The Blue Mountains, Three Sisters and a Trip to the River Styx

I tumbled out of bed and headed into the kitchen and began to make my breakfast. We were all up early because we were travelling to the Blue Mountains. We had been to the Blue Mountain once before to Jenolan Caves, but this time we were going to Scenic World. At Scenic World there is the world's steepest railway, a Skyway and Cableway.

We all hurried through breakfast, morning jobs and the last of the packing.

"Time to go," Dad called.

We all pulled on our shoes and grabbed our books and MP3 Players before heading outside to the car. It was a long drive to the Blue Mountains and we had to stop for some morning tea at the bottom of the Mountains before driving for a few more minutes to the top.

The Three Sisters

We were going to see The Three Sisters which are three huge rocks that are supposed to look like three ladies.

Dad parked and we all piled out of the car. We went for a bush walk which had lots of lookouts from which you could see The Three Sisters and the mountains. Sophie didn't want to go close to the edge of the lookout because she doesn't like heights, but Dad managed to coax her to come have a look.

One of the lookouts

The views from all the lookouts around the walk were amazing. I really enjoyed it. When we had finished the walk we went to buy some food before heading to the cabin we were staying in.

It was a three room cabin. There was a kitchen cross sitting room cross bedroom. The settee had a bed above it and the settee could be folded down into a double bed. There was the bathroom and another bedroom with a bunk bed and a double bed.

Originally Sophie and I were going to have the bunk beds in the bedroom and Mum and Dad were going to have the double bed in the same room while Imogen and Charlotte slept in the sitting room, but Mum decided that she would put all us girls in the same room. So Sophie and I had the double bed, the big girls had the bunk beds and Mum and Dad slept in the sitting room.

"These cabins have a games room," Dad said. "Should we take a walk down and have a look at it?"

Charlotte playing Wii Sport

We all went to the games room and found a TV, a Wii and a pool table. Dad taught Imogen to play pool while Charlotte taught Sophie and me how to play Wii Sports. It was a lot of fun even if you looked ridiculous bouncing around in front of the TV.

We had ravioli in a tomato sauce for dinner and afterwards we had some chocolate. Sophie and I had showers and we all watched How to Train Your Dragon.

We all had to go to bed at the same time because it was such a small cabin.

I was very careful to lie in the bed as far away from Sophie as possible because I have this reputation for kicking people in bed.

Imogen and Charlotte had a hard time getting to sleep because neither of them snore but Sophie and I snore rather loudly.

In the morning we had Nutri Grain or flavoured packet porridge. We did the dishes, showered and made the beds.

Dad drove to Scenic World and we all queued for tickets.

The Railway from the bottom

The first thing  we did was go on the world's steepest railway. There were three settings on the chairs in the train. The first was Cliffhanger which was the steepest at 64 degrees and then there was original at 52 degrees  or Laidback at 20 degrees. We all wanted to go Cliffhanger except for Sophie but she agreed to do it with us.

The train dropped dramatically and went into a dark tunnel. We all began to slide out of our seats (there were no seat belts). We had to brace ourselves with our legs or slide right off the seats. The train came out of the tunnel and we saw the beautiful view before the track levelled out and we could sit back on the seats.

The Railway had been great fun, but Sophie didn't enjoy it at all and had spent her time clinging to Dad.

We went for a walk along ramps through the bush. Scenic World used to be a coal mine and there were lots of signs telling us about it. We saw a coal miner's cottage and we were allowed to go inside. It didn't look like a nice place to sleep in especially in the cold mountain weather.

The old Skyway which they stopped using in 2004 (they've got a new one)

After the walk we went on the Skyway, the Railway again (it was even better going back up) and the Cableway. Someone on the Skyway commented that it was a long way to fall to the ground.

"Not long at all," the guide said cheerfully. "Only six seconds to the bottom."

We stopped for lunch before going for another walk. This one had a lot of steps and we all raced each other up them. We saw a waterfall on this walk. It was a long walk and we were tired by the time we were down.

Mum went to look in the souvenir shop with Sophie while the rest of us went on the Railway another two times before we all headed home.

Sophie had bought us all these beaded bracelets from the souvenir shop and they were very pretty. We went back down to the games room for the evening and played pool and Wii again.

