Posted tagged ‘Blue Mountains NSW’

Lovely New South Wales

September 29, 2019

Hi ho, it’s off to tour we go! First up, the Blue Mountains. Well, they’re called that, but they’re more like hills, just like the Blue Mountains around Walla Walla. Perhaps there’s something in the name that tends toward mild exaggeration. Not having done my research I had been picturing something rugged, but instead they were pretty in a very tame way. Mostly tame anyway, as we shall see.

I’m endlessly fascinated by aboriginal cultures, so our first stop was at the Waradah Australian Centre in Katoomba, home to a small art gallery and offering a live performance about Australian history. Also, possibly my favorite photo bomb ever.

Unfortunately, much of the history of what happened to the aboriginal peoples after European settlers arrived is quite dark, and although the performance glossed over that, the gallery did not. Called the Stolen Generations, approximately 100,000 aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their parents between about 1905 and 1970. Although the government has since apologized, no reparations have been made, and by most accounts aboriginal culture has never recovered.

Waradah also offers a guide to common symbols used in aboriginal art,

as well as some colorful examples.

Leaving Katoomba my eye was caught by the quirkily-named Hydro Majestic Pavilion and I prevailed upon Jason, my guide, to make a stop. Normally there would have been seven of us in Jason’s van and a set itinerary, but the other six cancelled out at the last minute, and Jason manfully and mercifully decided to go out with just me, and to do what I liked. And what I like is things that are delightfully quirky.

Although, as you can see, Jason is pretty quirky all on his own.

The Hydro Majestic opened in 1891

and in addition to being beautiful can boast of having gotten electricity four days before Sydney itself.

Next we visited the tiny, mostly-a-ghost town of Hartley,

where blacksmith Ron Fitzpatrick makes intricate mirrors, jewelry,

and sculptures at his Talisman Gallery. And then, walking back to the car,

we almost tripped over this brown snake. That’s its name, brown snake. Nothing in that name suggests that it’s Australia’s deadliest snake, but it is. Which is saying a lot, in a country known for deadly snakes and other murderous creatures. Not to mention that it was close to six feet long, and passed right in front of us. I’ll freely admit, after that encounter, which nearly scared the crap out of me, I refused to use an outdoor toilet for the rest of the day, and peered suspiciously into every corner.

For a change of pace, here’s a picture that has no business even being published. Here, under the blazing mid-day Australian sun, is where my little camera failed me. It’s bright there, so bright, too bright. But I was so charmed by the fact that these sheep had their own installation of Tibetan prayer flags that I’m sharing it with you anyway, at the risk of my already-questionable reputation as a photographer.

Jason made me a very green lunch, in a picnic shelter whose premises I inspected thoroughly before entering, then he drove me to the ferry where I would journey down a bit of the Parramatta River back to Sydney.

I nearly missed the boat, because I was entranced by these guys rehearsing Chinese opera on the dock. The guy in the green jacket was the real deal, with a gorgeous baritone and total command of the music. All in all, it was quite a day, between the quirks, snakes both real and imagined, and the flourishing musical finish. Next up, wine touring in the Hunter Valley.