As a remedy to life in society, I would suggest the big city. Nowadays, it is the only desert within our means.” – Albert Camus
Leaving the city scene behind for the past few days was a welcome relief. Katoomba and the Blue Mountains, at first an optional side quest, quickly became more important and necessary than I could’ve imagined. The sprawling canyons and cliff-side lookouts were beautiful beyond what a camera can capture. The rough-cut, stone stairs and endless trails down into the valley provided a much needed workout – my calves and dogs is still a’barkin’!
Try to picture standing on a sandstone cliff and looking out over numerous square miles of deeply wooded canyon. Your eyes catch on a few white specs drifting along the sea of green. Cockatoos! I can’t describe my jealousy for these birds’ ability to swoop around the Blue Mountains, alighting on branches whenever soaring leisurely through the canyon becomes too much. Sheer walls of striated yellow, orange and white rock occasionally interrupted by a waterfall dropping hundreds of feet to the hidden creek below the canopy. The trees around you are temperate, some pines mixed in with the hearty gumtree, but down in the valley, there are massive ferns and other subtropical foliage. Oh, also, check the path you’re walking on – I walked 2′ away from an Eastern Brown Snake nearby catching some rays.
But how’s the weather? The mid-October sky ranged from clear blue to partially cloudy on my walks and the temperature ranged from cool on top of the cliffs to crisp down below. The hiking kept me warm and the only time I felt a bit chilly was in the shade when I stopped to take an ungodly amount of photos from the National Pass.
As some of you know from a couple of early Facebook photos, the weather changed suddenly on the 12th and I woke up to a snowstorm, covering the entire area in white. Risking the dreaded Wet Shoe/Wet Sock Syndrome, we walked through the slush, into town from our amazing hostel (No. 14, you truly are a tucked-away gem!). We witnessed a man on the street continuously haranguing a woman for not knowing how to traverse the icy roads in her 4-wheel drive (“idiot” and “bloody fool” were the only names exchanged, which struck me as rather civil, all things considered).
Gang Gang, Katoomba’s main street, was occupied with teenagers pelting random passers-by with snowballs. Either my intimidating size or the dangerous, steely glint in my eyes left me untouched – feel free to discuss. The Common Ground Café warmed us and fed us in its Tolkien-esque interior. It’s definitely run by some cult where all the men look the same: middle-aged, smart beards, small pony-tails, and – as one guy in the hostel who had been invited to their communal dinner said – “They all wear the same John Lennon glasses”. My suggestion: go there, enjoy the fireplace, the ambience, and the Reuben, but leave before you’ve had too much Yerba mate.
I started this post on the train back to Sydney and the weather is back to normal, meaning I’m in shorts and a t-shirt again. I met a lot of new people and talked their ears off (thanks, Grandma, for the gift of gab!). My new friend, Cecile, even provided me with the foundation for a cool story idea. I may not have written much on the novel while in the mountains, but as Rob Petrie learned in the Dick van Dyke show, sometimes an escape from the day-to-day doesn’t pave the way for novel-writing productivity.
**Quick update before posting: Straight from Katoomba to Bondi, I saw the “Breakfast on Bondi” symphony performance, complete with the Sydney Opera’s lead soprano. All this on the beach at sunrise!**
So, back to the city, back to work. Back to planning the next leg of my personal supernova. Melbourne, Perth, or Thailand?