the hard work and dedication put forth by the competitors. Unfortunately the overcast skies continued all day. Sad as this poor weather was for us cruise passengers it was enthusiastically welcomed by the Australians. Much of the country had been suffering under a searing heat wave (104 F a couple of days before we docked) and there were horrific bush fires burning north of Mebourne.
We arrived at the Blue Mountains, billed as “an awesome Grand Canyon-like rock formation among deep valleys and cascading waterfalls” to see swirling white fog. We road the cable car to the valley floor passing over huge Fern Palms.At the bottom we visited an exhibit about the old Katoomba coal mine.
There is an aboriginal story about a man with three lovely daughters who were constantly being sought after by men he felt were not good enough for them. In order to protect them from making a bad match he turned them all into stone. The Three Sisters is the name of three upthrusting formations atop the mountain. The fog cloud parted just enough and just long enough to get a misty photo. We rode out of the valley bottom via the old coal train track which is a very steep cut through the rock.
A lunch stop at the village of Leura broke up the bus ride back to the ship.
The ship wasn’t scheduled to set sail for Melbourne until 7 PM, so we took the opportunity to enjoy the newly arrived sunshine and walk over to the iconic Sydney Opera House.