For dinner we had fish and chips which was really nice. We watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as we ate and then went back to the games room for the rest of the evening.

On the last day we packed everything again and loaded the car. Dad drove us all the way to Jenolan. We were going to see another cave.

This cave was the River Cave. It was gorgeous. Unfortunately it had two ladders which Sophie didn't want to climb. The River Cave had (surprise, surprise) a river which they called the River Styx from Greek mythology. There was also another one called the Pool of Reflections which reflected perfectly the roof of the cave on the water which was slightly weird.

One of the cave formations

Then we started the long drive home. It had been a good holiday, but we were all glad to get home and see Duncan and the cats. The next day we went and picked Nora up from the kennels.

Weddings and a Too Small Dress

Casey and her Dad

We spent the last few weeks preparing for my brother, Callum's wedding. He was marrying a girl called Casey. I was going to be a flower girl for the wedding.

Mum ordered Imogen, Charlotte and Sophie dresses online and we waited for them to arrive. Casey's mum bought me a dress. It was a size eight (and I am 11!), but it still fitted in length.

Imogen was going to do all the singing for the wedding, and her singing teacher's husband was going to play the organ.

Duncan was asked to be a groomsman and Dad was going to do one of the readings at the wedding Mass.

Imogen had to make all the booklets with the Order of Service in them and get them all printed and bound together. They looked really nice,

Finally, the day of the wedding arrived. I had a pretty relaxed morning, but about lunch time Callum arrived and things began to get busy. I changed into my white dress, Sophie did my hair in braids and Imogen lent me the pearl necklace that she wore to Felicity's wedding.

Soon we all on our way to the wedding. Imogen and Charlotte went in one car, Mum, Sophie, Dad and I went in another one and Callum and Duncan went with the best man in the groom's car.

We arrived at the church and Callum spent ages talking to all the guests as they arrived. Finally Callum and all the guests went into the church and the bride arrived.

Callum and Casey

I was given a bunch of fake flowers and we all went into the church. Imogen gave me a poke when it was time for me to go up the aisle and I began to walk at the same time the organist began to play. I walked very slowly down the aisle trying not to rush. When I was halfway up the church, the first bridesmaid began to walk. I reached the pew and stood in front of it as I waited for the rest of the bridesmaids. Casey and her father began to come up after all the bridesmaids. They were having trouble fitting up the aisle because Casey's dress was so big and had a hoop underneath all the petticoats.

There were not so many bridesmaids for Callum's wedding as there were for Felicity's so I wasn't as squished in the pew.

Callum wanted to have a Mass along with the wedding, but the whole ceremony didn't seem to take very long at all.

When the wedding was over, we all turned and walked out of the church quite a bit faster than we had come in.

Callum taking the veil off Casey
Everybody went down to the lake right by the church and the photographer took lots and lots and lots of photos. Casey had trouble trying to keep her dress out of the dirt. It was so big, and I appeared to be promoted to the position of Official Dress Carrier.

Imogen and Mum went home to feed the cats and our dog, Nora while Dad took the rest of us down to MacDonalds for a milkshake because we were all getting hungry. I accidentally spilt some of my chocolate milkshake down my nice white dress. Luckily, it wasn't very noticeable and I managed to get most of it off my dress with a tissue. When we had finished our milkshakes, Dad drove us all to the reception.

We arrived before Callum and stood waiting outside the room Callum rented for the reception, Mum and Imogen joined us and soon all the guests began to arrive. But of course, now was not a good time to go and get something to eat: the photographer wanted to take some more pictures.

I stood on the stairs with all the rest of the bridal party, smiled, switched places and finally, we were allowed to go into the reception room.

I was sitting at the bridal table with Callum, Casey, Duncan, the bestman, the maid of honour and all the bridesmaids.

Callum and me at the Reception

The food at the reception was really good. We had pastrami, chicken, rolls and some seafood (which I didn't eat because I don't like it very much). The thing I liked the best was probably the sticky date pudding and custard,

The reception was really long and we were all very tired by the time that Mum said we should leave. We went to the cars and climbed in. I dozed on the way home and was very thankful to get to bed when we arrived back.

The wedding was great fun, but it was also a lot of work and very tiring.

Have you ever been a flower girl or bridesmaid?

