“Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.”
Coming home is the comedown of any adventure. Reality hits you in the face as soon as you land back where you started. Time seems stranger. You are left in a daze wondering where the time went. You play the memories over and over in your mind to make them last. Even if ‘reality’ becomes a stark contrast to beautiful memories, we need to get away because it helps us to step outside the rut.
After the last few months, my mindset was: ‘That’s it. We are out of here!’ and I’m glad because I’ve just come back from a beautiful weekend in the Blue Mountains with D (my better half), where the air was fresh and the bushwalks aplenty.
We arrived in Wentworth Falls late morning ready to charge through the bush on the Wentworth Pass (starting at the WF car park). We walked across the cliff face, down to nine sets of steep ladders, the Slack Stairs. We followed the base of the cliff around to Sylvia Falls (pictured), up to Empress Falls and the Queen Victoria Lookout, made our way to the Conservation Hut and back to the car park via the short cut track. This took about 2.5 hours and it’s about 5kms (which seems slow, but remember it’s the bush). It was a beautiful day and lovely walk, a little damp so we didn’t take the good cameras. It was stunning, except for being a breeding ground for leeches, so we couldn’t stop anywhere for very long.
I couldn’t wait to get to our cottage, Tricklebeck. It was a wee little cottage off Shipley Road in Blackheath. When we opened the door, we were greeted by Miles Davis playing on CD. Sitting by the fireplace were red wine, chocolates, and two raspberry muffins to whet our appetites. D made sure the kitchen was sufficient for our T-bones that we had at the ready and boy were they demolished! If there was a word for this night, it would be peaceful. And peace hasn’t been coming in leaps n’ bounds recently.
We had a big breakfast – of fresh farm eggs, bread, fruit and freshly crushed Apple Juice from the Logan Brae orchard up the road – to prepare for our big walk. After breakfast settled, we headed south of Katoomba to the Mt Solitary walk, signposted for experienced walkers. Our aim was to reach the lookout that is found after the big climb to the summit. We made it and were rewarded with the magnificent views. It was a really beautiful walk and perfect weather. It was a great challenge as usual. It’s about 14-16 km return trip from the Golden Staircase car park on Narrow Neck to Mt Solitary and the lookout and back. It took about 6 hours with breaks. I drank all 3 litres of my water and made a note to myself to bring more next time. On the way there and back, we spotted two baby snakes (they looked like baby browns), little lizards and leeches making a feast of our legs (delicious).
We finished the day off with perfectly BBQ’d chicken thighs in honey and then headed off to Mount Vic Flicks where The Master (2012) was playing. An old lady let us in and we sat behind rows of grey heads. With an old-school snack bar and cinema, and a movie based on a World War II veteran suffering from PTSD, we really felt we had travelled back in time. Although this movie is a feat in cinematography with raving reviews, we unfortunately felt it was a real flop! But each to their own. We left confused but slept beautifully that night nonetheless.
With sore legs, another walk was not on the cards for our third and last day in the mountains. Instead, we checked out the markets and gardens in Leura and bought chocolates at Josophan’s (best chocolates ever, perhaps). We had a coffee from a smaller café, from a cute waitress in a tight floral dress, for the trip to Mt Wilson’s tree-lined streets (a little later in autumn and the trees would be at their prime). Then we shot off to Mt Tomah Botanic Gardens with a dull and high contrast light, but a beautiful day and some nice photos anyway. We went back to Katoomba to find Leprechauns walking up and down the streets and had a beer at the Station Bar before dinner at the Avalon Restaurant on Katoomba Street, totally topping the weekend off. Sublime!
It’s a shame to return home, but this, I hope, will one day be home.