I stayed in several youth hostels in the part of Sydney called King's Cross, a bohemian neighborhood known for its crazy nightlife. I did a lot of walking in the city, and I could always find my way home at night by heading towards this HUGE lit-up Coke billboard, which marks the entrance to King's Cross...
I also spent a few days at a hostel in Bondi Beach, the surf capital just south of Sydney. This is the pool at a member's club in Bondi - it was a saltwater pool, and the waves would literally crash right into the pool when the tide was high!
The highlight of my time in Bondi Beach was a cliffside trail leading from Bondi south to Coogee - several hours walking round trip. It was gorgeous! The coast is rocky and wild... a lot like Oregon's coast, but with fascinating vegetation that I'd never seen before.
There was a huge, eerie cemetary halfway between Bondi and Coogee. A sign said that lots of Irish immigrants had settled in the area in the 19th and 20th centuries and had been buried here. You could see many Irish and English names on the tombstones, which sat on a cliff overlooking the ocean.
Here are some of the houses up on the cliff as you enter Coogee. The light was gorgeous that day... a series of storms had just come through the day before, and the sky was the most brilliant blue I've ever seen.
As I rounded the curve into this small cove, I saw the most beautiful rainbow... both sides touched the ground!
The seasons are reversed in Australia, so it was winter in July. It was about 40 degrees out, and the waves were still pretty fierce from the previous day's storm. I was amazed at how many die-hard surfers were still out on the water, though...
At Featherdale Wildlife Park, you can get up-close and personal with all kinds of Aussie animals.
I loved watching the dingoes... they remind me so much of Abby! :)
Beautiful trees on the way up to the Blue Mountains. This was at a rest area called Echo Point, where we had a gorgeous view of the famous Three Sisters rock formation.
The Blue Mountains...
This was taken in the rain forest that's down in the valleys of the Blue Mountains. It's amazing how much darker and colder it was down in those valleys, thanks to the heavy tree cover in the rain forest.
Overall, I had an amazing trip. I think the most incredible part of it, though, was the fact that I went in the first place. You see, I was in the middle of a six-month long Landmark Education leadership training course that was very challenging... and I decided to drop out of the course. After a few weeks, though, I thought more about my decision and wanted to rejoin the course. However, I had missed a critical training weekend. The course leaders told me that the only way I could rejoin the program and graduate with my friends is if I flew to Sydney, Australia to make up the training... that weekend!
I made the decision to go on a Tuesday morning... I drove to Seattle Wednesday to apply for an expedited passport... I got on the plane Friday morning... and I had a blast!
That was the first time I learned that I really can make ANYTHING happen if I put my mind to it... I am capable of being truly unstoppable! What a valuable life lesson... if only we all knew how powerful we really are!