My Confirmation

For the last four weeks, Dad and I have been going to classes, getting ready for my confirmation. I needed to ask someone to be my confirmation sponsor and I also needed to pick a patron saint.

"Charlotte?" I asked.


"Do you think you could be my confirmation sponsor?"

"Wait? What? Really?" she asked, staring.

So then I needed to pick a saint. Mum gave me a saint book with fifty-seven saints in it and I spent ages reading about saints and all the good things they had done. Unfortunately for me all the saints were amazing people, but I couldn't find the right one.

Mum as always had a solution. She gave me two more saint books. So now I had two more books filled with saints to choose from.

"I have three books and I still can't find one," I told Mum.

So she produced another two saint books and these ones were massive.

"Sit here and we will have a look at them together," she said.

We read story after story before I decided to have Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe.

Mum bought me a dress and a pretty white cardigan, and Imogen baked a chocolate cake with twelve fondant icing fruits to represent the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

The day arrived and I spent all morning thinking about the confirmation. In the afternoon, Sophie curled my hair and Charlotte's.

When dinner was eaten and cleaned up I changed into my black dress and slipped on my pretty white cardigan over the top. Sophie fastened her silver crucifix around my neck and lent me a pair of earrings. Mum gave me a pretty silver beaded bracelet with a Miraculous Medal on it. It is gorgeous.

I slipped on my shoes before we all stepped outside. We climbed into the car and drove to the church. I went into the chapel with the other candidates. A lady pinned a brooch onto my cardigan. It was gold and in the shape of a dove. We all sat in the chapel as more children entered. When all sixty-one children had arrived, we all stood up and walked out of the chapel and into the church. I entered the pew next to Charlotte. Our pew was the very last one in the church. I noticed that Callum and Casey had arrived. Callum gave me a wave.

We had the presentation of the candidates first where our names were read out and we had to answer.

"Gemma-Rose Elvis."

I stood up hoping I would be heard. "Present."

Apparently I said it loud enough because they moved on. Then the laying of hands and finally the actual Confirmation.

"Maximilian be sealed be with the gift of the Holy Spirit," the bishop said.

Chrism dribbled down my nose. It had a very strong smell. I had this terrible itch on my nose, but I couldn't itch it without getting my fingers oily.

When the confirmation was over all the candidates lined up in front of the altar with the bishop and we had photos taken, and then we got to have individual pictures with the bishop.

When we arrived home we had the cake Imogen had cooked. It was good and very sweet. Then we went to bed happy but tired.

Have you had your Confirmation?

What is your Confirmation name?

The Problems of Earrings

My first pair of earrings

A few days before my birthday I had my ears pierced. Five and a half weeks later, I was looking forward to being able to change my earrings. Then disaster struck!

I woke up one morning and felt one of my ears and thought, HANG ON! Where is my earring? I felt the back of my ear lobe and found that the back of the earring was still there. I rushed to a mirror and found that it was indeed the front of my earring that was missing. But it hadn't fallen out. Where was it?


I ran over to Mum's bedroom.


"It appears that the front of your earring has disappeared inside your hole," Mum said.

It was strange because I couldn't feel the earring inside my ear. "How do I get it out?" I cried, tears streaming down my cheeks.

"Try to push it back through to the front," Mum suggested.

I tried but it wouldn't come and it was incredibly painful. I tried again and there was more pain.

"I can't do it," I wailed.

My ear was now bleeding.

"I will ring the people who pierced your ears," Mum said. "It will be okay."

Mum rang the people and asked their advice. "They say that this has never happened in twenty-four years," Mum said, "and that I should take you to the doctor."

Mum drove me to the doctor and we sat in the waiting room till the doctor appeared.

"Sit down," said the doctor.

I sat down and she inspected my ear.

"We are going to have to try to push it out the back of your ear," she said.

That sounded painful.

"Lie down on the seat."

I lay down on a dentist-like seat and she began to inspect my ear.

"I am going to need your help," the doctor said to Mum.

Mum nodded, looking slightly unsure about doing something that would hurt me so much.

"It appears the ear is already infected," The doctor said, disinfecting it.

Oh great, not only do I get an earring stuck inside my ear lobe, I also decide to get it infected at the same time. I don't do things by halves!

