Musings - Day 65
Day 65 – 29th February 2020
I arrived in Sydney at first light to see the sunrise on both the bridge and the Opera House together – amazing! I was on the steps of the iconic venue by 07:04 am making the many phone calls and texts to family and friends. The feeling sublime, as I absorbed the wonderment of being in this most majestic of cities. It has been sixteen years since I was last here and it has lost none of its overwhelming charisma. For me it will always be the greatest city on the planet because of my personal historic connection to it, but that aside it is a wonderful place. The topography of its location is probably second to none, being the largest natural harbour in the world. The addition of probably the most unique designed building of the all-time, is testament to its incredible character.
Yesterday was quite a day of driving. Even though the distances weren’t vast, the terrain was simply magnificent, scary and humbling all at the same time. Let me explain. I drove towards and eventually through the Yengo National Park. Prior to that I drove what felt endlessly with a fence all along the right side of the road. I thought that maybe it was a government facility, but as I drove more miles along the fence it became clear that it was some form of open cast mine or quarry. The size from what I could gather was immense. I stopped just to be nosy and take a quick gander through the fence at the mine. It looked as though the moon had bounced off the earth it was so big. Whatever mineral was being sought must have a tremendous value, judging by the rolling stock and machinery that saw on my brief glimpse. So onwards through the magnificent country of the Yengo. The evidence of damaging bushfires was all too obvious here, but because there were very few properties the collateral destruction was not too bad. The forestation was soon too recover, just like it has been doing for millennia. I went undeniably off-piste in the middle of this wilderness, quite unintentionally, I must add.
Using my camping app, relying on its reviews quite heavily, I was heading for a rural campsite with excellent facilities near a place called Colo Heights. The actual site was showing as Upper Colo. (There wasn’t a lower Colo so upon reflection, I perhaps should have been a little more cautious.) The only road was precariously steep which I expected judging by the height that I had descended from. But it became so narrow that I couldn’t have turned the car round even if I had wanted to. The road ran out of tarmac, with the evidence of the recent natural devastation all too evident. The trees were blackened, bark stripped from the bare trunks and stems. The volumes of rain water thereafter had created subsidence, rocks movement and track erosion to the extent that my gravitational descent overtook the mechanical one. I had to fight with Toyah against natures residues. Gouges the size of cartwheels had been worn away on the track. Obvious rivulets had formed to wear away the existing way downhill. I put on the park brake, turned the ignition off many times to get out and survey my potential progress against the all too seductive will of gravity. There was no way to go other than downwards, but the precipice to my left was potentially inviting compared to the worn rock face on my right. I became very imaginative with expletives at this point. No people, just wilderness at its proverbial best. Luckily the sun was out, so no additional hindrance from nature was going to test me – or so I thought! Inching (literally) downwards, through tracks that even the most sure-footed goats would have avoided, I found myself at a point where I could see water. A lake, that appeared to be overflowing into what I imagined to be a river course below. It was a river and eventually I shared its highest level. Unfortunately, its highest level was a good deal higher than that of the tyres. A natural ford appeared that had been replaced by a man made one to assist crossing. However, it was somewhat deeper than the track had originally intended. I caught sight of some people. There were some kids playing in the ford skimming stones. They were up to their shorts in water. I estimated a depth of two feet against a swirling overflow of clear tea coloured river. No choice – the kids stepped aside in anticipation, waiting to laugh or help if the car became stuck. In for a penny in for a pound. I had to go for it because the way back would have been more precarious than the way down, with gravity changing its allegiance. I could either inch my way across or let momentum assist my progress. The latter prevailed as I made the other side with essentially less effort or difficulty than I had anticipated. The kids, laughed at the bow wave, and turned to continue skimming, immediately dismissing both my presence or the unapparent angst surrounding my position. The other side and the indeed the climb, were over much better terrain, eventually to my joy, revisiting tarmacadam again. The campsite abandoned for reasons too rural, I pushed on towards the blue mountains. Katoomba in particular, as I remembered Echo Point from my last visit all those years ago. From here you can look out over many, many miles of forestation and the visual wonderment of nature. To my left I could see the three sisters, or as some call them the three witches, who watch over the national treasure. Beautiful area that no photograph would give justice to the blue, hue (potential poetry there,) that hangs off the trees. My campsite was at Katoomba Falls (another of nature's badges) set against the valley below. Great facilities, that I wasn’t to get full use of because tomorrow was my goal. My end product, my target achievement for want of a less conceited aphorism. I was in feathers by eight thirty, asleep by nine, awake by twelve, asleep by one, awake by four. Proper awake! A trip to the shower block, meant only one thing – early start. Sydney by sun up!
I made it. No music until I hit the burbs. Like most blokes I can't do two things at once. Walking and whistling at the same time has been my only achievement in this department, over recent years. Concentrating in the dark on the job ahead, but when the Kilometres fell away it was time for the Beatles. They reminded me of a time when I was advised to get up early to see us sail into the Heads at the entrance to Sydney Harbour – still an hour to go the harbour is that huge. I was seventeen and the Beatles were my musical gods. However it was a close call this morning to being regaled by ‘Elbow’s’ anthemic – ‘One day like this’
I don’t mind admitting that standing on the steps of Sydney Opera House, looking across at the harbour bridge brought tears. I love this place. I sincerely thank you all for being a part of this adventure. Every person that has donated, written a message, or that I have met along the way, have all played their part. It has been a roller coaster event to say the very least. Six months in the planning, nine weeks in the doing. Would I do it all again? Probably not, well..., ask me in a few months’ time…
Postscript: Thank you to everyone who turned a page, without you these blogs would have been meaningless ramblings. (Actually to some that is exactly what they are.) The support, and interest has been tremendous. The winners are hopefully the ‘Lullaby Trust’ charity who write to me, following the adventure and thanking me in equal measure. Let us all hope that the numbers of helpless, emotionally decimated parents, and grandparents, who have no answers for their loss, comes down as our salutary sciences and understanding thereafter, increases.
Position: 33°96’ 61’S 151°24’60”E – Miles completed: 16276
Location: Sydney, New South Wales 07:04 - 29th February 2020 - Journey 65 days 6 hours
Post, Postscript : Give me a week or so just to get my feet back on the ground and I may put a 'Reflections' piece on the website. Until....