One thing I’ve come to learn about traveling is that it is worth the extra money if you can take a tour with a local guide. We did this in Sorrento last summer and had an amazing time, and when booking the trip to the Blue Mountains, I imagined that it would be a perfect compliment to the trip instead of just seeing the typical tourist points of interest.

Through Lilianfels I hired the Tread Lightly Eco Tour group for the Rocks to Rain Forest Four Wheel Drive Eco Tour. Adam was our guide and picked us up at 9am. He is a really friendly guy, and yes, a guide needs to be friendly, but like all people that you are getting to know pretty quickly, you just kind of dive in and pretend that you’ve been friends a long time… that way you get the most out of the guide and you get a great and thorough experience as he feeds off of your questions and fills in the gaps.

One request for Adam is that we wanted to see the elusive kangaroo if at all possible. Adam scratched his head and thought about it for a bit. The kangaroo live in the valleys of protected areas and away from main roads, so seeing them is a bit of skill and luck. Adam couldn’t make any promises, but he said that he would take us to the Megalong Valley where they sometimes hang out. Kangaroos generally are more visible in the early morning when they come out for breakfast. During the hot days (not when we were here, of course), they escape to the bush and stay cool. Regardless, we were hopeful that we would see some.

And then we were off. We drove around the rim of the Blue Mountains and Adam stopped at a really picturesque look out point. No railings or guard rails, Adam stood right on the edge and even though experienced, I thought he was crazy. I was a few steps back from there (okay, maybe a few more). The wind was howling, so it was at times hard to keep your balance. We managed okay and got a tremendous view of one of the valleys and you could see some amazing rock formations in the distance. Back in the vehicle and we were off again.

We learned a tremendous amount about the eco system in the area including all of the beautiful flowering plants that are at their peak for spring time in the area. Also at full peak were massive and I mean massive Rhododendron plants – well really trees. Obviously these were not native to the area, but gorgeous nonetheless. In Michigan where we have all four seasons, I guess that we take the sudden burst of Spring color for granted as in NSW, you have to really look for the flowers as they only show themselves in small clumps here and there. For Adam it seems to be a major event if he comes across a botanical popping their head out after their version of Winter. Most impressive was the Waratah, the state flower of NSW… it is a crimson red dahlia-like flower that blooms this time of year. They are grown hydroponically and sold in florists, but if you pick one in the wild it is a $8K fine. They take their plants seriously here, indeed.

So on and on we went traveling all around parts of the Blue Mountains. There is a very small area of rain forest and the canopy is so dense that it goes from being light to dark very quickly. And then suddenly we were in the Megalong Valley with farms in the distance surrounded by the mountain range. And there, and admittedly very much in the distance, were a group of kangaroo sunning themselves in a farmer’s field. Adam had binoculars and we were able to see them quite well, but my little instamatic camera just captured little gray mounds and you can sort of make them out. Regardless, we finally had our kangaroo sighting! Check one more off the list!

So back to the hotel we made our way, but en route we stopped in a small town and Adam grabbed a couple of sandwiches to go. From there, we took a back trail that came to a head overlooking the valley below (which one, I have no idea), but the view was incredibly picturesque. Adam got a bit too close to the edge for my liking, so he back up, jumped out and proceeded to make a cup of tea for Mum and I. We’re not sure how he really did it, but with the cold it sure felt and tasted great. So we had our sandwich and tea by the edge of the cliff and watched as the hail and then the rain came straight towards us. The 4×4 was moving back and forth and I was a bit nervous as we were so close to the edge. Fortunately, it was a quick storm, but I was happy to be back on the road heading towards Lilianfels to warm up in front of a fire before our next outing.

Later in the afternoon we went back to Leura and had a mooch around the town. We were there only about an hour as the town is not that big, but has lots of lovely shops, cafes and other stores to mooch around in. I picked up a couple of cards and a few gifts and then we headed back for the evening.

In the end the highlight, of course, was the tour. We learned so much about the area – never possible to this extent without a tour. The area is just so incredibly beautiful and I can see why so many visit each and every year.