I couldn't see what Mum and the doctor were doing. All I knew was that it hurt....A LOT. The pain was horrible but at last the doctor announced that they got the earring. I sat up and Mum handed it to me.

My new pair of earrings

"What you will need to do is get some earrings with hooks, instead of studs. I will give you a prescription so you can get some cream to help with the infection," the doctor said.

A few minutes later we were outside heading over to the chemist to get the cream.

Mum sighed with relief. "I felt faint doing that. Are you okay?"

I nodded.

We bought the cream, then we drove home.

"How did it go?" Imogen, asked opening the front door.

"It is out," I said, holding up the earring.

"How are you?" Sophie, asked as we entered.

"Okay now."

"Did it come out?" Charlotte asked, as we came into the kitchen.


Mum had a look in her jewellery box and found a pair of hooked earrings for me while Imogen, Charlotte and Sophie fussed over me, getting me a milkshake and a Tim Tam.

"Here, let me put the earring in for you," Imogen said.

She applied the cream we bought, then very gently slipped the earring through my hole.

"Gemma-Rose, I think you should take the other stud out as well in case the same thing happens," Mum said.

I went to the bathroom and hooked my finger nails under the back and front of the other earring, and pulled the back off. It hurt but not as much as the other one did when Mum and the doctor removed it.

Imogen took the next earring and put that one through my other hole.

I think I am the only one in my family who removed their starter pair of earrings three days early.

Do you have your ears pierced? Have you had any problems like this with yours?


Stalagmites, Cottages and a Lack of Forks

We didn't think we were going away this holiday. We all expected a quiet time at home with the family. We were wrong.

"Sophie, Gemma-Rose, I have booked a cottage in the Blue Mountains and we are going to see Jenolan Caves," Mum said.


I had never been to see caves before. I have walked round museums and had trips to the beach but never caves.

We had to get up very early on the day of our holiday. We rushed to have breakfast, pack the food and check that we had everything in our bags. Then we left the house and animals to the boys' care.

It was a three hour drive but I had a good book to read. Just before we reached the caves there was a very narrow winding road that we had to go round and I felt sick. At last the car arrived at the caves and Dad parked. We climbed out and looked around. The ticket office and souvenir shops were built in mock Tudor style.

The first cave we went to see was the Diamond Cave. It was a very pretty cave with lots of crystal. The guide told us that lots of the stalagmites and stalactites were in shapes of things and had names. There was one that was called the Indian Elephant. Dad kept bashing his head into the rocks in this cave.  

Then we had lunch. There was a very inquisitive bird that came right onto our table and sat right in front of me. I hoped it wouldn't steal my lunch. I remember years ago, when we went on a beach trip, a magpie stole a piece of avocado right  from my sandwich. I got most upset (even though I don't like avocado).

After the Diamond Cave we went to see the Lucas Cave which was huge. One of the chambers in the cave was called the Cathedral and used to be used for church services. They had a rock that was the altar and they had a place called the organ and there were 'stained glass' windows. It was gorgeous.

The guide demonstrated how good the sound was in the cave by playing a piece of music and there wasn't any echo.

The guide told us that in the original tour, years ago, the visitors would go down into the Lucas Cave with two guides. One guide would sit on a hessian sack and slide down a slope with a rope until he reached a certain point and then he jumped off. Then the other guide would give one of the visitors a hessian sack and a candle. The visitor would hold onto the rope with one hand and the candle with the other, and slide down until the guide at the bottom grabbed them. But if their candle went out and the guide didn't see them coming, then the visitor would keep on going till they hit a rock called Full Stop Rock and met a very painful end.

After the Lucas Cave we went to see the cottage where we were staying. It was a wooden building and there were kangaroos literally in the garden and they weren't afraid of us at all.

The living room in the cottage had two settees and a TV. It looked very nice. The kitchen had a bottle of drinking water on the bench which you had to pump water out of. The bedrooms were the best bit. They were nice rooms. Us four girls were sharing a room together. Our room had a set of bunk beds on either side of the room. All the beds had thick quilts and an extra blanket. We had also brought sleeping bags.

Mum and Dad went to buy food for the next few days while we stayed at the cottage watching a movie while Imogen made dinner.

