Sunday, September 01, 2013

BLUE MOUNTAINS First day of Spring

Munson and Three Sisters

Spring is here, let winter’s icy grip release its hold. So went a radio commentator as we drove west into the mountains today. I imagine they lived in Australian Antarctic Territory as we’ve had little interruption to clear skies and warm days for weeks.
Sydney to the mountains
I haven’t been through the Blue Mountains for about a decade. They sit on Sydney’s western flanks, oh-so-tantalizing, and indeed quicker to reach from the centre than many of Sydney’s northern beach suburbs. As we cruised along the M4 motorway, Munson became a little more alert as we passed under Wallgrove Road, marking the location of the quarantine station that he left four months ago.  That placed us more than half way to the Nepean River at Penrith, after which the road rises immediately on a single twisting route following a line of ridges across the mountains.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the first European crossing of the mountains, which opened the land-starved drought-stricken colony to the pasture lands on the Bathurst plains and beyond. The explorers’ names are commemorated in a line of towns along the path they identified: Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth Falls.

Some day I’ll stop in at the Norman Lindsay Gallery at Springwood to see some of the great artist’s legacy. His vast body of work is somewhat overshadowed by his children’s book The Magic Pudding. I got to know him better with his later work The Flyaway Highway which is now barely known and it seems, rarely in print. Today I’m targetting Leura, adjacent to the mountains’ principal township Katoomba, not coincidentally because that’s where the best coffee is to be found.

Leura Mall
Munson sits in the back of the Scenic, feet planted between our seats, head attentive to all the new scenery. He’s been really happy over recent days, with scarcely any attention paid to his stitched and denuded leg, which is now coated in a fine layer of down like a new snowfall. He wants to run and frolic; interesting low-energy activity is the best I can substitute. New sights and smells will feed his dreams.
Warwick Fuller - Afternoon Sun (2011)Gustav @ Honeymoon lookout
We wander the Mall in Leura for a while, browsing in shops and galleries while Munson said hello to all and sundry. Gustav’s attention was taken by all the new flowering trees, only some of which I could name.

I was particularly impressed by one of the large landscape oil paintings of Warwick Fuller that I saw at Lost Bear Gallery. It’s not a genre that I embrace, but he has a formidable technique and a way of making gum trees look voluptuous that’s almost overpowering, particularly when seen at full 150cm x 150cm scale.
The Three Sisters and Mount Solitary
Minutes from the Mall is a long escarpment where Katoomba, Leura and other towns break with the beautiful Jamison Valley. Our first view is from the Honeymoon lookout, and then from the larger viewing Katoomba platform overlooking the Three Sisters, Mount Solitary and the heavily forested valley floor 500m below.
Western Highway along the ridge at the top of the Jamison Valley
We lunched on great pies at Katoomba’s Hominery Bakery  - thank you Atalya for the recommendation – before returning to Leura and the walks around Gordon’s Falls. As we' enter national park on any of the bushwalks here we can’t bring Munson, so he has to be left in a cool shaded place. Even without these prohibitions I wouldn’t want him over-working his leg on the steep stairs down to rainforest glades like that at the Pool of Siloam (not to be confused with this one) below.

Gustav @ Pool of Siloam
Pool of Siloam Honeymoon lookout
Munson would have gone crazy with joy in a swimming hole like this. I’d love to find a pet friendly spot like this for him to make up for the loss of our beloved lake at Lupiac.

Our final visit was to the lookouts at Wentworth Falls, but we didn’t attempt any of the tracks down to the water or around the cliff edges. Put it down to heat, tiredness, not wanting to leave Munson too long, and my extreme aversion to heights.
Wentworth Falls lookout


  1. So beautiful but it always vaguely gives me the willies. I think it's because the pretty scenery is a mask for the proper wildness and treachery of the mountains.

    1. I can't even stand near some of the lookouts. I edge over to see if there's a gentle drop-off or a plunge - if the latter, then I quickly withdraw.