Day three began with sleeping late (thanks to insomnia, as usual) and some kitty love from 007, who snuggled up next to my modem and purred. He really is a complete slut, unlike Chairman Meow. Both cats get loads of attention, though 007 seems to enjoy it more.
Before we could head off for the day as planned, Chris had to go back to his old place in Lane Cove to finish some sweeping. He and his roommates have just moved, and the old house has to be handed over in the state in which it was received. Rentals in Sydney are very organized; I saw a 25 page inspection document for the new place (complete with signatures and photos of chipped tiles).
Australians generally do their own housework, though the wealthy do hire maids. Cleaning a garden can be a nightmare thanks to piles of dead leaves and Sydney’s vast and extravagant curtains of spider web, especially if you’re surrounded by nature. This gives you an idea of how green parts of Sydney are; to the left of this shot is natural forest.
Then we were off to the Blue Mountains, a popular day trip to an area which begins some 50km west of the city. It’s a scenic drive, consisting mostly of gum trees, gum tree and more gum trees. The towns, all very close together, are mostly very pretty. Leura is like Dullstroom on steroids, without the trout. At Katoomba, which is full of lovely Art Deco architecture, we had a late lunch – an excellent roast veg sandwich for me, good value at $7.90 or around R79 – before heading to a couple of the lookout points. Many of the views are spectacular, somewhat reminiscent of God’s Window. Here I am at Evans Lookout:
Then we drove to a place I’ve visited twice before: Govett’s Leap. It’s perhaps the most spectacular of the lookout points, since it includes the 180m high Bridal Veil falls. Standing there with nothing but the sound of rushing water and the occasional squawk of a rosella, it’s possible to be completely in the moment, thinking neither of past nor present, just being. For someone whose inner voice has verbal diarrhoea, that’s an achievement. I’ve been dreading the memories and associations this trip might trigger, and if any place was going to have that effect on me, it was Govett’s Leap. Legend has it that a bush ranger called Govett was being pursued by the authorities and rather than being caught, rode his horse over a cliff, but this is nonsense, apparently. Govett’s Leap is in fact the name of the falls. Still, a romantic story, one I feel inclined to paint. As a metaphor for leaping into the unknown, it has a certain appeal.
We took the scenic route back through the Hawkesbury, where the gum trees eventually give way to apple orchards and paddocks. Towards the end, I went very quiet and eventually nodded off. You’d think I’d be all sorted for sleep, but not: yet again, I went to bed way too late and had to ingest some Zolpidem. I lived on sleeping pills when I lived in Australia, and it seems nothing has really changed in four years. Who would have thought that something that comes naturally to most people would be so hard for me?