It was freezing in the cottage and we pulled out the extra blankets from on our beds and snuggled up. When Mum and Dad arrived home, all they saw were huge piles of blankets with the vague shape of girls beneath them.

Dinner was slightly more complicated than we had thought it would be because there were only three forks and five spoons, and there were six of us. I was one of the people who had to eat with a spoon instead of a fork, and it is a rather hard thing to do when dinner is spaghetti bolognaise, Then we washed the bowls and ate ice cream.

When we had finished the ice cream and cleaned up, we watched another movie, then went to bed.

In the morning I was awake first and waited for everybody else to wake up. When they did eventually wake up, I served out bowls of cocoa pops. Then when everybody else went for showers, Mum and I cooked bacon, and while I had my shower, Dad cooked the eggs.

"Careful, the water from the shower goes all over the floor," Mum said.

When I'd had my shower (being careful not to flood the bathroom) we ate bacon and eggs before I dried my hair (Sophie kept taking pictures while I was drying it), and then we got ready for the fifteen minutes' drive back to the caves.

"We will go see the Nettle Cave first," Mum said. "The Nettle Cave is a self-guided tour."

Mum went to get the tickets and these strange phone things that we used to listen to the recording of a man telling us all about the cave.

This cave wasn't as good as the other ones but it was still good. There was a formation called The Willows and it looked like its name. The Nettle Cave was a lot more opened up than the other caves so wasn't as pretty.

When we had finished seeing this cave, we had lunch and the inquisitive bird appeared again hoping for some lunch.

"I think we will do the Temple of Baal Cave next," Mum said, and we all agreed.

We packed the lunch things back into the car and then waited for the Temple of Baal tour to begin. The group for the Temple of Baal was very small. Just us and three other people.

There was a small cave in the roof of one of the chambers. The cave had stalagmites and stalactites in it and they called this Paradise. Under Paradise was a place they called the Devil's Kitchen.

"Why don't we do a walk?" Mum suggested, after we came out of the cave.

We all nodded.

The first part was full of nettles and Imogen and I both got pricked.

"Who wants to go back the same way we came and who wants to take a different route back?" Mum asked.

"Let's take a different route back," Charlotte said.

This turned out to be a very hard walk. It went steeply up and up then occasionally down. My legs hurt from the amount of walking we had been doing and I was thinking that the other route had been a lot easier. Then we came out onto a view high above the caves. The view was amazing and there was the Carlotta Arch. It was massive.

"That walk was definitely worth the view."

Then we went back to the cottage.

Mum and Dad attempted to cook sausages on the outside barbeque, while Imogen cooked some chips in the oven. We all love chips.

We watched another movie over dinner and dessert. Our dessert was ice cream again but Mum had a brilliant idea. She suggested we eat it with cocoa pops on top which does taste great!

"Gemma-Rose, Sophie, why don't you two go have a shower before bed, so we can be out quicker in the morning?" Mum asked.

I forgot about the whole flooding thing and when I came out of the bathroom, I saw my pants were drenched because I'd left them on the floor.

I came out of the bathroom and showed my pants to the rest of the family. "I got them a bit wet," I said.

"A bit?"

"Okay, a lot."

Dad turned the gas heater on and draped my pants over a chair in front of it. After a few minutes they began to steam. Soon it was really warm in the cottage and we had to open the window. After a while the pants were dry.

"Thank you, Dad," I said looking at my (dry) pants.

A while later Mum and Dad went to bed leaving us to finish off the movie before following them to bed.

In the morning I was again first up. I crept as silently as a ninja out of the bedroom. CREAK! went the floor. I winced and took another step. CREAK! I gave up the whole quiet thing.

"Good morning."

I turned to see Sophie.

"Want some cocoa pops?" I asked.

She nodded and I poured some into a bowl for her and than we sat down to eat. Soon everybody else joined us. After breakfast, we began to pack up our bags.

Sophie and I stripped the beds and folded up the blankets and put away the sleeping bags. I took one last look at the room and closed the door behind me and then we left the cottage and piled into the car and drove back to the caves.

