As you’ve probably noticed, my posts are based on the alphabet for each day of April, less Sundays. I’ll try & post some photos of this blog in the next few days.
Clouds of fog blanket the Blue Mountains making it difficult to discern the line markings on the Great Western Highway. Vehicles appear and disappear; red lights glowing within the murk.
The Gundungurra people tell of the dreamtime creatures, Mirigan and Garangath, half-fish, half-reptile, and their gargantuan battle which split the surrounding landscape into wild gorges and formidable cliffs, producing the National treasure Australians and visitors enjoy today.
One cannot dismiss claims by several Europeans, that they had crossed this wild terrain, before the official conquest by Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth. What were their thoughts and feelings on tackling seemingly impenetrable escarpments? Pushing their way through thick scrub, with exhausting climbs on foot and horseback, tantalized by the thought of rich farming lands which awaited on the other side. Doubtless it would have been impossible to achieve this feat without their indigenous guides, who knew the way from experience stretching back millennia.
At Federation Garden Lodges, Blackheath, we reach the oasis of our cottage, hired for the week-end by like-minded friends for taichi, meditation , bush walks and nature study. Barely have we brought everything in from the car, than the boom of thunder rattles the building. Lightning flashes and a drenching downpour explodes in torrents , rushing forth from a faulty gutter.
When the rain clears we explore the gardens. Everything takes on a magic quality in the fog. Lyre birds wander around the parkland near the cottage, ready to mimic any sound they hear. Beneath conifers, red toadstools spotted with raised cream blotches and cream gills offer transcendental journeys to risk-takers. I caress the rough texture of the bark. Is it only in my imagination that fairies in short red skirts dotted with cream spots dance around our feet?
In the nearby bush, mountain devil shrubs Inverta Formosa exhibit delicate red blossoms, offering sweet nectar to the yellow and grey honey-eaters. The seed-pods bring forth miniature devils’ faces, hence their name. Even though it’s said that spotted diamond pardalotes enjoy a diet of insects, I swear we saw several of them feasting on the nectar! Grass trees gather skirts around them, whispering to waratahs, shiny leaves sighing in the sprinkle of moisture.
It’s a short walk/drive to view the distant valleys. Alas! They are lost somewhere in roiling layers of white. Then the wind picks up and the fog rolls back to reveal the magnificence of Govetts Leap Waterfall, decorated with wisps of vapour.
We enjoy the poetry of movement in Taichi, demonstrated by experts in the field, inhaling the eucalyptus scented air in the gardens, watched over by rainbow lorikeets, kookaburras, and sulphur crested cockatoos. In the evenings, it’s time to restore our psychic energy with meditation.
Tree trunks in the National Park are decorated with green lichen. Twigs and small branches are adorned with fluffy greyish moss. A rusty chested rock-warbler hops from twig to branch and flies away. Those inveterate weavers of the bush, spiders of unknown genre, spread their webs, each jewelled with drops of moisture. Some are like fans, ready for the unwary, others laid out in complicated layers to trap prey, with a leaf hideaway in the centre, yet others remind me of delicate loops of knitting, the gossamer thread so fine it’s almost missing, yet clearly it serves the purpose.
At Evans Lookout, named after George Evans, surveyor, in the 1800s, trees float in and out of sight. The escarpment and Grose Valley River are glimpsed, hidden, glimpsed again. A choir of bell-birds chime from every veiled gully. We huddle like a theatre audience, impatient for a delayed performance, fearing our hopes will be dashed. Just then a whirling breeze scoops up the fog and carries it away. A spectacular panorama unfurls before our delighted eyes. Tree-glad slopes rise to the rocky escarpment, swoop down to the glittering threads of the Grose River, soar with our spirits towards patches of blue sky. Arms around shoulders, we smile and laugh for the camera. Click! A Californian bush-walker on holiday, red back-pack, friendly grin, takes our photo.