04 Dec 2020
“Well, I’m not going to win this argument!” Dropping my paint brushes I turned to Dave in defeat. The painting I was working on, just wasn’t coming together. My painting teacher Kim used to say, you knew when a painting was done when you’d finished arguing with it.
“Come on then, let’s go out. The Day Gallery is open today…”
It was my first attempt at painting this year, so ignoring a rising sense of frustration, I agreed with Dave and we headed out. And I’m so glad we did!
In the Gallery, we got chatting with the guy working there. While he finished wiring the back of a frame he asked us if we were from “the mountains”.
“I wish. Every time we come up here, we try to figure a way to live here. What do people do here?” I asked.
“Different things, some work for themselves, some commute to Sydney…what do you do?” He turned and asked a guy slouched in an arm chair, coffee in hand, legs akimbo and a Golden Labrador snoozing at his feet.
He grinned and said “I smoke a bit of weed…”
“It looks pretty stressful here.” I agreed.
“And what do you do?” The gallery guy said ruffling the dogs ears while big brown eyes looked at him adoringly, a couple of lethargic tail wags the only movement. Turning his attention back to me he said “I think you have to make the life you want. Just move up here and find a way to make it work. It took me about 5 months to find a job that I like.”
Make the life you want. That struck a chord with me. Perhaps we need to change the way we think about it.
Later in the car, we decided to go for a random drive around the back streets of Blackheath. Turning down streets we’ve never been before without a destination, just enjoying the new car and having no plans. We found ourselves on a long road, lined with modest houses set in lush cold climate gardens and debated about which houses we’d live in. We could see ourselves living on a street called Hat Hill Road.
The houses thinned out and then stopped as the road wound through more fire damaged forest. We imagined how isolated and vulnerable they would have been in the firestorm.
Where the bitumen turned to dirt road, a walking track pealed off to the west towards a lonely hill, and we pulled over to take a closer look at the landscape around us. Following the track for a few hundred meters up the hill we could see another valley in the distance, a view we hadn’t seen before.
“Come on Dave, we have to see where the dirt road goes, there must be a lookout ahead.” Pointing north with one hand and holding hair out of my face with the other. This was the first time we have taken the new car onto an unsealed road, and we were interest to see how she handled. “Like a dream” purred Dave.
Perrys Lookdown Rd wound a few kilometres through recovering Blue Gum forest to Anvil Rock Lookout. Filled with curiosity we hiked up to Anvil Rock for a spectacular view of the Grose Valley and the sandstone cliffs of Mount Bank. A warm breeze moved through the grasses as we stood side by side taking it all in.
Perhaps most shocking was the scale of the bushfire in this valley. This is a World Heritage-listed area. A closed forest of Blue Gum, changed forever. There are signs of recovery at least. Perhaps it’s because of the sparseness that the wildflowers are flourishing- one in particular reminded me of Edelweiss.
Up close this landscape is sublime- both terrifying and beautiful at the same time.
“Now, we’re on holiday!” Announces Dave smiling contentedly.
Back along the path we found a sign advertising “Wind Eroded Cave”, riding high from our unexpected adventure, we went to investigate. Rounding a corner, a huge intricately patterned golden sandstone wall loomed above us. It seemed to light up the forest reflecting the midday sun, except for the blackened trees which look like velvet.
What a day! Accidentally exploring an unknown side of the Blue Mountains – by serendipitously following a road less traveled. Which is what this road trip should be about!
We love the new car, she is such a beast!