We waited outside the entrance to the Orient Cave. When the guide arrived we went back through the man-made blasted tunnel that we had to go through for the Temple of Baal Cave, and then through a different door and into the most gorgeous cave yet. All the chambers had names. One was upper Egypt and the other was lower Egypt. Another was India. The scene was breathtaking. This one was my favourite cave of them all and I savoured every moment of it. It had the biggest stalagmite ever. It nearly reached the roof.

Then we went on another walk before getting back into the car. We were going home after the best holiday ever. The car trundled away from the caves and I strained for a last look as they disappeared.

Then we were home, saying hello to the cats, Nora and the boys. Sophie and I entered our room. It was exactly the way we had left it.

We were home from the best holiday we had ever had.

Have you ever been to see any caves?

Salt Dough

Every year before Christmas we make salt dough decorations for the tree and to give away to people we know, but this year the homeschool group we go to are having a sale of craft things to support someone overseas. We decided that we would make salt dough for the sale.

Sophie and I made up a few batches of dough, and began cutting and cooking, painting or coffee staining, and varnishing the ornaments.

We were soon sick of the whole process and our hands were all sticky but we knew we couldn't stop because they had to be ready in two days. We worked on them all morning and well into the afternoon and there were still lots of smug pieces of salt dough waiting to be cooked or coffee stained. Sophie and I were tired of it all but by the end of the day we had quite an impressive amount of salt dough ornaments.

When we finally finished work for that day we knew that we still had another busy day ahead of us. Production like this is not an easy thing to do and Sophie and I were very happy when we could stop making salt dough!

Do you make salt dough ornaments?     

War Memorials, Picnics and Doll-house Sized Cabins

On Monday we loaded all of our bags into the car and set off. We were going on an adventure! We were going to stay in a cabin in Canberra, our capital city. We had done this once before a few years ago. While we were in Canberra, we were going to visit the National Museum of Australia, the Australian War Memorial and Questacon. Questecon is a science centre.

The trip was a long one but luckily I didn't get bored because I was reading an awesome book. We were going to the National Museum of Australia first before going to the cabin.

"We are here!" Dad shouted, from the front of the car.

I looked up and quickly put away my book and MP3 player. We all piled out of the car (except the boys who were at home looking after Nora and the cats). 

The museum had an exhibit on horses that we were going to look at first.

"Let's have lunch before do anything," Mum suggested.

We all agreed that eating would be a good idea.

We found a nice place to sit and Imogen began to put together the rolls we had brought. We had ham, cheese and the traditional potato salad. 

After lunch we entered the museum. We were soon lost amongst trophies, carriages and saddles. The people who had worn the dresses that were on display must have been tiny (about Charlotte's height).

By the time we had walked around the entire horse exhibit my feet were sore and I was quite ready to go home.

We climbed wearily back into the car and we drove the short distance to the cabins. Mum got the key and we found our cabin. We all trundled into the cabin and looked around. The cabins were just as we remembered them. I was sure the entire cabin would fit into our living room at home.

Imogen and Dad went to the shops to get dinner while we watched one of our favourite movies, "Beauty and the Beast". 

The next morning I awoke long before anybody else. I was in a top-bunk. There was two sets of bunk beds in our room and only one ladder to get onto them. Luckily the ends of the bunk-beds were close together so I could climb onto Imogen's  bed and then onto my own. I had to wait for ages for everybody to wake up lest I make a noise and wake them. Sophie woke and began coughing. Her hand whacked the wall and the whole cabin shook. I looked at the roof, certain that it would come down on our heads.

For the second day we went to the War Memorial. It was a very depressing place. We were soon all feeling a bit down.

We went to see a video on a massive screen about the Australians trying to take down Berlin. As soon as the gun shots started I put my fingers in my ears. It was so loud. We saw lots and lots of medals and guns and more war videos. We saw one from the Vietnam war about people getting off helicopters. It was very dark when we were watching it and they had flashing lights and wind to make you really feel like you were in a helicopter. I clung to Charlotte trying to block my ears at the same time. When we came out of the room Charlotte said I looked like a startled hamster.

On the last day of our holiday we went to Questacon and got to play with science and learn about it. Our brains got meddled with a lot. We saw a show on Perceptions and we felt so stupid afterwards. Even when the man explained what was happening our brains could not keep up.

Finally we went home, feeling happy but tired. There is no place like home. Nora and the cats were very glad to see us!