Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Blue Mountains Family Holiday: Day 3

The days aren't getting any warmer in Katoomba, but this was exacerbated today as we headed off for Jenolan Caves, an 80 minute journey along the ranges. We all loaded up at breakfast once again befor the trip. The kids amused themselves as they fought out Mario Karts on Jessie's Nintendo DSI, while we all were again amazed at the countryside, and how those first white explorers must have seen the country on their first forays over the mountains. On the roadside, a sign proclaims the spot where the first exploration of Blaxland, Lawson & Wentworth finished in 1813. Amazing to think that it was almost 200 years ago.

The weather at Jenolan Caves was... well... as close to freezing as you can get. The breeze just enforced the cold even more, and I began to wonder just how tough this day was going to be.

Cold? My word, yes!

The early guided cave walks had been sold out, including the Imperial Cave, which was the easiest grade, and the one we had thought of taking. However, with the popularity of the tours at a premium, they put on an extra guided tour of the Lyons Cave. This was graded as the most difficult, with 916 steps in all, and most at very steep grades. However, we were assured our "fit" kids would be fine, and so at 11.00am we ascended the moountain to begin the tour.

Excited to silliness about going into the cave.
The cave itself was fantastic. It took a little over 90 minutes to walk through, see all of the sights, and listen to the excellent commentary by our guide. In the massive Cathedral Cavern, they not only turned all of the lights off, proving that no light could penetrate from the outside, but they then even played some music ("The Ecstacy of Gold") to showcase the natural amphitheatre. The kids had a ball, and learned a lot. So did their parents.

On our return to Katoomba, we decided to go against last night's decision, and indeed go out to eat. Helen and I had noticed the Indian restaurant just around the corner from our motel, and decided to eat there, as it had appeared popular with locals. I rang to book and early table, and at 5.30pm we walked in to Anki's Indian Restaurant. As it was, all but three tables already had reserved signs on, a good sign.

Ready for Indian!

In short - it was as good a meal as I have had. The samosas for starters were very spicy and tasty. The garlic naan were huge! We had originally ordered four, but were encoraged by our host that three would be more than sufficient. The basket of pappadams was also huge. Helen ordered a chickpea and lentil curry, which she said was terrific. I was immediately drawn to what was only described as the "Chef Special" - choice of meat cooked with capsicum and onion and special "HOT" sauce. No actual description of the curry, just Chef's Special. And it was hot - it burned the lips and tongue immediately with the spice and chilli. But it was superb. With a combination of rice, naan, pappadams and about a litre of water, I ate it all with glee. It was amazing. I asked if the chef would perhaps let me know his recipe, in the hope that I could reproduce this at home. I was denied, and no wonder. If I could cook this i wouldn't be letting go of it either! The kids had a great time with rice and naan and some chicken, and at a total cost of just $78 for all of us, it was just a brilliant meal. If you go to Katoomba, go to Anki's Restaurant in Waratah Street. You won't be disappointed.

Our meal. Check out the chilli red goodness of the Chef's Special!
We returned to our rooms, and watched The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe... well, three of us did, as Jess and Josh collapsed into sleep after their big day.

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